Birgit Nilsson was legendary as the cruel princess Turandot. She sang the part more than 300 times throughout her career and for fifteen to twenty years she had nearly a monopoly on the role on the opera stages of the world.


Metropolitan Opera Archives

Birgit sang Turandot for the first time in 1957 at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. By the end of the 1970’s, Birgit held the world record many times over as to the number of Turandot performances. Birgit felt that Turandot was almost harmful to the voice and that she had to use a special singing technique for this roll. She always warmed up carefully so that her muscles, support, vocal cords and resonance worked perfectly. December 7, 1958 was Birgit Nilsson’s breakthrough as Turandot at La Scala in Milan. It was during a gala evening in celebration of the theater’s 370th season. She was the first foreign singer ever to open a season in that Italian opera house, and Birgit herself felt it to be one of the most important events in her life.