Debut at La Scala, 1958

Birgit Nilsson made her debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre 1958. But her definitive breakthrough was in December that year when she opened the 370th season with Turandot

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Turandot 1958. Photo: Erio Piccagliani – Teatro alla Scala

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Turandot 1958. Photo: Erio Piccagliani – Teatro alla Scala

On December 7th, Birgit achieved global success as Turandot. No other foreign singer had ever been allowed to open a season at La Scala. Afterwards, Birgit was awarded a passionate reception by her audience, who flew up in the rows, screaming, applauding, cheering and embracing each other. Not even in her wildest imagination had Birgit dreamt of such a fantastic response. ”I was naturally prepared for the same polite applause as after the first act, in which Turandot does not sing, and only appears on stage. But I could hardly have been more surprised in my entire life. The last note of the second act had scarcely faded, when the audience began behaving like mad people. My success was confirmed, and yet another star had apparently been born on Italy’s greatest opera stage”, wrote Birgit in her memoirs in 1995. She herself ranked this as one of the greatest triumphs in her life. Birgit Nilsson received between 100-200 letters daily from Italian fans after her performance at La Scala.