Her love for Bertil

Birgit Nilsson and Bertil Niklasson met on a train ride between Scania and Stockholm in 1945. She was studying at the Royal College of Music, and he was a veterinary student from Kristianstad. They fell quickly in love, and just as quickly they were engaged. On September 10, 1948 they were married at the Swedish church in Copenhagen.


Birgit and Bertil´s wedding photo.

Birgit and Bertil remained together all their lives. He followed her on some of her trips in the world, but had his own work at home in Sweden. Bertil was not particularly musical. Birgit used to say, ”Bertil knows more about animal illness than about opera.” He in turn would remark jokingly, ”I married Birgit despite her being a singer.” Nonetheless, Bertil was Birgit’s biggest support during her career. He encouraged her and believed in her, just as she supported him in his work. Birgit never practiced or warmed up in front of Bertil. ”These interminable scales and drills can kill most marriages, or at least most nerves”, she said half-jokingly. Being one of the world’s most sought-after opera sopranos meant a great deal of traveling and time away from home. It was a tough life on the road with hard work studying roles. But Birgit loved her profession and she meant that anything is easy when one also has someone to share thoughts and problems with. That someone was Bertil. A man who, according to Birgit herself, appreciated her for who she was, who never place her on a pedestal as ”the great Opera diva”.