Opera Scotland

Anita Välkki Suggest updates

Born Sääksmäki, 25 October 1926.

Died Helsinki, 27 April 2011.

Finnish soprano.

Anita Välkki had a notable international career as a Wagnerian soprano in the sixties, including performances at Bayreuth, the Met and Covent Garden.

After a period as an actress from 1946-51, she studied singing in Helsinki, joining the Finnish National Opera in 1955.  She continued to sing with them throughout her career, both as a soprano, and in later years as a character mezzo-soprano.  While her reputation lay mainly in the Wagnerian dramatic soprano field, she also sang Italian roles such as Tosca,  Turandot,  Aïda and  Santuzza.

The international phase of her career included performances at the New York Met - Brünnhilde in 1962, singing the same role at Bayreuth in 1963 and '64.  Other roles at the Met included Turandot, Elisabeth and Kundry.  She sang Senta and Turandot in Vienna (1963) and Isolde in Stockholm (1967).  An exceptional  engagement in those days was an invitation to sing the title role in Kátya Kabanová in Prague.

The seventies can be seen as a golden age for the production of Finnish operas, with new works appearing both at the Helsinki opera house and at the open air Savonlinna summer festival held in the courtyard of Olavinlinna Castle among the lakes of Karelia.  At the 1975 Festival she created the role of Slave Owner's Wife in Aulis Sallinen's first successful opera The Horseman.  She sang the role of Juha's mother-in-law in both operatic versions of Juha, by Merikanto and Madetoja.  She can be heard to powerful effect on a recording of the latter work.

She does not seem to have made commercial recordings in her prime, but a number of live recordings have been posted on YouTube, which give an excellent indication of the quality of her voice and technique.

Her British appearances began at Covent Garden, where she sang Brünnhilde (1961, 1964),  Aïda (1962) and Turandot (1966).  For Scottish audiences her importance lies in her appearance as Brünnhilde with Scottish Opera in the company's first performances of the Ring operas, in 1966 (Die Walküre) and 1968 (Götterdämmerung).

Roles in Scotland

Brünnhilde a Valkyrie
Valkyrie 1966
Brünnhilde Siegfried's lover
Götterdämmerung 1968

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