Diva Hildegard Behrens dies at 72

Opera singer was a three time Grammy winner

Opera singer Hildegard Behrens, a three-time Grammy winner best known for her portrayal of Bruennhilde in Wagner’s “Ring Cycle,” died Tuesday in Tokyo of an apparent aneurism. She was 72.

Behrens was set to perform in a music festival near Tokyo before being hospitalized Sunday.

The soprano, who performed 171 times at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, made her professional debut in 1971 as the countess in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” and debuted at the Met in 1971 as Giorgetta in Puccini’s “Il Tabarro.”

Known for her Wagnerian performances during the late 1980s and early 90s, Behrens’ Met appearances included “Tristan und Isolde,” “Die Fliegende Hollander” and “Goetterdaemmerung,” where she was injured during the final scene at the Met in 1990.

“Behrens had a depth of talent that went beyond her rich soprano,” said Neil Portnow, prexy and CEO of the Recording Academy. “Her dramatic acting skills combined with her unique sound established her as one of the great opera performers of our time.”

Born in Germany, Behrens received a law degree from the U. of Freiburg before pursuing her music career. She was awarded Germany’s Order of the Merit Cross, as well as being honored by the Vienna State Opera and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

Funeral service will be held in Vienna.

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