Eaglen on Nilsson
Jane Eaglen has this piece on Slate about Birgit Nilsson. Nice. It is certainly interesting to hear what someone who passes for a good dramatic soprano has to say about the last truly triumphant one.
My favorite passage: "My teacher had worked with Nilsson at Covent Garden on several occasions, singing on the same stage with her in Turandot and when she played Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio. He spoke so highly of her as a singer and a person, which always made an impression on me. It was encouraging, as a student, to hear that one's idols were nice people, too! As I was first learning the role of Turandot, "In Questa Reggia," the big aria she starts with, was very daunting—a difficult aria as soon as you set foot on the stage. Joseph told me that he once asked her, in an elevator, how she went on and sang that aria cold, and she replied, "I just use it to warm up the voice." Having sung the aria myself many times, I can only marvel that anyone could say that about such a piece of music."
That is very amazing, but listening to her Immolation Scene makes it very believable.
Nilsson was less of singer and more of a force of nature. I've said that before, and I'll say it again.