Verdi : AidaNew York, Met, 1950 (Audio)
Director: Emil Cooper
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While her career was relatively short, Ljuba Welitsch was a legend in her own time, with a strikingly beautiful stage presence (and a figure she was never hesitant to show off to its best advantage onstage) and a powerfully-focused, though not huge, voice. For many, her Salome has never been vocally or dramatically surpassed.
She studied in Sofia under Gyorgy Zlatov, and made her debut as one of the seamstresses in Charpentier's Louis at the Sofia Opera in 1934. Her first lead role was as Nedda in Pagliacci in 1936 at the Graz Opera.
In 1937, she became part of the Graz opera company, where she remained until 1940. As her career developed, her roles ranged over the lyrical and the spinto repertoire, including such heavy roles as Senta and Aida. In 1944, she sang Salome in a performance conducted by Strauss himself, and after joining the Vienna State Opera in 1946, made her Covent Garden debut in the same role the next year. Her Metropolitan Opera debut was in 1949, also as Salome. (This was also conductor Fritz Reiner's Met debut.)
As early as 1953, her voice was showing pronounced signs of wear, though her total artistry was still commanding, and she began to appear in smaller roles, including comic character parts.
In 1959, she made her farewell to the opera stage in Egk's Der Revisor at the Vienna State Opera, though she returned to the Met in 1972 to perform the comic speaking part of the Duchess in a production of Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment.