Sopranos Nina Stemme and Hillevi Martinpelto Named 'Court Singers' by Swedish King

Classic Arts News   Sopranos Nina Stemme and Hillevi Martinpelto Named 'Court Singers' by Swedish King
Continuing a tradition that goes back two-and-a-half centuries, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden has appointed two of his subjects as "court singers," Gramophone Online reports.

Both honorees, sopranos Hillevi Martinpelto and Nina Stemme, were born, raised and trained in Sweden. The lyric-voiced Martinpelto has performed much of the standard operatic and concert repertoire but has a particular specialty in the Classical period, receiving high praise for singing such Mozart heroines as the Countess, Donna Anna and Elettra as well as both of Gluck's Iphig_nies. She is especially known for her association, in concert and on disc, with conductor John Eliot Gardiner, having featured prominently on his highly-regarded recordings of Idomeneo, Le nozze di Figaro, Falstaff, Weber's Oberon and Beethoven's Leonore (the early version of Fidelio). Stemme has sung a remarkable range of roles, from Cherubino and Pamina to Margu_rite (in Gounod's Faust) and the Marschallin to the title roles of Jenufa and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Recently she has been gaining prominence as a Wagner singer, especially following her rapturously received Isoldes at Glyndebourne (2003) and Bayreuth (2005).

Artists appointed as court singers are nominated by the director of the Royal Swedish Opera and confirmed by the King and his staff. "The person doesn't have to be a Swedish national," a royal spokesperson told Gramophone, "but he or she has to be performing regularly in Sweden. It's an honorary title, but court singers are frequently asked to perform at royal events."

Among the distinguished Swedish singers of the 20th century to have been honored as court singers are Jussi Bj‹rling, Nicolai Gedda, Birgit Nilsson, Elisabeth S‹derstr‹m and Anne Sofie von Otter.

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