Hjördis Schymberg ledande sopran 1909-2008

Hjördis Schymberg ledande sopran 1909-2008 Hjördis Schymberg hovsångare - sopran

Hjördis Schymberg, född 24 april 1909 i Gustavsberg på Alnön i Medelpad, död 8 september 2008, var en svensk koloratursopran, lyrisk sopran och hovsångerska. Hon debuterade som operasångerska 1934 och var fram till sin pensionering 1959 Kungliga Operans ledande lyriska sopran och koloratursopran. Därefter fortsatte Hjördis Schymberg med olika gästspel fram till 1968. 

Hjördis Schymberg ledande sopran 1909-2008

Hjördis Schymberg föddes och växte upp i samhället Gustavsberg på sydvästra delen av Alnön. Hon visade tidigt en begåvning för sång, men också för gitarr, violin och piano, och sågs som ett musikaliskt underbarn.Hon spelade på stumfilmsbiografer med sina fyra systrar, och spelade och sjöng på godtemplarlokaler, logelokaler och caféer i Norrland, klassisk musik och salongsmusik.
Redan som treåring deltog hon i systrarnas sångframträdanden på bättre kalas. Hon turnerade också som solist med Gustavsbergs barnorkester. Genom ledaren och folkskolläraren Henrik Samuelssons försorg fick hon förutom turnévana också lära sig att gestalta en visa.

Musikaliska Akademien

Som 17-åring sökte Hjördis Schymberg in till Musikaliska Akademien men blev inte antagen. Hon hade dock blivit upptäckt av den kända sångpedagogen friherrinnan Brita von Vegesack, där den unga Schymberg fick sin första formella sångutbildning. Däremot fortsattes skolningen på Operaskolan i Stockholm.  Under senare år fördjupande hon sina studier i Italien för Renato Bellini och Lina Pagliughi.

Debut i Nürnbergerdockan

År 1934 debuterade Hjördis Schymberg i en matinéföreställning som Bertha i Adams komiska opera Nürnbergerdockan. Samma år sjöng hon Puccinis La Bohème mot Jussi Björling. Schymberg och Björling skulle genom åren komma att delta i över 100 föreställningar ihop.


1943 utnämndes hon till hovsångerska. Hjördis Schymberg var under många år Kungliga Teaterns ledande lyriska koloratursopran. Hon hade fast engagemang på Kungliga Teatern åren 1935–59 och gjorde där sammanlagt mer än 50 olika roller.Sångerskan gästspelade 1958 som Violetta i Verdis La Traviata på Norrköpings stadsteater. Hon fortsatte med gästspelsverksamhet fram till 1968, verkade som sångpedagog ända fram till 1990-talet och sjöng så sent som 2001 offentligt.

Hon medverkade i fyra föreställningar på Metropolitan Opera i New York och gjorde sin debut som Susanna i W A Mozarts Figaros bröllop 15 februari 1947 . Dessutom sjöng hon Gilda i Giuseppe Verdi´s Rigoletto vid två tillfällen.

Metropolitan Opera

[Met Performance] CID:144020
Le Nozze di Figaro {97}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/15/1947
Debut: Hjördis Schymberg
[Met Performance] CID:144050
Rigoletto {275}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/19/1947
[Met Performance] CID:144150
Rigoletto {276}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/1/1947
[Met Performance] CID:144310
Le Nozze di Figaro {98}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/15/1947

In English

Hjördis Gunborg Schymberg (April 24, 1909 – September 8, 2008) was a Swedish coloratura and lyric soprano active on the opera stage and in concert halls between 1934 and 1968. One of the leading singers of the Royal Swedish Opera, she was awarded the title of Hovsångerska (Court Singer) in 1943, and in her later years became a distinguished voice teacher.

Born on a Island

Hjördis Schymberg was born on the island of Alnön on April 24, 1909, the fourth of five musically talented sisters. Her father worked in the local lumber mill and her mother was a seamstress. As a child, she played both the violin and piano and sang with the Gustavsberg children’s orchestra. She and her sisters also sang in cafes and performed music to accompany silent films.

At the age of 16, she had her own radio program, Tant Hjördis sjunger med barnen (Aunt Hjördis sings with children), but it was not until 1929 that she began formal vocal training with Brita von Vegesack.

Bjoerling & Schymberg

Three years later, she went to Stockholm where she studied under John Forsell, who was also the teacher of Jussi Björling. Schymberg and Bjoerling were to sing together later, including a highly celebrated rendition of O Soave Fanciulla, recorded in 1941. A scholarship gave her the opportunity for further study in Italy under Renato Bellini and Lina Pagliughi.

La poupée de Nuremberg

She made her stage debut in 1934 as Berthe in a matinée performance of Adolphe Adam’s comic opera La poupée de Nuremberg. Later that year she sang Mimì to Björling’s Rodolfo for their 1934 role debuts in La bohème and went on to sing with him over 100 times, including his last performance in Stockholm in 1960.She soon became one of the leading sopranos of the Royal Swedish Opera and also sang regularly in Copenhagen, Oslo, and Helsinki.

She created the title role in Larsson’s The Princess of Cyprus in 1937. However, her international career was delayed by World War II. Her first major engagement outside Scandinavia came in 1946 when she was scheduled to appear in London’s Royal Albert Hall in a concert of arias by Handel, Mozart, Berwald and Delibes, conducted by Ernest Ansermet.

American Debut

Schymberg’s American debut came in 1947 when she sang Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The manager Edvard Johnson had heard her already back in 1938 and wanted her to appear at the Metropolitan. She was given a contract for the following season after her debut in 1947 but she never returned to the Metropolitan.

She also appeared there in the same season as Gilda in Rigoletto. A review of her Met debut in The New York Times described her:

Comely, petite and graceful, she was an ideal Susanna to the eye. Her impersonation was refined and filled with the spirit of youth. She brought the needed vivacity and sly humor to her interpretation and gave it real human appeal in a natural and unaffected way that won immediate favor with the large audience.

She went on to give a series of concerts in the United States in 1947 and also appeared in Havana, Hamburg and Riccione later on where she sang in Rigoletto opposite Giuseppe Di Stefano as the Duke of Mantua. Her Covent Garden debut came in 1951 as Violetta in La traviata.


Schymberg retired from the Royal Swedish Opera company in 1959, but continued to perform in operas, concerts, art song recitals and recordings until 1968 when she gave her farewell performance at the Royal Swedish Opera. In her later years she taught singing at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Amongst her pupils were several prominent Scandinavian opera singers including Gösta Winbergh, Sylvia Lindenstrand, Laila Andersson-Palme, and Solveig Kringelborn.

Schymbergsgården Foundation

In 1997 she donated Schymbergsgården, her childhood home in Alnön, to the Schymbergsgården Foundation which she established for the benefit of young singers and musicians. Schymbergsgården is now a venue for summer concerts and master classes.

Hjördis Schymberg died in Stockholm in the early hours of September 8, 2008 at the age of 99.

Review of Noel Straus in The New York Times


Hjoerdis Schymberg, Singing Susanna Role, Wins Favor – Miss Lipton as Cherubino

Hjoerdis Schymberg, Swedish soprano, who had not sung before in this country, made her Metropolitan debut as Susanna in last night’s performance of Mozart’s ”The Marriage of Figaro.” All of the other members of the cast were familiar in their respective roles, except Martha Lipton, who assumed the part of Cherubino for the first time, replacing Rise Stevens, originally slated, but indisposed.

Miss Schymberg boasted an unusually attractive stage presence. Comely, petite and graceful, she was an ideal Susanna to the eye. Her impersonation was refined and filled with the spirit of youth. She brought the needed vivacity and sly humor to her interpretation and gave it real human appeal in a natural and unaffected way that won immediate favor with the large audience.

It would not be fair to the new artist to make any final sort of judgment of her vocal ability from her work in this opera. That will have to wait until she has appeared in at least one of the coloratura roles for which she is scheduled during the season. Last night the voice sounded light for so large an auditorium. For the most part, it was spread white and unsupported, but it improved in quality as the opera progressed and all of the singing was accurate and assured.

Miss Lipton delivered Cherubino’s music with tonal warmth and skill and entered fully into the spirit of the work. Others included Ezio Pinza as Figaro, John Brownlee as Count Almaviva, Eleanor Steber as the Countess, Salvatore Baccaloni as Bartolo, and Claramae Turner, Alessio de Paolis, Leslie Chabay, Lorenzo Alvary and Marita Farell in lesser roles. Fritz Busch conducted

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