Ms. Sunnegardh's career was delayed despite an impeccable musical
pedigree. Both parents were prominent voice teachers in Sweden, and a
half-brother is a tenor. Her father, Arne, was the last teacher of Birgit
Nilsson, the legendary Swedish soprano, and a touring accompanist for
the tenor Jussi Bjoerling, another great. She had superb training in
Stockholm, attending a choir school and studying modern dance.
Stepping Onstage as a Waitress, She May Exit the Met as a Star
Daniel J. Waking / NYTimes / 4-1-06
Until 18 months ago, Erika Sunnegardh, a soprano, had never sung
an opera role on stage.
Erika Sunnegardh makes an unexpected Metropolitan Opera debut
Saturday, replacing Karita Mattila and getting the prized broadcast
matinee. For nearly 20 years she toiled as a waitress, caterer
and tour guide in New York. Sure, there was singing: a few
recitals and plenty of funerals as a church cantor in the Bronx.
Often the choice boiled down to rent or voice lessons.
But in a story that will give a jolt of hope to every would-be
performer with a serving tray, Ms. Sunnegardh, 40, has been
assigned to appear today at the Metropolitan Opera in the title
role of Beethoven's "Fidelio" as a last-minute substitute for
an ailing Karita Mattila. What's more, the performance is one
of the house's Saturday radio broadcasts, heard by 10 million
people around the world.
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