Nilsson, Christine



Christine Nilsson was born at Sjoabal, near Wexio, Sweden; the only daughter of a poor farmer. Her younger brother played upon the violin and when Christine was a very small child she often sang to her brother's accompaniment, and when nine years old had learned to play his instrument and sang and played Swedish melodies at village entertainments. At the age of twelve she was taken to country fairs to sing, and when thirteen the opportunity came which started her upon her brilliant career. She was singing at a fair in Llungby at a ventriloquist's booth, when Judge Toernerheljun was attracted by her sweet voice and her simple beauty and manner. He persuaded her parents to let him send her to Baroness Leuhusen, who gave her her first real instruction. She also sent Christine to Halmstadt to school. Later, in Stockholm, she was the pupil of Franz Berwald and in less than a year appeared as a singer at court. Baroness Leuhusen took her to Paris and she became a pupil of Wartel, and when twenty-one years old made her debut at the Lyric Theatre of Paris as Violetta in La Traviata, and afterwards appeared as Lady Henrietta, Elvira in Don Giovanni, and other roles. She remained at the Lyric for three years, then went to London, taking the part of Violetta at Her Majesty's Theatre and later achieved immense success as Marguerite in Faust. Many critics agree that Nilsson has never been excelled in this character. During the same season she sang in oratorio at Crystal Palace and at the Birmingham Festival. In 1868 she sang in Italian Opera at Drury Lane and at the Handel Festival, later in the year at Baden-Baden for the first time as Mignon, one of her most popular roles, and then returned to the Academy at Paris. The following year she appeared as Ophelia at Covent Garden, and then at Exeter Hall, London, in the Messiah, Creation, and Hymn of Praise.


Her first visit to America she made in 18701. In 1872 she was married in Westminster Abbey to M. Auguste Rouzeaud of Paris. She revisited America in 1873-1874. In 1881 she retired from the operatic stage, but continued in oratorios and concerts until 1888, when she gave up all public appearances. With Brignoli, Christine Nilsson gave a concert tour through the United States in 1884, and also through Spain, Russia and Sweden between 1881 and 1888. Her husband died in 1882, and five years after his death she was married to Count Casa di Miranda. Mme. Nilsson's only creation was the part of Edith in Balfe's Talismano, though she gave new interpretations to well-known roles. Her voice was marvelously sweet, brilliant and  even and she possessed great skill in vocalization, and was termed by some enthusiasts the new Swedish Nightingale. In her acting she showed great individuality, fine intuition, rare charm, and excellent power of expression.