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Christina Nilsson, circa 1874
Christina Nilsson, Countess de Casa Miranda, (20 August, 1843 - 20 November, 1921) was a Swedishmarker operatic soprano. She possessed a brilliant bel canto technique and was considered a rival to the Victoria era's most famous diva, Adelina Patti. She was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music (1869).


Nilsson as Ophelia, caricatured by André Gill, 1868
Christina Nilsson was born Kristina Jonasdotter in the village of Sjöabol, near Växjömarker, Smålandmarker, to the peasants Jonas Nilsson and Cajsa-Stina Månsdotter. She was discovered by a prominent civil servant when, aged 14, she was playing the violin at a market in Ljungbymarker. He soon became her patron, enabling her to have vocal training.

In 1860 she gave concerts in Stockholmmarker and Uppsalamarker. After four years' study in Parismarker, she had her operatic d√©but 1864 as Violetta in Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata at the Th√©√Ętre Lyriquemarker, Paris. After this success she sang at major opera houses in Londonmarker, Saint Petersburgmarker, Viennamarker and New Yorkmarker. She also appeared in the Metropolitan Opera's inaugural performance on October 22, 1883 in Gounod's Faust.

Nilsson was married in Westminster Abbeymarker to the French banker Auguste Rouzaud, who later died in 1882. In 1887 she married Angel Ramon Maria Vallejo y Miranda, Count de Casa Miranda, who died in 1902. In correspondence, Nilsson often signed her first name as Christine, and during the last part of her life she was generally known as the Countess de Casa Miranda.

She died in Vaxjo, Sweden in 1921. Unfortunately, unlike Patti, she never made gramophone recordings of her voice.

In culture

Autographed photograph

There are many similarities between Nilsson and the character of Christine Daaé in Gaston Leroux's novel Phantom of the Opera, and many believe Leroux based the character off of the real-life opera singer, although evidence for this is unverified.

The Dutch artist Anton Pieck (1895-1987) has an illustration of a street corner scene, in which a sandwich man advertises a performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Opera by Christine Nilsson. At the corner, by the sign of the Old Queen's Head Inn, stands a man selling jack-in-the-boxes. At the center of the scene, which presumably takes place in England (London?), circa 1890, we see a man pedaling a penny-farthing.

Edith Wharton's novel The Age of Innocence (1920) opens with a description of a performance of Gounod's Faust at the Academy of Music in New York City in the early 1870s with Nilsson performing the role of Marguerite. It is possible that Wharton's impressions actually originated from performances at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1880s (she was still a child in the early 1870s). Nilsson is also mentioned in later portions of the novel.

Nilsson is mentioned briefly in Leo Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina.

External links


  • Gustaf Hillestr√∂m: Kungl. Musikaliska Akademien, Matrikel 1771-1971 (The Royal Academy of Music 1771-1971) (in Swedish)
  • The Compelling: A Performance-Oriented Study of the Singer Christina Nilsson, Ingegerd Bj√∂rklund, G√∂teborgmarker, 2001
    • Die Goede Oude Tyd, by Anton Pieck and Leonhard Huizinga, Zuid-Hollandsche Uitgeversmaatschappy, Amsterdam, 1980, page 31.
    • De Werelde van Anton Pieck, text by Hans Vogelesang, La Riviere & Voorhoeve, Kampen, 1987, page 197.

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