born April 17, 1940, Berlin
Anja Silja Regina Langwagen is a German soprano who is known for her great abilities as a singing-actress and for the vastness of her repertoire.
Silja began her operatic career at a very early age, with her grandfather, Egon Friedrich Maria Anders van Rijn, as her voice teacher. She sang Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville at Braunschweig in 1956, following this with Micaëla in Carmen and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos.
The important part of her career began in 1959, when she sang the Queen of Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Vienna State Opera (under Karl Böhm) and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. France-Soir dubbed her „a second Callas.” Other early roles included Leonora in Il trovatore, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, the four heroines of Les contes d’Hoffmann, Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte.
Of her Salome, Harold Rosenthal wrote in Opera, in 1968: „Anja Silja’s performance was a tour-de-force. Her voice is not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but it is clearly projected, and every phrase carries its overtones – psychological not musical – which suggest the child-like degenerate, over-sexed princess in all too clear a manner. Her nervous, almost thin body is never still; she rolls on her stomach and on her back; she crawls, she slithers, she leaps, she kneels…. There is no denying that this is one of the great performances of our time”
Richard Wagner – Tristan und Isolde Rome Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, Conductor: André Cluytens, Tristan: Hans Beirer, Isolde: Anja Silja (Audio, 1965)