The unforgettable soprano Lucia Popp died 21 years ago this weekend, aged 54. Had she lived, she would have been just 75 today.
Slovak by origin, trained in Bratislava and Prague, she was recruited by Herbert von Karajan for his Vienna cast and given her first Queen of the Night by Otto Klemperer. Later, as she turned from coloratura to lyric roles, she was closely involved with Carlos Kleiber and Georg Solti. The last time I heard her, in Salzburg, two years before her death from brain cancer, she gave the most serene and flawless performance of Martinu’s Julietta one could ever wish to hear. Few singers are irreplaceable. Lucia Popp was.