Malena Ernman has good intentions, but her political opposition to Birgit Nilsson in a Wagner role on a new banknote is plain silly. And the media suggestion that Nilsson was antisemitic is based on a selective misreading of her autobiography.
500 kr banknote controversy
Opera singer Malena Ernman has criticized the Riksbank for choosing a design where Birgit Nilsson has been depicted performing Die Walküre by Richard Wagner. She pointed out that it was very inappropriate to include something by Wagner, whose works were closely associated with Nazi Germany, in a time of increasing problems with antisemitism in Sweden. The Riksbank replied saying that it’s ‘unfortunate that the choice of design is seen as negative’, and stated that it’s not going to be changed.
Dagens Nyheter journalist Björn Wiman went further in his criticism, condemning the Riksbank for selecting Nilsson at all for the 500 kr banknote. He brings up an example from Nilsson’s 1995 autobiography, where she described Mauritz Rosengarten fromDecca using antisemitic jokes about greed.