Sadness: Anne Sofie von Otter is tragically widowed

Sadness: Anne Sofie von Otter is tragically widowed


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2018

The Swedish mezzo is flying home from Australia after the sudden death of her husband, the distinguished Swedish theatre director, Benny Fredriksson.

Benny died on Saturday, aged 58. The couple, who had been married since 1989, had spent time together with other members of the family in New Zealand ahead of concert performances in Sydney and Adelaide.

Benny Fredriksson was head of the Stockholm state theatre for 16 years until his resignation at the end of last year after press criticism of his attitudes at work. His death on Saturday was announced by the theatre.

A statement has been issued on behalf of Ms von Otter: ‘The family is crushed by the loss of their beloved husband, father and grandfather and asks for their privacy to be respected.’

Our thoughts are with them.

UPDATE: Theatre says it was suicide.


  • buxtehude says:

    Exquisite artist, admirable personality — may her recovery be swift.

    • Una says:

      Anne Sophie will never recover from this. Suicide is just dreadful for those left behind. It is never a normal death and people never recover. They just learn to live and cope with the awful sadness and loss.

      Thank you for posting this. I have known her as a colleague for many years since the 80s, and only saw her in Manchester last year when she did a wonderful open class for a bunch of singing students at the RNCM, so I will write to her now this evening.

      • Alain Cosandey says:

        Yes, what you write about recover after suicide of relatives or friends is true. All my condolences to Mrs Van Otter and her family. May the music help her muster the strength and courage to go on!

      • buxtehude says:

        All true; perhaps I should have written May she return to us soon, instead of “recover.” On a 1-10 scale of being crushed by such an event, I was expressing the hope she would find herself toward the resilient end.

  • Novagerio says:

    He took his own life due to a notorious witch-hunt…

    • Sophia says:

      witch hunt – you name it! Time to wake up and think about sensational journalism.

      Unless I am mistaken journalism turns yellow almost everywhere.
      Thanks, Norman for linking to David Lindén – alas: too late!
      Let’s hope that the point of return is reached.
      Benny Fredriksson (1959-2018)
      – Thinking of his family and deeply saddened.

      • Alan says:

        Horrible and irremediable. But a moment of shame is probably not in their agenda. Feel the anger as well. Anne-Sophie has long been been my heart after listening to a random CD many years ago (Sibelius “ var et en drom”). I hope they are so ashamed but will not be, just part of life and triumph! Condolences to the family, for what it is worth.

    • MacroV says:

      I am totally unfamiliar with the backstory. But “witch hunt” would imply that press (and 40 persons making assertions of inappropriate behavior) are not only engaged in fabrication but are pursuing it maliciously. If so, they should be held to account. But that’s a lot of people. And if there’s anything to it, looking into it and reporting on it is called journalism.

      That said, I offer sincere condolences to the great Mme. Von Otter; nobody deserves to have this happen to them.

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    She is one of the greatest artists of our time, and a lovely person. I only hope that her voice is not stilled too.

  • Elizabeth Ferido-Bohlin says:

    It took time to recover from that unexpected shock about the demise of Anne Sofie’s husband – Benny Fredriksson. Today, I decided to walk to the Stockholm House of Culture and Theatre where he had been Chief Director for many years and saw people queuing to sign a Book of Condolence below his framed portrait.
    I conveyed my own thoughts: “A time of sorrow for an un-retrievable loss and pray that Anne Sofie musters the strength to go on because she has so much to give the world with her heavenly voice”.

    Only two weeks ago I received via FaceBook their pictures together in snowy Paris where Anne Sofie was in the “Dialogue of the Carmelites” cast. I still can’t figure out the speed of time and abrupt changes. And that feeling of sadness descends into anger on those who had a hand in this horrific tragedy. Is it the media who has gone berserk in writing lies and pure innuendoes? Likewise one thinks that that #MeToo movement has become nothing but a witch hunt and terrorist group. Freedom has limits, it does not come without responsibilities. I hope Justice will be extracted and prevail in this case.

    I have been an avid fan of Anne Sofie von Otter for a long time, having collected all her CDs and never miss attending her concerts including the Nobel Gala in 2001. It brings a lot of joy listening to her in the morning and even dining with guests with her singing in the background. Two signed big portraits of her hang in my home – Living room and Dining room.

  • Anders Bergström says:

    Tänker på dej-har upplevt liknande.
    Hatar uttrycket”beklagar sorgen.”
    Din gamla kollega
    Anders Bergström

  • YS says:

    I deeply regret what burden Mrs. von Otter and her family have to bear by now.

    I admire her since 1982…

    But nevertheless, despite finding yellow press a big shame also, 40 people do probably not lie and I guess he really might be guilty in some respect….

    But I am touched in my soul that he did not seem to see another solution than committing suicide..

    For those who are having to deal with that by now, this is like hell…

    Mrs von Otter is a professional artist but simultaneously sensible

    May be this might even give reason to think about the possibility she might reduce or even quit singing…

    Which would be an immense loss..

    All the best to her and her relatives

    For my point of view it is cruel to confront their beloved ones with suicide, to be honest.

  • SOPHIA says:

    “But nevertheless, despite finding yellow press a big shame also, 40 people do probably not lie and I guess he really might be guilty in some respect….”

    – IMHO one has to disagree reading Benny Fredriksson’s ‘guilt’ keeping in mind that the city of Stockholm has commissioned a report which was released last week.
    ( )

    In short the summary is as follows:

    – There was * n o * sexual harassment from the management.
    – Some employees of this really huge cultural institution “Kulturhuset-Stadsteatern” regarded Benny Fredriksson’s style of leadership as very inspiring. Others complained about too much workload and his allegedly sometimes biting criticism if things did not go as well as possible.

    I do hope there will be an similar investigation regarding Åsa Linderborg and Aftonbladet!
    Those 40 people wished to preserve anonymity and meanwhile Swedish press says that most of them where contacted by Ms. Linderborg and not that they contacted the media by themselves… .

    “May be this might even give reason to think about the possibility she might reduce or even quit singing…
    Which would be an immense loss.. ”

    – Indeed, it would be an immense loss but there is hope that she will continue after some time, since „Komische Oper“ in Berlin says that her new programme is just postponed:

    Prenez courage, Anne Sofie von Otter & family !

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    Violinist Pip Clarke lost her husband the same way under similar circumstances. RIP