The soprano Karan Armstrong is dead. The singer died on Tuesday in Spain, as the Deutsche Oper Berlin announced on Wednesday, citing close family members. The American was 79 years old.
The “BZ” reported that Armstrong had died in a hospital in Marbella.
Armstrong made her house debut at the Deutsche Oper in 1977 in the role of Salome in the Richard Strauss opera of the same name. She gave her last appearance in 2016 as landlady Larina in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”. In total, she was on stage in over 400 evenings and 24 different roles. “Karan Armstrong has shaped the Deutsche Oper Berlin like few female singers for almost four decades,” said the house in an obituary.
Born in Havre, Montana in 1941, Armstrong made her debut at the San Francisco Opera in 1965 and shortly thereafter at the New York Metropolitan Opera. She had her first appearance in Europe in 1974 at the Opéra du Rhin in Strasbourg, France. In 1978 she met the director Götz Friedrich during production in Stuttgart, became his wife three years later, and followed him to Berlin at the Deutsche Oper, where Friedrich was director from 1981. Armstrong was “the ideal artist for her husband’s directorial theater,” said the obituary.
Armstrong’s repertoire ranged from Strauss and Wagner to Berg, Korngold, Poulenc, Shostakovich, and Weill. In 1985 she was appointed chamber singer in Baden-Württemberg and in 1994 in Berlin. In addition to her stage work, she gave master classes for young singers around the world. In 2009 she directed a production of “La Traviata” at the Rostock Volkstheater for the first time.
“The Deutsche Oper Berlin mourns the loss of a great singer and will cherish Karen Armstrong forever,” the house concluded.
Armstrong was at the peak of her career in 1982.
The couple was considered a rare artistic symbiosis until Friedrich’s death in 2000. From the opera’s point of view, Armstrong was “the ideal artist for her husband’s directorial theater,” whose repertoire was not limited to Strauss and Wagner, but also included operas by composers such as Berg, Korngold, Poulenc, Shostakovich, and Kurt Weill.