Clip | Birgit Nilsson: A League of Her Own - Birgit and her “Tosca” Co-Stars

Nilsson performed “Tosca” numerous times in her career. See rare footage of her with her 1968 co-star, Italian lyric tenor Gianni Raimondi, and hear Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo describe performing a matinee with her in 1969.

Premieres Friday, March 22 at 9:00 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Streams beginning March 23 pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps.

Transcript Print

(singing in foreign language) (door knocking) (singing in foreign language) - Yes, Come in.

(door knocking) Come in!

(converses in a foreign language) - Good luck, good luck.

(converses in foreign language) Do not kill me, not kill me with that voice!

(converses in foreign language) - You are Nilsson, you are Nilsson.

- No, no, no, no, you are Raimondi.

- The first time that we really met she was going to sing the matinee of Tosca, at the Metropolitan Opera.

And it was supposed to sing Franco Corelli, and Mr. Bing called me, urgently, and he asked me if I could sing the matinee of Tosca, and so he give me the news that it was with Birgit.

so you can imagine (chuckles) the great, emotional day for me.

How can I describe, you know, to be near such a monumental artist, with a big, big voice and I immediately found out her sense of humor that she had, and how much she was treating me, she was mothering me, like saying, 'Don't worry', you know, I'm there to help you, I'm with you' and so everything went beautiful.

(singing in foreign language)