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German-born soprano legend Elizabeth Schwarzkopf dies at 90


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German-born opera singer Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, regarded as one of the greatest sopranos of her age, has died at the age of 90 in Schruns in western Austria, according to the Austria Press Agency.

Schwarzkopf, whom famed conductor Herbert von Karajan described in 1946 as "maybe the best singer in Europe," began her career in 1938 in Berlin before moving to Vienna.

She debuted in 1947 at the Salzburg Music Festival as Susanna in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," on an invitation from von Karajan, and performed on the greatest stages of Europe with the Vienna Opera.

But Schwarzkopf, who later adopted British citizenship, was also criticised for belonging to the Nazi party during World War II and was nicknamed the "Nazi Diva" by the New York Times.

The singer died in Schruns, in the western province of Vorarlberg, where she had been living for the past few years, on Thursday at 1:15 am (2315 GMT Wednesday), according to the Marent Peter funeral home.

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AFP 031757 GMT 08 06

COPYRIGHT 2006 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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