The Operatic Note: Birgit Nilsson Depicted on Riksbank Sweden's 500 Kronor Banknote Performing Wagner's 'Die Walküre'

By Ian Holubiak | Jan 26, 2015 11:59 AM EST

The late great Wagnerian soprano, Birgit Nilsson, has been able to hit all the right notes. And now, Sweden's central bank, Sverigis Riksbank, has unveiled the finished artwork for its new series of banknotes. Nilsson will be worth 500 kronor from Oct. 2015 and on.

An interesting concept, sure, the new money has been several years in the making, the finaly style having been chosen as part of a national outreach competition. The "operatic" note beautifully reflects Nilsson as she performs Die Walküre.

However, the new banknote has come under scrutiny by opera singer Malena Ernman. Norman Lebrecht reported that Ernman criticized the Riksbank for depicting Nilsson performing a work by Wagner.

Per the singer, she claims that the depiction is inappropriate since Wagner and his works were closely associated with Nazi Germany, during a time of increasing problems with anti-Semitism in Sweden.


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