This summer, iconic opera singer Birgit Nilsson will be remembered with a week-long jubilee in Båstad culminating in a world-class performance of Verdi’s Masked Ball at the tennis stadium’s centre court, with international opera stars such as Joyce El-Khoury and Michael Fabiano.

Birgit Nilsson (1918–2005) was one of the greatest opera singers of the 20th century. Her superb voice and supreme stage presence were praised by critics and audiences alike, bringing her international recognition as the world’s leading dramatic soprano and a legendary interpreter of especially Wagner, Strauss and Puccini.

Opera stars celebrate Birgit Nilsson in Verdi’s Masked Ball

Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Nikolaj Lund

The Birgit Nilsson Days is a summer festival celebrating her legacy, taking place 4-10 August on the Bjäre peninsula in southern Sweden. The week-long celebration begins with master classes under the guidance of Royal Swedish Court singer and leading dramatic soprano/mezzo-soprano, Katarina Dalayman. Opera students from all over the world are invited to apply for the four-day open course, which ends with a student concert at the Ravinen Culture Centre in Båstad.

Birgit was keen to encourage the young generation and she established a national stipendium for young Swedish singers. This year’s recipient will be announced on Birgit Nilsson’s birthday 17 May, and the stipendium concert takes place during the Birgit Nilsson Days in Västra Karup’s church, where the soprano herself regularly performed.

Opera stars celebrate Birgit Nilsson in Verdi’s Masked Ball

Photo: Beth Bergman

Verdi’s Masked Ball at the centre court

The week culminates with Giuseppe Verdi’s famous opera Masked Ball (Un ballo in Maschera), which has in fact been called “a Swedish national opera.” It is based on the true story of the assassination of King Gustav lll of Sweden, who was shot while attending a masked ball at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. It entails everything for the perfect night at the opera; drama, love and death.

The opera is directed by prominent stage director Staffan Valdemar Holm and will be performed at the centre court at Båstad’s tennis stadium, with room for 3,000 in the audience. 60 years ago, Birgit Nilsson made an acclaimed appearance here. “It’s a dream for us to offer Masked Ball at the same location where she once performed,” says Max Låke, producer. “This is also the perfect homage to Birgit, who loved when local musicians and singers had the chance to meet world-class ensembles.”

Master conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi leads eight opera soloists as well as Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra and a large choir of singers from the region. ”It’s going to be a sensational performance with a wonderful mix of classic music, a fantastic director and ensemble, and a festive yet mysterious atmosphere at the centre court in Båstad, the summer city,” promises Låke. “We expect opera fans as well as music enthusiasts of all ages – and hopefully lots of people will show up to the opera in glamorous fancy dress!”

Opera stars celebrate Birgit Nilsson in Verdi’s Masked Ball

Birgit Nilsson singing at the tennis stadium in Båstad 1964. Photos: Birgit Nilsson Stiftelsen

World-class singers heading to Båstad

The role of Amelia in Masked Ball was one of Birgit’s absolute favourites. In Båstad, we will see Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury in this role. Her voice has been compared to Maria Callas and she has recently celebrated great triumphs in several prestigious contexts including the title role in Bellini’s Norma at the Herodesion in Athens, a performance in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Maria Callas.

American singer Michael Fabiano, one of the world’s foremost tenors with the whole world as his field of work, plays the opera’s title role Gustav III. This year, Fabiano is also performing as Don José in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Madrid, to name a few other noticeable roles.

Performing in Masked Ball are also American mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong and Spanish soprano Marina Monzó, both visiting Sweden for the first time, as well as Swedish opera stars Fredrik Zetterström, Anton Ljungqvist, Anders Lorentzson and Magnus Lindegård.

Opera stars celebrate Birgit Nilsson in Verdi’s Masked Ball

Birgit Nilsson singing at the tennis stadium in Båstad 1964. Photos: Birgit Nilsson Stiftelsen

Facebook: birgitnilssonmuseum
Instagram: @birgitnilssonmuseum

Birgit Nilsson Days, 4–10 August 2024

Master Class in Birgit Nilsson hall, Ravinen, 4–7 August
Master Class concert in Birgit Nilsson hall, Ravinen, 8 August
Stipendium concert in Västra Karup church, 9 August
Masked Ball, open-air concert, Båstad tennis stadium, 10 August

Masked Ball – ensemble:

Michael Fabiano – Gustav III
Fredrik Zetterström – Anckarström
Joyce El-Khoury – Amelia
Elizabeth DeShong – Ulrica
Marina Monzó – Oscar
Anton Ljungqvist – Horn
Anders Lorentzson – Ribbing
Magnus Lindegård – Matrosen
Helsingborgs Symphony Orchestra
Choirs from Bjäre and Helsingborg
Pier Giorgio Morandi – conductor
Staffan Valdemar Holm – director

Throughout the summer, the Birgit Nilsson Museum will be open, offering visitors the chance to step back in time and explore the singer’s childhood home – where she dreamed of a life in the world of song and opera.

For tickets to Masked Ball in Båstad, visit

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Receive our monthly newsletter by email

    I accept the Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy