She didn’t buy the dramatic repertoire for many years, but these days many consider the Wagnerian soprano of our time.

You made your professional debut relatively late. Was there a reason for that?

Yes, I actually started singing quite late. I almost took a degree in business administration and economics at the university, but then I got admitted to the opera school. I was 30 when I left.

So was singing something you only picked up when you went to university?

No, I started to sing in the choir in school. Every class formed its own choir. I wasn’t really interested in singing solo. It was not until I went to high school in America, where you have to audition for everything, and all of a sudden I got the second highest score in the auditions for the Virginia State Chorus. I was very, very surprised, because I thought I had an ugly voice, but then my curiosity started to grow.

Nina Stemme as Elektra and Eric Owens as Orest in Richard Strauss’s Elektra. Photo by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Your professional debut was as Cherubino – an unusual choice for a Wagnerian soprano…