Christa Ludwig began her professional career at the age of 19 in Frankfurt as Orlovsky in Strauss's Die Fledermaus. Born in Berlin, she was taught by her mother, the singer Eugenie Besalla. In 1954, she made her Salzburg Festival debut as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and a year later joined the Vienna Staatsoper. She soon received invitations to appear at all the leading European and American opera houses and festivals, and embarked upon a distinguished recording career in which she has earned numerous awards. She is equally well known for her superb interpretations of Lieder, oratorio, and opera, particularly of Mozart roles (Dorabella), Verdi (Eboli and Amneris), Wagner (Brangaene, Fricka, Waltraute and Ortrud) and Strauss (Octavian, recorded with Karajan), as well as Dido in Les Troyens and Carmen. In addition to these and virtually every other major mezzo-soprano role, her repertoire also includes soprano parts, such as Leonore in Fidelio and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (both recorded under Klemperer), the title role of Lady Macbeth, and the Marschallin in Rosenkavalier (recorded with Bernstein). She is a renowned interpreter of Mahler, many of whose works she performed and recorded during her long-standing collaboration with Leonard Bernstein.