In Aachen, Christa’s Viennese father, Anton Ludwig, a former tenant who sang with Enrico Caruso on the old Met, was the director and manager of the Opera House stage; Her mother sang in the company, and performed several roles under an up-and-conductor named Herbert von Karajan. Krista witnessed those performances and many others. “I practically lived in the theater,” she said in her 1993 memoir, later published in English under the title “In My Own Words”.
Her mother gave her singing lessons as a girl and remained her lifelong coach, going to her rehearsals and performances and spending most of her life with Ms. Ludwig. “I really want to give everything to him,” he said. But Ms. Ludwig described her mother as an inflexible and sometimes suffocating presence who dominated her life at the age of 60 before feeling able to cut ties.
During the war, a half-brother was killed on the Eastern Front. Food is rationed and Christa is sent to work in a farm. The family’s home and belongings in Giessen, where Mr. Ludwig became director of the municipal theater, were destroyed in the Allied bombardment, rendering them homeless. With the arrival of American troops, Ms. Ludwig said in her memoir, she and her parents were assigned an abandoned apartment with a piano that was used as a toilet.
Krista’s mother gave a voice. “Ludwig wrote,” was a great way to study singing, forgetting the ruins of the way we lived, the still-smoldering coal cellar and the stench of ashes.
The young singer soon found work at the American Officers’ Club singing popular tunes, a costume made of a Nazi flag. She was paid in cigarettes and could steal whatever food she wanted. Once her father, who was a member of the Nazi party, was maligned, she was held at her job and a variety of shows around the city, which featured her daughter.
Ms. Ludwig received her first major contract at the Frankfurt Opera in 1946, and made her first debut as Prince Orlofsky in “Die Fledermaus”. Her mother, who has recently been divorced from her father, moved into the city with him in an unhealthy room and began daily lessons.