Sara Magdalena "Malena" Ernman, born 4 November 1970 in Uppsala, Sweden, is a Swedish opera singer (Lirica mezzo-soprano). Outside the world of opera and operettas, she has also performed chansons, cabaret, jazz, and appeared in musicals, and she has declared that she is very much attracted to the attributes of varité theatre and small, intimate stage rooms. She is a member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Ernman represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow, Russia.
Ernman spent her childhood and school years in Sandviken, a small town known in Sweden for producing many musical artists, mainly in jazz. Ernman was educated at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, the Music Conservatory in Orléans, France, and at the school of the Royal Swedish Opera. She is married to actor Svante Thunberg, and has two daughters, Greta and Beata.
Ernman has sung several major roles with the Staatsoper Berlin, including Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and Zerlina in Don Giovanni, both under conductor Daniel Barenboim. She performed Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Staatsoper Berlin, the Royal Opera Stockholm and the Finnish National Opera. With the Royal Opera Stockholm she has also sung the title role in Carmen and Kaja in Sven-David Sandström’s Staden.
Ernman worked with conductor René Jacobs in the roles of Nerone in Agrippina, Roberto in Scarlatti’s Griselda and Diana in Cavalli’s La Calisto.
In 2001 she sang Sesto in Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the Drottningholm Festival. She appeared at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2002 singing Nancy in Albert Herring and in 2003 singing Orlovsky in Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus. During the 2003/2004 season Ernman sang Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at La Monnaie in Brussels. At the Aix-en-Provence Festival that year, she performed as Lichas in Hercules with Les Arts Florissants under conductor William Christie, a role that was later revived at the Paris Opera and the Vienna Festival. During the spring and summer of 2005, she performed the title role in Philippe Boesmans’s Julie at la Monnaie, the Vienna Festival and Aix-en-Provence. In spring of 2006 she sang the title role of Dido and Aeneas with William Christie in Vienna and Nerone in Agrippina at Oper Frankfurt.
In 2006 Ernman made her debut at the Salzburg Festival as Annio in La clemenza di Tito under conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt. In 2007 her roles included Sesto in Giulio Cesare with René Jacobs in Vienna, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with Daniel Harding in Aix-en-Provence and Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea in Amsterdam. In 2008 she sang Angelina in La Cenerentola with the Royal Swedish Opera and Dido and Aeneas with Christie and the Opéra-Comique in Paris. In 2009 she reprised Angelina in La Cenerentola with Oper Frankfurt and the Swedish Royal Opera, and Dido in Dido and Aeneas with Christie in Vienna and Amsterdam. In 2011 she sang Eduige in the Nicolas Harnoncourt-led production of Handel's Rodelinda at the Theater an der Wien.
Ernman has performed several concert pieces as well. At the Salzburgg Festival she sang Mozart’s "Waisenhausmesse" with conductor Frans Brüggen. She performed Berio’s "Folksongs" with the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Carlo Rizzi, and at the Verbier Festival with Gustavo Dudamel. She sang the world premiere of "Nachtgesänge" by Fabian Müller with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra. In Minneapolis she sang Mozart’s "Requiem" with Arnold Östman.
During the 2001/2002 season she performed Bach’s St John Passion in Notre Dame de Paris with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and John Nelson. She also sang Mozart’s "Requiem" with the Berlin Philharmonic, and had a recital in Tokyo. In the 2004/2005 season she made her Wigmore Hall debut singing "Sea Pictures in Trondheim" and Berio’s "Folksongs" with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. At the 1999 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony Ernman performed as a soloist.
Ernman currently has concerts in Tokyo, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Paris, London and Los Angeles, with notable conductors including Marc Minkowski, Daniel Barenboim, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs and Sir Simon Rattle.
2009 Melodifestivalen and Eurovision
On 28 November 2008 it was announced that Ernman would enter Melodifestivalen 2009 for the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, with the song "La voix" written by Fredrik Kempe. On 28 February 2009 Ernman competed in the 4th semi-final of Melodifestivalen in Malmö and became a finalist. She went on to win the final on 14 March at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, and to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. She qualified as a finalist on 12 May and performed in the finals on 16 May, where she finished 21st with 33 points. "La voix" was the first Swedish entry to contain a substantial amount of French lyrics; it was written by Ernman herself, who speaks French fluently.
Ernman revealed that the dress for her Eurovision performance cost 400,000 kronor (€37,471) and was made by designer Camilla Thulin. Singer Dea Norberg joined Ernman as one of the choirgirls.
Ernman later participated in the Second Chance round of Melodifestivalen 2015 as a guest singer for Behrang Miris entry.
- 2010: appointed Hovsångerska (lit. "court singer") by Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
- 2000: Naïve (KMH)
- 2001: Cabaret Songs (BIS)
- 2003: Songs in Season (Nytorp Musik)
- 2003: My Love (BIS)
- 2009: La Voix du Nord
- 2010: Santa Lucia – En klassisk jul (Christmas album)
- 2011: Opera di Fiori (Roxy Recordings/Universal)
- 2013: I decembertid
- 2014: SDS
- 2016: Sverige
- Songs in Season (Nytorp Musik)
- Nachtgesänge (Col legno)
- 2009: "La voix" - sung at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009
- 2010: "Min plats på jorden"
- Die Fledermaus (Glyndebourne Festival Opera)
- Julie (Boesmans)
- Hercules (William Christie)
- Dido and Aeneas (William Christie)
- La Cenerentola (Stockholm)
- Rodelinda (Harnoncourt, Belvedere BVD10144)