RIA GINSTER, Soprano * 15 April 1898, Frankfurt, Germany + 11 May 1985, Zürich, Switzerland;


After enjoying much success as a violinist in her youth, she singing at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main and at the Berlin Musikhochschule under Louis Bachner. In 1923 she gave her first concerts. She soon gained international reputation in concert .She rarely appeared on the operatic stage. On the radio, she sang Mélisande and Suor Angelica. She performed in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland, England, France and Switzerland in the concert hall. From 1934 to 1939 she regularly visited the USA and Canada. In 1937 she sang the soprano solo in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Salzburg Festival. In London she was heard as a soloist in the Messiah under Sir Thomas Beecham. In 1938 Ria Ginster took over a class for concert singing at the Music Academy of Zürich where she remained more than 30 years. Among her pupils were Ursula Buckel, Margrit Conrad, Annelies Gamper, Uta Graf, and Kurt Widmer.

Short Biography by Charles Rhodes

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Posted by on April 17, 2018 in Sopranos


ERNA SPOORENBERG, Soprano * 11 April 1926, Yogyakarta, Indonesia + 18 March 2004, Vught, Netherlands;


Born in Indonesia, she studied voice with Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius in Hilversum and with Berthe Seroen in Amsterdam in addition to violin at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. In 1947 she made her debut on Radio Hilversum singing Mozart’s “Exsultate Jubilate”. In 1949 she made her stage debut at the Vienna State Opera. Violetta was her first role at the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam in 1955. In 1958 she caused a sensation there in Lortzing’s “Der Wildschütz”. In 1960 she appeared in the world premiere of “Martin Korda” by Henk Badings. In 1963 she appeared at the Grand Théâtre Geneva in the premiere of the opera “Monsieur de Pourceaugnac” by Frank Martin. Her repertoire included the Queen of the Night, Pamina, Konstanze, Susanna, Donna Elvira, Fiordiligi, Norina, Gilda, Olympia , Juliette, and Anna in “La Dame Blanche” .


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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Sopranos


ENRICO DELLE SEDIE, Baritone * 17 June 1822, Livorno, Italy + 28 November 1907, La Garenne-Colombes, France;


Enrico Augusto Delle Sedie (17 June 1822 – 28 November 1907) was an Italian operatic baritone who sang extensively in Europe, performing the bel canto repertoire and in works by Verdi.

Early life
He was born in Livorno and studied with Cesario Galeffi.
After retiring from the stage, he taught at the Paris Conservatory from 1876 to 1886 and later privately. The renowned lyric tenor Alessandro Bonci was one of his pupils. “Although his voice was small, his style and musicianship were regarded as outstanding”.

Delle Sedie wrote two treatises on singing (1876, 1886) as well as the book Riflessioni sulle cause della decadenza della scuola di canto in Italia (Reflections on the decline of the School of Singing in Italy) (Paris, 1881).

A street in Livorno, the city of his birth, is named after him.



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Posted by on April 8, 2018 in Baritones


GERD BRENNEIS, Tenor * January 1936, Nienhagen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany + 13 March 2003 Güstrow, Germany;;


Gerd Brenneis (1 March 1930, Nienhagen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – 13 March 2003, Güstrow) was a German operatic tenor who had an active international career from the late 1950s through the 1990s. Known for his interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner, he worked as a principal artist at many of the world’s great opera houses, including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Vienna State Opera.

Life and career
Brenneis was trained in the opera studio of the Berlin State Opera (BSO) where he began his performance career in the opera chorus during the 1950s. In 1958 he performed in the world premiere of Darius Milhaud’s Fiesta at the BSO. In 1959 he began his career as a principal tenor at the Essen Opera House where he first appeared as Don Curzio in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. His first major critical success came soon after at that house in the title role of Britten’s Albert Herring.

From 1961-1972 Brenneis was a leading tenor at Theater Augsburg. Here he achieved a reputation as a gifted Wagnerian tenor in roles like Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and the title heroes in Lohengrin and Parsifal. While still committed to Theater Augsburg, Brenneis was a principal artist at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein from 1970-1972. He was later under contract as a leading tenor at the Hamburg State Opera (1972-1977), the Staatsoper Stuttgart (1975-1977), and the Vienna State Opera (1976-1985). He made his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1974 as Max in Der Freischütz, and was thereafter a resident artist at that house until 1996. One of his last great successes at that house was as Erik in Der fliegende Holländer in 1994.

In addition to his portrayal of Wagner heroes, Brenneis excelled in the roles of Max in Der Freischütz and Dimitrij in Boris Godunov. He worked extensively as a guest artist during his career. He appeared in several roles at the Bayreuth Festival in 1973 and 1974, including Siegmund in Die Walküre, Walther von der Vogelweide in Tannhäuser, and Walther von Stolzing.

In 1975 Brenneis made his debut at La Scala as Florestan in Fidelio under conductor Karl Böhm. In 1976, 1981, and 1983 he appeared as a guest artist at the Metropolitan Opera, portraying the roles of Froh in Das Rheingold, the Emperor in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Parsifal, Siegmund, Walther von Stolzing, and the title role in Tannhäuser. In 1988 he portrayed Seigfried in a complete production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Opéra de Nice. Other important engagements included the Liceu (1977), New Orleans Opera (1977), the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (1984), Teatro Regio di Turino (1984, 1988), and Pretoria Opera (1985). In 1981 he sang Lonengrin for his debut at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

He portrayed the title role in the 1992 film version of Wagner’s Rienzi with Jeannine Altmeyer as Irene. Other roles he performed on stage included Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos and Tristan in Tristan und Isolde. He was named a Kammersänger of the city of Berlin.


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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Tenors


MIMI LERNER, Mezzo-Soprano * 20 May 1945, Sambir, Ukraine + 29 March 2007, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States;


Mimi Lerner (May 20, 1945 — March 29, 2007) was a Polish-American mezzo-soprano and later head of the voice department at Carnegie Mellon University.

Lerner was born Emilia Lipczer in Sambir, Ukraine, in 1945 to Jewish parents who hid in the woods to avoid Nazis until she was one. They then moved to Paris and later to the Bronx.

Lerner graduated from Queens College with a bachelor’s degree in music education. She was teaching in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while earning a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon. What started as a singing hobby led to her debut at the New York City Opera in 1979, singing Sextus in La clemenza di Tito. Later NYCO assignments included Adalgisa in Norma, Bradamante in Alcina, Smeton in Anna Bolena, and leading roles in the Central Park trilogy (which consists of Deborah Drattell and Wendy Wasserstein’s The Festival of Regrets, Michael Torke and A. R. Gurney’s Strawberry Fields, and Robert Beaser and Terrence McNally’s The Food of Love).

Since the early 1980s she was a regular guest artist with opera companies throughout the United States, including the Dallas Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Opera, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Washington National Opera. She appeared on the international stage at La Scala, the Théâtre du Châtelet, and the Glyndebourne Festival.


She died in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland from complications of a heart tumor, which had been diagnosed a dozen years earlier. She was 61 years old.

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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos


LEONORA SPARKES, Mezzo-Soprano * 1883, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom + 8 June 1969, Erie, Pennsylvania, United States;


Lenora Beatrice Sparkes (1879 – June 8 1969) was a British-American mezzo-soprano who performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in the 1910s
She was born in 1879 in Gloucestershire, England to Jacob Sparkes and Elizabeth Mountain. Andreas Dippel heard her sing at Covent Garden and offered her a contract at the Metropolitan Opera in 1908.[3]

She appeared in the American premiere of Boris Godunov at the Metropolitan Opera as Tsarevna Xenia Borisovna of Russia on March 19, 1913 with Arturo Toscanini conducting.[4]

She sang with Enrico Caruso three times, including in the MET’s production of Aida in 1913. Her career was primarily spent in London and New York, but she also sang in Paris.

She died in Erie, Pennsylvania aged 90


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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos


LUCILLA UDOVICH, Soprano * 07 September 1930, Denver, Colorado, United States + 09 July 1999, Rome, Italy, (some sources say September 23);



A Colorado native, she was raised in California where her training began in voice, violin and piano.Touring with Beniamino Gigli in Italy opened many doors for her. The recording here was the vehicle for her operatic debut. She sang major roles in the principle opera houses of Italy before severe back and spinal problems limited her ability to stand. 104 performances of Turandot. Tosca and Aida. Peter Grimes and Elettra in “Idomeneo”.


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Posted by on April 2, 2018 in Sopranos

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