MONTSERRAT CABALLÉ, Soprano 12 April 1933, Barcelona, Spain + 6 October 2018, Barcelona, Spain;



Opera soprano Montserrat Caballé dies, age 85
Critics and audiences the world over viewed Caballé as one of the great opera divas. DW takes a look at her successes and triumphs across diverse genres.

As announced by The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona, Montserrat Caballé passed away early Saturday morning. The famous operatic opera star will be laid to rest on Monday.

When Montserrat Caballé was born on April 12, 1933, her parents named her after a nearby mountain range close to Barcelona. Yet no one in the family might have dreamed that the newborn would go on to conquer the lofty summits of coloratura singing, or would be revered as the “queen of bel canto.”

From Bremen out into the world


On stage in 1968

After studying voice at a conservatory in her native Barcelona, Montserrat Caballé made her debut in 1956 at the Theater Basel, where she played the consumptive Mimi in Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Three years later, the young soprano joined the ensemble of the Theater Bremen, where she consistently developed her repertoire and studied diverse soprano parts.

As audiences in the rather restrained northern German city of Bremen enthusiastically applauded the singer, foreign houses also became aware of Caballé. When in New York in 1965, the soprano stepped in for singer Marilyn Horne, who had fallen ill, and performed Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia” without a rehearsal. “This is the bel canto specialist we’ve been waiting for,” cheered enthusiastic critics after Caballé’s impressive performance.

Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti


On stage with Jose Carreras at a benefit concert in 1995

This sudden New York success might have surprised the singer but it was a pivotal step on her international career path. In an interview about the Italian vocal style decades later, she said of her New York performance: “Bel canto always sounded too much like the cry of a rooster. Mozart was better. The conductor simply told me to sing it as though it were Mozart.”

Although Caballé often interpreted works by Mozart or Richard Strauss, audiences especially wanted to hear her perform virtuoso coloratura parts in operas by Gioacchino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti. Indeed, rising demand for the soprano saw her soon make appearances at the Met in New York, as well as major international opera houses in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, London, Paris, Milan or Buenos Aires.

A friend of Callas


Just before singing the lead role of Imogen in Bellini’s ‘Il Pirata’ in London


After her meteoric ascent to the bel canto summit, Caballé became close with a colleague who was both admired and feared: Maria Callas. The two divas got along quite well, with the younger asking Callas for advice on difficult parts. The latter once described Caballé’s voice as a “light breeze on the skin.”

Caballé likewise had good relationship with soprano Renata Tebaldi, who was Callas’ fiercest competitor. The Spanish soprano was likely pleased after the international press labeled her the heir of the two celebrated divas in the 1970s and 80s. But amid the hype, bel canto remained the most important focus of Caballé’s wide-ranging stage repertoire.

Unafraid of rubbing elbows


Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury, was a longtime fan

The soprano’s fans didn’t just stem from the classical music scene. One of the opera star’s most famous admirers was Freddie Mercury, lead singer in British rock group Queen. In 1987, he and Caballé collaborated on the album “Barcelona,” with the eponymous title song reaching the top of the European pop charts.

The album’s reissue for the 1992 Olympic Games was again a major success. On her 1997 album “Friends for Life,” Caballé collaborated with pop greats like Bruce Dickinson from band Iron Maiden (covering the Queen song “Bohemian Rapshody”), in addition to Johnny Hallyday, Jonny Logan, Vangelis and Helmut Lotti.

In addition to her classical repertoire, the singer was also interested in the traditional music of her Catalan homeland. She performed numerous concerts with her daughter, the soprano Montserrat Martí.

A UNESCO ambassador, Caballé received countless honors such as the Federal Cross of Merit awarded by Germany. In 2007, she received the ECHO Klassik Prize for her life’s work.


The singer had said she “wants to die on stage”

‘The best voice in the world’

Freddie Mercury was just one of many who raved about Caballé’s voice, saying it was “the best in the world.” Critics praised the almost inexhaustible versatility of her repertoire, the unusually dramatic nature of her performances, and her mastery of vocal technique. She was revered not only as the “queen of bel canto,” but one of the greatest singers of her generation.

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Posted by on October 6, 2018 in Sopranos


BARBARA TROXELL, Soprano * 10 September 1916, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA + 23 September 1984, Ithaca, New York, USA;



Barbara Troxell (1916-1984).vShe studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Elisabeth Schumann. In the years after the Second World War she had a successful stage and concert career in North America as well as in Europe, especially in West Germany. She made her debut in 1943 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, singing Debussy’s “La Demoiselle Elue;” and her New York City debut singing Mozart’s C-Minor Mass at Carnegie Hall in 1944. She also sang Pamina under the baton of Thomas Beecham, In 1945; the Marschallin in a New York concert performance conducted by Leonard Bernstein, in 1946; a New York Town Hall recital debut in 1947 In the 1950-51 season she was engaged at the New York Metropolitan Opera for two small roles, Inez in Trovatore, and and Orphan in Rosenkavalier..She taught at Cornell University from 1961 until her death.

Biography and Photo credit: Charles Rhodes


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Posted by on September 10, 2018 in Sopranos


JUDITH RASKIN, Soprano * 21 June 1928, New York City, New York, United States + 21 December 1984, New York City, New York, United States;


A lyric soprano whose vocal talent blossomed while she was in college, Judith Raskin developed into one of the outstanding musical artists of the twentieth century. Her impeccable musicianship, convincing acting, and striking beauty kept her in constant demand as an opera performer, as a recitalist, and as a teacher, and she was famous for the absence of egocentricity often found in prima donnas.

Judith Raskin was born in Yonkers, New York, on June 21, 1928, the only child of American-born parents. Both were public school teachers and strong labor-movement sympathizers. Her father, Harry A. Raskin, a graduate of City College, was an accomplished pianist and chaired the music department at Evander Childs High School. Her mother, Lillian (Mendelson) Raskin, who graduated from Hunter College, taught at Public School 64 in the Bronx.

As a child, Raskin studied piano and violin. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, where she sang in the glee club. After her junior year at Smith College, she married Raymond A. Raskin, a distant cousin, then a navy doctor and later a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. The ceremony, which took place July 11, 1948, in New York, was performed by the Smith College rabbi, since neither Raskin family was affiliated with a synagogue. Raskin graduated from Smith in 1949. Raymond and Judith Raskin had two children: Jonathan Marvin (b. 1951), a physician in New York, and Lisa Abby (b. 1953), professor of psychology and dean of faculty at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

At Smith, Raskin majored in music (receiving the Harriet Dey Barnum voice scholarship), and studied under Anna Hamlin, with whom she continued to study after graduation. Her first important operatic role was Sister Constance in the December 1957 NBC-TV Opera production of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites. For her 1957 debut with NBC, she had sung Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Three other major debuts were also in Mozart roles: in 1959, for the New York City Opera, Raskin sang Despina in Così fan tutte; in 1962, at the Metropolitan Opera, she repeated the role of Susanna; and in 1963, at Glyndebourne, England, she sang Pamina in The Magic Flute.

Baroque opera was another specialty: Raskin appeared in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, and in Orfeo (recorded by RCA in Rome in 1965), as well as in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen,and Rameau’s Les Indes galantes [The amorous Indies]. Equally comfortable with twentieth-century opera, she created the role of the bride in the televised 1963 premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Labyrinth, commissioned by NBC-TV Opera, and the title role in Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe in Central City, Colorado, in 1956. She also sang Anna Trulove in Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (recorded by CBS in London in 1964). In the course of her operatic career, Raskin sang about twenty roles and performed with the Chicago Lyric Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, the Opera Company of Boston, and the Opera Society of Washington.

Raskin also had an important career singing lieder and orchestral works, especially after leaving the Metropolitan (where her final performance was March 16, 1972). On October 9, 1964, she made her New York recital debut as the eighth Ford Foundation soloist. Her program included the New York premiere of Songs of Eve, a thirty-minute song cycle commissioned from Ezra Laderman. She also premiered Hugo Weisgall’s Yiddish song cycle The Golden Peacock and songs by Miriam Gideon. In the 1970s, she recorded works by all three Jewish American composers. She sang with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the London Symphony, among others. With the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, she recorded Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.

Her other recordings include a performance of Così fan tutte, made in London for RCA Victor in 1967, and numerous recordings for RCA, Decca, Columbia, London, C.R.I., and Epic Records. In addition to the Ford Foundation grant, she received the Marian Anderson Award in 1952 and 1953, and a London Grammy in 1967. Raskin was awarded honorary degrees by Smith College (1963) and Ithaca College (1979). She published an article entitled “American Bel Canto” in Opera News in 1966.

Beginning in 1975, Raskin taught at the Manhattan School of Music and the 92nd Street Y School of Music in New York, where a master class for opera singers bears her name. The following year, she started teaching at Mannes College of Music. She also taught at City College in New York. From 1972–1976, she cochaired the music panel of the National Endowment for the Arts, and until her death served as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera auditions. Raskin frequently contributed her talent to State of Israel Bonds. From 1962 to 1965, and again in 1968 and 1969, she appeared at the “Chanukah Festival for Israel,” held in Madison Square Garden. She also sang in Miami Beach in 1973, and in Indianapolis in 1973.

Harold C. Schonberg’s New York Times obituary quotes an interview in which Raskin describes her own singing: “I’ve tried to make up in depth what I don’t have in quantity. There is a kind of singer who has a poetic approach to music rather than a purely vocal approach.” Her teaching reflected the same attitude. Singers who studied with her emphasize that she never considered—or referred to—“the voice,” as many teachers do, as an entity separate from the person.

Raskin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1962, but after a radical mastectomy she returned to full activity. In 1982, she developed ovarian cancer and died Friday, December 21, 1984. That Sunday, more than a thousand people crowded the sanctuary at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York for her funeral. That synagogue, in which she had begun her professional career more than thirty years earlier, singing second soprano in the choir, now hosts a yearly recital endowed in Raskin’s memory by her family.

Source:  Jewish Women’s Archive (Paula Eisenstein Baker)



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Posted by on September 10, 2018 in Sopranos


KARL PERRON, Bass-Baritone * 03 June 1858, Frankenthal, Germany + 15 July 1928, Dresden, Germany;


Karl Perron, born Karl Pergamenter and also known as Carl Perron, (3 June 1858 – 15 July 1928) was a German bass-baritone. A Kammersänger of the Dresden State Opera, he created leading roles in three operas by Richard Strauss – Jochanaan in Salome, Orest in Elektra, and Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier.

Karl Perron was born in Frankenthal to one of the city’s prominent families. His father was an art collector and numismatist. Another of his relatives, Phillip Perron (1840–1907), was the court sculptor to Ludwig II of Bavaria. After studies with Julius Hey in Berlin, Joseph Hasselbeck in Munich, and Julius Stockhausen in Frankfurt, Perron made his debut in Leipzig in 1884 as Wolfram in Tannhäuser. He sang in Liepzig until 1891 when he became a member of the Dresden State Opera. Perron remained with the Dresden company until his retirement in 1924, and sang there in three world premieres of operas by Richard Strauss – Jochanaan (John the Baptist) in Salome (1905), Orest (Orestes) in Elektra (1909), and Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier (1911).

Perron was a distinguished Wagnerian singer and appeared at Bayreuth from 1889 to 1904 where his roles included Wotan, Amfortas, and King Marke. Charles Webber, who had been a voice coach at the Dresden State Opera from 1908 to 1911 recalled that Perron was past the peak of his career by then but still an impressive singer, especially in the title role of The Flying Dutchman and as Wotan. According to Webber, although Perron’s top notes were occasionally forced and his intonation sometimes faulty, he retained an intense and mesmerizing stage presence which obscured the flaws. Outside the Wagner and Strauss repertoire, Perron’s other notable roles were Don Giovanni and Eugene Onegin.

Perron taught singing after his retirement. His house in Dresden was filled with his own art collection, and the salons there were one of the centers of the city’s musical life. He never married and lived with his sister, Käthe, who ran his household. Karl Perron died in Dresden on 15 July 1928 at the age of 70.


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Posted by on July 15, 2018 in Bass-Baritones


KARL ERB, Tenor * 13 July 1877, Ravensburg, Germany + 13 July 1958, Ravensburg, Germany;


Karl Erb (13 July 1877 – 13 July 1958) was a German tenor. Born in Ravensburg, he was engaged at the Stuttgart opera house at the age of 30. His performance in Pfitzner’s “Der arme Heinrich” led to his bigger career at the Munich Hofoper. Rarely appearing outside of Germany, his repertoire ranged from Mozart to Donizetti, Verdi and Wagner. Quite difficult to categorize. Marriage to soprano Maria Ivogun made them the darling opera couple of the era. His Evangelist in Bach’s Passions is well received to this day.


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Posted by on July 13, 2018 in Tenors


MARCIA VAN DRESSER, Soprano * 1877, Memphis, Tennessee, United States + 11 July 1937, London, United Kingdom;


Marcia Van Dresser (1877 – July 11, 1937) was an American operatic soprano, recitalist and actress. She was sometimes referred to as a mezzo-soprano.

She was born in 1877 and spent her early life in Memphis and later studied for opera with Hermine Bosetti and Jean de Reszke. She was a member of The Famous Original Bostonians before joining Alice Nielsen Company in 1898 for Victor Herbert’s The Fortune Teller and Singing Girl. Studies voice with NYC’s Mrs. Sarah Robinson-Duff herself trained in Paris by Marchesi. Dresser appeared as an actress in 1902 with Otis Skinner in a revival of Francesca di Rimini. Apparently Van Dresser never recorded for the gramophone industry. Dresser joined NY’s Metropolitan Opera Company, and sang across Europe before joining The Chicago Opera in 1915 for her major opera roles. In April 1918 she appeared at Aeolian Hall singing Haydn in Italian, Debussy and Fauré in French. The Haydn work had been arranged by the late Pauline Viardot.

She died in London on July 11, 1937 after a long illness.


Marcia Van Dresser as Francesca in “Francesca Da Rimini”


Marcia Van Dresser as Francesca in “Francesca Da Rimini”


Marcia Van Dresser as the Princess of Eboli in “The Palace of the King”


Marcia van Dresser as the Countess Mirtza Charkoff in “The Great Ruby”


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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Sopranos


EVELYN SCOTNEY, Soprano * 11 July 1896, Australia + 5 August 1967;


Evelyn Scotney (11 July 1896, Australia + 5 August 1967) was an Australian soprano.

She studied first in Melbourne with Elise Wiedermann, and then in Paris with Mathilde Marchesi, and made her debut in Boston first as La Charmeuse in “Thais” and then as Lucia in 1912. she also sang Gilda, Olympia, Violetta and in Debussy’s “Martyre de St. Sebastian”. She came to the Metropolitan Opera in 1919 as Princess Eudoxie in “La Juive”, also singing Adina, Lucia and the Queen of Shemakah in New York. She sang on the concert stage until 1935 touring Canada, Australia and the United States.


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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Sopranos

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