She was in Berlin student of Heinrich Dorn. By 1879 it had held her stage debut at the Berlin Court Opera in A. Rubinstein’s opera “Ferramors”. It is closed at the City Theatre engagement of Mainz (1880-1883), at the Opera House of Leipzig (1883-1884), at the German Opera House Rotterdam (1885-1887), at the Municipal Theatre of Bremen (1887-1892) and at the Hamburg City Theatre (1892 – 1893).
In Hamburg in 1892, she sang the German premieres of Tschaikowykys “Eugene Onegin” and the Tatjana in “Manon” by Massenet, the title role. In 1893 she accepted a position at the Court Opera in Munich, where she underwent a great career, and whose members she was until 1906. In 1906-1910 she was then still engaged at the Court Theatre of Stuttgart. In 1888 she sang at the first performance of “Parsifal” at the Bayreuth Festival in the role of Eva, one of the flower girl in “Parsifal”. In 1892 she made guest appearances at the Covent Garden Opera in London in the Wagner repertoire, including as Freia, Sieglinde and Gutrune in Nibelungenring and as Venus in “Tannhauser”. That same year she sang at London’s Drury Lane Theatre in the British premiere of V. Nessler’s opera “The Trumpeter of Säckingen”. In 1888-89 and again 1904-1905, she performed at the Metropolitan Opera New York. At the Metropolitan Opera, she sang inter alia the Marguerite in “Faust” by Gounod, the “Selika in Meyerbeer’s” Africaine “, the Elsa in” Lohengrin “and the Eva in” Die Meistersinger.
In 1889, she created the Elizabeth there in the premiere of “Tannhauser”. Other guest appearances on the court theaters of Hanover (1900) and Mannheim (1900), at the opera houses of Frankfurt (1883), Riga (1904), Brno (1905), Leipzig (1900) and Cologne (1902), at the Berlin Kroll Opera (1881, 1885) and (1898, 1900) at the Court Opera in Berlin. Towards the end of her career she performed in 1897 also highly dramatic roles such as Ortrud in “Lohengrin”, the Brünnhilde in “Ring of the Nibelung” and Leonore in “Fidelio” was in these difficult roles but not very successful. However, she had a distinguished career as a concert singer. Since 1895 she was married to her first marriage to actor Alexander Senger (1840-1902), the director of the Municipal Theatre of Bremen was. Later she married the director of the Berlin Court Opera Theater Machines Professor Rudolf Klein (1879-1954). She is also, inter alia in Bayreuth, Narvan Kathi Senger Bettaque. 1921 (probably also 1927), she lived in Berlin. Vinyl: A total of six shots on Berlin Records and G & T (Munich, 1900-1901), four song titles.
“Her Isolde is of poignant beauty. The restrained passion, the heart-rending mockery behind the deepest woe bears to the overflowing of emotion at the excess of the first act, which undoubtedly understands loving devotion in the second act, the unearthly transfiguration in the third, all these traits of Isolde they make wonderfully clear turn an eye and face. Ms. Bettaque has these roles actually created himself. (…) Now she is at the forefront of the very select few artists who truly original style Isolde succeed. Isolde in their guest appearances, however, it remains mostly in excellent loneliness by rarely by happy coincidence a worthy Tristan, about Gerhäuser or Forchhammer, or Brangaene, such as Miss Reinl in Berlin, her side occurs. In Wagner’s drama reaches but, very unlike all virtuosity, the original style performer only attain their full effect when he is in uniform dignified setting. So you have to Bettaque woman in a thoroughly accomplished by waving spirit of genuine Wagnerian Tristan performance see, to understand their size right. “(Golther, Wolfgang in” Stage and World “1898/9, pp. 187-8).
Born in Berlin, she enjoyed a career of international proportions that began there. After studying with Heinrich Dorn, Senger-Bettaque made a youthful début at the Hofoper (1879) in Rubinstein’s Feramors. Engagements as a lyric s. at Hamburg, Leipzig, Mainz and Rotterdam followed, and in 1888 she sang Eva and a “Blumenmädchen” at Bayreuth. Later that year she headed for New York and the Metropolitan where she was billed as Kathi Bettaque (Herr Senger was a few years down the road) and sang Freia in the American premiere of Das Rheingold, Marguerite in Faust, Sélika, Elsa, Marzelline in Fidelio, Sieglinde, Elisabeth and other rôles. At Covent Garden in 1892, she appeared in a number of her New York rôles as well as Gutrune, and Venus in Tannhäuser, but in 1894 she found her “home base” when she was named principal dramatic s. at Munich. This house would be the center of her activities for most of her remaining career.
Senger-Bettaque returned to the Met for a month of guest appearances during the 1904 – 1905 season; by then her ambitions and European successes had her tackling the Die Walküre and Siegfried Brünnhildes and Leonore in Fidelio. In these rôles, the New York critics did not like her. She was, apparently, successful in these same rôles at Stuttgart (1906 – 09), and then her career seems to have come to and end. Today, Katherina Senger-Bettaque is an enigma lost to the ages. Even the year and location of her death are unknown, shrouded by the years that followed. Groves Dictionary of Opera is non-committal, cleverly assuming her death occurred after 1909 since she was still singing in Stuttgartthen. Other sources have her alive in Berlin in the early to mid 1920s. It is sad, and somewhat baffling, due to her obvious talent and the wide scope of her long career, that she has been forgotten.
Recordings: These remain as enigmatic as the singer who recorded them. Senger-Bettaque is known to have made about ten recordings in Europe between 1901- 1905, and all belong in the “rare as stardust” category. Most are of song titles, and from what can be heard it appears that the recording process of her day unnerved her. The voice frequently sounds ill at ease, if not frightened. Some of this can be heard in one of her earliest discs, Franz’s lovely “Es hat die Rose sich beklagt.” But the voice in general is of pure and lyric quality, almost “pretty,” despite a variation from pitch or two. In fairness, it may have been that she was laboring under hopelessly inferior recording conditions, for even the piano accompaniment has a garbled, “wobbly” sound to it.
A coupling of Wolf’s songs “Gesang Weylas” and “Morgentau,” made a few years later, has a much steadier sound and Senger-Bettaque seems relaxed in the music; the voice here in much warmer and more appealing. One of her few operatic excerpts is Elsa’s “Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen.” It is a well-sung piece with a charm of its own, but hardly displays a heroic or Brünnhilde-sized voice. After hearing her Elsa, it is difficult to imagine her as Ortrud in the same opera, but that rôle was in her large repertoire as well. She sang it once at a Met matinée in January 1905, with Emma Eames as Elsa. The volatile, cold-blooded American seems to have been particularly out of control that afternoon; after what she perceived to be an “upstaging” during the curtain calls, she slapped Senger-Bettaque across the face in full view of the audience! Reporters raced to her dressing room for comments, but the gracious Senger-Bettaque seemed outwardly unruffled. “Oh, I did not resent it,” was her deceptively magnanimous reply. Then she added: “I was really surprised and delighted to see any evidence of emotion in Madame Eames.”
Chronology of some appearances
- 1879 Berlin Hofoper
- 1888 Bayreuth Festival
- 1892 London Covent Garden
as Isolde (Collection G&K)
as Isolde (Collection G&K)
as IsoldeStuttgart Mai 1897
as Brünnhilde “Götterd.” (Collection G&K)
as Tatiana Hamburg 1892
as Saffi “Zigeuner- baron”
Portrait (Collection G&K)