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Category Archives: Contraltos

MARIE GOETZE, Contralto * 02 November 1865, Berlin + 18 February 1922, Berlin;

Goetze

Marie Goetze (02 November 1865, Berlin – 18 February 1922, Berlin) was a German contralto.
She made her debut in 1884 at the Berlin Kroll Opera as Azucena in the “Troubadour”. In the same year she was committed to the Berlin Court Opera, where she remained until 1886. In 1886-1890 she sang at the City Theater (opera house) of Hamburg, where she immediately had a sensational success in her first role, the Carmen. In the season 1890-1891 she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera New York.

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as Brangäne

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as Ortrud

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as Adriano

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as Adriano

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as Dalila

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as Dalila

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as Carmen Hamburg

Goetze_FidesBeGK

as Fides in Le Prophete

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Portrait

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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Contraltos

 

EVA LIEBENBERG, Contralto * 15 February 1890, Szczecin, Poland + 18 November 1971, Hilversum, Netherlands;

The singer and actress Eva Liebenberg was born as Gertrud Lina Hedwig Liebenberg in Stettin.

After singing lessons by Hugo Rasch she began her artistic career at the Thalia-Theater in Berlin where she appeared from 1920. In the next years followed other performances at different stages and she went on several tours through Europe.

Finally she made a name for herself as an opera singer too and she appeared at important operas regularly, among them the Bayreuther festivals the State Operas in Berlin and Dresden as well as at the State Opera in Cologne.
Her greatest successes came into being with her performances in operas by Richard Wagner.

Her career was disrupted in the 30s because as a Jew she was no longer able to work in Germany. It followed the emigration to Holland where she successfully eluded from the intervention by the Gestapo till the end of war.

Thank to her popularity as a singer she also was engaged for few movies.
Her first movie was “Tausend und eine Frau” (18) with Erich Kaiser-Titz, Ernst Hofmann, Lucie Kieselhausen and Harry Lamberts-Paulsen. In this movie she played the singer Rita Marloff.

Her last cinematical appearance followed in 1925 with “Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit” (25) – a production who places the moderne physical culture at the center.

After her active career on stage Eva Liebenberg worked as a singing teacher.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Contraltos

 

HELEN WATTS, Contralto * 07 December 1927, Milford Haven, United Kingdom + 07 October 2009, Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom;

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Helen Watts (7 December 1927 – 7 October 2009) was a Welsh contralto.

Early life
Helen Josephine Watts was born in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Her father was a pharmacist. She was educated at Taskers School for Girls in Haverfordwest, the Abbots Bromley School for Girls and at the Royal Academy of Music.

Career
She began her career with the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, and was a regular broadcaster on the Welsh Home Service. She subsequently had a distinguished career as an opera singer. She sang Bach arias at her debut at The Proms, in 1955. She toured the Soviet Union with the English Opera Group in 1964, singing the lead in The Rape of Lucretia. She was also known for her 1969 performances as Mistress Quickly in Verdi’s Falstaff with the Welsh National Opera. In 1969, her voice was described by a critic as “not particularly large, but the general purity and warmth of its tone gives it a direct, communicative power. And the singer uses it with taste and imagination.”

The many recordings by Helen Watts included a “monumental” edition of forty Bach cantatas, with Helmuth Rilling conducting the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart. She also made multiple recordings as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah, various roles in Wagner’s Ring cycle, and an album of Welsh songs with the Treorchy male voice choir. She was asked to choose her favorite recording, book, and luxury as a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 1970. They were: Favourite track: Betrachte Meine Seele, from the St. John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach; Book: Illustrated book on gardening; Luxury: Velasquez, The Maids of Honour, (Las Meninas) in the Prado.

In 1978 she was awarded the CBE.

 

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Photo credit: Contralto Corner and Gramophone

Personal life
Helen Watts married Michael Mitchell, a viola player with the London Symphony Orchestra, in 1980. Mitchell died in 2007. Watts died on 7 October 2009 at the age of 81

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Photo credit: Bach Cantata Website

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2018 in Contraltos

 

TERESA BRAMBILLA-PONCHIELLI, Contralto * 15 April 1845, Cassano d’Adda, Italy + 1 July 1921, Vercelli, Italy;

Teresina Brambilla Ponchielli by Ernesto Fontana.jpg

Italian contralto, niece of MARIETTA BRAMBILLA. She studied with her aunts Marietta and Teresa. She made her debut in 1863 as Adalgisa at Odessa, afterwards singing in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, St. Petersburg and Italy. In 1872 ahe sang in the revised verdion of Amilcare Ponchielli’s I Promessi Sposi  at the Teatro dal Verne, Milan, and two years later married the composer. She was a famous interpreter of the title role of La Giaconda, and sang Paolina in a revival of Gaetano Donizetti’s Poliuto at the teatro Costanzi, Rome (1883). Other roles that she sang included Leonora (Il travatore and La Forza Del Destino), Aida and Elsa (Lohengrin). She retired in 1889.

Cremona - Prima dell'opera "I Promessi Sposi" di Amilcare Ponchielli - Ritratto dell'attrice Teresina Brambilla nel ruolo di Lucia Mondella

Portrait of the Contralto Teresina Brambilla in the role of Lucia Mondella

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2018 in Contraltos

 

JEANNE GORDON, Contralto * 26 January 1885, Wallaceburg, Canada + 22 February 1952, Macon, Georgia, United States;

Ruby “Jeanne” Gordon (26 January 1885 – 22 February 1952) was a Canadian contralto opera singer active during the early 1900s.
Biography
Gordon was born as Ruby May Gordon in Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada on 26 January 1885 to David Alexander Gordon (1858-1919) and Rose Fox (1867-1940).

Ruby got her big break in July 1919. She was called to New York City and offered a three-year Metropolitan Opera contract by Giulio Gatti-Casazza. Shortly after signing her contract she changed her name to “Jeanne” Gordon. Her debut performance was as Azucena in Il trovatore on 22 November 1919. In 1919, she created the roles of the Fairy and Mme Berlingot in L’oiseau bleu by Albert Wolff in its world premiere. She made guest appearances with the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 1928.

In 1933 she had a nervous breakdown.

She died of a heart attack in Macon, Missouri on 22 February 1952.

Jeanne Gordon in 1920

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2018 in Contraltos

 

KERSTIN THORBORG, Contralto * 19 May 1896, Venjan, Sweden + 12 April 1970, Hedemora, Sweden;

Kerstin Thorborg (May 19, 1896 – April 12, 1970)

Born in Venjan, Sweden, the contralto Kerstin Thorborg was one of the best dramatic Wagnerian singers in the two decades between 1930 and 1950. She made her debut in 1924 singing the difficult role of Ortrud in Lohengrin. Eight years later, the famed conductor Bruno Walter engaged her for the Städtische Oper in Berlin and became her mentor. Although a contralto, Thorborg’s upper register was so secure that she sang numerous mezzo-soprano roles, including Venus, Kundry, Fricka, Waltraute, and Magdalena. She was especially known for her searingly beautiful Brangäne, which fortunately was preserved on record. She also appears to wonderful advantage in the live recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, with Charles Kullmann, under Bruno Walter, at the Vienna Musikverein in 1936. In 1938, to escape the Nazis, she made her home in the United States, singing various roles at the Met. She returned to her native Sweden in 1950, after her retirement.

By all accounts, Thorborg was a magnificent actor with great stage presence. In addition, she was endowed with a beautifully steady and intense tone.

as Brangäne

as Brangäne

as Brangäne

as Fricka

as Ortrud

as Ortrud

as Kundry

as Kundry

as Waltraute

as Waltraute

as Venus

as Magdalena

as Amneris

as Amneris

as Dalila Stockholm 1929

as Dalila

as Octavian

as Orpheus

as Azucena

as Azucena

as Marina

as Klytämnestra

as Klytämnestra with Pauli

as Fricka Applause

at her Wardrobe

Portrait

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Portrait at home

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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in Contraltos

 

AAFJE HEYNIS, Contralto * 02 May 1924, Krommenie, Netherlands + 16 December 2015, Huizen, Netherlands;

Born in Rotterdam, she studied with L.F. Brandts Bujs and Paul Hasse who had been a member of the ‘Deusche Oper’ in Rotterdam. After further studies with the famous singing coach Julius Stockhausen in Frakfurt am Main she made an early debut in Schumann’s Paradies und Peri. It was Johannes Brahms who accompanied the 20 years old singer in his songs. Like many Dutch singers she never appeared on stage, but became the most important contralto on the concert platform. For many years, she was a dominant figure in the contralto parts of Bach’s Passions, B-minor Mass, in Beethoven’s Symphony 9, in Mahler’s Symphonies 2 and 3, in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem and in works of contemporary composers. The duet singing together with the celebrated soprano Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius belonged to the vocal highlights of the season. She was also a member of the singing quartet with Noordewier-Reddingius, Tom Denijs and Johannes Messchaert. De Haan also toured Germany, Austria, Switzerland and England. Maartje Offers was to become her most prominent student. Pauline De Haan died in Rotterdam, 1954.

Courtesy: Cantabile-Subito

Image result for Aafje Heynis

Image result for Aafje Heynis

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Contraltos

 
 
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