Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Aug 29, 2014

Margarete Matzenauer (Mezzo-Soprano) ( Timișoara, Romania 1881 – Van Nuys, California 1963)

An extraordinary singer and a force unto herself, Margarete Matzenauer sang dramatic roles in both the mezzo-soprano and soprano registers. Although many felt that her large, weighty instrument was at its best in the mezzo fach, she sang through a fairly long career with her voice essentially intact despite the considerable number of Wagnerian soprano performances she gave. Upon retirement, she became a respected teacher.
The daughter of two professional musicians, Matzenauer began her voice training with Georgine von Januschowsky in Graz before undertaking further study with Franz Emerich and Antonia Mielke in Berlin and Ernst Preuse (whom she later married) in Munich. She made her debut as Puck in Weber's Oberon at the Strasbourg Stadttheater in 1901. Her success in that production led to an offer from Munich's Hofoper and from 1905 to 1911, Matzenauer sang there, building her repertoire of dramatic roles. In 1911, she appeared at the Bayreuth Festival and, later that year, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut, singing Amneris in a November 13 Aida, a season-opening performance conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Her performance won the admiration of both the audience and the critics. Several mentioned the size and beauty of her voice and the artistry with which it was deployed.
Matzenauer remained at the Metropolitan for 20 years, heard in both mezzo and soprano roles, co-mingling them week-to-week. In 1914, Matzenauer was again in the opening night cast, this time as Ulrica to Emmy Destinn's Amelia and Caruso's Riccardo. Toscanini once more conducted, his final opening night at the theater. For the third successive year, Matzenauer opened the season when she joined Caruso in Samson et Delilah on November 18, 1915. She was praised for the warmth of her singing, even if it was somewhat removed from authentic French style. January 1917 brought an outright failure as Matzenauer sang the Figaro Countess, transposing much of the music and being described as "stolid."
Matzenauer's repertoire grew to encompass such other roles as Leonore in Fidelio, Isolde, all three Brünnhildes, Kundry, Sélika, Orfeo, Carmen, Princess Eboli, Marina in Boris Godunov, Fidès in Le Prophète, and Donna Elvira. Critic Philip Hale lavished this praise on her Isolde: "Her tones are of unusual the most passionate moments, she did not shriek, she was not explosive. She constantly sang and in her singing expressed the emotions of Isolde."
During her years at the Metropolitan Opera, Matzenauer performed elsewhere as well, singing in Boston from 1912 to 1914, in Buenos Aires (1912), and in London where she first appeared as Ortrud in 1914, winning recognition as one of the leading German mezzo-sopranos of the day. Her Kundry during her single London season was deemed a sensation and only the outbreak of the First World War prevented her having a longer relationship with that theater. Late in her career, she appeared in Philadelphia where she sang Clitemnestre in 1930.
Matzenauer retired from the Metropolitan in 1930, her farewell role that of her debut two decades before. She taught in Los Angeles, then emerged from retirement to sing Delilah in an open-air performance at New York's Lewisohn Stadium. A few more years of retirement followed before she gave a recital at Carnegie Hall in 1938. Although she was then 56, the New York Times could still write of her "sumptuous timbre and opulent resonance" and the "force and sensitivity of her musicianship." Following that event, she taught in New York and California.

Chronology of some appearances

Erda 1/16/1912, Ortrud 1/23/1912, Brünnhilde 2/15/1912, 3/9/1912, Amneris 11/25/1913, Laura Adorno 12/1/1914, Ortrud 12/8/1914, Fricka 2/9/1915, Ortrud 12/7/1915, Amneris 6/6/1916, Carmen 1/9/1917, Brünnhilde 3/27/1917, Amneris 11/20/1917, Sophie 1/8/1918, Dalila 4/9/1918, Azucena 4/16/1918, Dalila 1/21/1919, Azucena 3/4/1919, 3/16/1920, Isolde 1/18/1921, Ortrud 12/27/1921, Marina Mnishek 1/24/1922, La principessa d’Eboli 2/7/1922, Dalila 4/18/1922, Brünnhilde 1/9/1923, Ortrud 1/8/1924, Kostelnic¡ka Buryjovka 12/16/1924, Amneris 2/17/1927, Dalila 2/2/1928, Amneris 2/16/1928, Orfeo 3/1/1928, Fricka 11/27/1928, Orfeo 4/4/1929, Dalila 4/18/1929, Ortrud 11/12/1929, 2/6/1930, Jocasta 4/10/1931, Klytämnestra 10/29/1931, 3/3/1932 (Filadelfia)


G&T, Berlin 1907
Rienzi (Wagner): In seiner Blüte (Arie des Adriano) 43957 4968h
Mignon (Thomas): Styrienne 43951 4969h

Gramophone, Berlin 1910-12-07
Prophète (Meyerbeer): Ein armer Pilger naht with Kurt 044175 2118c

Victor, 1912-03-22
Favorita (Donizetti): Ah l'alto ardor with Amato 89062 C11786

EdisonNew York 1915-04-15?
Stabat Mater (Rossini): Quis est homo with Alice Verlet PA 29036 3689-A

Columbia, New York 1915-05-05
Kiss me, love (Tosti) A5698 37264
Aprile (Tosti) A5698 37265

Edison, New York 1916-03-06
Gioconda (Ponchielli): Suicidio! 83049 4558-A

Edison, New York 1916-12-20
Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti): Chi mi frena with Rappold, Zenatello, Middleton, Chalmers and Baroni 82266 5224-A 

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