Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Aug 19, 2014

Edyth Walker (Mezzo-Soprano) (Hopewell, New York 1867 – New York City 1950)

She sang at age 14 as a soloist in the Old Church of Hopewell, then in Utica (New York) and on Long Iceland. She worked for a while as a school teacher. She came to Europe in 1891 and was trained by Aglaia Orgeni in Dresden. Further studies with Marianne Brandt in Vienna. She made her debut in 1894 at the Berlin Court Opera as Fides in ‘’Prophet’’ by Meyerbeer. First major success in 1895 with a concert in Leipzig Gewandhaus under Carl Reinecke. In 1895 she was engaged by the Vienna Court Opera, where she sang the role of Fides in ‘’Prophet’’ by Meyerbeer and Azucena in ‘’Trovatore’’ and remained until 1903. In 1896 she sang in the Vienna premiere of the opera ‘’The Evangelimann’’ of Kienzl. At the Salzburg Mozart Festival in 1901 she created the role of Donna Elvira in ‘’Don Giovanni’’. In 1903, after a dispute with Gustav Mahler, she left the Vienna Opera House. In 1903 she was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where she made her debut as Amneris in ‘’Aida’’. She appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in “Lohengrin”, “Tristan und Isolde”, ‘’Faust’’, “Gioconda”, ‘’Martha’’, ‘’Favorita’’, “ and ‘’Lucrezia Borgia’’ (1904). In 1905 she sang here in the premiere of Johann Strauss’s operetta ‘’Die Fledermaus’’. Then she joined in the 1906-07 season at the Court Opera in Berlin and from 1907 to 1912 was a celebrated artist of the Hamburg Opera. At the Covent Garden Opera in London she performed in 1900 as Amneris, Ortrud, Fricka and Waltraute, then in 1908 and 1910 as Isolde as well as Thirza “The Wreckers” by Mrs. Ethel Smith and Elektra on 10/19/1910 in the English premiere of Richard Strauss’s opera ‘’Elektra’’. She made guest appearances in Brussels, Leipzig, Frankfurt (1907-12), Cologne and Prague with great success, she was especially admired as an interpreter in R. Wagner’s operas. At the Bayreuth Festival in 1908, she sang the role of Kundry in ‘’Parsifal’’ and Ortrud in “Lohengrin”. In 1910 she sang with great triumph in the Strauss Festival in Holland as Salome and Elektra. In 1909 she sang at the Beethoven Festival in the Hague the role of Leonore in ‘’Fidelio’’ under Willem Mengelberg. In the 1912-1917 seasons she worked at the Court Opera in Munich. In 1918 she sang at the Municipal Theatre of Elberfeld her farewell performance in Nibelungenring. After her retirement from the stage, Walker resided in Scheveningen, Holland until 1919 when she moved to Paris. She worked there as a voice teacher where she taught out of a private studio. In 1933 she joined the faculty at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau where she taught through 1936. She then moved back to New York City where she continued to teach until her death 14 years later. Among her notable pupils were Irene Dalis and Blanche Thebom. She died at her home in New York City in 1950 at the age of 79 after a brief illness

Chronology of some appearances

1894 Berlin Court Opera
1895-1903 Vienna Court Opera
1900 London Covent Garden
1901 Salzburg Mozart Festival
1903 New York Metropolitan Opera
1906-1907 Berlin Court Opera
1907-1912 Hamburg Opera
1912-1917 Munich Court Opera


Gramophone, Berlin 1907-11/12
Rheingold (Wagner): Weiche, Wotan (Erdas Warnung)  043093 349s

Gramophone, Hamburg 1907-11/12
Tannhäuser (Wagner): Allmächt'ge Jungfrau (Gebet) 043094 355s

Gramophone, Hamburg 1910-04-20
Rienzi (Wagner): Gerechter Gott (Arie des Adriano, pt 1) 043144 455s
Rienzi (Wagner): In seiner Blüte (Arie des Adriano, pt 2) 043145 456s

Edison, London 1910/1911
Walkure (Wagner): Ho-yo-to-ho 538 Unpubl.

1 comment:

  1. Edyth Walker was my great aunt. She was the sister to my grandfather, Fred Walker; and the aunt to my father, Kenneth Walker. Her voice is beautiful.