Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

May 22, 2016

Berta Morena (Soprano) (Mannheim 27. 1. 1878 † Rottach-Egern / Tegernsee 7. 10. 1952)



Her real name was Berta Meyer. After completing her studies with Mrs Röhr-Brajnin, Regina de Sales and Aglaja von Orgeni she made her debut in 1898 at the Münchner Hofoper as Agathe in Freischütz. The debut was successful and the critics were full of praise for her beautiful voice as well as for her beauty. During the next seasons she appeared in a variety of roles, gradually gaining a reputation, especially in Wagnerian roles. From 1903 she sang Brünnhilde, from 1907 she was very successful as Leonore in Fidelio. Within a short time, she became Munich’s most beloved singer, appearing there as Elisabeth, Elsa, Eva, Isolde, Kundry, Sieglinde, the Brünnhildes, Senta, Santuzza, the title role in Lachner’s Catharina Cornaro, Kassandra in Weingartner’s Orestes, Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Aida and in Charpentier’s Louise. One of her best roles was Rachel in Halévy’s La Juive. In 1908 she was invited to sing at the Metropolitan, where she appeared in 56 performances during four seasons singing Leonore in Fidelio under Gustav Mahler, but she could not erase still vivid recollections of Lilli Lehmann and Amalie Materna in the role. Elisabeth and Sieglinde were considered the best performances during her Met career. Berta Morena sang widely as a guest artist, in Vienna, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hannover, Karlsruhe, Berlin (Hofoper), Zurigo, Barcelona, Budapest National Opera and London (1914). At Covent Garden, she did not please neither as Isolde nor as Kundry, but her Sieglinde was exceptional. In 1923 she celebrated her twenty-fifth anniversary of membership at the Munich Opera. Soon after she left the Munich Opera on account of disagreements with the management reappearing as Brünnhilde at the Metropolitan. It was not until 1927, that she bade farewell to her audience to become a sought-after singing tutor. Berta Morena died in 1952, at Rottach-Egern (Bavaria). Bertha Morena was one of the most celebrated artists in Munich for 25 years, not only because of her vocal quality as a ‘Hochdramatische’ but also because of her splendid appearance which induced no less an artist than Franz von Lenbach to paint her portrait. When listening to her records you will hear a dark-timbred s. voice, occasionally having some difficulties with the heights, but she is definitely not a mezzo-s. as the critic Alfred von Mensi-Klarbach stated at the beginnin of her career. Hers is a warm, bright voice with a quick vibrato, in my opinion ideally suited to the lyric-dramatic repertory. 

Lit.: L.A. Vogl: "Berta Morena und ihre Kunst" (München, 1919)
Chronology of some appearances

1898-1923 München Hofoper


Gramophone, Berlin 1907-11?
Juive (Halévy): Er kehrt zurück 043086 347s
Lohengrin (Wagner): Du Ärmste kannst wohl nie ermessen 043087 348s
Tannhäuser (Wagner): Allmächt'ge Jungfrau 43995 3927r
Tannhäuser (Wagner): Dich teure Halle 43996 3928r

Gramophone, München 1909-07?
Aida (Verdi): Doch sage, auf welchem Wege with Knote & Feinhals 044140 398s
Aida (Verdi): Zu dir führt mich ein ernster Grund with Feinhals 044134 395s
Lohengrin (Wagner): Das süsse Lied with Knote 044138 400s
Walküre (Wagner): Der Männer Sippe, pt 1 2-43268 6703½r
Walküre (Wagner): Der Männer Sippe, pt 2 2-43269 6704r
Walküre (Wagner): Du bist der Lenz 2-43313 6705r

Gramophone, Berlin 1911-08-19
Walküre (Wagner): Siegmund, sieh' auf mich, Todesverkündung, pt 1 with Kraus 044195 2293c
Walküre (Wagner): Hehr bist du, Todesverkündung, pt 2 with Kraus 044196 2294c

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