Hempel, Frieda, brilliant German soprano; b. Leipzig, June 26, 1885; d. Berlin, Oct. 7, 1955. She studied piano at the Leipzig Cons. (1900–1902) before pursuing vocal training with Selma Nicklass-Kempner at the Stern Cons, in Berlin (1902–05). After making her operatic debut in Breslau in 1905, she appeared with the Berlin Royal Opera for the first time on Aug. 22, 1905, as Frau Fluth in Nicolai’s Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. Following appearances with the Schwerin Court Opera (1905–07), she returned to Berlin and was a leading member of the Royal Opera until 1912. On May 2, 1907, she made her debut at London’s Covent Garden as Bastienne in Mozart’s opera and as Gretel in Humper-dinck’s opera in a double bill. She made her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. on Dec. 27, 1912, as the Queen in Les Huguenots. She remained on its roster until 1919, gaining renown for her portrayals of such roles as the Queen of the Night, Susanna, Rosina, Lucia, Offenbach’s Olympia, Eva, and Violetta. In 1914 and again in 1920-21 she sang with the Chicago Grand Opera. Thereafter she devoted herself to concert appearances in which she impersonated Jenny Lind in period costume. Her memoirs were publ, as Mein Leben dem Gesang (Berlin, 1955). Hempel possessed a remarkable coloratura voice. Her repertoire extended from Mozart to Richard Strauss, including the latter’s Marschallin.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire