Materna, Amalie

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Materna, Amalie

Materna, Amalie remarkable Austrian soprano; b. St. Georgen, Styria, July 10, 1844; d. Vienna, Jan. 18, 1918. She was first a church singer. She married the actor Karl Friedrich, with whom she appeared in light opera. She made her debut in Graz in 1865, and then appeared at Vienna’s Carltheater. In 1869 she first sang at the Vienna Court Opera as Selika, where she was one of its principal artists until her farewell as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser on Dec. 31, 1894. Her dramatic talent, powerful voice, and beauteous features attracted the notice of Wagner, who selected her for the role of Brünnhilde in the first Bayreuth Festival of 1876; the following year she sang at the Wagner festival in London, under the composer’s direction, and also sang in Wagner festivals in N.Y., Chicago, and Cincinnati. From 1882 to 1891 she sang regularly at Bayreuth. Her U.S. opera debut took place on Jan. 5, 1885, as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser during the first season of German opera at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y.; however, she only sang there one season. In 1894 she became a member of Walter Damrosch’s German company in N.Y. In 1902 she returned to Vienna and opened a singing studio there. In 1913 she came out of retirement to sing Kundry at a Wagner centennial concert in Vienna. In addition to her outstanding Wagnerian roles, she was also admired for her Rachel, Valentine, and Goldmark’s Queen of Sheba, which she created in Vienna on March 10, 1875.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire