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Branzell, Karin (1891–1974)

Branzell, Karin (1891–1974)

Swedish singer whose powerful contralto and large, powerful frame made her a perfect Wagnerian figure. Born Karin Maria Branzell in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 24, 1891; died in Altadena, California, on December 15, 1974; daughter of Anders (a school principal and church organist) and Jenny (Pearson) Branzell; studied underThekla Hofer in Stockholm; also studied with Louis Bachner, Enrico Rosati, andAnna Schoen-René ; married Fedya Reinshagen (opera stage director), in 1946.

As a teenager, Karin Branzell was discovered by the then Crown Princess, Margaret of Connaught , while singing a solo with her father's choir in Hjorthagen, a suburb of Stockholm. After studying in Stockholm, Branzell performed with the Stockholm Royal Opera from 1912–18 before going to the Berlin Staatsoper from 1918–23. There she was the Nurse in the Berlin premiere of Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten. She then went to Vienna to sing Kundry and on to America where she debuted as Fricka in Die Walküre at the Metropolitan in 1924. Branzell continued at the Met singing major contralto roles including Amneris and Delilah until 1942. In 1930 and 1931, she performed at Bayreuth. She appeared at Covent Garden under Sir Thomas Beecham in 1935, 1937, and 1938. A singer in the grand manner, Branzell's voluminous, rich voice seemed made for the big Wagnerian roles. She taught singing in New York and California after her retirement from the stage.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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