Gueden, Hilde (1915–1988)

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Gueden, Hilde (1915–1988)

Austrian soprano. Name variations: Hilde Güden. Born Hilde Geiringer on September 15, 1915, in Vienna, Austria; died on September 17, 1988, in Klosterneuburg, Austria; daughter of Fritz Geiringer and Frida (Brammer) Geiringer (both musicians); studied with Wetzelsberger at the Vienna Conservatory.

Made debut in Zurich (1939); Bavarian Staatsoper in Munich (1941); Rome (1942); appeared in Salzburg as Zerlina (1947); Covent Garden debut (1947); Metropolitan Opera debut (1951), associate of the Vienna Staatsoper until 1972; made an Austrian Kammersängerin (1951).

Light lyric sopranos face many obstacles on the operatic stage. While pleasing, their voices are not especially distinctive, so they rarely achieve genuine star status. Hilde Gueden was one of the few lyric sopranos to achieve this rank. She was born Hilde Geiringer on September 15, 1915, in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of Fritz Geiringer and Frida Brammer Geiringer , both musicians. Her father belonged to a well-known Italian-Austrian industrial banking family, while her mother attended the Vienna State Academy of Drama. Gueden began studying piano at age seven, vocals at fourteen. She then studied dramatics at the Max Reinhardt School and ballet at the Vienna State Opera.

Hilde Gueden was a charmeuse rather than one of the most accomplished vocalists. Her sustained notes were often flattened and her intonation was not always true. Combined with imprecision, rhythmic laziness, and a tendency to lag behind the beat, her singing left something to be desired. Yet, she was a marvelous vocalist. Gueden's tendency to trail behind actually enhanced some performances, giving them a dreamy rapture which eludes many singers. Hilde Gueden was an accomplished actress who was quite good looking and these qualities did much to enhance her career. The light music of Johann Strauss and Franz Léhar seems to have been written for her. Many records preserve examples of her great talent.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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