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Schwarz, Vera (1888–1964)

Schwarz, Vera (1888–1964)

Austrian soprano who was noted for her performances, with Richard Tauber, in the operettas of Franz Lehár. Born in Agram (now Zagreb, capital of Croatia) on July 10, 1888; died in Vienna, Austria, on December 4, 1964.

Vera Schwarz was born in Agram in 1888, a child of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an enormous medieval entity which encompassed much of Central Europe until the end of World War I. This ancient realm was multicultural and multilingual, bound together by economics and the German language. It was quite common for singers born in such outposts as the area which was once Yugoslavia to make their way to Vienna, the glorious Habsburg capital, and from there to international stardom. Like so many with talent, Vera Schwarz was drawn to Vienna where she studied before debuting at the Theater an der Wien in 1908. Soon she was singing Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus as well as other leading roles. From Vienna, she went to Hamburg and Berlin. In 1927, Schwarz sang Der Zarewitsch with Richard Tauber, marking the beginning of many Lehár operettas in which the couple would star. Because she was Jewish, Schwarz left for the United States in 1938 as the Nazi threat loomed ever larger over Europe; after the death of the Habsburg monarchy, Hitler's troops were poised to gobble up one by one the tiny countries that had replaced it. She remained in America for a decade before returning to Vienna in 1948 to teach.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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