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Siems, Margarethe (1879–1952)

Siems, Margarethe (1879–1952)

German soprano. Born on December 30, 1879, in Breslau (now Wroclaw), Poland; died on April 13, 1952, in Dresden; studied with Aglaja von Orgéni and Pauline Viardot .

Made debut in Prague as Marguerite in Les Huguenots (1902); joined the Prague Opera (1902) and the Dresden Court Opera (1908); was the leading dramatic coloratura soprano in Dresden (1908–20); created roles of Chrysothemis in Elektra (1909) and of the Marshallin in Der Rosenkavalier (1911), both in Dresden; created the role of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos in Stuttgart (1912); made Covent Garden debut (1913); taught at the Berlin Conservatory and then in Dresden and Breslau.

Shortly after Margarethe Siems debuted at the Prague Opera, the brilliant soprano Irene Abendroth retired. Siems, who took over many of the older soprano's roles, remained at Prague for 11 years. Richard Strauss cast her as Chrysothemis in his new opera Elektra in 1909, and in 1911 she became the first Marshallin inDer Rosenkavalier which also premiered in Dresden. She not only fulfilled the composer's vocal requirements but also responded to Max Reinhardt's stage direction, and the Marshallin would become her most famous role. Her voice, rather than her acting ability, accounted for her fame. After appearing in many European opera houses, Siems retired to teach.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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