Tietjens, Therese (1831–1877)

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Tietjens, Therese (1831–1877)

German operatic soprano who achieved great success on the English stage. Name variations: surname sometimes spelled Titiens. Born Thérèse Johanne Alexandra Tietjens on July 17, 1831, in Hamburg, Germany; died on October 3, 1877, in London, England; studied music in Vienna, Austria.

Debuted in Hamburg, Germany, as Erma in Auber's Maçon (1848); debuted in title role of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia (1849); performed in Frankfurt, Germany, and Vienna, Austria; made London debut (1858).

A popular soprano on the London stage in the 19th century, Therese Tietjens was known for her velvety tone and significant dramatic ability. She was considered to be brilliant in concert and oratorio as well as in operatic productions.

Tietjens, born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1831, was thought to be of Hungarian parentage. Her training began in Hamburg, and she studied in Vienna with maestros Dellessie, Babing, and Proch. Tietjens debuted in Hamburg in 1848 and went on to success in the title role of Donizetti's tragic opera Lucrezia Borgia . Following her successful performance in London as Valentine in Les Huguenots (1858), England became her permanent home. Much loved by British opera fans for a magnetic presence and artistic skill, Tietjens further distinguished herself by performing in the provinces, an unusual effort for an internationally acclaimed prima donna.

From 1858 to 1869, she performed throughout Europe, appearing in opera houses in Vienna, London, Paris, and Naples. Among her most famous roles were Fidelio, Medea in Cherubini's opera, and Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Other roles included Elvira, Norma, Lucia, Ortud, and Leonore. Throughout her career, Tietjens was in great demand as a singer. Composer Richard Wagner pursued her with no success to sing Sieglinde and to create the role of Isolde. She displayed heroic resolve in her last performance, as Lucrezia, which she sang while suffering great pain due to cancer. She died in London on October 3, 1877.

Lolly Ockerstrom , freelance writer, Washington, D.C.