Unger, Caroline (1803–1877)

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Unger, Caroline (1803–1877)

Austrian operatic mezzo-soprano. Name variations: Karoline Unger; Caroline Unger-Sabatier. Born on October 28, 1803, in Stuhlweissenburg, Austria; died on March 23, 1877, in Florence, Italy; studied with Mozatti, Bassio, Lange, Vogl, and Ronconi; married François Sabatier (a writer).

Caroline Unger had an immense vocal range, from A to high D, and was known as one of the most outstanding and intelligent singers of her time. She studied in Vienna with Mozatti and Bassi, and later with others. She first appeared in Vienna in 1819, making her official debut in 1821, and sang there until 1824. In 1825 and 1826, she performed in Naples, and from 1827 to 1830 she appeared in Milan. She also sang in Paris in 1833 and again in Vienna from 1839 to 1840. Her last appearance on the opera stage was in Dresden in 1843, after which she retired, although she sang in concerts under her married name Caroline Unger-Sabatier.

Unger had a voice that was both forceful and flexible, and appeared in such roles as Zerlina, Rosina, and Isabella in L'italiana; she also created the roles of Isoletta in La straniera, Donizetti's Parisina, Maria di Rudenz, and Antonina in Belisario. In the premiere performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which was conducted by the composer himself, she sang the alto solo. By this time, Beethoven was completely deaf. At the end of the symphony, it was Unger who turned Beethoven around so that he might see the impact of his music on the listeners.

Kelly Winters , freelance writer