Opera Scotland

Hilde Zadek Suggest updates

Born Bromberg (Bydgoszcz), 15 December 1917.

Died Karlsruhe, 21 February 2019.

German soprano.

Hilde Zadek had an important career as an outstanding lirico-spinto soprano at the Vienna State Opera, being the first important Jewish singer to perform there after the war. In Britain, she was a member of the Glyndebourne company at early Edinburgh Festivals, and also toured with the Covent Garden Opera.

She was born in what was then a German city. However after the First World War reparations it became part of Poland and her family moved west. Growing up in Stettin, as a Jew, she further chose to emigrate to Palestine in 1935 when anti-Semitism made life difficult. She worked initially as a nurse, while studying privately. She was later able to train with Ria Ginster in Zurich.

She made her debut in Vienna as Aïda in 1947, and continued to sing there for 25 years.  Her repertoire there ranged through Gluck and Mozart, to Verdi, Wagner and Borodin. Her twentieth century repertoire was particularly noted for Strauss, but she also sang Menotti (The Consul), Poulenc (Carmélites), Pizzetti (Murder in the Cathedral), Einem (Dantons Tod) and Shostakovich (Katerina Ismailove). At Salzburg she created Euridice in Orff's Antigonae (1949) and also sang major roles by Mozart (Don Giovanni, Clemenza di Tito) and Strauss (Ariadne).

Her British debut was at the 1950 Edinburgh Festival when she sang Ariadne with the Glyndebourne Opera in an important revival of the original 1912 version of Strauss's opera, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. She returned the following year as Donna Anna. At Covent Garden she sang Leonora, Aïda and Tosca, repeating these parts on the company's annual British tours. At this time, the Covent Garden company sang everything in English.

She also appeared at the New York Met, singing Mozart (Donna Anna), Verdi (Aïda) and Wagner (Elsa, Eva).

Roles in Scotland

Prima Donna Ariadne in the opera
Ariadne on Naxos 1950
Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter
Don Giovanni 1951
Aïda an Ethiopian slave
Aïda 1952
Aïda 1953
Leonora a Duchess, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon
Trovatore 1953

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