Opera Scotland

Catherine Gayer Suggest updates

Born Los Angeles, 11 February 1937.

American soprano.

Catherine Gayer was a notable coloratura soprano, based for most of her career at the Deutsche Oper in (West) Berlin.  She was recognised particularly as a singing actress in modern works, and created several parts composed for her special talents.  She also sang traditional repertoire by Mozart, Donizetti, and Strauss as well as baroque works and cabaret songs.

She won the San Francisco Opera auditions in 1960 while still a student at the University of California in Los Angeles.   Moving to Berlin for further study at the Hochschule für Musik, she joined the Deutsche Oper in 1961.   The rest of her career was based there, receiving the title Kammersängerin in 1970.  Her international career led to appearances at La Scala, Vienna and Salzburg.

She created new work right from the start of her career, when she made her debut as the Companion in Luigi Nono's Intolleranza 1960 (Venice Biennale 1961).  This was followed by Nausikaa in Ulisse by Dallapiccola (Berlin 1968)  and the title role in Reimann's Melusine (Schwetzingen 1971).

Her Mozart roles ranged from Susanna to Konstanze and Queen of Night. and she sang Richard Strauss parts including Sophie and Zerbinetta.  She was an outstanding interpreter of Lulu, Hilda Mack in Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers and Marie in Zimmermann's Die Soldaten.  Other parts in her repertoire included Lucia, Mélisande, Jenifer in The Midsummer Marriage, and the Queen in The Golden Cockerel.

Most of her appearances in Britain were with Scottish Opera (starting with Susanna in 1968) or as a member of guest companies from Berlin and Düsseldorf at the Edinburgh Festival.   With Scottish Opera she created Christina in Hermiston by Robin Orr (Edinburgh 1975).

Recordings include the J C Bach oratorio Die Israeliten in der Wüste and the role of Woodbird in the Karajan recording of Siegfried.

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