Frieda Hempel

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Frieda Hempel in costume Frieda Hempel 01.jpg
Frieda Hempel in costume

Frieda Hempel (26 June 1885 – 7 October 1955) was a German soprano singer in operatic and concert work who had an international career in Europe and the United States.

A soprano[soˈpraːno] is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.



Frieda Hempel was born in Leipzig, Germany, and studied first at the Leipzig Conservatory and afterwards at the Stern Conservatory, Berlin, where she was a pupil of Selma Nicklass-Kempner. Her earliest appearances were in Breslau, singing Violetta, the Queen of the Night and Rosina. She made a debut in Schwerin in 1905, and was engaged there for the next two years, singing also Gilda, Leonora (Il trovatore) and Woglinde.

Leipzig Place in Saxony, Germany

Leipzig is the most populous city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. With a population of 581,980 inhabitants as of 2017, it is Germany's tenth most populous city. Leipzig is located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) southwest of Berlin at the confluence of the White Elster, Pleiße and Parthe rivers at the southern end of the North German Plain.

The Stern Conservatory was a private music school in Berlin with many notable tutors and alumni. Today the school is part of the Berlin University of the Arts.

<i>La traviata</i> 1853 opera by Giuseppe Verdi

La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La Dame aux camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. The opera was originally titled Violetta, after the main character. It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.

She made such a success that the Kaiser Wilhelm II requested the Schwerin authorities to release her to sing also in Berlin. She made a debut there in 1905 as Frau Fluth (in Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor ). She sang at the Royal Court Opera, Berlin, from 1907 to 1912, where she was also admired as Lucia, Marguerite de Valois and Marie.

Otto Nicolai German composer and conductor

Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai was a German composer, conductor, and one of the founders of the Vienna Philharmonic. Nicolai is best known for his operatic version of Shakespeare's comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor as Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. In addition to five operas, Nicolai composed lieder, works for orchestra, chorus, ensemble, and solo instruments.

<i>Lucia di Lammermoor</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian-language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.

<i>Les Huguenots</i> opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer

Les Huguenots is a French opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer, one of the most popular and spectacular examples of the style of grand opera. In five acts, to a libretto by Eugène Scribe and Émile Deschamps, it premiered in Paris in 1836.

International career

She appeared at the Covent Garden, London in 1907 as Bastienne, as Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel , as Eva and Elsa and again as Frau Fluth: Melba and Selma Kurz were taking centre stage in the more popular roles.

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

Engelbert Humperdinck (composer) German composer

Engelbert Humperdinck was a German composer, best known for his opera Hansel and Gretel.

<i>Lohengrin</i> (opera) opera by Richard Wagner

Lohengrin, WWV 75, is a Romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself inspired by the epic of Garin le Loherain. It is part of the Knight of the Swan tradition.

In 1912 she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City as Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots. She sang regularly in New York thereafter into the 1920s. She was the first to sing the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier in New York (for Gatti-Casazza, December 9, 1913) and in Berlin, and she also sang the role in London in 1913. She was in the Met 1913 Un ballo in maschera as Oscar, with Caruso, Emmy Destinn, Margarete Matzenauer and [[Pasquale Amato]; also the 1916 Marriage of Figaro with Matzenauer, Geraldine Farrar and Antonio Scotti. Her La fille du régiment was presented there in 1917. Hempel had a very wide dramatic range, from Rosina or Queen of the Night to Wagner's Eva and Weber's Euryanthe (Metropolitan, 1914 revival).

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

<i>Der Rosenkavalier</i> opera by Richard Strauss

Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59, is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière's comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 26 January 1911 under the direction of Max Reinhardt, Ernst von Schuch conducting. Until the premiere the working title was Ochs auf Lerchenau.

<i>Un ballo in maschera</i> melodramma in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi

Un ballo in maschera(A Masked Ball) is an 1859 opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The text by Antonio Somma was based on Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel Auber's 1833 five act opera, Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué.

Portrait of Frieda Hempel(1885-1955) from series of caricatures drawn by Enrico Caruso, 1909, Ghent University Library Karikatuur getekend door Enrico Caruso, Enrico Caruso, 1906 & 1909, Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent,910000094265 2018 0013 AC (cropped).jpg
Portrait of Frieda Hempel(1885-1955) from series of caricatures drawn by Enrico Caruso, 1909, Ghent University Library


After 1919 she devoted herself to concert recitals, and left the Metropolitan Opera House somewhat abruptly, making way for the career of Amelita Galli-Curci. However she then made a second career on the concert platform, excelling in the performance of lieder of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Wolf, in Mozart concert arias, and the like. She became famous for recitals in which she appeared in costume as the famous nineteenth-century soprano Jenny Lind.

Amelita Galli-Curci singer

Amelita Galli-Curci was an Italian coloratura soprano. She was one of the most popular operatic singers of the 20th century, with her recordings selling in large numbers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Austrian composer of the Classical period

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era.

Franz Schubert 19th-century Austrian composer

Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind a vast oeuvre, including more than 600 secular vocal works, seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music. His major works include the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 , the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 , the three last piano sonatas, the opera Fierrabras, the incidental music to the play Rosamunde, and the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise.


She died in Berlin in 1955.


Hempel began making records in Germany for Odeon Records in 1906 and later recorded for the Gramophone Company(HMV) in England as well as the Victor Talking Machine Company and Edison Records in the US. Most are by the acoustic process.


Her vocal students include the American voice teacher and Bel canto scholar Cornelius L. Reid.


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