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Margarete Klose

Biography

Mezzo-soprano Margarete Klose was one of the most powerful, vocally accomplished singers of her time. The sleekness of sound she produced, volcanic in its outpouring, was perfectly placed and unfaltering in its consistency. Of her contemporaries, perhaps only Italian mezzo Ebe Stignani might be considered comparable. Even considering the less forward, less liquid sound of the German language in which she customarily sang, Klose managed to Read more simulate the beautiful legato of the best Italian singers -- and with a still more seamless integration of registers. Several recordings, caught live, attest to her authority. Her "Entweihte Götter!" from the second act of Lohengrin wrested from a Vienna Staatsoper audience in 1938 a fire storm of applause, clearly audible on disc. Likewise, her Brangäne opposite Kirsten Flagstad's magnificent Isolde in a live 1937 Covent Garden performance staggers the senses -- two huge voices exchanging long-breathed phrases, pouring forth volley after volley of expressive tone, especially at the beginning of Act II.

Klose studied with Bulteman and Marschalk in Berlin before making her 1927 stage debut in Ulm as Manja in Kálmán's Gräfin Mariza. The following year, she joined the company at Mannheim where she remained until 1931. While at Mannheim, she participated in the 1930 Wagner series at the Paris Opera, creating a very favorable impression. Upon leaving Mannheim in 1931, Klose joined the Berlin Staatsoper and continued with that company for 18 years.

The 1930s, the period during which she entered her prime, saw debuts at other important theaters. She sang in London beginning in 1935. Klose's introduction to the British public took place in Lohengrin, where her darkly resounding Ortrud provided an exciting counterpoint to the vocal gold of Elisabeth Rethberg's Elsa. At the time, she was hailed by critics as the ranking German mezzo. In 1937, Klose consolidated her status with Brangäne, Fricka, and Waltraute. In those years, the singers alternating in her roles were Kerstin Thorborg, Karin Branzell, and Sabine Kalter, an estimable company of mezzos.

Beginning in 1936, Klose became an important artist at the Bayreuth Festival, singing Ortrud (under Furtwängler), Brangäne, Fricka, Waltraute, and Erda. The Rome Opera beckoned in 1939 and, eventually, she sang in Vienna, Spain, at Salzburg, and in both North and South America. Klose left the Berlin Staatsoper in 1949 to become a member of the Berlin Städtische Oper where she stayed until returning to the Staatsoper in 1958. She retired from the stage in 1961.

Klose's only engagement with an American opera company was one season in San Francisco. In 1953, she sang Brangäne, Fricka, and Ulrica with the huge-voiced soprano Gertrud Grob-Prandl and Clitemnestre opposite the Elektra of Inge Borkh. Just prior to her American debut, she participated in a German radio production of Strauss' Salome in which the title role was sung by Astrid Varnay and Herodes by Julius Patzak.

Klose's repertory included most of the great roles for dramatic mezzo-soprano. In addition to her vaunted Wagner and Strauss interpretations, she was a superlative Verdi singer, albeit usually in the German language. She was a respected Orfeo, where her noble voice and innate dignity perfectly embodied Gluck's hero. Iphigénie in the same composer's Iphigénie en Aulide was also a stirring recreation, strong in voice, technique, and presence. The Kostelnicka in Janácek's Jenufa was yet another role in which Klose made a striking impression. Read less


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