Maria Reining


Born: August 7, 1908 Died: March 11, 1991
This lyric soprano, lovely in both voice and presence, is most widely remembered for a recording of Der Rosenkavalier made after the years of her prime. Her Marschallin, much loved by the Viennese, was still attractive and well acted, but by 1954, it lacked the shimmer that had made her earlier performances so indelible. Fortunately, many of those performances that had established her as a special artist are preserved on disc, such as her collaborations with such conductors as Toscanini, Böhm, and Knappertsbusch.

While working as a bank clerk, Reining pursued voice studies in Vienna before making her Staatsoper debut at the rather advanced age of 28. Initially, Reining was cast in soubrette roles. To gain a more diverse repertory, she accepted an offer from Darmstadt, where she sang for two years beginning in 1933. A subsequent two years at Munich's Bayerische Staatsoper brought a further advance into the heavier lyric repertory before Reining returned to Vienna as a Mozart, Wagner, and Strauss soprano of the first rank. Her second tenure with the Staatsoper lasted from 1937 until 1958. The year of Reining's return to Vienna also brought a debut at Salzburg where she sang, among other roles, Eva under Toscanini's direction. Mozart's Countess and Pamina became beautifully realized portrayals and other mid-weight Wagner roles such as Elisabeth and Sieglinde were likewise treasured. In May 1938, Reining made her first appearance at Covent Garden, singing an Elsa. On November 2, 1938, Reining made her American debut in Chicago as Eva to the Hans Sachs of Joel Berglund. Three days later, she presented her fragile Cio-Cio-San to Chicago audiences. Reining's New York operatic debut was delayed until after WWII and took place not at the Metropolitan Opera, but at the New York City Opera in September 1949 when she sang Ariadne under the direction of Lazlo Halasz, later essaying the Marschallin in the company's first Der Rosenkavalier. Meanwhile, she had been active once more at the Salzburg Festival, singing a well-received Arabella to the Mandryka of Hans Hotter in 1947. During the early '50s, Reining shared the role of the Marschallin in Vienna with Hilde Konetzni, another favorite artist of the house.