Johanna Gadski

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Johanna Gadski
Johanna Gadski.jpg
Born(1872-06-15)June 15, 1872
DiedFebruary 22, 1932(1932-02-22) (aged 59)
Berlin, Germany
Spouse(s)Hans Tauscher (1867–1941)
ChildrenCharlotte Tauscher Busch (1893–1967)[1]

Johanna Emilia Agnes Gadski (15 June 1872 – 22 February 1932) was a German soprano. She was blessed with a secure, powerful, ringing voice, fine musicianship and an excellent technique. These attributes enabled her to enjoy a highly successful career in New York City and London, performing heavy dramatic roles in the German and Italian repertoires.


Gadski was born in Anklam, Prussia, on 15 June 1872, according to most references, but birth records still extant at the Evangelical Church of Saint Mary, Anklam, Germany, state that Johanna Wilhelmine Agnes Emilie Gadski was born on June 15, in 1870. After receiving a musical education in Stettin, she made her operatic debut in Berlin in 1889 in the title role of Tchaikovsky's Undina.

Gadski's studies in singing were principally with Mme. Schroeder-Chaloupha. When she was ten years old, she sang successfully in concert at Stettin. Her operatic début was made in Berlin, in 1889, in Weber's Der Freischütz. She then appeared in the opera houses of Bremen and Mayence. In 1894 Dr. Walter Damrosch organized his opera company in New York and engaged Mme. Gadski for leading rôles. In 1898, she became high dramatic soprano with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the following year appeared at Covent Garden. She was constantly developing as a singer of Wagner rôles, notably Brünhilde and Isolde. Her repertoire included forty rôles in all, and the demand for her appearance at festivals here and abroad became more and more insistent. Gadski sang at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York until 1917, when the notoriety caused by the suspicious activities of her husband, Captain Hans Tauscher, American agent for large German weapon manufacturers, forced her to resign.[2][3]

Hans Tauscher[4][5] attended an opera, met Gadski, and they married on November 20, 1892 in Berlin, Germany. They had a daughter, Charlotte Tauscher Busch, who was born in Berlin on August 31, 1893, married Ernest Busch, a German[6] grand nephew of Adolphus Busch[7][8][9][10] on June 12, 1923,[11][12] (and died there on March 30, 1967).[13]

Highlights of her subsequent career in Germany included appearances in Wagner's works at the 1899 Bayreuth Festival and at the 1905/06 Munich Festival.[14] However, it was in English-speaking countries that Gadski built her international reputation as a diva. She made her successful American debut in New York in 1895 with the Damrosch Opera Company and became popular, too, in England. In 1896, she created the role of Hester Prynne in the fully staged premiere of Walter Damrosch's[15] opera The Scarlet Letter in Boston. She sang in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1906. Some sources credit her with appearing at England's Worcester Festival but this is an error. Actually, she sang at America's Worcester festivals, held in the American state of Massachusetts during the late 1890s.

Gadski was an extremely popular recitalist and in 1899 and 1900, she embarked on a lengthy concert tour of the United States.[16] She had also joined the star-studded roster of singers at the New York Metropolitan Opera, singing there from 1898 to 1904 and again from 1907 to 1917. Around 1902 she met Mabel Riegelman, a young soprano in San Francisco, and brought Mabel and her sister Ruby Riegelman (who was also her chaperone and accompanist) to Berlin in 1903 as her guest, then settling the two sisters in Stettin to continue their musical studies. In 1911, Gadski and Mabel Riegelman took the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II to New York City, where Gadski arranged for her star pupil Mabel Riegelman to debut as Gretel in Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel.

The first ways-and-means affair held in the (Woman's Club of El Paso) clubhouse was a performance by Madame Johanna Gadski, singer, and her accompanist, Francis Moore, in December 1916. The net proceeds of $440.00 were used to buy furnishings and equipment for the clubhouse.[17]

During World War I, Hans Tauscher was accused[18] of plotting sabotage against the Welland Canal along with Franz von Papen, Captain Karl Boy-Ed, Constantine Covani, and Franz von Rintelen.[19][20] He was indicted with Franz von Papen but acquitted by a federal jury.[13][21][22][23][24]

After the United States entered World War I in 1917, the Metropolitan Opera suspended performances of works from the German repertory. Gadski was given the choice to resign or be dismissed[25][26][27] from the Met because of her German links. Legend has it that she was deported from the United States as an enemy alien, but this is not true; she spent the duration of the war living quietly in New York and Lake Spofford, New Hampshire, and did not revisit Germany until 1922.[28][29][30][31]

After WW I[edit]

Gadski in 1917

Gadski resumed her professional concert career in the United States in 1921; she did not, however, return to the operatic stage until 1928 when she sang in a production of Die Walküre mounted by the Washington National Opera, a semi-professional company not related to its present namesake.[32]

Thereafter, in the years 1929 to 1931, Gadski made three tours as the star of her German Grand Opera Company, which produced dozens of performances of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. By this late date, however, her voice had declined due to advancing age and overwork in her early years.

Gadski was visiting Germany when she was killed in an automobile accident in Berlin on 22 February 1932.

Jessica Chastain bought an apartment at The Osborne on West 57th Street in 2015, a building in which Gadski once resided.[33]


During her prime, Gadski was popular on both sides of the Atlantic[34] as a Wagnerian singer, but she was equally splendid as a performer of the more taxing Italian operatic roles such as Aida by Verdi. She had a beautiful voice in her prime, with ringing high notes and a remarkably nimble technique for such a large vocal instrument. Gadski made numerous recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company in the United States from 1903 to 1917. Her complete Victor recordings have been reissued by Marston Records on two multi-disc sets of CDs. These sets also contain the Mapleson Cylinders of her voice that were recorded live from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House during the first years of the 20th century.




  1. ^ "The Wireless Age". Macroni[clarification needed] Publishing Corporation. 27 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "The Project Gutenberg eBook of Great Singers on the Art of Singing, by James Francis Cooke".
  3. ^ "The Song Masterpieces of Robert Schumann - The Etude Music Magazine, June, 1910".
  4. ^ Ellison, Joe. "Hans Tauscher article".
  5. ^ Ellison, Joe. "Hans Tauscher article, part 2".
  6. ^ "Battle Creek Enquirer from Battle Creek, Michigan on June 9, 1923 · Page 4".
  7. ^ "Battle Creek Enquirer from Battle Creek, Michigan on June 16, 1923 · Page 4".
  8. ^ Library, University of Oregon, Knight. "The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current, December 10, 1922, SECTION THREE, Page 10, Image 58 « Historic Oregon Newspapers".
  9. ^ "The Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on June 15, 1923 · Page 5".
  10. ^ "St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on June 15, 1923 · Page 21".
  11. ^ "St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on April 14, 1924 · Page 19".
  12. ^ "St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on June 8, 1923 · Page 23".
  13. ^ a b "Tauscher, Figure In 1916 Plot, Dies. Acquitted of Charges That He Planned to Blow Up Welland Canal in World War. Served Krupp Interests. Ex-Aide of von Papen Had Arms Firms Here. Husband of Johanna Gadski, Singer". The New York Times. September 6, 1941. Retrieved 2015-03-21.
  14. ^ "Johanna Gadski- Bio, Albums, Pictures – Naxos Classical Music".
  15. ^ "Madame Johanna Gadski :: Traveling Culture - Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century".
  16. ^ "Selmar Meyrowitz- Bio, Albums, Pictures – Naxos Classical Music".
  17. ^ "Woman's Club creative fundraising benefits city".
  18. ^ "Sacramento Union 31 March 1916 — California Digital Newspaper Collection".
  19. ^ "Welland Canal Case". Information Annual. 1917. p. 652. Retrieved 2015-03-23.
  20. ^ "Indict Von Papen As Canal Plotter. Federal Jury Names Recalled Attache and Four Others in Welland Conspiracy. One Name is Kept Secret. Captain, Tauscher, Fritzen, Covani, and Another Accused". The New York Times. April 18, 1916.
  21. ^ "Capt. Boy-Ed's Plea to Live Here Refused; Parole of German Offenders to End Soon". The New York Times. 13 July 1919.
  22. ^ Jones, John Price; Hollister, Paul Merrick (1918). "The German secret service in America, 1914-1918". Boston Small, Maynard – via Internet Archive.
  23. ^ Library, University of Oregon, Knight (24 December 1918). "Morning Oregonian. (Portland, Or.) 1861-1937, December 24, 1918, Image 10" (1918/12/24). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ von der Goltz, Horst (1918). "My adventures as a German Secret Service Agent". Castle and Company. Retrieved April 28, 2012. (Text version)
  25. ^ Affron, Charles (8 November 2014). "OperaPost: The Met in World War I, 1".
  26. ^ Watkins, Glenn (30 December 2002). Proof through the Night: Music and the Great War. University of California Press. p. 309 – via Internet Archive. Tauscher.
  27. ^ At the final performance of the season, on 13 April, Johanna Gadski, one of the reigning Wagnerian singers of her time, was granted permission to announce her "retirement" rather than be officially dismissed
  28. ^ Moore, Ellis O. (27 December 2017). Francis Moore: A Musician's Life. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781425769109 – via Google Books.
  29. ^ Feilitzsch, Heribert von (27 December 2017). In Plain Sight: Felix A. Sommerfeld, Spymaster in Mexico, 1908 to 1914. Henselstone Verlag LLC. ISBN 9780985031701 – via Google Books.
  30. ^[bare URL PDF]
  31. ^ Affron, Charles; Affron, Mirella Jona (22 September 2014). Grand Opera: The Story of the Met. Univ of California Press. ISBN 9780520250338 – via Google Books.
  32. ^ McPherson, Jim, "Mr. Meek Goes to Washington: The Story of the Small-Potatoes Canadian Baritone Who Founded America's 'National' Opera," The Opera Quarterly, volume 20, no. 2, Spring 2004
  33. ^ "Jessica Chastain's glitzy new digs said to be haunted". New York Post. 5 April 2015.
  34. ^ "Johanna Gadski Stock Photos and Pictures".

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