Marianne Mathy-Frisdane (23 June 1890 – 18 October 1978) was a coloratura soprano opera singer and distinguished teacher of opera and classical singing.
Born Marianne Helene Sara Kahn in Mannheim, Germany, in 1913 Marianne married Colonel Eric Mathy, an officer of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Imperial German Army. Though they divorced the next year, with Eric killed in action shortly thereafter, Marianne retained Mathy's name for the remainder of her life. In 1921, she married Berlin architect, Franz (Francis) Martin Friendenstein. They later changed this name by deed poll in February 1945 from Friendenstein to Frisdane.
Her musical education included piano, theory, speech training, interpretation and voice production, with a special course for the treatment of damaged vocal cords. Though her initial formal training emphasised piano, Marianne showed early promise as an opera and classical singer. In 1918 Marianne was offered her first engagement singing at a provincial opera, as Gretel in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. She became well known as an interpreter of Lieder and of Early Music. She went on to perform in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1929 Marianne received the State Certificate, Berlin, with Honourable Mention in recognition of her public performances and as a teacher of singing.
In October 1939, Marianne and Francis immigrated to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. From 1959, Mathy-Frisdane taught for three years at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), and for over 12 years at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music (now Sydney Conservatorium of Music), and participated in the inaugural meeting for the New South Wales National Opera, the predecessor of the Australian Opera (now Opera Australia). In 1963, she was commissioned by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust to make a new English translation of Gounod's opera Faust.
A highly respected teacher of opera and classical singers, Mathy taught fifteen winners of the Sydney Sun Aria. In 1965 she wrote The Singer's Companion. Many of her pupils became nationally and internationally renowned opera singers and include Althea Bridges, June Bronhill, Joan Sutherland, Peter Cousens and Lyndon Terracini to name but a few.
Marianne Mathy-Fridane left in her Will a bequest from which the Marianne Mathy Scholarship for young opera and classical singers was established. First awarded in 1982 to New Zealand soprano Nicola Waite, the Marianne Mathy Scholarship, also known as The Mathy, is one of the longest-running, recognised and respected scholarships of its type in Australia and New Zealand. The Marianne Mathy Scholarship (The Mathy) is the major award in the Australian Singing Competition. The Marianne Mathy Scholarship and the Australian Singing Competition are managed by Music & Opera Singers Trust Limited (MOST).
- The Singer's Companion, Van Dyke Productions, Sydney, 1965
- The Singer's Companion, National Library of Australia Catalogue, Bib ID 2788097