Rita Streich as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann, 1946
December 18, 1920|
Barnaul, Soviet Union
March 20, 1987 (aged 66)|
|Nationality||Russian and German|
Rita Streich (December 18, 1920 – March 20, 1987) was one of the most admired and recorded lyric coloratura sopranos of the post-war period.
Rita Streich was born in Barnaul, southern Siberia, in the Russian part of what was then the Soviet Union, to a German father who had been a prisoner of war there, and a Russian mother. She moved to Germany with her parents during her childhood. She grew up speaking both German and Russian fluently, something that was extremely helpful during her later career. Among her teachers were Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender, Erna Berger and Maria Ivogün.
She made her debut in opera during the Second World War at the Stadttheater of Aussig, now Ústí nad Labem in Bohemia, in the role of Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss' opera Ariadne auf Naxos, in 1943. Three years later she secured her first engagement at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, where she sang until 1952. In that year she moved to Bayreuth, in 1953 to Vienna, and in 1954 to Salzburg. Appearances at La Scala in Milan and at the Covent Garden followed.
Her repertoire included roles in Idomeneo, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Zauberflöte, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier, Siegfried (the Forest Bird) and others. Since she had grown up bilingual, she could also sing Rimsky-Korsakov in the original Russian almost without accent. She was also active in operetta. She made recordings of many classical Viennese operettas, for instance Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig, Der Zigeunerbaron, Boccaccio, Der Bettelstudent and Der Zarewitsch.