Rita Streich as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann, 1946
December 18, 1920|
Barnaul, Soviet Union
|Died||March 20, 1987
|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 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.
Her debut as an opera singer was during the Second World War at the Stadttheater of Ústí nad Labem in Bohemia, in the role of Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss' opera Ariadne auf Naxos. Three years later she secured her first engagement at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, where she stayed 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 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 the works of Rimsky-Korsakov in their original Russian almost without accent. Apart from this Rita Streich was an active operetta-singer. She made recordings of many classical Viennese operettas, for instance Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig, The Gypsy Baron, Boccaccio, Der Bettelstudent, and Der Zarewitsch.
Rita Streich's famous recording of Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" with the Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra conducted by Reinhard Peters, was heard in the 2007 film "Mr. Bean's Holiday" which Rowan Atkinson lip-syncs.
- The Merry Wives of Windsor (1950)
- The Last Prima Donnas, by Lanfranco Rasponi, Alfred A Knopf, 1982. ISBN 0-394-52153-6