Ruth Hesse

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Ruth Hesse
Born (1936-09-18) 18 September 1936 (age 82)
OccupationOperatic mezzo-soprano

Ruth Hesse (born 18 September 1936) is a German operatic mezzo-soprano and contralto. She was a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1962 to 1995, and appeared internationally, including the Bayreuth Festival and the Salzburg Festival. She appeared regularly at the Vienna State Opera from 1965 to 1988, and was appointed an Austrian Kammersängerin in 1982. In Berlin, she took part in the world premiere of Henze's Der junge Lord.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Wuppertal, Hesse first studied with Peter Offermanns in Wuppertal, then with Hildegard Scharf in Hamburg and finally also in Milan.[1] She made her debut in 1958 at the Theater Lübeck as Orpheus in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and remained at the house until 1960. Afterwards she was engaged for two seasons at the Staatsoper Hannover. In 1960 she made her debut at the Hamburg State Opera and at the Bayreuth Festival, where she performed until 1979 and where she was gradually assigned larger roles, beginning as Flower Maiden in Parsifal and moving on to Magdalene in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Ortrud in Lohengrin.[2]

Première of Henze's Der junge Lord, Berlin 1965

From 1962 to 1995, she was engaged by the Deutsche Oper Berlin, singing a wide repertoire. She took part in the world premiere of Henze's Der junge Lord on 7 April 1965.[1]

From the second half of the 1960s she made first appearances at major opera houses in Europe in new roles. In 1965, she sang at the Vienna State Opera both Ortrud and Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlos. A year later, she appeared as Brangäne in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde at the Lyon Opera. In 1968 she was invited by the Holland Festival to sing Herodias in Salome by Richard Strauss. In 1969, she appeared as the Nurse in Die Frau ohne Schatten by Richard Strauss at the Royal Opera House in London, where she later was Fricka in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.[1] In 1972, she sang at the Paris Opéra Garnier in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and again as the Nurse. In 1974 and 1975 she was the Nurse in an acclaimed production at the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Karl Böhm and directed by Günther Rennert, alongside James King and Leonie Rysanek as the imperial couple, and Walter Berry and Birgit Nilsson as the Dyer and his wife,[3] in a production that was recorded.[4]

Hesse also gave guest performances at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, the Opéra National de Lyon, Opéra de Marseille and the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, the Chorégies d'Orange and Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels and De Nationale Opera in Amsterdam, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. She also performed in several Italian opera houses, including the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, the Teatro Regio di Torino and La Fenice in Venice. Invitations to North America took her to the San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, to the Washington National Opera and to Mexico City. In South America she performed at the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires and at the Rio de Janeiro Opera. A tour of the Deutsche Oper Berlin also brought her to Japan.[1]

She was a regular guest at the Vienna State Opera from 1965 to 1988, where she appeared as Herodias, the Nurse, Ortrud, Brangäne Magdalene, Fricka and Waltraute, Eboli, as well as Amneris in Verdi's Aida, Azucena in his Il trovatore, Maddalena in his Rigoletto and Preziosilla in his La forza del destino, Giulietta in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann and Burija in Janáček's Jenůfa. In 1982 she was appointed Kammersängerin. On 29 November 1988, she retired from the house as Herodias.[1][5]

She also performed in concert, including a performance of Salome at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1975.[1]

Hesse has been married to the director Siegwulf Turek [de] since 1976.



  1. ^ a b c d e f Kutsch, K. J.; Riemens, Leo (2012). Hesse, Ruth. Großes Sängerlexikon (in German) (4 ed.). Walter de Gruyter. p. 2064. ISBN 978-3-59-844088-5.
  2. ^ "Ruth Hesse" (in German). Bayreuth Festival. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  3. ^ Herbort, Heinz Josef (24 August 1974). "Salzburger Festspiele 1974: Märchen und Intrigen". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  4. ^ Werbeck, Walter, ed. (2016). Richard Strauss-Handbuch (in German). Springer Verlag. p. 211. ISBN 978-3-47-600510-6.
  5. ^ "Vordtellungen mit Ruth Hesse" (in German). Vienna State Opera. Retrieved 28 March 2019.

External links[edit]