Sara Cahier

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Signed portrait

Sara Cahier (8 January 1870 – 15 April 1951)[1][2] was an American-born mezzo-soprano or contralto singer in opera and lieder, who sang mainly in Europe, later acquiring Swedish citizenship. She was associated with Gustav Mahler, and was one the soloists in the posthumous premiere of his Das Lied von der Erde in 1911. She also sang at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and was a teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her students included Marian Anderson.


Madame Charles Cahier - The grand opera singers of to-day (1912).jpg

She was born as Sara Jane Layton Walker in Nashville, Tennessee.[2] She studied in Indianapolis, and in Paris under Jean de Reszke, and made her debut as Orpheus in Orpheus and Eurydice in Nice in 1904. Other teachers included Gustav Walter,[1] Victor Capoul and Amalie Joachim.

Her first husband was Morris Black. In 1905 she married a Swede, the impresario Charles Cahier,[2] after which she was generally billed as "Madame Charles Cahier", or "Sara Charles-Cahier".[3]

She was active in Vienna, joining the Hofoper in 1907, and Munich, often singing under Gustav Mahler's directorship in roles such as Amneris, Carmen, Delilah, Fidès, Ortrud, and Santuzza.

She and her fellow American the tenor William Miller were chosen by Bruno Walter to premiere, posthumously, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde in Munich in November 1911.[3] She also sang in the New York premiere of the work in 1922, with tenor Orville Harrold, under conductor Artur Bodanzky.

She sang in France, Italy, England and Germany. Other noted conductors under whom she sang included Edvard Grieg and Richard Strauss.[2]

She sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1912 to 1914, making her debut there as Azucena in Il trovatore.[3] Other appearances there included Fricka in Die Walküre, alongside Olive Fremstad and Margaret Matzenauer.[4]

She enjoyed great success in Stockholm from 1915 to 1917, during which time she acquired Swedish citizenship. After retirement, she became a teacher and vocal coach, at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.[3] Her students, there and elsewhere, included Marian Anderson, Göta Ljungberg and Rosette Anday. It was on her advice that Lauritz Melchior changed from baritone to heldentenor.[2]

Sara Cahier died in Manhattan Beach, California, in April 1951.[2][3]


Her recordings were few, but include:


  1. ^ a b Google groups. Retrieved 1 August 2014
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Mme. Sara Cahier", Toledo Blade, 16 April 1951. Retrieved 1 August 2014
  3. ^ a b c d e Retrieved 1 August 2014
  4. ^ The New York Times, 15 December 1912. Retrieved 1 August 2014
  5. ^ Mahler: Lieder – Early Recordings 1915–1949, CD Universe (mislabelled as "Ich atmet' einen linden Duft"). Retrieved 17 January 2019
  6. ^ Vienna: The Mahler Years 1897–1907, CD Universe. Retrieved 1 August 2014