Vera Schwarz

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Vera Schwarz as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser

Vera Schwarz (10 July 1888 - 4 December 1964) was an Austrian Soprano, known primarily for her operetta partnership with Richard Tauber.


Vera Schwarz was born in Agram, Croatia, as the daughter of Hungarian-Croatian aviation pioneer David Schwarz. She studied in Vienna with Philipp Forstén and gave her debut in 1908 at the Theater an der Wien. 1908 to 1912 she was a member of the opera in Graz, from 1911 to 1913 she sang at the Johann Strauß-Theater in Vienna.[1] After performing in Karlsbad she came to the Hamburger Stadttheater in 1914. From 1918 to 1922 she was an ensemble member of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin.


1921 - 1930 Vera Schwarz appeared often as a guest in Vienna, and became a local star there, performing the title roles of Tosca and Carmen, Eva in Meistersingern, Sieglinde in Walküre, Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Rachel in La Juive, receiving the title "Kammersängerin"". It was during this time that she taught her Vienna Staatsoper colleague Leo Slezak's daughter, (and Walter Slezak's brother), Margarete. In her book Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm Margarete Slezak recounts her meeting Vera Schwarz: "I paid Vera Schwarz a visit, and asked her to test my voice. Frau Schwarz found it would be worthwhile to train my voice, and promised me, while keeping this strictly secret from my family, to give me lessons. She lived with her mother, a delicate yet unbelievably energetic lady. Mama Schwarz missed no performance of her daughter. She sat in the middle of the parquet and influenced the audience's applause particularly loudly. While doing so she would turn left and right claiming loudly: "Charming, magnificent! Who is this God-gifted singer?". One time an acquaintance sat behind,unseen by her. He bent forward and said, for everyone to overhear: "But, gnädige Frau, surely you would know that!"[2]

Partnership with Richard Tauber[edit]

1929 to 1933 she was a member of the Metropol-Theater Berlin ensemble, returning from 1931 to 1933 to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. She became well known as Richard Tauber's operetta partner, and sang often in this genre, almost always with Richard Tauber.[3] She appeared with Tauber in the Berlin Premiere of Lehar's operetta Paganini in January 1926 at the de:Deutsches Künstlertheater, and in a new production at the Theater des Westens in April 1930, both conducted by the composer. More famously, she and Tauber appeared, again under the composer's baton, in the October 1929 premiere of Das Land des Lächelns at the Metropol Theater in Berlin, making some famous creator-recordings at the time.

Some respected sources (including Kutsch, K.J. & Riemens, Leo: 'Grosses Sängerlexicon', Franke Verlag, Bern and Stuttgart, 1987 Edition, Page 2697 - which further fails to mention that she ever sang in Paganini) claim that she also appeared with Tauber in Lehar's Der Zarewitsch, but this is incorrect. The 1927 operetta has only two soprano singing roles; one an ingénue role, played originally by de:Rita Georg, and the other a soubrette part, played by Charlotte Ander. There is simply no part in this operetta for a singer of Schwarz's voice and stature.

Schwarz and Tauber had first appeared together in Carmen at the Berliner Staatsoper in May 1921, and were often to appear together in operas such as Die Tote Stadt, Un Ballo in Maschera, Tosca, Carmen and Die Fledermaus at the Wiener Staatsoper. It was here they last appeared together in Das Land des Lächelns in February 1938, shortly before the Nazi Anschluss.[4]

International activity[edit]

She appeared in the opera houses of Amsterdam, Budapest, London, Munich, and Paris, where she performed Tosca in 1928 at the Opéra-Comique Paris. In 1929 she sang Octavian in Rosenkavalier at the Salzburger Festspiele. One of her last roles was as Verdi's Lady Macbeth at the 1939 Glyndebourne Festival.

Persecution and emigration[edit]

Having Jewish paternal grandparents, Schwarz was forced to leave Germany in 1933, singing in Vienna, giving a world premiere of a work by Salmhofer[5] in 1935, and appearing as late as 1938 with Tauber in Lehar's Das Land des Lächelns. A few months after this performance, she emigrated first to England (where she sang Lady Macbeth in Glyndebourne), then to the United States, where she appeared in Chicago and in San Francisco, but concentrated mostly on concert appearances (including concerts at the Los Angeles German-Jewish club[6]), and teaching in New York,[7] and in Hollywood. Here she coached the American Sopranos Rise Stevens, [8] and Marni Nixon.[9]

Later life[edit]

Vera Schwarz returned to Vienna in 1948, teaching and giving masterclasses in the Salzburg Mozarteum. She died in Vienna in 1964, and is buried at the Urnenhain der de:Feuerhalle Simmering (Abt. MH, Nr. 359).

In 2011, a street in Vienna's 23rd district was named Vera-Schwarz-Gasse in her honour.[10]


  1. ^ Karl Josef Kutsch, Leo Riemens: Großes Sängerlexikon. Bd 4. 3. Auflage. Verlag K.G. Saur, München 1999, S.3178f.
  2. ^ Margarete Slezak: Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm. R. Piper, 1953. p. 46 (translated here from the original German)
  3. ^ Richard Traubner, Operetta: A Theatrical History Routledge, 2003, ISBN 978-0-415-96641-2, p. 244
  4. ^ Daniel O'Hara, Richard Tauber Chronology, "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Herbert F. Peyser, SALMHOFER OPERA IN VIENNA, NY Times article, January 12, 1936, p. 6
  6. ^ Hannes Heer, Jürgen Kersting, Verstummte Stimmen. Die Vertreibung der Juden" und politisch Untragbaren" aus den Dresdner Theatern 1933 bis 1945, Metropol, 2011, ISBN 978-3-86331-032-5, p. 68
  7. ^ Stewart Hamilton Opening Windows: Confessions of a Canadian Vocal Coach, Dundurn, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4597-0512-8, p. 76
  8. ^ John Pennino, Risë Stevens: A Life in Music, Baskerville Publishers, 2005, ISBN 978-1-880909-75-1
  9. ^ Marni Nixon I could have sung all night, Billboard, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8230-8365-7, pp. 32-33
  10. ^ Vienna new street names online information: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 19, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2013.

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