Bayreuth Singers - Series 3 - Page 1

Historic Opera
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Marguerita Elisabeth Amalia Bruntsch (San Francisco: 27 Dec 1876 - Mill Valley, CA: 2 Jun 1965) sailed for Europe in 1900, and performed in various cities under the name Margaretha Bruntsch. From 1901 to 1905 she was in Paris; from 1905-1908 she was in Milan, Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden, and from 1908 to 1920 she was in Karlsruhe, Bayreuth, Berlin and Leipzig. In 1920 she went to Switzerland for reasons given as "health" but returned to the U.S. on the S.S. Rotterdam in October of 1921. After that she resided in California and performed in benefits and concerts mostly in the San Francisco area. In the late 1920s she sailed for Berlin and returned again in 1928.  She apparently never married. By the time she was in her middle 50s she was a lodger in the home of another single woman in Mill Valley. She was described as being 5'  8 1/2" and had hazel eyes, a small mouth, a round chin, an oval face, and dark brown hair. German conductor, Michael Balling (28 Aug 1866: Würzburg-Heidingsfeld - 1 Sep 1925: Darmstadt). He trained as a violist and played in the opera orchestras of Mainz and Schwerin. In 1895 he became the musical director of Sir Frank Benson's Shakespearean company in England. He returned to Germany and became a violinist with the Bayreuth Festival orchestra. He eventually moved into the position as an assistant to several of the Festivals, and conducted there regularly between 1904-14 and 1924-25. His final post was as musical director in Darmstadt (1919–25). In 1908 he married the widow of Hermann Levi. American (Great Neck, Long Island) baritone Bennett Challis as the Dutchman. He was seen at the 1914 Bayreuth Festival. He was the leading baritone of the Hamburg Municipal Opera. During the 1914 Festival he was seen as Hagen (Götterdämmerung). He sang in Italy, and at the Berlin State Opera. On November 18, 1928 Challis contributed an article to the New York Times (Operatic Common Sense: A Grandiose Tradition of Star Opera and Its Effect on Growth of Public Taste---The Young Stage Aspirant) in which he laments the inability of small opera companies to operate successfully in the United States thus denying young singers the opportunity of experience. German tenor Walter Kirchhoff (1879-1951) studied with Lilli Lehmann and Robert Weiss. He made his debut (1906) at the Berlin Imperial Opera as Faust. He was particularly noted as a Wagnerian singer. As Walter von Stolzing in a 1913 Meistersinger at Covent Garden, The Times said, "Mr. Kirchhoff gives what one so rarely gets in a Wagnerian tenor, a combination of vocal power and manly personality, which is essential to a satisfactory representation." Kirchhoff sang at the 1911-14 Bayreuth Festivals, during which time he also served as the chief administrative assistant to the Crown Prince of Germany. Seen here as Parsifal. Bohemian, later American, contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861-1936). Her concert debut took place in Graz at the age of fifteen in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Only two years later she made her operatic debut as Azucena (Il Trovatore) at the Dresden Royal Opera. In 1926, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of her singing debut in Graz, she performed to a packed house at Carnegie Hall. Seen here as Mary.
German soprano Helena Forti (Berlin: 25 Apr 1884 - Vienna: 11 May 1942) as Sieglinde. She studied with Schiedemantel in Dresden and with Emmerich in Berlin. She made her debut (1906) at Dessau as Valentine in Les Huguenots. She appeared in Brünn, Prague, Dresden, Vienna, Berlin, Bucharest, Cologne, Brussels, and Amsterdam. In 1914 she appeared as Sieglinde at the Bayreuth Festival and was applauded as a first-rate Wagnerian. She was married to the manager of the Dresden Opera, Walter Bruno Iltz. Tenor Alfred von Bary (1873-1926) as Siegfried. He was engaged for Bayreuth in 1904 and returned every summer through 1914. Albert von Puttkamer, who wrote 50 Jahre Bayreuth, an important book on Bayreuth (published in 1927), believed that von Bary was the greatest Lohengrin of his time. His rare recordings reveal a strong and pleasant voice. Seen here as Siegfried.  
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