Opera Singers - F - Page 1

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Russian tenor Nicolai Figner (1856-1919) studied at the Conservatory in St Petersburg and in Italy. He made his debut (1882) in Gounod's Philémon et Baucis in Naples. In 1884 and 1886 he gained some stage experience in South America with Claudio Rossi's company. In Milan (La Scala) he appeared in the world premiere of Catalani's Edmea, which was conducted by the then unknown Arturo Toscanini. He made many successful appearances throughout Europe with his future wife, Medea Mei, before returning to St. Petersburg and the Imperial Opera, where both had enviable careers. From 1910 to 1915 he directed and sang at the Narodnïy Dom opera house. He lost most of his possessions during the Russian Revolution and died shortly thereafter. Italian mezzo-soprano/soprano Medea Mei-Figner (1858-1952) made her debut in Sinaluga, Italy as Azucena in Il Trovatore. She had a successful career in Europe and South America. During her appearances in Milan she met her future husband, Russian tenor Nicolai Figner (1856-1919). They both joined the Imperial Opera in St. Petersburg, where they had highly regarded careers. Tchaikovsky, a friend of the Figners, wrote part of his opera, The Queen of Spades, at their residence. The couple appeared in the 1890 world premiere of that work, Medea as Lisa and Nicolai as Hermann. At the Imperial Opera she and her husband also created roles in Iolanthe (1892), and Napravnik's Doubrovsky (1895) and Francesca da Rimini (1902). The Figners were divorced in 1904; and after the Revolution (1919) she left Russia and lived permanently in Paris.
       Zdenka Mottl-Fassbender
Venus
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German baritone Fritz Feinhals (11 Dec 1869 - 30 Aug 1940): Debut (1895) in Essen as Silvio in Pagliacci. He continued to sing there until 1897. After one season in Mainz he joined the Munich Royal Opera, where he remained until 1927. He sang at the Paris Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna, Zurich, Brussels, Budapest, Metropolitan Opera. In 1917 he sang in the world premiere of Palestrina in Munich. San Francisco-born Maude Fay (1878-1964) was quite popular in Munich. On the recommendation of Johanna Gadski she went to Dresden for study. Like many sopranos, she made her debut (1906) as Marguerite in Faust (Munich Royal Opera). Her credentials included the Munich premieres of Tosca (1908), Feuersnot, and Ariadne auf Naxos. At the outbreak of World War I she remained in Germany doing Red Cross work but returned to America in 1916 to make her Metropolitan Opera debut as Sieglinde (Die Walküre). She also appeared in Chicago and San Francisco. Czechoslovakian soprano Zdenka Mottl-Fassbender (1879-1954). She studied with Sophie Loewe-Destinn (as did her compatriot Emmy Destinn). She made her debut (1899) in Karsruhe. She went on to become a leading soprano in Munich. She married conductor and composer Felix Mottl at his deathbed after he collapsed in Munich while conducting a performance of Tristan und Isolde in 1911.