Austrian contralto Hilde Roessel-Majdan dead at 89

VIENNA- Austrian contralto Hilde Roessel-Majdan has died at the age of 89, the Vienna State Opera announced Monday.
Roessel-Majdan, who would have celebrated her 90th birthday next month, died on December 15, said a statement issued by the opera house, where she sang 62 different roles in a total 1,553 performances over a period of 25 years.

In addition to Wagner's great contralto roles, such as Erda in the "Ring" and Brangaene in "Tristan und Isolde", Roessel-Majdan also specialised in Mozart, singing the role of Marcellina in "The Marriage of Figaro" no fewer than 194 times.
Her last appearance at the State Opera was in Schoenberg's "Moses und Aron" on November 22, 1976.
Roessel-Majdan was also regarded as one of the great oratorio and "Lied" singers of her day, recording all of Bach's works for contralto and working together with conductors such as Hermann Scherchen, Hans Knappertbusch, Herbert nvon Karajan, Karl Boehm, Rafael Kubelik, Otto Klemperer and Leonard Bernstein.
Born in Moosbierbaum in Lower Austria on January 30, 1921, she launched her career at the age of 30 when she stepped in at short notice to sing a performance of Mahler's Second Symphony at the State Opera under Otto Klemperer.
A year later, she sang in Bach's St. Matthew Passion under Wilhlem Furtwaengler at Vienna's Konzerthaus.
She was awarded the honorary title of Austrian "Kammersaengerin" in 1962.
In addition to her own performing career, Roessel-Majdan worked as a teacher and was voice professor at the music universities of Graz and Vienna.

Monday, December 20th 2010

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