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Rosette Anday (Mezzo-soprano)

Born: December 12, 1903 - Budapest, Hungary
Died: December 22, 1977 - Pressbaum (or Vienna?), Austria

On 23 September, 1921 the Vienna State Opera scheduled a performance of Georges Bizet's Carmen - and an 18-year-old, hitherto unknown, mezzo made her debut, singing one of the most demanding and yet fervently desired parts in all opera. The Director of the Vienna State Opera, Franz Schalk, had first heard the young singer in Budapest, where she studied at the local conservatoire and had taken violin lessons from the composer Jenő Hubay. Schalk engaged her immediately, without insisting on a guest appearance first and Rosette Anday thus took the plunge, in accordance with the motto: "Never ventured, never gained". And gain she most certainly did. The reviews were favourable and within a short time she became on of the leading mezzos at the Vienna State Opera. The circumatances were auspicious, moreover, because there was a considerable dearth of talent in Vienna at the time in this particular vocal category. Apart from Franz Schalk, Richard Strauss was one of her mentors and - a great honour for such a young singer - he was her piano accompanist when she gave her first Lieder recital in the ‘Grosse Musikvereinssaal’ in Vienna that same season.

Rosette Anday's voice was that genuine, opulent contralto which is as rare as it is precious. Nevertheless she possessed a resounding top range up to top "C", an extension normally studiously avoided by contraltos.

After her debut she appeared initially in smaller roles such as Cherubino in Nozze de Figaro but soon graduated to Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte. As the voice became more voluminous, Rosette Anday was entrusted with the great roles in the Italian and French repertoire. Thus she soon sang her first Amneris in Aida, Azucena in Trovatore and, after she had been a member of the company for five years, the dream role of all mezzos, Dalila in Samson et Dalila.

Early in her career she was also asked to sing the big mezzo Wagner roles, viz: Fricka, Erda, Waltraute in Gotterdammerung and, above all, Brangane in Tristan und Isolde". In Mascagni's L'amico Fritz she herself played the long violin solo - to the complete satisfaction of the concert master of the Philharmonic Orchestra. She sang the big mezzo roles in many premieres, including Adriano in Rienzi, Preziosilla in Forza del Destino, the role of the ‘Botin’ in Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane and Laura in Gioconda. As partner of the most celebrated tenors in Vienna, as well as many famous guests, she managed to hold her own. Eventually, therefore, she was invited to tour North- and South America and subsequently appeared in Berlin, Paris, Italy and at the Salzburg Festival. Mention must also be made of her enormous success as Klytemnestra in Richard Strauss' Elektra.

Rosette Anday was one of the youngest 'Kammersängerin' ever. She also received numerous awards from allover the world.

Banned from the stage during the National Socialist occupation of Austria, she was able to participate immediately after the war in rebuilding what is now regarded as an exemplary ensemble at the "Theater an der Wien". On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of her debut in 1961, she was once more able to demonstrate the size and beauty of her voice as well as her considerable histrionic talent as Klytemnestra. She was also awarded the honourary membership of the Vienna State Opera. It was simultaneously the artistic apex of an exceptionally long career and a farewell.

Rosette Anday was, moreover, one of the most popular and most frequently engaged altos in the oratorio and Lieder sphere. Her dedication to the music of Gustav Mahler - at that time by no means fully accepted as a composer -is proved by her participations in Das Lied von der Erde, which she sang at a festival matinee at the Vienna State Opera in 1923 as well as in the first performance of the work in Paris (conductor: Oskar Fried) and in London (conductor: Bruno Walter).

Extremely popular in Viennese society, she lived in her beautiful villa in the "Rosette Anday Strasse" in Pressbaum but continued to pass on her rich store of knowledge to young, talented singers.

More Photos

Source: Liner to the CD ‘Lebendige Vergangenheit – Rosette Anday’ (Preiser, 1991)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2002); Manfred Krugmann (Photos 02-20, July 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




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Aria from BWV 244

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