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Irmgard Seefried

The daughter of well-educated Austrians, Seefried received her initial music lessons from her father. She made her first public appearance when she was eight years old and three years later sang Gretel / Hänsel und Gretel in a children’s performance of Humperdinck’s opera. She studied singing at the Augsburg Conservatory, first with Albert Mayer and then with Paola Novikova, a relationship which continued after she had become established.

Seefried made her operatic debut in 1940, as a Priestess / Aida at the Aachen Municipal Theatre; here she worked closely with the music director, Herbert von Karajan, and sang in Aachen Cathedral under its director of music, Theodor Rehmann. Her roles at Aachen included Nuri / Tiefland and even, under Karajan, Donna Anna / Don Giovanni—only possible for her because of the theatre’s small size and her lyric approach to this dramatic role. She joined the Vienna State Opera in 1943, making her debut as Eva / Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg under Karl Böhm and remaining with this company for the rest of her professional career.




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