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Martha Modl (1912 - 2001)

Despite having studied at the Nuremberg Conservatory, Martha Mödl spent her early working years as a book-keeper and secretary in a large business organization; it is possible that her late debut as a singer may have enabled her to conserve her vocal powers for longer than usual. Her first operatic appearance was as Hänsel / Hänsel und Gretel at Remscheid in 1942: the same year, and place, of her Azucena / Il trovatore, Cherubino / Le nozze di Figaro and the title role in Mignon, indicating that her early vocal placement was open to question. Mödl’s career then suffered a temporary halt when she was conscripted to work in a munitions factory.

Between 1945 and 1949 Mödl was a member of the Düsseldorf Opera, where she initially sang such roles as Octavian / Der Rosenkavalier, Dorabella / Così fan tutte and the Composer / Ariadne auf Naxos before moving on to heavier parts such as Eboli / Don Carlo and Lady Macbeth / Macbeth. In 1947 she also sang Marie / Wozzeck, the first in a distinguished line of interpretations of numerous twentieth-century operas; and the following year she made her debut at the Vienna State Opera, where she was to sing frequently, as Octavian. In 1949 (the year she joined the Hamburg State Opera) Mödl appeared at the Royal Opera House, London in the title role of Carmen, learning the part in English; while her Kundry / Parsifal in Berlin that same year won high praise.




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