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Elisabeth Hongen (1906 - 1997)

Elisabeth Höngen was born into a musical family and started to play the violin from the age of six, followed by the piano. Although not possessing a voice remarkable in its untrained state, she developed a strong desire to become a singer and took singing lessons in Wuppertal, later moving to Berlin where she studied with Hermann Weisenborn. By not forcing her voice she was able to develop naturally into a singer who could undertake both comic and dramatic roles; and made her professional singing debut in Handel’s Deborah in Berlin in 1932.

Having been offered a contract by the Wuppertal Opera in 1933, Höngen made her debut there as Irmentraut in Der Waffenschmied by Lortzing. Her versatility quickly led to her undertaking a wide range of parts successfully: when a production of Der Ring des Nibelungen was imported from Berlin she was one of the few local singers to participate, singing all the principal mezzo roles in the complete cycle. She also sang Marcellina / Le nozze di Figaro in a guest performance by the Wuppertal ensemble in Holland in 1934.




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