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Martha Modl (1912 - 2001)


The German soprano Martha Mödl (born 1913) began her career as a mezzo-soprano to which she returned later in her career. Born in Nuremberg, she originally worked for a local transport company and later became a bookkeeper. It was not until 1935 that she began vocal studies, first at the Nuremberg Conservatorium and later in Milan. In 1942 she made her début in the contralto rôle of Hänsel at Remscheid. Between the years 1945–49 she worked in Düsseldorf as a mezzo. She also sang in Hamburg from 1947 to 1955 where she changed to become a dramatic soprano, singing the rôles of Kundry, Venus, Isolde and Brünnhilde. She scored a particular success as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s opera in Berlin in 1950. With the reopening of the Bayreuth Festival in 1951 Mödl appeared as Kundry in Parsifal and Gutrune in the Ring cycle. She would later sing Brünnhilde and Isolde, continuing to be a valued member during the 1950s and 1960s. She also sang in Vienna (début 1952), and visited the Edinburgh Festival with the Hamburg and Stuttgart companies in 1952 and 1958. She first appeared at Covent Garden as Carmen in 1949 and sang in that house regularly until 1966. She also appeared in Paris, Milan and at the Salzburg Festival. In 1955 she sang Leonore in Fidelio at the reopening of the Staatsoper in Vienna and made her Metropolitan début in 1957 as Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung. Her voice, whilst warm and lustrous in its lower regions, always displayed some sense of strain

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