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Rita Streich (1920 - 1987)


Streich’s father was interned in the USSR as a German prisoner of war, while her mother was Russian; as a result she grew up to be bilingual, to her considerable advantage in her later professional career as a singer. Her family moved from Siberia to Essen and Jena in Germany, where Streich received her first singing lessons from Paula Klötzer in Augsburg. Later, in Berlin, she was a pupil of Willi Domgraf- Fassbaender, Maria Ivogün and Erna Berger. She made her operatic stage debut in 1943 as Zerbinetta / Ariadne auf Naxos, at Aussig in Bohemia (now Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic).

Two years later Streich first appeared at the Berlin State Opera as the Page / Rigoletto, singing alongside Berger as Gilda and Peter Anders as the Duke. She sang her first major role with this company in 1946, as Olympia / Les Contes d’Hoffmann; later parts included Blonde / Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Gretel / Hänsel und Gretel, Zerlina / Don Giovanni, Sophie / Der Rosenkavalier, Amor / Orfeo ed Euridice and Gilda / Rigoletto. In 1951 she joined the Berlin Städtische Oper (later Deutsche Oper), temporarily based at the Theater des Westens, where her repertoire extended to The Queen of the Night / Die Zauberflöte, Konstanze / Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Zerbinetta. At the Bayreuth Festival she appeared in 1952 and 1953 as the Woodbird / Siegfried and a Flower Maiden / Parsifal.

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