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Kathryn Meisle (Contralto)

Born: October 12, 1899 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: January 17, 1970 - New York City, New York, USA

The American contralto, Kathryn Meisle, began her music studies already when she was five years old, and gave concerts when she was nine. When she was 15 years old, she played as pianist in a silent movie cinema in Philadelphia. In 1912 she became a soloist at the Christian Episcopal Church in Philadelphia and sang then also in a vocal quartet. In 1915 she won the National Singing Competition, which was organized by the National Federation of Music Clubs, and decided thereupon to study singing, which she began in Philadelphia.

In 1920 Kathryn Meisle made her debut as concert alto singer with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1923 she made her stage debut at the Opera of Chicago as Erda in Siegfried. Until 1935 she appeared with big success in Chicago as Maddalena in Rigoletto, as Preziosilla in Verdiís La forza del destino, as Madelon in Andrea Chénier by Giordano, later as Azucena in Troubadour and as Cieca in La Gioconda by Ponchielli. During those years she also made guest appearances in San Francisco (debut in 1926 Aida as Amneris) and in Los Angeles, and in 1930 undertook a concert tour to Europe. In 1935 she started an engagement at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (start role: Amneris in Aida), to whose ensemble she belonged until 1938, and performed there roles as Azucena, Fricka, Erda and Waltraute in Der Ring des Nibelungen. She sang also in operettas and created, among other things, in 1950 in New York the musical Roberta by J. Kern.

Kathryn Meisle had great concert career, particularly as oratorio soloist. She sang at the Festivals of Cincinnati, Worcester, Springfield and Newark and became particularly estimated as soloist in Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) by J.S. Bach.

Recordings: HMV Victor acoustic photographs of Ballads; electrical recording of Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) under Serge Koussevitzky); Some records on Decca and Columbia; Private recordings from the Metropolitan Opera, among them on ANNA-Records scenes from Götterdämmerung.

Source: Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2004)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2004); Manfred Krugmann (Photos 01-10, July 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Serge Koussevitzky


BWV 244

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