Born: December 18, 1920 - Barnaul, Altai Krai, Russia
Died: March 20, 1987 - Vienna, Austria
The noted German soprano, Rita Streich, was born in Russia and moved to Germany with her parents during her childhood, where she grew up bilingual, something that was extremely helpful during her later career. She studied with Erna Berger, Maria Ivogün, and Willy Domgraf-Fassbänder.
Rita Streich was one of the most significant coloratura sopranos of the post-war period. Her debut as an opera singer was in 1943, during World War II, at the Stadttheater (city theatre) of Ústí nad Labem (Aussig) in Bohemia, in the role of Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss' opera Ariadne auf Naxos. Three years later, in 1946, she secured her first engagement at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (State Opera) in Berlin, where she stayed until 1952. In 1951 she joined the Berlin Städtische Oper. In 1952 she moved to Bayreuth, in 1953 to Vienna, and in 1954 to Salzburg. Appearances at La Scala in Milan, at Covent Garden and in Glyndebourne followed. She made her USA debut as Zerbinetta with the San Francisco Opera in 1957.
From 1974 Rita Streich taught at the Folkwang-Hochschule in Essen and the Music Academy in Vienna. She gave master-classes during the Salzburg Festival from 1983.
Rita Streich was a leading interpreter of parts in Mozart operas. Her repertoire included arias from Idomeneo, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Zauberflöte, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and others. Since she had grown up bilingual, she could also sing the works of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in their original Russian without a trace of an accent.