Frederica von Stade

Mezzo-Soprano

Biography

Described by the New York Times as “one of America’s finest artists and singers,” Frederica von Stade continues to be extolled as one of the music world’s most beloved figures. Known to family, friends, and fans by her nickname “Flicka,” the mezzo-soprano has enriched the world of classical music for four and a half decades.

Though she retired from full-time performances in 2010, she continues to make appearances across the United States. The 2018-19 season opens with the world premiere of Lembit Beecher’s Sky on Swings at Opera Philadelphia. Also during the fall, she will perform alongside Susan Graham and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s for the DiMenna Center Benefit in New York City. March marks a return to the San Diego Opera as she portrays Madeline in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, a role she created a decade ago. In 2017, Ms. von Stade opened the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s season with a tribute to Leonard Bernstein conducted by Andris Nelsons. To open the 2016-17 season, Ms. von Stade sang with Tony award-winning Broadway star Liz Callaway, Daniel Rodriguez, and Matthew Lee Robinson in the New York premiere of the 45-minute cantata Street Requiem – composed in 2014 by Australian’s Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne and Jonathon Welch – at Carnegie Hall. She made her Arizona Opera debut by joining The 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration concert celebrating the company. In January, the mezzo-soprano performed on a gala benefit concert with Sarasota Ballet in Florida. The spring found Ms. von Stade singing with Hawaii Opera Theater in Three Decembers – composed by Jake Heggie based on the play by Terrence McNally – before going to Peabody Conservatory to give a master class.

Ms. von Stade’s career has taken her to the stages of the world’s great opera houses and concert halls. She began at the top, when she received a contract from Sir Rudolf Bing during the Metropolitan Opera auditions, and since her debut in 1970 she has sung nearly all of her great roles with that company. In January 2000, the company celebrated the 30th anniversary of her debut with a new production of The Merry Widow specifically for her, and in 1995, as a celebration of her 25th anniversary, the Metropolitan Opera created for her a new production of Pelléas et Mélisande. In addition, Ms. von Stade has appeared with every leading American opera company, including San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Los Angeles Opera. Her career in Europe has been no less spectacular, with new productions mounted for her at Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, and the Paris Opera. She is invited regularly by the finest conductors, among them Claudio Abbado, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Leonard Slatkin, and Michael Tilson Thomas, to appear in concert with the world’s leading orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Washington’s National Symphony, and the Orchestra of La Scala.

With impressive versatility, Ms. von Stade has effortlessly traversed an ever-broadening spectrum of musical styles and dramatic characterizations. A noted bel canto specialist, she excelled as the heroines of Rossini’s La cenerentola and Il barbiere di Siviglia and Bellini’s La sonnambula. She is an unmatched stylist in the French repertoire: a delectable Mignon or Périchole, a regal Marguerite in Berlioz’ La damnation de Faust, and, in one critic’s words, “the Mélisande of one’s dreams.” Her elegant figure and keen imagination have made her the world’s favorite interpreter of the great trouser roles, from Strauss’ Octavian to Mozart’s Sesto, Idamante and – magically, indelibly – Cherubino. Ms. von Stade’s artistry has inspired the revival of neglected works such as Massenet’s Cherubin, Thomas’ Mignon, Rameau’s Dardanus, and Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria. Her ability as a singing actress has allowed her to portray wonderful works in operetta and musical theater including the title role in The Merry Widow and Desirée Armfeldt in A Little Night Music.

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Reviews

“During the past three decades, Frederica von Stade has gathered legions of admirers worldwide. They’re a fiercely loyal company, and it’s easy to understand why. Her stage performances and recitals combine superior artistry with emotional directness, clarity of tone with crystalline diction, natural elegance with unpretentious passion”

Donald Spoto

Opera News

“This version of Swan Lake is a dazzling performance…..the Royal Opera Orchestra under the direction of Jonathan Darlington gives additional depth and finesse to the work. Seldom has the woefulness inherent in Tchaikovsky’s music shone forth with greater softness and clarity.”

Susanne Sigroth-Lambe

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