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Erna Berger ( – ) was a Germanmarker soprano of the coloratura style. Along with Elisabeth Grümmer, Hilde Gueden, Lotte Lehmann, Martha Mödl, Gundula Janowitz, Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Anja Silja, she joined the ranks of the prominent German sopranos of the 20th century. She was very highly thought of by the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Born in Dresdenmarker, Germanymarker, as a child she spent some years in Indiamarker and South America. She spent time there later as well, working as a clerk and a piano teacher, before borrowing enough money for the trip back to Germany. At the age of 26, she was able to secure a position as a soubrette at the Semper Operamarker in Dresden, but her talent soon outgrew this position. She later held positions at the Vienna State Operamarker, the Berlin State Operamarker, and the Deutsche Oper Berlinmarker. She also gave concerts in Japan, America, and Australia. In her discography are complete recordings of Die Zauberflöte (as the Queen of Night, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, 1937–38, for EMI) and Rigoletto (with Jan Peerce and Leonard Warren, conducted by Renato Cellini, 1950, which was the first RCA Victor complete opera recording (with a few minor cuts) made in the United Statesmarker for commercial release. It is also the first complete opera ever released on Long Playing LP records.

Berger appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1949–50 and 1950–51 seasons, in Der Rosenkavalier (opposite Eleanor Steber and Risë Stevens, conducted by Fritz Reiner and directed by Herbert Graf), Rigoletto (with Warren, then Enzo Mascherini), Die Zauberflöte, and Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Giuseppe Valdengo). She also sang Woglinde and the Waldvogel in Der Ring des Nibelungen, with Kirsten Flagstad and Helen Traubel alternating as Brünnhilde.

At 60 years of age, she took her leave of the stage and taught as a professor in Hamburgmarker and Essenmarker, where she died in 1990; she was buried at the Zentralfriedhofmarker, Vienna. In 1992, the Bästleinstraße in Dresden was renamed the Erna-Berger-Straße in her honour.

Bibliography

  • Erna Berger: Die singende Botschafterin (Erna Berger: The Singing Ambassadress), by Karla Höcker, Rembrandt Verlag, 1961.


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