Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Was the greatest contralto of the 20th Century murdered at Auschwitz?
Perhaps the single greatest contralto of the 20th Century was a Jewish-German singer by the name of Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann. (1878-1943) Basically unknown today except by the most knowledgeable record collectors, her singing will still will bring a standing ovation by the cognoscenti. I witnessed one when giving a lecture to the Vocal Record Society several years ago and playing this very same transfer of the Brahm's lied "Sapphische Ode". Metzger-Lattermann played Carmen to Caruso's Don Jose in Hamburg, was the 1st Alto in the World Premier of Mahler's 8th Symphony in Munich and even created a part for Siegfried Wagner in his opera Bruder Lustig. She sung Internationally to great acclain, from Berlin to Vienna, St. Petersburg to Brussels, Covent Garden to the United States, even Bayreuth from 1901-1912. She was forced to run for her life in 1939, landed in Brussels where the Nazi's took her and put her on a train bound for Auschwitz. The records of her existence end in February, 1943. Kaiser Wilhelm II who was living in Holland at the time tried to intercede on her behalf, but to no avail. After the death of Winnifred Wagner, the Wagner family with some outside cajoling erected a monument to two of their greatest Jewish singers who perished in the Holocaust, one was soprano Henriette Gottlieb, the other Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann.
Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann sings Brahms Sapphische Ode 1910, Berlin Grammophon
From Wikipedia, the Bayreuth Plaque
Formerly in the inventory of Harmonie Autographs, now in a private collection
A program for a Brahms Evening in Dresden 3 March, 1911, with Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann singing Sapphische Ode