Frederica von Stade

Mezzo-Soprano

Schubert Club Performances:

  • April 19, 1979
  • October 25, 1989
  • October 11, 1996
  • February 28, 2007

Frederica von Stade

The echt-German surname notwithstanding – family lore has it that she’s descended from a mayor of the medieval town of Stade near Hamburg – New Jersey-born mezzo Frederica von Stade is a thoroughbred American artist. Her career was launched at the New York Met in 1970, where she went on to sing more than 300 performances over the next three decades. But it was at Santa Fe Opera in 1971 that she first assumed the role that has been her calling card ever since, Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Here she is in director Peter Hall’s legendary 1973 Figaro staging at Glyndebourne:

And in Giorgio Strehler’s equally legendary Paris Opéra production in 1980:

Von Stade was one of those mezzos who could sing just about anything high or low, including soprano roles like Debussy’s Mélisande, which she recorded so memorably with Herbert von Karajan in Berlin. She offered that composer’s Ariettes oubliées in two of her Schubert Club recitals. Here are “Il pleure dans mon coeur” and “Chevaux de bois” from her 1993 studio recording of the cycle:

 

Another French composer who cropped up in von Stade’s St. Paul appearances was Jacques Offenbach. At the 1991 Met Gala she brought her characteristic exuberance to the aria “Ah, que j’aime les militaires” from the operetta La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein:

Von Stade’s serious side is showcased in the song cycle Casa Guidi composed for her by Dominick Argento in 1983 to a commission from the Minnesota Orchestra. This moving work is based on letters by Elizabeth Barrett Browning describing her idyllic family life in Florence. Von Stade included the selection “Robert Browning” in her 2007 Schubert Club recital with bass Samuel Ramey. This is the orchestral version of the song from a studio recording:

Broadway songs were another of this singer’s specialties that featured in her last St. Paul appearance. This famous number from Show Boat – of which von Stade made an outstanding complete recording – is taken from a 1990 New York concert:

In this 2008 interview with composer Jake Heggie, who has written operas and song cycles for Frederica von Stade, the refreshingly down-to-earth singer looks back on her storied career:

Artist note by Richard Evidon

From the Schubert Club Archive:

Von Stade talking with Thelma Hunter backstage at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium after her 1979 concert 

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Program for von Stade’s 1979 concert

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Review of von Stade’s 1979 concert in the Minneapolis Star

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Review of von Stade’s 1979 concert in the Minneapolis Tribune

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Review of von Stade’s 1979 concert in the St. Paul Dispatch

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Von Stade featured on an advertisement for the 1989-90 International Artist Series

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Von Stade featured on the cover of the October 1989 issue of The Schubert Club Notes newsletter

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Official poster for von Stade’s 1989 concert displayed in a public kiosk in front of the Ordway Music Theater in St. Paul [up close]

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Official poster for von Stade’s 1989 concert displayed in a public kiosk in front of the Ordway Music Theater in St. Paul [across the street]

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Promotion for von Stade’s 1989 concert in the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch

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The program at von Stade’s 1989 concert featured a handwritten note by local composer Dominick Argento which praised the singer’s talent as a musician

Program from von Stade’s 1989 concert

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Signed photo of von Stade from 1989

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Review of von Stade’s 1989 concert in the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch

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