The Wagner Journal

Eva Rieger, Frida Leider and the Nazis

Eva Rieger, Frida Leider and the Nazis

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November 2016, Volume 10, Number 3, 28–39.

‘I have been so shaken by her Isolde, again and again, that I could no longer stand up and had to go and sit on the floor of the house in that area at the back where the standees go. Some of those Tristan performances left me very uncertain of my own surroundings – so dazed that it was physically difficult to get out of the crowd and into the cold, wet street where reality slowly returned.’

These are the words of the journalist and author Vincent Sheean, who often attended the many performances given in London by the soprano Frida Leider (1888–1975). Nor was he the only person to be so impressed by her. The name Frida Leider is still known to many in England, for she sang at Covent Garden every year from 1924 to 1938 and felt very much at home there. In contrast to Lotte Lehmann, who emigrated at an early date to the USA and whose biography by Michael Kater is entitled Never Sang for Hitler, Frida Leider indeed sang for the dictator – despite her having a Jewish husband.

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