German opera singer Martha Moedl, who rose to international fame with her performances of Wagner in the 1950s and 1960s, died Monday at a hospital in Stuttgart, Germany, after a long illness. She was

German opera singer Martha Moedl, who rose to international fame with her performances of Wagner in the 1950s and 1960s, died Monday at a hospital in Stuttgart, Germany, after a long illness. She was 89. Born March 22, 1912, in the southern city of Nuremberg, the artist came to the opera only at the age of 28 after working as a secretary and bookkeeper.

Moedl, who made her debut in 1943 in Remscheid, Germany in Engelbert Humperdinck's children's opera "Hansel and Gretel," progressed from alto to mezzo-soprano after World War II at the Duesseldorf Opera.

She developed into a dramatic soprano with performances in Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" and "The Marriage of Figaro," as well as Bizet's "Carmen."

In 1949, the year that Moedl appeared in "Carmen" at London's Covent Garden, she was engaged by the State Opera in Hamburg, where she began to build her reputation as a Wagner specialist. She impressed Milan's La Scala in 1951 with her performance as Kundry in "Parsifal."

Moedl became a favorite at the world-renowned Richard Wagner festival in Bayreuth, where she appeared regularly from 1951 -- its first year after World War II -- until 1967. In 1956, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

Moedl, who lived near Munich and never married, reverted to being a mezzo-soprano in the 1960s, taking on character roles in modern works including Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny."

She continued performing well into her 80s, appearing in Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades" in Vienna in 1992 and in the same work in Mannheim, Germany in 1999.


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