Pauline de Ahna

Pauline de Ahna

Pauline Maria de Ahna (4 February 1863 - 13 May 1950) was a German operatic soprano. She is best remembered today as the wife of composer Richard Strauss who wrote several of his works for her.

Biography

De Ahna was born in Ingolstadt, the daughter of General Adolf de Ahna. She first studied in Munich, followed by studies in 1887 with her future husband in Feldafing. She made her début in 1890 as Pamina in "The Magic Flute" in Weimar. In 1891 she appeared at Bayreuth, singing Elisabeth in Wagner's "Tannhäuser" and a flowermaiden in "Parsifal". In 1894 she starred in Strauss's first opera, "Guntram", as Freihild, a role which he wrote specifically for her. The couple married later that year on 10 September 1894. De Ahna was famous for being bossy, ill-tempered, eccentric, and outspoken, but the marriage was happy, and she was a great source of inspiration to him. She was portrayed as the hero's companion in "Ein Heldenleben" and in several sections of "Sinfonia Domestica".

Her other opera roles included Agathe in "Der Freischütz", Leonore in "Fidelio", Donna Anna in "Don Giovanni", and Ada in "Die Feen", the latter of which she sang in Munich in 1896. She retired from the stage in 1897 and is immortalized as Christine Storch in her husband’s opera "Intermezzo". The echo of her beautiful voice can be heard in the series of superb roles for soprano in Strauss’s later operas from "Salome" to the Countess Madeleine in "Capriccio".

She was also the subject of the one-woman show "Die Frau im Schatten" by Dame Gwyneth Jones.

De Ahna outlived her husband, but only by eight months, dying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in May 1950.

ources

*wikicite|id=idGroveMusicOnline|reference=Elizabeth Forbes: "Pauline de Ahna", "Grove Music Online" ed. L. Macy (Accessed September 26, 2008), [http://www.grovemusic.com (subscription access)]


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