Everyone knows her as “Flicka.” It’s a fun nickname that embodies exactly what makes Frederica Von Stade such a well-liked figure in the opera world.
A consummate professional with a smashing personality, Von Stade, who was born on June 1, 1945, grew up in New Jersey and attended the Mannes College of Music.
In 1970, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut and a year later dazzled at Santa Fe Opera. From there, she appeared in Versailles for her European debut and then sang at the inauguration of President James Carter on 1977. In 1983, President Ronald Regan would award her for her achievement in the arts. France would also bestow the accolade of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1983. She was also a recipient of the Opera News Award in 2017.
Her career would lead the mezzo down unique twists and turns, with Von Stade championing modern composers in the 21st century. She also championed the Credo Choir and Dallas Street Choir, the latter of which features homeless singers. She helped both organizations perform at Carnegie Hall.
Von Stade conquered a wide breadth of repertoire in her early career, dominating French operas of Massenet such as “Cendrillon” and “Werther,” as well as bel canto staples such as “La Cenerentola.”
Her Cherubino in “Le Nozze di Figaro” is also often called one of the greatest of all time.
In recent years, Von Stade has committed to modern music, specifically works of Jake Heggie, who has often called her his muse. She created the role of Madeline in “Three Decembers” and appeared as Mrs. Patricia Rocher in “Dead Man Walking.”
Watch and Listen
Here is her famed interpretation of Charlotte in “Werther.”
And here she is in “La Cenerentola.”