Obituary: Soprano Judith Beckmann Dies at 86

By Francisco Salazar

On Feb. 19, 2022, Soprano Judith Beckmann died at the age of 86.

The American-German soprano was born on May 10, 1935 born in Jamestown, North Dakota. Her family was musical family and received her musical education at the University of Southern California and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, studying under her father and Lotte Lehmann.

In 1961, she won a singing contest in San Francisco and was awarded a scholarship to study with Henny Wolff at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg and with Franziska Martienssen-Lohmann in Düsseldorf.

In 1962, she made her debut at the National Theater of Braunschweig, in the role of Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. That debut led her to the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and in 1964 Beckmann became a member at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. In 1966 she made her debut at the Hamburg State Opera and in 1967 became a member of the company where she would become one of the most revered singers of her time. With the company, she sang 381 performances in 27 roles and in 1975 she was appointed a Hamburg Kammersänger. Her final performance with the company came in 1989.

Throughout her career, she also appeared in Albert Lortzing’s “Der Wildschütz” and as Eurydice in Jacques Offenbach’s parody of the “Orpheus story.” She appeared with the Vienna State Opera in 1969 and in 1986 she portrayed The Marschallin in “Der Rosenkavalier.” In 1988 she appeared as Ariadne in Strauss’s opera “Ariadne auf Naxos” at the Theater Dortmund.

Following her performance career she took on teaching.

She is survived by her daughter Catherine Rückwardt.