On This Day: Sopranos Who Have Conquered Mozart’s ‘Così Fan Tutte’ and Strauss’ ‘Der Rosenkavalier’

By Francisco Salazar

On Jan. 26 two operas had their premieres and are now part of the standard repertoire.  The first opera was Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” in 1790 and the second was Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” in 1911. Both operas are from different periods and completely different in style, but they have one in common. Many Mozartian singers who take on one opera, wind up taking the other. Seeing a mezzo sing Dorabello and Octavian is a rather common feature, but seeing sopranos who sing both Fiordiligi and the Marschallin is somewhat rarer. Here is a look at some of the great Mozartian and Strauss sopranos who have dominated those two roles in both operas throughout history.

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf

The German-British soprano was well-known for her work in Lieder as well as Operetta but she was also a very well-regarded Strauss soprano and, at the time, the go-to Marschallin. It was a opera she first sang in the 1940’s, most famously with Herbert von Karajan. It was also one of the five roles she would end up concentrating on during the 1960’s and one that she recorded on DVD and also CD. During her 1960’s period the soprano also made sure to maintain Mozart in her repertoire and “Così Fan Tutte” was one of the operas. During her contract with EMI, the soprano recorded the work with, unsurprisingly, Karajan.

Renee Fleming 

In the earlier part of her career Fleming dedicated herself to Mozart’s work. Fiordiligi was an anchor for her career. She made her debut at the Geneva opera as Fiordiligi and also did the part with George Solti at the Royal Festival Hall before bringing it to the Metropolitan Opera. She later used duets and trios for concerts and recitals after retiring it from her repertoire. Fleming later debuted the Marschallin in 1995 at the Houston Grand Opera before bringing it to the Paris National Opera, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the San Francisco Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the Baden Baden Festival and the Royal Opera House among others. The role became one of her signatures and there is a CD and DVD version from Baden Baden available. The Metropolitan Opera also featured her version on its Live in HD series and will repeat it in a new production. It is also the role with which Fleming is saying goodbye to the opera world later this year.

Kiri Te Kanawa

Like many of the sopranos on this list, the New Zealand soprano explored a wide-ranging repertoire but it is her Mozart and her Strauss that has been greatest artistic legacy. She performed Fiordiligi at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Sydney Opera House, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, San Francisco Opera, Munich and Cologne. After her success in Mozart, the soprano moved into the Strauss repertoire and it was in the late 70’s that “Der Rosenkavalier” was added. She would become associated with the character and recorded one CD alongside Barbara Hendricks and Bernard Haitink. She also has two DVD recordings from the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera. 

Anna Tomowa-Sintow

Tomowa-Sintow was recognized for her Verdi, Mozart, Strauss and Wagner. While Mozart and Strauss were not the central parts of her career, “Der Rosenkavalier” and “Così Fan Tutte” were crucial to her career. She added Fiordiligi during a run in Berlin and also made her 1975 debut at the Royal Opera in this opera. Meanwhile “Der Rosenkavalier” was the operas of her last appearance at the Metropolitan Opera and one that she performed numerous times under the direction of Karajan. She even recorded the work with the legendary conductor.

Amanda Majeski

The American soprano is currently one of the leading Strauss and Mozart sopranos. She had her big break in 2014 when she opened the Metropolitan Opera House’s season as the Countess in “Le Nozze di Figaro” and was seen in the company’s Live in HD series. From there she has been featured at the world’s greatest house. Two seasons ago she made her critically acclaimed role debut as the Marschallin at the Frankfurt Opera where she scored rave reviews and later repeated the feat at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. This season she is singing her first Fiordiligi and while she has yet to perform it,  Mozart has been a dominant part of her career and this task should easily fit her voice.

Did we miss any sopranos that have sung both Fiordiligi and the Marschallin? Let us know!




On This DaySpecial Features