Erika Köth

15.09.1927 - 29.02.1989


The German singer, Erika Köth, was a coloratura soprano famous for her singing of Mozart roles, especially The Queen of the Night and Constanze. She was also renowned for her interpretations of the lighter roles of Richard Strauss and was an accomplished performer of the operettas of Nicolai, Lortzing, Stolz, J. Strauss and Lehar. She also sang lighter roles from the Italian repertory, such as Gilda, Mimi and Musetta, and was a fine Lieder singer.

Erika Köth studied singing at the Darmstadt College of Music with Elsa Blank. In 1947 she won a singing competition organised by the Hessian Radio.

Erika Köth made her debut in 1948 at the Pfalztheater of Kaiserslautern as Philine in Thomas' Mignon. From 1950 to 1953 Köth was engaged at the National Theatre of Karlsruhe. In 1953 she joined the Munich State Opera, where she was to remain a member until 1978. Through her engagements in Munich, she was contractually connected to the state operas of Vienna and Hamburg. She sang the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Vienna State Opera in 1953 and performed the same role at La Scala in 1956. She became a member of the German Opera in Berlin in 1961. She performed in opera and concerts at the Salzburg Festivals of 1955-1957, 1958-1960 and 1962-1963 and was heard at the Bayreuth Festival singing the role of the Wood Bird in Wagner's Siegfried. She also enjoyed success at the opera houses at Covent Garden, Rome, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Budapest in several operatic roles by Richard Strauss. Her other interpretations included Lucia di Lammermoor and Mimi in Puccini's La Bohéme. Her final operatic performance was as as Mimi in Munich in 1978.

In the next stage of her career, Erika Köth taught at the Cologne College of Music and then at the Mannheim College of Music. She also held master-classes in Neustadt. The Erika Köth International Voice Competition honours her memory to this day.

Erika Köth made many recordings, which appear on the EMI, Eurodisc, Decca, Electrola, Seraphim, Columbia, Angel, Telefunken, Marcato and Volks Platte labels.

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