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Albert Niemann, German opera tenor as "Lohengrin"
Carte de visite
Private collection of T. Max Hochstetler
© Klaus Niermann - studioniermann.de/html/bieber.html
Albert Niemann (1831 - 1917), German tenor
Born in Magdeburg, Prussia in January 1831, the son of an innkeeper. At age seventeen he was apprenticed to an engine maker, but after a few months he vanished from the workshop and went to Dresden. Niemann began his career on the dramatic stage gaining small speaking parts which ultimately led to a post in the chorus of Hoftheatre. He first studied voice with Fritz Schneider who was the director of the Ducal Hofkappell.
At age twenty-four, Von Huelson of the Royal Theatre of Prussia heard him sing and summoned him to Berlin. There he gained further vocal instruction before he was dispatched to Paris to study with Duprez. In 1866, Niemann became a permanent member of the Royal Opera Company in Berlin, where he was to have long career. He was married to the actress Seebach, but the marriage ended in divorce. A story reports that he lifted her and heaved her through a first-story window. His second marriage was to Frau Raab. A son from that marriage became famous doctor and chemist.
Niemann had tremendous stage presence having splendid physique and he was skilled actor beyond his well-trained voice. Some critics said his voice contained a "gravel sound," but many thought it was well-suited to Wagner's operas. Niemann was the first to fill the role of Tannhauser in Paris in 1861. He created the role of Siegmund in "The Ring of Nibelung," a role which he also debuted at the Royal Theatre in London. Between 1886-88 he sang at the Metropolitan Opera playing parts in "Die Walkure," "Tristan and Isolde," "Fidelio," "Tannhauser," "Lohengrin," and "Leprophete."
(Kindly contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, June 2007)