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Theresa Tietjens, German soprano (1831-1877)
Private collection of T. Max Hochstetler
Theresa Tietjens was born in Hamburg in 1831 to Hungarian parents. She made her debut in 1849 at Altona in the character of Lucrezia Borgia and soon gained following as the foremost singer on the German lyric stage. She made her London debut in 1858, and after that date made London her home and associated herself with the director James Henry Mapleson. Her first tour to America came in 1875.
She was among the most highly acclaimed sopranos of her time, but died before her voice could be recorded and compared to her fellow sopranos. Critics considered her voice far superior to her performance skills. Emily Soldene in her book, Musical Recollections, Downey & Co., London 1897 says, "I could not help seeing, and hating myself for doing so, that Mme. Tietjen's corsets were dreadfully stiff, laced dreadfully tight, and audibly cranked." Tietjens was an overweight performer which tasked her stage abilities playing dramatic roles such as "Carmen" and "Medea."
She collapsed on stage during a performance of "Lucrezia Borgia" and died two months later of cancer. She was forty-six years old at death in 1877. She was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in west London.
(Kindly contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, June 2007)