‘Therese Malten – Wagner’s Devoted Kundry’ by Michael Letchford


Exclusive material and insightful scenes, on and off the stage, from the life of one of the greatest early Wagnerian sopranos

SKU: 978-1840468-59-5 Category:


Therese Malten was born in Insterburg, Prussia on 21st June 1855. She was only 27 years old when she sang Kundry at Bayreuth in the world premier of Wagner’s last opera Parsifal in 1882. Three singers were cast as Kundry for these performances. The other singers, Marianne Brandt and Amelia Materna, were well established singers at that time and they pulled rank over Malten, who sang Kundry in the third performance during this first production of Parsifal at the composer’s request. Malten sat with Wagner in the family box for the final performance. She was a star of the Dresden Opera for many years and was made Kämmersangerin in 1880. In 1884, she sang Kundry in private performances of Parsifal for King Ludwig and she was the first Bayreuth Isolde in the same year. In 1889, she appeared in the Ring in a German season at St Petersburg under Angelo Neumann returning to that city in 1898 where she sang Brünnhilde (Siegfried and Die Walküre) and Isolde to the Tristan of Jean de Reszke. After her farewell appearance at Dresden in 1903, when she sang Isolde, she was given the most emotional farewell by the great and good of Dresden, which left her sobbing most of the night after she finally went home to bed. She was hailed as a great singer and was clearly cherished by the opera lovers of Dresden.

This beautifully produced volume contains many photographs of Therese Malten, some of which have not been published before. Many of the photos come from a private collection, acquired by the author, portraying Malten off-stage in her private life. Also published for the first time is a portrait of Malten in the role of Elisabeth, in Tannhäuser, painted on porcelain in 1886 by Helen Eichler. There are also extracts from diaries hitherto unpublished and Malten’s reminiscences of rehearsing the role of Kundry with Wagner at Bayreuth in 1882 plus reviews of the German season in St Petersburg in 1898 and an essay on the music of Wagner by César Cui published in the St Petersburg newspaper Novosti.



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United Kingdom

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6 reviews for ‘Therese Malten – Wagner’s Devoted Kundry’ by Michael Letchford

  1. admin-smh

    ‘Therese is a triumph! My congratulations on your commitment and diligence in bringing this wonderful project to fruition. It is a beautiful book, splendidly illustrated and a treasure that I shall always value.’
    Paul Campion, author of ‘Ferrier – A Career Recorded’

  2. admin-smh

    ‘Wonderful little book… Magnificently done… A wonderful labour of love.’
    Robert Matthew Walker, Musical Opinion

  3. admin-smh

    ‘The book is a delight – it looks wonderful and will sit proudly on my shelf after I finish reading it. Such a beautiful production in every way – I shall treasure it.’
    Roger Beardsley, Historic Masters

  4. admin-smh

    ‘…it is her own personally written-down insights into the rehearsal process of the Parsifal premiere which are the most fascinating part of this treasurable little book. The rest of the book is a wonderful assemblage of memorabilia, some of it gushing, from unidentified friends and family. One day it will provide invaluable source-material for anyone who wishes to write a full biography of this lady who must have been an extraordinary singing actress’.
    Christopher Morley, Musical Opinion

  5. admin-smh

    ‘Mr Letchford deserves our gratitude for transforming Therese Malten from a mere name to a living, three-dimensional person and artist in this excellent and most interesting volume. Most highly recommended.’
    Mel Siegel, The Record Collector

  6. admin-smh

    ‘Michael Letchford’s collection of documents and photos – lavishly reproduced – is both frustrating and exhilarating. Admitting that his tiny volume is but a ‘footnote to an as-yet unwritten biography’ of Therese Malten, Letchford provides tantalizing glimpses into the era before gramophone recordings could capture the voice of one of the greatest early Wagnerian sopranos… Letchford’s mix of photos, letters newspaper articles and reviews somehow comes together to form a colourful portrayal of Malten, both as singer and later as a private citizen. Letchford’s miniature treasure-trove should go far to keep the great singer’s memory alive.’
    William Shackelford, Opera (review on the first edition)

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