Early this morning I listened to the amazing coloratura soprano Rita Streich, whom I had heard a few times as a boy, while my family lived in Vienna. She sang the aria from Mozart’s Opera, Die Zauberfloete, where the Queen of the Night makes her first entry. This is a difficult Aria, because it progresses to very high notes. Many singers really struggle to get this right. After all these years, I heard again that Rita Streich hit these notes like a bell, struck by a gentle person.
Rita Streich was born in Barnaul, in the Russian part of what was then the Soviet Union, to a German father who had been a prisoner of war there, and a Russian mother. She moved to Germany with her parents during her childhood. She grew up speaking both German and Russian fluently, something that was extremely helpful during her later career.
Ms. Streich was around 30 years old, and I was a lad of 14 when I first heard her sing live at the Vienna Opera. I am pretty sure that I was totally in love with her then. She died in 1987, at age 66.
Here is a recording of her singing another astounding aria from Zauberfloete. Listen to these “bells” that she gives us as her gift: