Kalter, Sabine

Polish contralto, 1889 - 1957

Hamburg, 1919 (by courtesy of Charles B. Mintzer)

Biographical notes:

Sabine Kalter was born in Jaroslaw, Galicia, and studied singing at the Vienna Musical Academy. She was engaged by Rainer Simons, director at the Volksoper, who had an unerring instinct in his search for new talents. Sabine Kalter made her debut there in 1911. Two years later, she was already contracted to the Stadttheater Hamburg (State Opera) as principal contralto, where she had to replace the famous  Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann , and was expected to continue the great tradition in the contralto- and mezzo “fach.” In 1919 she married Max Aufrichtig. Her roles included not only Waltraute, Ortrud, Fricka, Herodias and Brangäne but also Amneris, Lady Macbeth, Dalila, Orfeo, Marina, Fidès and Carmen. She took part in a number of first performances: Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane (1927), Humperdinck’s Königskinder (1911), Stravinsky’s  Oedipus Rex (1928), Hindemith’s Neues vom Tage (1929), Wolf-Ferrari’s I Gioelli di Madonna and d’Albert’s Liebesketten. Within a short time Sabine Kalter became one of the most popular singers at the Hamburg State Opera and stayed there from 1915 to 1935. Her international breakthrough began in the early 1920s. The artist was an accomplished recitalist and concert singer, appearing in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Austria. After a highly successful career at Hamburg, when the Nazis came to power, she was obliged to leave Germany in 1935. The couple changed their names to Andrews. They settled in London, where the singer managed to continue her career at Covent Garden for another four years. She sang Brangäne opposite Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Herbert Janssen and Emmanuel List (another Jewish singer) under Fritz Reiner (see recordings). Other performances included Fricka, Ortrud, Háta in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride and Herodias. In 1939, the artist decided to retire from the opera stage, concentrating on concert and recital work and becoming a singing coach. Her last concert appearance took place at Hamburg in 1950. Sabine Kalter died on September 1, 1957, in London.


As Fricka


Superb recording of Tristan und Isolde

recorded live at Covent Garden, 1936

Fritz Reiner


Sabine Kalter as Brangäne (by courtesy of Charles B. Mintzer)


Kirsten Flagstad  -  Lauritz Melchior  -   Herbert Janssen  -  Emmanuel List



Recital (Arias by Wagner, Halévy, Verdi, Meyerbeer, Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Thomas. Wesendonck songs by Wagner. Songs by R. Strauss and Brahms)

Preiser - LV

Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Reiner 1936 live/Flagstad, Melchior, Janssen, List)

Naxos Historical  LYS and VAI

The Young Richard Tauber (duets)

Preiser - LV

Les Introuvables du Chant Verdien


Richard Wagner on Record

Preiser - LV

Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 2/Stars of David



As Amneris (Vienna, 1914)


Sabine Kalter had a powerful and wide ranging contralto voice, combined with a strong dramatic ability. I do not agree with Scott and Kesting, who described her voice as “neither especially individual nor attractive.” Fortunately, Preiser dedicated a CD to this singer. I find her especially fine in Aida and Trovatore, in which she sings with a superb Richard Tauber who has an ideal voice for Radames and Trovatore (!). Kalter’s Amneris is performed with a slightly “motherly tone,” but what a pleasure to hear two voices in Verdi, giving us a lesson what legato singing is about (despite the German language)! 

Other highlights of Kalter’s discography are the Wesendonck-Lieder. Her “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer” is one of the most beautiful and intimate recordings I have heard. The sound file shows not only her dramatic power but also her capability of singing with inner emotion.

My favorite recordings:

Odeon, 1923:

- Se m’ami ancor with Richard Tauber sung in German (Azucena in Il Trovatore / Verdi)

- Ah, mon fils sung in German (Fidès in Le Prophète / Meyerbeer)

Odeon, 1924:

- Schmerzen (from Wesendonck Songs / Wagner)

-Träume (from Wesendonck Songs / Wagner)

Odeon, 1925:

- Il va venir sung in German (Rachel in La Juive / Halévy)

 Gerechter Gott (Adriano in Rienzi / Wagner)

HMV, 1936:

- Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer (Brahms-Lingg)


Richard Tauber as a young man, with whom Sabine Kalter recorded some fine duets


My warmest thanks to Charles B. Mintzer and Logan Kleinwaks