Klose, Margarete

German contralto, 1902 - 1968

Biographical notes:

She was born in Berlin. She early lost her father and was soon forced to earn her living (she worked as a secretary). But she always enjoyed singing. An office colleague,  noticed her talent and advised her to audition at the local conservatory. The directors of the conservatory Klindworth-Scharwenka  immediately recognized her outstanding ability. During the next five years she devoted herself to intensive and careful studies. In 1926 she was engaged at the opera in Ulm where she sang an astonishing variety of roles. She also sang operetta. Her debut was the gypsy girl Manja in “Gräfin Maritza,” the next role was Azucena! She was engaged to Mannheim where she sang the big mezzo and contralto roles. In 1931 she made her debut at the Berlin State Opera (Azucena). Wilhelm Furtwängler conducted Elektra in which she was an acclaimed Klytämnestra. She also sang Ortrud under Erich Kleiber and Adriano in Rienzi with Leo Blech. From the start Margarete Klose expanded her repertory including Lieder and oratorio parts. Her rendition of the contralto solos in Bach’s b-minor Bass, St. Matthew Passion, Messiah and Missa solemnis were regarded as exemplary not only from a vocal but also stylistic point of view.  Guest appearances took her to Vienna, London, Hamburg, Dresden, Munich, Brussels and Budapest. At La Scala she sang Brangäne under de Sabata. In 1936 she made her début at the Bayreuth Festival where she sang all the great roles of her vocal category. She also sang the Italian repertoire (Eboli, Amneris, Ulrica). In 1961 she made her farewell appearance and started giving vocal tuition.  She held master classes every summer in the Salzburg Mozarteum. She died unexpectedly in 1968.


As Fricka


As Brangäne


Margarete Klose as Kostelnicka in Jenufa, Städtische Oper Berlin, 1949


Recordings: (selection)

Gluck - Orfeo ed Euridice (Rother/in Italian/Berger, Streich)


Strauss - Salome (Schröder 1952 live/Borkh, Lorenz, Frantz)


Tchaikovsky - The Queen of Spades (Rother 1947/Schock, Grümmer, Prohaska, Nissen, Müller)


Verdi - Aida (Rother 1942, Scenes/Scheppan, Rosvaenge, Hotter)


Verdi - Aida (Schröder 1952 live/Kupper, Lorenz, Konszar, Ludwig)


Verdi - Rigoletto (Heger 1944/Schlusnus, Berger/Greindl)


Verdi - Rigoletto (Friscay/Meternich, Schock, Streich)


Wagner - Götterdämmerung Act 3 (Heger 1944/Lorenz, Fuchs, Prohaska, Hofmann, Scheppan, Langhammer)


Wagner - Lohengrin (Heger 1942/Völker, Müller, Hofmann, Prohaska)


Wagner - Rienzi (Schüler 1941, Scenes/Lorenz, Scheppan, Prohaska)


Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Beecham 1937 live/Flagstad, Melchior, Janssen, Nilsson)


Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Heger 1943/Lorenz, Buchner, Prohaska, Hofmann)


Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Furtwängler 1947 live/Schlüter, Suthaus, Frick, Prohaska)


Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Knappertsbusch 1950 live/Braun, Treptow, Frantz, Schöffler)

Gala    Arkadia Orfeo

Wagner - Die Walküre (Seidler-Winkler 1935 and 1938/Fuchs, Melchior, Lehmann, Hotter, List)


Wagner - Die Walküre (Fricsay 1951 live/Suthaus, Müller, Buchner, Herrmann, Frick)


Wagner - Die Walküre (Furtwängler 1954/Mödl, Rysanek, Frantz, Suthaus, Frick)


Wagner- Der Ring des Nibelungen (Von Hoesslin 1930/Gottlieb, Kirchhoff, Weber)


Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen (Furtwängler 1953/RAI)


Recital Vol. 1 (Arias/duets by Gluck, Verdi, Wagner, Bizet, Saint-Saëns)

Preiser - LV

Recital Vol. 2 (Arias by Handel, Gluck, Wagner, Verdi, Glinka, Tchaikovsky)

Preiser - LV

Four German Contraltos of the Past (Luise Willer, Eva Liebenberg, Maria Oszewska)

Preiser - LV

Songs by Brahms, Cornelius, Franz, Marschner, Schubert, Schumann and Wolf

Hamburger Archiv

Scenes and Arias of Verdi Operas


Edition Wiener Staatsoper 1933 - 1944


Von der Königlichen Hofoper zur Staatsper unter den Linden

Preiser - LV

The Legendary Singers at Lindenoper Berlin


Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 3



As Ortrud


As Waltraute


I agree with Clemens Höslinger that Klose’s recordings are among the most beautiful and treasured in the history of the gramophone. Her voice was of a heartwarming sheen and “pathos.” Some of her recordings (Carmen, Verdi) will not be to everybody’s taste because of the rather “pathetic” style.

I particularly adore her in Wagner’s music, as Fricka, Waltraute, Ortrud and Brangäne. She was considered THE great Wagner mezzo-soprano (contralto) in the 1930/40s besides Karin Branzell and KerstinThorborg.

She was a wonderful oratorio singer, full of pathos, warmth and dignity.

She was at her very best in songs, and luckily, she made a number of invaluable lieder recordings. Her interpretations of Brahms, Franz, Schubert and Schumann songs are true treasures.

 Mutter, o sing’ mich zur Ruh’ (Franz / HMV 1940)


Margarete Klose and Maria Müller in Gluck’s “Orfeo”, Berlin State Opera, 1937


As Eboli