Leider, Frida

German soprano, 1888 - 1975

Biographical notes:

She was born in Berlin and studied singing in her free time while working in a bank. Her tutor was Otto Schwarz. In 1915 she made her debut as Venus at the Stadttheater Halle. Her next engagement took her to Rostock in 1916, where she stayed until 1918, singing mainly Italian and Mozart roles. In 1918 she moved to the Opera House at Königsberg, and in 1920 she was engaged by the Hamburg Stadttheater. Frida made her debut there as Leonore followed by Aida. In three seasons she sang all the Wagnerian dramatic roles (!), as well as Ariadne, Donna Anna and several Italian parts. In 1921 she was contracted  to the Berlin State Opera by its director and composer Max von Schillings. There, she reappeared as Leonore under Erich Kleiber. Her debut role at Covent Garden was Isolde.  In 1928 she was heard at the Bayreuth Festival (Brünnhilde and Kundry). For four seasons she was a highly acclaimed artist at the Chicago Opera where she sang Brünnhilde in Walküre, Isolde, Venus, Leonore, Amelia, Kundry, The Marschallin and Mona Lisa! Eventually, Frida was immediately hired by the Met where she made her debut in 1933 as Isolde. She appeared at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and at La Scala. In 1938 the singer’s operatic career came to a sudden end. Her non-arian husband, Rudolf Deman, violinist and leader of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, and the singer were forced to emigrate because of the political situation in Germany. We owe it to the well-known accompanist Michael Raucheisen that her voice continued to be heard. He persuaded her to build up a song repertoire and they gave successful recitals and made fine recordings. Her last appearance was in 1946, sharing the performance with her close friend Margarete Klose . In later years she turned to opera direction, the most important achievement was a production of Tristan und Isolde in 1947, conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.

As Brünnhilde


As Isolde

As Isolde...“Frida Leider’s Isolde has long been famous abroad. Her embodiment has been called, indeed, the greatest Isolde now on the stage ... It would be scarcely extravagant to say that Mme Leider’s Isolde is one of singular beauty and expressiveness. Her voice is a true Isolde voice... of rare loveliness and purity; and in the mezza-voce or piano passages it is often enamoring. Her sense of the stage is dignity, an elect intensity, a passion that remains patrician, that does not howl or shriek. Above all it has a deep and enlarging tenderness, a richness of feeling, and a poetry of the imagination that set it apart among Isoldes of our time ...”

A critic of The New York Herald Tribune about her debut as Isolde, Covent Garden, 1933


As Santuzza


As Donna Anna


The Countess in “Le Nozze di Figaro - Martha in d’Albert’s “Tiefland”


Recordings: (selection)

The Art of Frida Leider (Arias by Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, R. Strauss)

Preiser - LV

Four Famous Sopranos of the Past (Barbara Kemp, Delia Reinhardt, Göta Ljungberg)

Preiser - LV

Four Famous Wagnerian Heroines (Nanny Larsèn-Todsen, Kirsten Flagstad, Helen Traubel)

Preiser - LV

Recital Vol. 1 (Arias by Gluck, Mozart, Wagner. Wesendonck songs)

Preiser - LV

Recital Vol. 2 (Arias by Wagner. Songs by Schubert, Schumann, Schubert and Wolf)

Preiser - LV

Recital Vol. 3 (Arias by Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, R. Strauss. Wesendonck songs)

Preiser - LV

Wagner - Die Walküre (Scenes/Barbirolli and Blech/Ljungberg, Leisner, Schorr)


Wagner - Götterdämmerung (Blech and Furtwängler/Melchior, Janssen)


Excerpts from Tristan, Götterdämmerung and Parsifal (Blech, Furtwängler and Barbirolli/Melchior, Janssen, Schilp)


Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 2 and 3



Leonore in “Fidelio” - Donna Anna


Friedelind Wagner - Rudolf Deman - Frida Leider, Bayreuth, 1934


My favorite recordings: (a small selection)

- Porgi amor in German (Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro / Mozart / Grammophon 1921)

- Ozean! Du Ungeheuer! (Rezia in Oberon / Weber / Grammophon 1921)

- Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin? (Leonore in Fidelio / Beethoven / Grammophon 1921 and 1928)

- Ah! si la liberté (Title role in Armide (!) / Gluck / HMV 1928)

- D’amor sull’ali rosee in German (Leonora in Il Trovatore / Verdi / Grammophon 1925)

- Ich sah das Kind an seiner Mutter Brust (Kundry in Parsifal / Wagner (Grammophon 1925 and HMV 1931)

- Or sai chi l’onore in German (Donna Anna in Don Giovanni / Mozart / Grammophon 1926)

- O don fatale (Eboli in Don Carlos (!) / Verdi / Grammophon 1926)

- Heil dir, Sonne! Ewig war ich with Rudolf Laubenthal (Brünnhilde in Siegfried / Wagner / HMV 1927)

- Or sai chi l’onore (Donna Anna / Mozart / HMV 1928)

- Isolde! Tristan! O sink’ hernieder Nacht with Lauritz Melchior (Title role in Tristan und Isolde / Wagner / HMV 1929, conducted by the superb conductor Albert Coates)


Rachel in Halévy’s “La Juive” - The Marschallin