Marta Eggerth

Marta Eggerth

Birth
Budapest, Belváros-Lipótváros, Budapest, Hungary
Death 26 Dec 2013 (aged 101)
Rye, Westchester County, New York, USA
Burial Rye, Westchester County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 122280185 · View Source
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Opera Singer. A coloratura soprano in later years called "The Callas of Operetta", she is noted for her performances in numerous motion pictures and on the stages of Europe and the United States. Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to a well-off family, she was raised in Budapest and evidenced her talent from a young age. Marta made her professional debut at 11 in the operetta "Mannequins" and was soon touring western Europe and Scandinavia, singing the works of composers Gioacchino Rossini, the Strauss family, Jacques Offenbach, and others. Invited by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kalman to appear in his "The Violet of Montmarte" at the Vienna State Opera, she took over the lead from Adele Kern, then in 1929 was acclaimed as Adele in a Hamburg production of Johann Strauss II's "Die Fledermaus". Through the decades her signature was to be the title lead of Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow", a role she sang on the stage about 2,000 times, but around 1930 she caught the attention of the European film industry, partly for her looks and voice and not least because she could perform in Hungarian, German, English, French, and Italian. In the next years she made about three dozen movies including 1931's "Let's Love and Laugh", "Where is This Lady" and "Once There Was a Waltz" (both 1932), the 1934 "Unfinished Symphony", 1935's "The Blonde Carmen", and "Casta Diva", a 1937 biopic of Vincenzo Bellini. Having met tenor Jan Kiepura on the set of the 1934 "My Heart is Calling You", she married him in 1936. The two performed widely but as Europe became untenable for Jews they left for America in 1938. Kiepura bowed at the Metropolitan Opera that same year and as he toured Marta sang on Broadway. She had a hit with "Higher and Higher", sang Mimi to Jan's Rodolfo in a Chicago production of Puccini's "La Boheme", also joined her husband for "The Merry Widow" in 1943, and appeared with Judy Garland in 1942's "For Me and My Gal" and the 1943 "Presenting Lily Mars". Back on The Great White Way for 1945's Chopin-based "Polonaise", the "Love Pair", as they were called by the press, were finally able to return to Europe where they gave many joint recitals and performances of "The Merry Widow", though their home remained in New York. The two presented "The Merry Widow" for Berlin in 1965 but after Jan died in 1966, Marta withdrew for a time. Returning to the stage in the 1970s, she starred in "Collette" and in Stephen Sondheim's "Follies", gave a number of concerts, sang at the Vienna State Opera in 1999, played London's Wigmore Hall in 2001, appeared on the recital stage as late as 2011, and, remaining active and mentally sharp, taught at the Manhattan School of Music until her death following a brief illness. At her demise, a number of CDs documenting her voice were available; of the art form at which she reigned supreme, she said: "Operetta is really a very erotic thing. Today, there is no erotic. On the beach the bikini, two little leaves over the breasts: there it is. That is not sex. Sexiness is something which is not shown right away. The mysterious. You don't see immediately, but you suspect, and the suspicion makes curiosity, and the curiosity you play around with."

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 27 Dec 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 122280185
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Marta Eggerth (17 Apr 1912–26 Dec 2013), Find A Grave Memorial no. 122280185, citing Greenwood Union Cemetery, Rye, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .