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 Gertrud Elisabeth <I>Schmeling</I> Mara

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Gertrud Elisabeth Schmeling Mara

  • Birth 23 Feb 1749 Kassel, Kasseler Stadtkreis, Hessen, Germany
  • Death 20 Jan 1833 Tallinn, Tallinna linn, Harjumaa, Estonia
  • Burial Tallinn, Tallinna linn, Harjumaa, Estonia
  • Memorial ID 53965222

Opera and Recital Singer. A soprano, she had a long career during which she appeared in most of the European capitals. Raised in Kassel, she taught herself to play the violin at an early age by practicing on instruments her father had taken in for repair; after lessons at home, she was heard in Frankfurt and Vienna before traveling to England. Although she was well received in London, she was encouraged to take up singing instead as the violin was considered "unfeminine" at the time. Accepted as a student by Johann Adam Hiller in Leipzig, she remained in training for five years, then had a successful professional debut upon her 1771 graduation. Following her operatic bow at Dresden, she was appointed Court Singer by King Frederick II of Prussia. Popular at first, Gertrude's star dimmed when marriage to a violinist of ill repute named Mara made her unacceptable at court. After being forced to sing under unpleasant conditions, she was eventually released from her contract and appeared in both operatic and concert venues in Vienna, Munich, Holland, Belgium, and elsewhere. According to legend she was heard twice by Mozart. At Paris in 1782, a rivalry with Luisa Todi (who had a long history of interpersonal difficulties) sparked public interest, but it was her in 1784 London debut that brought Mara her greatest success. She was highly praised for her part in the Handel commemoration at Westminster Abbey, appeared at the Pantheon to equal acclaim, and in 1787 earned good reviews as Cleopatra in Handel's "Giulio Cesare". With England as her base, she also concertized in France and Italy until retiring to Moscow in 1802. Mara moved to Estonia after losing most of her estate in the Moscow fire of 1812. After a final London recital in 1819 proved a complete failure, she taught music in Reval for a time, and died in poverty. The cemetery where she was buried was completely destroyed by the Soviets in 1945; a public park now occupies the site.

Bio by: Bob Hufford





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 21 Jun 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 53965222
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Gertrud Elisabeth Schmeling Mara (23 Feb 1749–20 Jan 1833), Find A Grave Memorial no. 53965222, citing Kopli Cemetery (Defunct), Tallinn, Tallinna linn, Harjumaa, Estonia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .