Golden Age soprano, 97, is back on song in Vienna

Golden Age soprano, 97, is back on song in Vienna


norman lebrecht

April 07, 2015

Hilde Zadek, probably the last surviving member of Vienna’s golden cast of the 1940s, is back this week at 97, presiding over the 9th Hilde Zadek Competition for Voice.

A Hitler refugee in Jerusalem, Hilde returned to Vienna in 1947 to join a company that was dominated by unrepentant Nazis. She wa Vienna’s first-choice Aida for the next two decades.

Today, a little frail, she can still pick great voices from also-rans.

You can watch the competition’s final round live on Saturday, right here.



  • Martin Atherton says:

    Mr Lebrecht,

    Can you actually justify (with evidence) your comment that Hilde Zadek returned to Vienna in 1947 “to join a company that was DOMINATED by UNREPENTANT Nazis” (my capitals)? Why would she do that?


    • norman lebrecht says:

      Yes. Read The Maestro Myth.

    • Michael D says:

      She did it for the same reason that people confront the wingnuts from the Westboro Baptist Church. Love defeats Ignorance and Hatred. Vienna was and is still one of the most virulently anti-Semitic cities on the planet. She confronted them with her humanity, with her magnificent talent and with her integrity. And she sang for 20-+ years there and all over the world at the highest level, and then went on to teach at least 2 generations of fine singers. What have YOU done?!

  • Una says:

    Yes, read the Maestro Myth! Also apart from all of that, it’s about celebrating life, and at 97 Hilde Zadek deserves to do what she wants and how at her age. A wonderful lady and life can only got forwards from the present with some act of reconciliation. Not many around like here – except the wonderful mezzo, Evelyn Reynolds in New York, also 97 and still teaching, who gave up singing and got a wonderful review for her last Verdi Requiem at 73. I know I won’t be doing that at 73, never mind trotting the globe at 97! And there is also high-profile but not a singer, Fanny Watermann, who is indefatigable at 95, bringing the three-yearly Leeds International Piano Competition to where it is – and also still teaching. Just great examples of people who live life to us who are neither ‘spring chickens!’