Death of a great Vienna soprano, 93

Death of a great Vienna soprano, 93


norman lebrecht

January 27, 2019

The Vienna State Opera has announced the death of Wilma Lipp, one of its golden-age Mozart singers.

A student of Mahler’s discovery Anna Bahr-Mildenburg, Wilma made her Vienna debut as Rosina in 1943 and became a celebrated Queen of the Night, moving on to ther Mozart roles at Covent Garden, La Scala, Paris and elsewhere. Her final performances were with Herbert von Karajan in Vienna and Salzburg in 1981.

Widely filmed and recorded, she taught for many years at the Mozarteum. Her first husband was Rudolf Gamsjäger, who went on to become head of the Vienna Opera.



  • M McAlpine says:

    Great singer. RIP

  • Martain Smith says:

    With respect to both deceased (Schock and Lipp), their qualities lay elsewhere than in the demands of Verdi’s Traviata – where both ignore the composer’s precise notation – quite apart from stylistic issues!

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    In her prime, she absolutely OWNED the role of Queen of the Night, gave hundreds, literally hundreds, of note-perfect, emotionally honest, super-intelligent performances in that role. If she was unable to perform, audience members demanded their money back. And she left at least six recordings of the role (conducted by Karajan, Böhm, Krips, Furtwängler, Keilberth, and Schüchter).

    She was also fantastic as Pamina.

    • Tribonian says:

      There’s also a wonderful recording conducted by Furtwangler in Salzburg, 1951, with the VPO.

      • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

        One of the amazing things about her, which I forgot to mention in my previous post, was the way she made the most challenging coloratura sound effortless. Look up her rendition of the aptly-named aria “Marten aller Arten” (“torture of all kinds”) from ABDUCTION. The aria is a monster, a mad dog, a total voice-killer which goes on forever, and she just tosses it off like it’s nothing. Well, here:

        • Nick2 says:

          I never heard her sing ‘live’ and I find that rendition of “Marten aller Arten” curiously devoid of feeling. The notes are effortlesslessly there but not much more. I just compared that recording with the Margaret Price/James Lockhart recording from the early 1970s. To me there is little comparison. Price sounds glorious and sings with a great deal more feeling. To each his own!

  • Pedro says:

    She sang Marianne in the last Karajan Rosenkavaliers ( 1983-1984 ). I attended five performances in both years. The last one was the best opera performance I ever went to, and that includes four superb Kleiber Rosenkavaliers ( one in Munich and three in NY ).

    • Beatrice says:

      Yes, you are right indeed! I attended the Rosenkavalier together with my parents and we were overwhelmed by the outstanding performance. It is wonderful that we are walking on the same “ Opera path “… have a Good Evening from good, old Europe.

  • Novagerio says:

    Not quiet, she was Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin, the Duenna, in Karajan’s last Salzburg Rosenkavalier in 1983.
    R.I.P. Frau Kammersängerin!

  • Gerald Martin says:

    Perhaps not of great interest to readers of this thread; but Lipp performs on the 1956 recording of Beethoven’s ninth symphony conducted by Jascha Horenstein. The monophonic Vox L.P. was my first exposure to the work and I was transfixed.