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Erna Sack

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Erna Sack (born 6 February 1898, Spandau, Berlin, - died 2 March. 1972, Mainz), was a German coloratura soprano of exceptional talent.

Erna Sack’s maiden name was Weber, and as a child her voice attracted attention both at school and in the church choir in which she sang. In 1921, Erna married Hermann Sack. She studied at the Prague Conservatory, and later in Berlin with Oscar Daniel.

She received her first break aged 30, when the wife of conductor Bruno Walter happened to hear her at one of her lessons and persuaded her husband, who was then the musical director at the Berlin State Opera, to audition her. Subsequently she joined them and between 1928 and 1930 she sang many small roles with this famous company, including parts in the 1929 local premiéres of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s Sly, on 11 May, Eugen d’Albert’s Die Schwarze Orchidee on 9 June, and Mark Lothar’s Tyll on 1 September. At the same time she recorded several small roles in operas for Berlin Radio. But Walter advised her to gain more experience in provincial opera houses and to enlarge her repertory.

Her career really started in high gear in 1930 when her uncanny ability to sing those stratospheric high notes, including c4 (C above high C). (Richard Strauss later wrote a new cadenza for her high voice, for her to sing as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos).

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