Frederica von Stade (born June 1, 1945) is an American mezzo-soprano.
Frederica von Stade was born in Somerville, New Jersey. She acquired the nickname "Flicka" in her childhood. Von Stade attended the Mannes College of Music in New York City. She made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1970 and in 1971 appeared as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro at the Santa Fe Opera. "It was two of the newcomers who left the audience dazzled: Frederica von Stade as Cherubino and Kiri Te Kanawa as the Countess. Everyone knew at once that these were brilliant finds. History has confirmed that first impression." Cherubino remained her most celebrated signature role, which she sang at her European debut in Versailles 1973, which was the starting point of her great international career. After a hiatus of six years she returned to the Met in 1982 and remained a pillar of the ensemble, highly appreciated by critics and loved by the public in such roles as Idamante in Idomeneo, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, Cherubino, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande, Charlotte in Werther and Hanna Glawary in The Merry Widow.
Trained in the bel canto style, von Stade is known for her roles in Rossini's The Barber of Seville and La Cenerentola. In addition to opera, von Stade has also performed a wide range of musicals, from Show Boat to The Sound of Music to A Little Night Music and has appeared on numerous PBS specials, most notably in 1991's A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert. She has also appeared in many Kennedy Center Honors broadcasts for CBS. Von Stade is also a respected recital artist, performing works ranging from Mozart and Haydn to Mahler to Broadway show tunes. Her LP album of Mahler songs was praised as "cherishable" by Peter G. Davis of The New York Times.
Contemporary composers, including Dominick Argento, Jake Heggie, Conrad Susa and Richard Danielpour, have produced works specifically for von Stade. She originated the role of "Tina" in Dallas Opera's world premiere production of Argento's The Aspern Papers (opera) in 1988. She has also recorded other works by Argento. Conrad Susa wrote for her the role of the "Marquise de Merteuil" in his opera Dangerous Liaisons, which premiered at the San Francisco Opera on September 10, 1994. Danielpour composed Elegies for orchestra, mezzo-soprano, and baritone in memory of von Stade's father, Charles von Stade, who was killed late in World War II, two months before von Stade's birth. Elegies premiered in January 1998 with the Jacksonville Symphony led by Roger Nierenberg and has now been recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2008, she created the role of "Madeline" in the opera Last Acts, a part which the composer Jake Heggie had specially written for her. She gave her farewell performance on the opera stage in Heggie's Dead Man Walking at Houston Grand Opera on February 6, 2011 as "Mrs. Patrick de Rocher", a part also written for her.
On January 19, 1985, she sang at the 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, the day before the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan. She was introduced by Tony Randall. She sang an aria from Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer.
Von Stade was the featured performer at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and also sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Cultural Olympiad held in conjunction with the games. She also sang at the choir's annual Christmas Concert the following year.
She currently resides in Alameda, California.
She has made over sixty recordings, including complete operas, aria albums, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums. She has done humorous recordings, such as Songs of the Cat with Garrison Keillor. Her Show Boat album was a bestseller. She has also appeared with Kathleen Battle and Judi Dench on Seiji Ozawa's recording of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her recordings have garnered six Grammy nominations, two Grand Prix du Disque awards, the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Italy's Premio della Critica Discografica, and "Best of the Year" citations by Stereo Review and Opera News.
Opera recordings Amaranta in Haydn's La fedeltà premiata, with conductor Antal Dorati, Decca 1976.Annio in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, with conductor Sir Colin Davis, Philips 1976.Octavian in R. Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, with conductor Edo de Waart, Philips 1976.Frederick in Thomas' Mignon, with conductor Antonio de Almeida, CBS 1977.Lisetta in Haydn's Il mondo della luna, with conductor Antal Dorati, Decca 1978.Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, with conductor Herbert von Karajan, Decca 1978.Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte, with conductor Alain Lombard, Erato 1978.Desdemona in Rossini's Otello, with conductor Jesús López-Cobos, Philips 1978.Cendrillon in Massenet's Cendrillon, with conductor Julius Rudel, CBS 1978.Hänsel in Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, with conductor Sir John Pritchard, CBS 1978.Mélisande in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, with conductor Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1978.Penelope in Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, with conductor Raymond Leppard, CBS 1980.Iphise in Rameau's Dardanus, with conductor Raymond Leppard, Erato 1980.Charlotte in Massenet's Werther, with conductor Sir Colin Davis, Philips 1980.Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, with conductor Sir Georg Solti, Decca 1981.Marguérite in Berlioz' La damnation de Faust, with conductor Sir Georg Solti, Decca 1981.Chérubin in Massenet's Chérubin, with conductor Pinchas Steinberg, RCA 1991.Mrs. Patrick de Roucher in Heggie's Dead Man Walking, with conductor Patrick Summers, Virgin Classics 2011.
Musical recordings Magnolia Hawks & Kim in Kern's Show Boat, with conductor John McGlinn, EMI 1988.Claire in Bernstein's On the Town, with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Deutsche Grammophon 1992.
Concert Recordings Haydn: Harmonie-Messe Hob. XXII:14, with conductor Leonard Bernstein, CBS 1975.Mozart: Missa solemnis KV 139 (Waisenhaus-Messe), with conductor Claudio Abbado, Deutsche Grammophon 1976.Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G Major, with conductor Claudio Abbado, Deutsche Grammophon 1977.Mozart: Grosse Messe KV 427, with conductor Leonard Bernstein, Deutsche Grammophon 1990.Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream op. 61, with conductor Seiji Ozawa, Deutsche Grammophon 1992.Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G Major, with conductor Yoel Levi, Telarc 1999.The Wonder of Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, (2006).
Recital recordings Arias and Duetts by Brahms, Chausson, Mozart, Saint-Saëns, A. Scarlatti, Schubert and Schumann, with Judith Blegen (Soprano), CBS 1975.Frederica von Stade sings Mozart and Rossini Arias, with conductor Edo de Waart, Philips 1976.French Opera Arias: Arias by Berlioz, Gounod, Massenet, Meyerbeer, Offenbach and Thomas,with conductor Sir John Pritchard, CBS 1976.Italian Opera Arias: Arias by Broschi, Leoncavallo, Monteverdi, Paisiello and Rossini, with conductor Mario Bernardi, CBS 1978.Mahler: Orchestral Songs (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, two songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn), with conductor Andrew Davis, CBS 1978.Song Recital: Songs by Canteloube, Dowland, Debussy, Carol Hall, Liszt and Purcell, with pianist Martin Katz, CBS 1978.Canteloube: Chants d'Auvergne, with conductor Antonio de Almeida, CBS 1979.Ravel: Shéhérazade, Chansons madécasses, Mélodies populaires grecques and Mélodies hebraïques, with conductor Seiji Ozawa, CBS 1981.Berlioz: Les Nuits d'été, op. 7 / Debussy: La Damoiselle élue, with conductor Seiji Ozawa, CBS 1983.Fauré: Mélodies, with pianist Jean-Philippe Collard, EMI 1983.Frederica von Stade sings Monteverdi & Cavalli, with conductor Raymond Leppard, Erato 1985.Liederabend: Songs by Canteloube, Copland, Faurè, Ives, Mahler, Pasatieri, Schönberg and R. Strauss, with pianist Martin Katz, Orfeo (live recording from the Salzburg Festival, August 18, 1986).My Funny Valentine: A Rodgers & Hart Anthology, with conductor John McGlinn, EMI 1989.Debussy: Mélodies, with pianist Dalton Baldwin, EMI 1991.Offenbach: Arias and Overtures, with conductor Antonio de Almeida, RCA 1994.Bernstein: Arias and Barcaroles, with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Deutsche Grammophon 1996.Across Your Dreams: Frederica von Stade sings Brubeck, Telarc 1996.The Faces of Love: The Songs of Jake Heggie, with the composer as pianist, RCA 1999.Recital: Gustav Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, songs by Charles Ives, Francis Poulenc, Benjamin Britten, etc., with the pianist Martin Isepp, Gala 1999.
Frederica von Stade on DVD Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, with conductor Sir John Pritchard, live performance at the Glyndebourne Festival 1973, DVD 2001.Angelina in Rossini's La Cenerentola, with conductor Claudio Abbado, operatic film 1981 (director: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle), DVD Deutsche Grammophon.Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo, with conductor James Levine, live performance at the Metropolitan Opera 1982, DVD Deutsche Grammophon.Hansel in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, with conductor Thomas Fulton, live performance at the Metropolitan Opera 1982, DVD Deutsche Grammophon.Mozart: Grosse Messe KV 427, with conductor Leonard Bernstein, live concert performance 1990, DVD Deutsche Grammophon.
Von Stade was honored with an award in 1983 at the White House by President Reagan in recognition of her significant contribution to the arts and by France's highest honor in the Arts as an officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2009, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Cleveland Institute of Music and in April, 2012 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Von Stade was the idol of a key character in the CBS series Northern Exposure (her interpretation of Bailero from Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne appeared on its original soundtrack album).
A case summary involving a dispute over marital property and earnings (Elkus v. Elkus, 572 N.Y.S.2d 901 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991)) between von Stade and Peter Elkus, formerly her husband, appears in Dukeminier's Property textbook, commonly used in the first year of law school.
Von Stade appeared in the finale of We Are Most Amused, the Charity Gala thrown for the 60th birthday of Prince Charles. She performed as a Valkyrie accompanying Eric Idle in singing a modified version of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".