Hilde Gueden

The Austrian soprano Hilde Gueden, or Güden (born in Vienna, September 15, 1917; died in Klosterneuburg, September 17, 1988) was one of the most appreciated Straussian and Mozartian sopranos of her days. Her youthful and lively interpretations made her an ideal interpreter of roles like Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro.

Early life

She was born Hulda Geiringer and studied singing with Otto Iro, piano with Maria Wetzelsberger, and dancing at the Vienna Music Academy. She debuted, as Hulda Gerin, in 1937 in Benatzky's operetta "Herzen im Schnee" at the Vienna Volksoper. Her operatic debut came in 1939, when she sang Cherubino in "Le nozze di Figaro" at the Zurich Opera.

In 1941, the famous conductor Clemens Krauss engaged her to the Munich State Opera, where she sang with much success. From this time she used Hilde Gueden as her stage name. However, she had some Jewish ancestry, and this forced her to leave Germany under the Nazis. Rumor has it that she was almost arrested by the Gestapo in Munich, but she had by then obtained a fake passport showing that she was a Catholic Polish woman and could avoid the arrest.

Post-war career

In Italy, Tullio Serafin invited her to sing Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) in Rome and Florence. From then on, she gained great successes in Paris, Milan, London, Venice, Glyndebourne, and other major cities. She made her debut at Salzburg Festival in 1946 by singing Zerlina in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in 1946. In 1947, she started a long membership with the Vienna Staatsoper, where she was still of the greatest stars up to 1973. In December 1951, she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Gilda in Rigoletto. In 1953, she sang the first Ann Trulove, in Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress", of the Metropolitan Opera.

From late 1950s, she moved from light parts to lyric parts in the same operas; from Susanna to Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), from Zerlina to Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), from Despina to Fiordiligi ("Cosi fan tutte"), from Nannetta to Alice Ford (Falstaff), and from Musetta to Mimi (La bohème). She was also praised for her performances of Violetta in La traviata, Marguerite in Faust, and Micaela in Carmen.

She was a most versatile and accomplished singer. Besides her usual Mozart and Richard Strauss, she was also an ideal Operetta singer. Her Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus is considered one of her best roles. In the Bel Canto repertoire, she became a famous Gilda in Rigoletto and Adina in L'elisir d'amore. She was also noted for her lieder and oratorio work.


During the 1950s and 1960s, Hilde Gueden made dozens of recordings with the best artists of her generation, especially for the Decca/London label. Following is a selection of her recorded works:

1. Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro (as Sussana) with Lisa della Casa, Cesare Siepi, and Erich Kleiber (con.) Vienna State Opera Chorus and Vienna Phiharmonic Orchestra (Decca)

2. Mozart: Don Giovanni (as Zerlina) with Lisa della Casa, Cesare Siepi, Walter Berry, Sazanne Danco and Josef Krips (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (Decca)

3. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (as Pamina) with Wilma Lipp, Leopold Simoneau, Kurt Bohm and Karl Bohm (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (Decca)

4. Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus (as Rosalinde) with Wilma Lipp, Anton Dermota, Julius Patzak and Clemens Krauss (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (Decca, now only available in Naxos)

5. Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus (as Rosalinde) with Erika Koth, Walter Berry, Regina Resnik and Herbert von Karajan (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (Decca)

6. Richard Strauss: Daphne (as Daphne) with Fritz Wunderlich, James King, Paul Schoffler and Karl Bohm (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (DG)

7. Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (as Sophie) with Maria Reining, Sena Jurinac and Erich Kleiber (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (Decca)

8. Richard Strauss: Die schweigsame Frau with Hermann Prey, Fritz Wunderlich, Hans Hotter, and Karl Bohm (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (DG)

9. Richard Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (as Zerbinetta) with Lisa della Casa, Irmgard Seefried, Rudolph Schock and Karl Bohm (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (DG)

10. Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (as Eva) with Anton Dermota, Paul Schoffler, Karl Donch and Hans Knappertsbusch (con.) Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (Decca)

11. Puccini: La bohème (as Musetta) with Renata Tebaldi, Giacinto Prandelli, Fernando Corena and Alberto Erede (con.) Orchestra e coro dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma (Decca)


*D. Brook, "Singers of Today" (Revised Edition - Rockliff, London 1958), 100-103.

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