Rita Streich(December 18, 1920 – March 20, 1987) was one of the most admired and recorded lyric coloratura sopranos of the post-war period.
Rita Streich was born in Barnaul, southern Siberia, in the Russianpart of what was then the Soviet Union, to a German father who had been a prisoner of war there, and a Russian mother. She moved to Germany with her parents during her childhood. She grew up speaking both Germanand Russianfluently, something that was extremely helpful during her later career. Among her teachers were Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender, Erna Bergerand Maria Ivogün.
She made her debut in opera during the Second World Warat the Stadttheater of Aussig, now Ústí nad Labemin Bohemia, in the role of Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss' opera Ariadne auf Naxos, in 1943. Three years later she secured her first engagement at the Staatsoper Unter den Lindenin Berlin, where she sang until 1952. In that year she moved to Bayreuth, in 1953 to Vienna, and in 1954 to Salzburg. Appearances at La Scalain Milanand at the Covent Gardenfollowed.
In 1974, she taught at the Folkwang Hochschulein Essenand the Music Academy in Vienna. She gave master classesduring the Salzburg Festivalin 1983, four years before her death in Vienna.
Her repertoire included roles in Idomeneo, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Zauberflöte, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier, Siegfried(the Forest Bird) and others. Since she had grown up bilingual, she could also sing Rimsky-Korsakovin the original Russian almost without accent. She was also active in operetta. She made recordings of many classical Viennese operettas, for instance Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig, Der Zigeunerbaron, Boccaccio, Der Bettelstudentand Der Zarewitsch.
Her recording of Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" with the Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra conducted by Reinhard Peters, was heard in the 2007 film "Mr. Bean's Holiday" with Rowan Atkinsonlip-synching.