Schroder-Devrient, Wilhelmina



Great dramatic singer and operatic tragedienne, who in dramatic power, feeling and fascination, has never been surpassed. She came of histrionic stock, her mother, Sophia Schroder, being compared to the great Sarah Siddons. Her father was a barytone singer. Wilhelmina was born at Hamburg and her childhood was passed with her parents, wander-' ing about Germany, playing and singing in the various towns. At last they settled for a time at Prague and later removed to Vienna. Wilhelmina was at first trained as a dancer and later developed into an accomplished actress. She studied music under Joseph Mazzatti at Vienna, and in 1821, .when she was seventeen years old, made her first operatic appearance there as Pamina in The Magic Flute. Later she sang Agatha in Der Freischtitz, which secured her the approval and friendship of Weber. Her greatest fame and trimuph followed her appearance in Fidelio, her conception of which, was thoroughly approved of, even by its composer, the arbitrary Beethoven. In 1823 she went to Dresden and was to some extent connected with the Dresden Opera for twenty years, being on good terms with many of the famous composers, among them Wagner, in whose Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman and Tannhauser she appeared. She married Karl Devrient, an actor, but after five years divorced him, retaining her four children. In 1847 Mme. Schroder-Devrient married a second time, her husband, Herr von Doring, shortly after wasting all her earnings in gambling. Her third and last marriage, occurred in 1850, to a Russian, named von Bock, a thoroughly worthy man. Mme. Schroder-Devrient, as she was always known, made her Paris debut in 1830 and was heard in London in 1837, where she appeared in German and Italian Opera and frequently sang in concerts. Besides singing in the operas mentioned, she also appeared in Faniska by Cherubini and in Spohr's Jessonda. She sang the role of Desdemona in Verdi's Otello at Malibran's benefit. Her last appearance was made in 1847 at Riga. When she retired she had amassed a fortune. She died in Coburg. Although eminently successful in Italian Opera, the singer's greatest triumphs came to her in German Opera and she did much to make it popular. She was thoroughly in earnest in her work and labored hard for the cause of German music. Her voice was a mellow soprano, which united softness with volume and compass. A marble bust of her is in the opera house at Berlin.