Morena, Berta

Berta Meyer, German soprano, 1878 - 1952

Berta Morena as Elisabeth (courtesy of Dirk Körschenhausen)

Biographical notes:

Berta Morena was born Berta Meyer in 1878, at Mannheim. After completing her studies with Mrs Röhr-Brajnin, Regina de Sales and Aglaja von Orgeni she made her debut in 1898 at the Münchner Hofoper as Agathe in Freischütz. The debut was successful and the critics were full of praise for her beautiful voice as well as for her beauty. During the next seasons she appeared in a variety of roles, gradually gaining a reputation, especially in Wagnerian roles. From 1903 she sang Brünnhilde, from 1907 she was very successful as Leonore in Fidelio. Within a short time, she became Munich’s most beloved singer, appearing there as Elisabeth, Elsa, Eva, Isolde, Kundry, Sieglinde, the Brünnhildes, Senta, Santuzza, the title role in  Lachner’s Catharina Cornaro, Kassandra in Weingartner’s Orestes, Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Aida and in Charpentier’s Louise. One of her best roles was Rachel in Halévy’s La Juive. In 1908 she was invited to sing at the Metropolitan, where she appeared in 56 performances during four seasons singing Leonore in Fidelio under Gustav Mahler, but she could not erase still vivid recollections of Lilli Lehmann and Amalie Materna in the role. Elisabeth and Sieglinde were considered the best performances during her Met career. Berta Morena sang widely as a guest artist, in Vienna, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hannover, Karlsruhe, Berlin (Hofoper), Zurich, Barcelona, Budapest National Opera and London (1914). At Covent Garden, she did not please neither as Isolde nor as Kundry, but her Sieglinde was exceptional. In 1923 she celebrated her twenty-fifth anniversary of membership at the Munich Opera. Soon after she left the Munich Opera on account of disagreements with the management reappearing as Brünnhilde at the Metropolitan. It was not until 1927, that she bade farewell to her audience to become a sought-after singing tutor. Berta Morena died in 1952, at Rottach-Egern (Bavaria).


As Sieglinde - there are two beautiful recordings opposite Ernst Kraus (made in Berlin, 1911)


“Das süsse Lied verhallt, wir sind allein” - Berta Morena and Leo Slezak in Lohengrin



Munich’s Operatic History - Aus Münchens Operngeschichte (featuring 75 singers)

Preiser (4 CD)

Richard Wagner on Record (featuring 90 singers)

Preiser (4 CD)

100 Years Prinzregenten Theatre, Munich - Sie sangen im Prinzregenten- theater (featuring 60 singers)

Preiser (3 CD)

Recital (La Juive, Tannhäuser (2), Lohengrin (2), Aida (2), Sieglinde (2), Brünnhilde. Duets with Heinrich Knote, Fritz Feinhals, Ernst Kraus)

Preiser (1 LP)


As Leonore


As Brünnhilde


Bertha Morena was one of the most celebrated artists in Munich for 25 years, not only because of her vocal quality as a ‘Hochdramatische’ but also because of her splendid appearance which induced no less an artist than Franz von Lenbach to paint her portrait.

When listening to her records you will hear a dark-timbred soprano voice, occasionally having some difficulties with the heights, but she is definitely not a mezzo-soprano as the critic Alfred von Mensi-Klarbach stated at the beginnin of her career. Hers is a warm, bright voice with a quick vibrato, in my opinion ideally suited to the lyric-dramatic repertory

I would like to present her in Halévy’s La Juive, a repertoire piece at Morena’s time.

 Il va venir sung in German (Rachel’s Romance / La Juive / Halévy / G &T  1907)


As Rachel


Cornélie Falcon in the costume of Rachel, 1835

It was Cornélie Falcon who created the role of Rachel. Her partners: Adolphe Nourrit as Eléazar, Julie-Aimée Dorus-Gras as Eudoxie and Nicolas-Prosper Levasseur as Brogni


Berta Morena’s teacher Aglaja von Orgeni

Painting by Anselm Feuerbach, 1865

Aglaja was a student of Pauline Viardot-García and was one of the most celebtrated coloratura sopranos during the second half of the 19th. century. She became an excellent teacher and her pupils included singers like Berta Morena, Margarethe Siems, Gertrude Förstel, Sophie Wolf, Erika Wedekind and Edyth Walker.