Sigrid Onegin


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(b Stockholm, 1 June 1889; d Magliaso, Switzerland, 16 June 1943). Franco-German contralto and mezzo-soprano. Though often described as Swedish, she was in fact the daughter of a French father and a German mother. She sang first as Lilly Hoffmann; after her marriage to Baron Eugene Borisovitch Lvov Onégin (1883–1919) – a Russian émigré, pianist and composer who had adopted the surname of Pushkin's celebrated hero – she used the name Lilly Hoffmann-Onégin, but soon adopted the professional name by which she was to become famous. She studied in Munich and Milan, and later had lessons or advice from Lilli Lehmann and Margarete Siems. She was first engaged by the Stuttgart Opera in 1912; but from 1919 to 1922, after her husband's early death, she was a member of the Hofoper in Munich, and in 1920 married Dr Fritz Penzoldt. She had two Metropolitan Opera seasons (1922–4) and one at Covent Garden (1927), in both houses singing only Amneris and Wagner roles; she also sang at Salzburg (C. W. Gluck's Orpheus, 1931–2) and at Bayreuth (1933–4). Onegin's greatest successes were in concerts, in which she would often sing Rossini arias; she was also a notable interpreter of Johannes Brahms's Alto Rhapsody. She had the finest and most highly trained voice of its kind since Schumann-heink, whose repertory and manner of singing she emulated without approaching the older singer's fire and communicative power. Notwithstanding her rich tone and astonishing technique, her recordings suggest also something marmoreal in their smoothness and coldness of style.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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