Erna Berger

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Stele by Erna Berger on Erna-Berger-Strasse in Dresden-Cossebaude

Erna Berger , also Erna Wiull (born October 19, 1900 in Cossebaude , Saxony , † June 14, 1990 in Essen , North Rhine-Westphalia ), was a German opera and concert singer ( soprano ).


Erna Berger, married. Wiull, alongside Elisabeth Grümmer , Hilde Güden , Lotte Lehmann , Rita Streich (who was discovered and promoted by her), Erika Köth , Gundula Janowitz , Elisabeth Rethberg , Erna Sack , Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Maria Ivogün, is one of the most important German sopranos of the 20th century. Century . Her preferred roles include a. the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte , Violetta in La traviata , Mimi in La Bohème , Gilda in Rigoletto and Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail . With the latter role, she gained an international reputation. For example, the singer was a guest at the Covent Garden Opera in London from 1934 to 1938 .

As a child, spent Berger several years in Brazil and Paraguay , where she later as a clerk worked and piano teacher. She returned to Dresden and took up singing studies there. Your teacher was Melitta Hirzel . At the age of 26 she came to the Dresden State Opera through Fritz Busch as an opera soubrette and had her first success as Hannele in the premiere of the opera Hanneles Himmelfahrt by Paul Graener .

She later became a member of the Vienna and Berlin State Opera and the Städtische Oper Charlottenburg and toured Japan , North and South America, Africa and Australia with concerts (especially songs by Hugo Wolf ), with the pianist Sebastian Peschko being her preferred companion.

Erna Berger was a member of the Berlin State Opera from 1934 to 1946 . She is listed on Goebbels ' list of God- gifted people as an important artist of the Nazi state.

Erna Berger, who sang on all major national and international opera stages (in Munich, Paris, Rome, Madrid, New York), occasionally appeared as a singer in films and dubbed actresses with her singing (e.g. Ilse Werner , who performed the Singer Jenny Lind embodied in the film The Swedish Nightingale ). She also worked as a singing teacher. As such she discovered and encouraged many singing talents, for example the soprano Rita Streich .

Grave of Erna Berger

At the age of 54, Erna Berger said goodbye to the stage (Zerlina in Don Giovanni , Salzburg 1954), but continued to give numerous recitals (last recital: February 15, 1968, Cuvilliéstheater Munich ). In 1959 Erna Berger was appointed to a professorship at the State University of Music in Hamburg .

At the age of 80, she sang a Schubert song again as part of a TV portrait on SWF.

The soprano died in Essen at the age of 90 of a heart failure. She found her final resting place in Vienna's central cemetery (group 31B, row 12, number 7).



  • In 1953 she was awarded the Cross of Merit (Steckkreuz) of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • In 1970 she was awarded the Johannes Brahms Medal of the City of Hamburg.
  • In 1992 Bästleinstrasse in Dresden was renamed Erna-Berger-Strasse in her honor . In today's Dresden town of Cossebaude and in Berlin (near Potsdamer Platz) streets were also named after the legendary soprano who retained her youthful singing voice into old age.


  • Berger, Erna: On the wings of song: memories of a singer . Atlantis-Musikbuch-Verl., Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-254-00144-3 .


  • Höcker, Karla: Erna Berger: The singing ambassador . Rembrandt Verl., Berlin 1961.

Discography (selection)

  • Erna Berger sings songs by Bach, Schubert, Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Schumann ( Electrola 1957)
  • The golden voice - Erna Berger ( Electrola 1970)
  • Erna Berger. Historical recordings ( Eterna 1970)
  • Erna Berger sings songs accompanied by Sebastian Peschko (Orfeo d'Or)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Klee, Ernst .: Cultural encyclopedia for the Third Reich: Who was what before and after 1945 . 1st edition Fischer, S, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-596-17153-8 , pp. 42 .