Frederica von von Stade
- Category : Entertain-Music-Vocalist-Opera
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/2 - Heretical / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Identification 1
American mezzo-soprano opera singer. She was the first permanent vocal member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, has two Grand Prix du Disc awards, the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Italy's Premio della Critica Discografica, and "Best of the Year" citations by Stereo Review, Opera News for Best Classical Vocal Soloist. In 1983 she was honored with an award given at the White House by former president Ronald Reagan in recognition of her significant contribution to the arts.
Stade and her brother are from a wealthy, socially prominent family. Flicka, as she is known to friends, was educated at a convent school. Irish-American on her mother’s side, her father came from an aristocratic Long Island family. She was raised by her mother, never having known her dad who was killed in World War II. They lived in Greece and Italy for most of her childhood, then in the middle of New Jersey hunt country. Frederica attended Mannes School of Music in Manhattan. An average student, while in her second year a teacher pushed her into the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. She won their prize with her impeccable French diction, exquisite musicianship and flawless, alluring elegance. After doing Summer Stock during her Mannes years she traveled to Paris and spent a year as a nanny.
Beginning at the top, she received a Met contract offered by Sir Rudolph Bing and had her debut in "Die Zauberflote" 3/23/1970. She left the Met roster 1976 moving on to every major opera company in the U.S. and Europe, making more than 36 recordings during this period. Giorgio Strehler invited her to sing Cherubino in "Le Nozze di Figaro" at the reopening of the Paris Opera in 1980. In 1982 she returned to the Met and has since become an important star, winning the 1982 Grand Prix du Disque for "Chants d’Auvergne." With new productions mounted for her regularly at La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, and the Paris Opera, she has been invited to sing by most of the world’s leading conductors.
Frederica owns one of the most spotless professional reputations in opera, always supporting colleagues, working hard and doing as she is told in a non-confrontational manner. She finds it difficult to disagree and tries very hard to get along with everyone. Not considering herself a trained musician, she works hard musically, dramatically and psychologically. Everyone’s dream princess, with her modest vocal means, lyric roles are what she does best. A blue-eyed, old fashioned beauty, she has retained her looks and figure. Playing ingénue, adolescent and young boy’s roles until 1994, she played her first villainess with some trepidation.
In November 1995, Frederica's return to New York's Carnegie Hall for a sold-out recital was the culmination of an extensive, critically acclaimed recital tour which took her to prominent venues throughout North and South America. She has performed on live PBS broadcasts as well as film and has had her own international TV Christmas specials. Frederica has given master classes and has honorary doctorates from Yale University, Boston University, the Georgetown University of Medicine, and her alma mater, Mannes. The San Francisco Opera Medal was bestowed on the occasion of her 25 seasons with the Company. Her Grammy nominations were in 1977, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986. Von Stade is scheduled to perform 2/17/2000 at the Met premier of "The Merry Widow."
Frederica met first husband, Peter Elkus, in Mannes College. They married in 1973 and have two children, Jenny born 1978 and Lisa born 1981. They lived in Paris until 1983 when they returned to the U.S. Elkus, a bass-baritone, gave up his own singing career to teach Stade. This arrangement worked until 1985 when they stopped working together. They separated, had a long, fierce court battle and in a precedent-setting case, divorced in 1990. There was a dispute as Elkus wanted a share of all Frederica’s future earnings due to his role as her tutor. She won her case and custody of the girls, but Elkus won on an appeal. The girls now live with her, motherhood being a central experience in her life, she was elated after her first daughter was born and hasn’t given up the feeling.
Stade married Michael Gorman, a California businessman in 1990.