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Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient
Birth: Oct. 6, 1804
Hamburg, Germany
Death: Jan. 26, 1860
Coburger Stadtkreis
Bavaria (Bayern), Germany

Opera Singer, Author. The creator of three of Richard Wagner's leading soprano roles, she also penned one of the most notoriously graphic depictions of sex in the entire literary canon. Raised in a theatrical family, she was a child actress and ballerina from a young age; training by her mother in both acting and singing endowed her with an expressive dramatic presentation that led to her being called "The Queen of Tears", but also gave her a defective vocal technique which, combined with her powerful voice, resulted in a shortened prime. In Vienna she was seen onstage as Aricida in Schiller's "Phadra" and as Ophelia from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" prior to her January 20, 1821 operatic debut as Pamina in Mozart's "The Magic Flute". Other appearances followed including Agathe in Carl Maria von Weber's "Die Freischutz" under the baton of the composer before her November 3, 1822 first performance of what was probably her signature piece, Leonore from Beethoven's "Fidelio". A fixture in Dresden from 1822 to 1847, she was soon touring throughout Europe, being first heard in Paris in 1830 and at King's Theatre of London in 1832. Wilhelmine sang a variety of operas, some of which have been forgotten, though she also assumed a number of roles that have stood the test of time including Desdemona from Rossini's "Otello", Donna Anna in Mozart's "Don Giovanni", the title Druid Priestess of Vincenzo Bellini's "Norma" and Amina from the same composer's "La Sonnambula". Just whether Wilhelmine's portrayal of Leonore inspired a 16 year old Richard Wagner to become a composer is a matter of moot speculation as in any event Wagner was to later write that such was in fact the case, conduct a number of her performances, and compose several major parts for her. Though her voice was probably in decline after around 1837, Dresden was to see Wilhelmine in three of Wagner's world premieres, first as Adriano in "Rienzi" on October 20, 1842, then as Senta in "The Flying Dutchman" on January 2, 1843, and finally as Venus from "Tannhauser" on October 20, 1845. In addition, Wagner created Elsa in "Lohengrin" for her, though the political problems of both singer and composer (Wilhelmine landed in jail briefly for her small part in the Revolution of 1848) prevented her participation in the premiere. Her inability to sing Elsa left her final operatic performance as a December 1847 appearance at Riga, though she gave recitals thru 1856. Wilhelmine's personal life was colorful featuring at least three failed marriages, the first, to actor Karl Devrient, between 1823 and 1828 giving her four children and her name, multiple affairs allegedly with partners of both sexes (after one undistinguished performance of "Don Giovanni" she informed reporters that she could seduce young girls much better than could that evening's Don), and a controversial memoir which has been questioned both as to veracity and, based on the chronology of some portions, authenticity, but nevertheless remains a classic of German pornographic literature. Sort of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" of its time, the work was posthumously published as "Aus den Memoiren einer Saengerin", volume I (1868) being an explicit account of her sex life while the 1875 volume II describes either Wilhelmine's fantasies or her early experiences of vampirism, group sex, lesbian sadomasochism, sodomy, and various other unorthodox erotic practices. Whatever the mix of fact and fancy, the work has remained continually in print and has been translated into multiple languages, appearing in English as "Pauline: Memoirs of a Prima Donna". She lived her final years in Coburg. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
Family links: 
  Karl August Devrient (1797 - 1872)
Dresdener Stadtkreis
Saxony (Sachsen), Germany
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Jan 24, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 64642826
Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient
Added by: Bob Hufford
Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient
Added by: Bob Hufford
Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient
Added by: Lutetia
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- David Wend
 Added: Oct. 6, 2016

- sniksnak
 Added: Jan. 26, 2015

- Bob Hufford
 Added: Oct. 6, 2014
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