Magda SPIEGEL, a biography

(courtesy Charles Mintzer)

Magda Spiegel (1887-1944) was one of those many God-given voices which was silenced in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Yet today her name is  not more than a possible footnote in an opera history book or a street name in the city of Frankfurt where she had an enormous career at the opera. Unfair and it bluntly shows how important it is for singers to have a recorded legacy to keep their memory ‘alive’. Magda Spiegel while being one of Germany’s best mezzo voices ever strangely enough recorded –as far as I know- four records only.  Her colleague and also Nazi victim the equally excellent Ottilie Metzger-Latterman (1878-1943) recorded far more and is as a result more of a household name to record collectors than Spiegel.
Claudia Becker’s book on Magda Spiegel is thus more than welcome. It is well-researched and the author took great pains to reconstruct the Prague born singer’s career from her debut as a 19-year old at the Prague New German Theatre till her last concerts at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
The book has some nice illustrations and photographs, there’s a repertory list but no attempt at a chronology. The discography is another chunk in the armour and a more in-depth approach to this side of her career would have made the book even more interesting to the record collector but as a story of how a once loved and admired operatic artist of Jewish origin underwent and dealt with the barbaric Nazi regime it can’t be bettered and it should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of operatic singing. I wish more books like this were written.
-The 263 page book can be ordered through
-Listen to her voice in the soundbites section

Rudi van den Bulck, Operanostalgia