From The Metropolitan Opera Archives:

October 15, 1926

Death of Mathilde Bauermeister
in Herne Bay, England

The great opera impresario, Maurice Grau, once complained, "No young woman ever comes to me and says, 'I am the best Nurse in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, the best Inez in L'Africaine, the best Marta in Faust.' They all want to sing Juliette, Selika or Marguerite. Yet there is a lifelong job for a first rate singer of secondary roles."

The German, later British, soprano Mathilde Bauermeister not only knew her place but was recognized by her colleagues and the press. For George Bernard Shaw reviewing opera in London, she was "Bauermeister, the invaluable, the inevitable" and "probably the most indispensable member of Mr. Harris's Company [at Covent Garden]." Shaw describes one of the bilingual performances then prevalent in London and New York: "On Saturday last we had Faust, with Melba as Margaret. [Fernando] De Lucia accosted her in the second act in Italian; she snubbed him in French; Bauermeister [as Marta] kept her in countenance by conversing with her in French in the garden; and Méphistophélès, at home in all countries, tempted Faust in Italian and Marta in French."

Both Nellie Melba and Emma Eames praised Bauermeister in their memoirs, Melba referring to her as "that dear little soul and great little artist," and Eames including her the ideal cast of Faust, in which Eames, of course, was the Marguerite.

Bauermeister came to the Met in 1891-92. Her statistics help define the tastes of an era: 142 Frasquitas in Carmen; 199 Marthes in Faust; 100 Ladies of Honor in Les Huguenots (and one Marguerite de Valois in the same opera); 98 Gertrudes in Roméo. Her 1,061 performances in thirteen seasons make her the second most frequent female performer in Met history; it took Thelma Votipka twenty-nine seasons to achieve 1,422 performances.

Perhaps the greatest evening of Bauermeister's career was the closing night gala on April 30, 1895 when she was among the stars receiving huge floral tributes and costly gifts of jewelry. There she was in the center of the stage with Jean and Edouard de Reszke, Melba, Eames, Lillian Nordica, and Francesco Tamagno in the background. The New York Times described "the house ringing with cheers. And for once all the men and women in the house were absolutely sure that they had applauded at the right time."


Mathilde Bauermeister.
Photograph by Falk.

Mathilde Bauermeister in an unidentified role.