• Born 1940
Often appears with
Helen Donath is one of the greatly admired lyric sopranos of her age, noted for her pure timbre and interpretive powers, as well as her vocal longevity. She is equally adept on the opera stage, in recital, and in oratorios. Like many singers of her generation, she fell in love with opera through the Mario Lanza movie The Great Caruso. She first studied music at Del Mar College in her hometown of Corpus Christi at the age of 14 and later in New York with Paola Novikova, where she made her concert debut in 1958. After auditioning for an agent who sent her to the Cologne Opera, she made her opera stage debut in 1962 in the comprimario role of Inez in Verdi's Il Trovatore. In 1966, she joined the Munich Staatsoper as a guest artist, beginning a long association with that house. During the 1960s, she also briefly became a protégé of Herbert von Karajan, but her persistent refusal of his offers of roles she thought were too heavy brought that rapport to an end. She was to have made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1968, but canceled because of her later pregnancy; she didn't appear at the Met until 1991. In 1970, she made her Salzburg Festival debut as Pamina in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Her United States opera debut was in 1971 as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, the role of her 1974 Chicago debut. In 1979, she first appeared at Covent Garden as Anne in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. Until her return to the United States in the early '90s, the majority of her career took place in Germany and Austria, and she was awarded the title of Kammersaengerin. Her husband, who has also acted as her vocal advisor, is pianist, choir director, and conductor Klaus Donath. Their son, Alexander, is a stage director.