Obituary: Irene Eisinger

Irene Eisinger, singer: born Kosel, Austria 8 December 1903; married (two daughters; marriage dissolved); died Weston-super-Mare 8 April 1994.

ON THE SECOND night of the first Glyndebourne season in 1934, Irene Eisinger, an unknown - to British audiences - soprano who sang Despina in Cosi fan tutte, scored a great personal success. She became a firm favourite at Glyndebourne, returning there each year but one, until the outbreak of the Second World War forced the theatre to close.

Although best remembered for her Mozart soubrette roles, especially Despina and Blonde, and parts such as Aennchen in Der Freischutz, she was also much admired in operetta, in particular as Adele in Die Fledermaus, which she sang at Covent Garden, and as Arsena in Der Zigeunerbaron. She appeared in one of Charles B. Cochran's revues at the Adelphi Theatre. Her voice, bright-toned, light and very flexible, and her charming, diminutive appearance, invariably drew adjectives such as 'enchanting' and 'winsome' from the


Irene Eisinger was born in Kosel, of Jewish parentage. She studied with Paula Mark-Neusser in Vienna, making her debut in 1926 at Basel. From 1928 to 1932 she was engaged in Berlin, appearing at the City Opera, and at the Kroll Opera under Otto Klemperer. She also made guest appearances at the Vienna State Opera and from 1930 to 1933 sang at the Salzburg Festival. During this period she made several films. Forced to leave Germany in 1933, she was engaged at the German Theatre in Prague until 1937, and also sang in Brussels and


Meanwhile, on 29 May 1934, Eisinger made her British debut at Glyndebourne as Despina. The following year she added Papagena in Die Zauberflote and Blonde in Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, both of them extremely well received, to her list of roles there. In 1936, though she did not appear at the Festival, Eisinger sang the Aquarellen waltz by Josef Strauss at a Sunday afternoon concert at Glyndebourne, when 600 of John Christie's employees and tenants presented Mr and Mrs Christie with a George I silver mug, to commemorate the birth of their son George on 31 December 1934. To accommodate everyone, the concert was repeated after the presentation.

In 1936 CB Cochran, who had been entranced by her Papagena the previous summer, engaged Eisinger for Follow the Sun at the Adelphi. In this revue she sang 'Love is a Dancing Thing', a popular number by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz that was always much applauded. 'He (Cochran) has done very well to engage Miss Irene Eisinger,' wrote James Agate in the Sunday Times on 9 February. 'A beautiful little lady whose small but charming voice is perhaps more suited to Glyndebourne's flowery meads than to Covent Garden's' Despite Agate's opinion, on 30 December that year Irene Eisinger made her Covent Garden debut during Beecham's Winter Season, singing Gretel in Hansel und Gretel (in German), with Maggie Teyte as Hansel. A week later she sang Adele in Die Fledermaus (in English), winning a particular triumph with the laughing song, 'Mein Herr Marquis'.

For the next three seasons Irene Eisinger returned to Glyndebourne, singing both Susanna and Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro as well as her other roles. By now she was living in Britain and in 1939 she sang Ilya in a university production of Idomeneo at Cambridge; in 1940, when Glyndebourne toured The Beggar's Opera, ending with a four-month season at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, she took over the role of Polly Peachum from Audrey Mildmay, who had contracted German measles, during the London run.

After the war, in 1949, she sang Despina again with Glyndebourne at the Edinburgh Festival. The Glyndebourne Cosi fan tutte, conducted by Fritz Busch and recorded almost complete in 1935, gives a very good idea of Irene Eisinger's voice, her stylish singing and her delightful personality.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before