Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient (6 December 1804 – 26 January 1860), was a German operatic soprano.


Professional life

Her first role was at the age of fifteen as Aricia in Schiller's translation of Racine's Phèdre, and in 1821 she was received with so much enthusiasm as Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte that her future career in opera was assured.

Meanwhile she had maintained her popularity at Dresden and elsewhere. She made her first Paris appearance in 1830, and sang in London in 1833 and 1837.

Richard Wagner claims to have seen her as Leonore in Fidelio when he was 16, but this is almost certainly fanciful. He did hear (and conduct) her in numerous roles after 1834, however, and continued to laud her stage artistry right up until his essay "On Actors and Singers" (1872) which is dedicated to her memory. She created several roles for Wagner - Adriano in Rienzi, Senta in Der fliegende Holländer and Venus in Tannhäuser. Had Wagner's political profile not been compromised by his involvement with the Dresden uprising in May 1849, Schröder-Devrient would have created Elsa in Lohengrin which was advertised in 1849 as a forthcoming production in Dresden.

As a singer she combined a rare quality of tone with dramatic intensity of expression, which was as remarkable on the concert platform as in opera.

Personal life

Schröder-Devrient was born in Hamburg, the daughter of the actress Sophie Schröder and the tenor Friedrich Schröder.

In 1823 she married Karl Devrient, but separated from him in 1828. In 1847 she married a Mr. Döring, an officer, but divorced him in 1848. She took part in the Revolution of 1848 and was later imprisoned. In 1850 she married Heinrich von Bock, a wealthy land owner, but left him in 1852.

She died in Coburg, Germany on 26 January 1860.

Apocryphal Memoirs

After her death a two volume work entitled Aus den Memoiren einer Saengerin, purporting to be her erotic memoirs, was published in two parts in 1868 and 1875. The first volume is a plausible account of her sex life, though various discrepencies with known facts have led many to doubt its complete veracity. The erotic adventures contained in the second volume, however seem to descend into complete sexual fantasy. These include the authoress indulging in lesbian sadomasochism, group sex, sodomy, bestiality, scatology, necrophilia, prostitution and vampirism: all before she had reached the age of 27. Whether true or not, this work is Germany's most famous work of erotic literature, many times reprinted, and translated into English as Pauline the Prima Donna.


  • Glümer, E. von. (1862). Erinnerungen an Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient. Leipzig.
  • Wolzogen, A. von (1863). Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient. Leipzig.
  • Pleasants, Henry (1966/81). The Great Singers. New York.
  • Kutsch, K. L. and Riemens, Leo (2000). "Grosses Saengerlexikon". Munich.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools