Frederica von Stade and The Decision to Retire

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 12:00 AM

This Thursday, the beloved American mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade (known as ‘Flicka’) will sing her farewell recital at Carnegie Hall. When I was a young singer, Frederica von Stade was an important role model for many of us--a young, talented, attractive, hometown girl who made it big! Needless to say, her retirement will serve as a major benchmark in my life.

When I saw Flicka here at the station yesterday, she explained that the music in the recital will highlight the story of her life.  Among other things, there will be songs about each of her daughters--and possibly a performance onstage with her eldest who is about to give birth to Flicka’s first grandchild.  Clearly, she has a lot to look forward to beyond her performance career. But, I know the decision to retire is never made lightly and that for many performers--especially singers--the decision can be extremely difficult.   

The role model in my life was my father. He retired from a very demanding job in education at 63 and proceeded to enjoy another 30 years of life. Whether you are currently retired or still planning for the future, I’d love to have your thoughts on the subject. Or, if you would simply like to send Frederica von Stade your good wishes, go for it!  I’ll be sure to let her know!


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Comments [23]

Phyllis Sharpe from Teaneck, NJ

Ms. Von Stade, you have had a brilliant career and I have enjoyed hearing and seeing you perform. Didn't you sing the Mother in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors perhaps on an NBC TV broadcast?
Deciding to retire is a tough decision, and very personal. And pride makes us want to make that decision before someone else suggests it for us. But this doesn't have to be an ending, but can be the beginning of a new career direction.

Jul. 05 2010 07:20 PM

Hi, Clarence - We played the Colin Davis/BSO recording of the Sibelius 7th yesterday. Our apologies for the confusion. Re: Your request for news and Wall Street info on the hour, I will pass it along to our Program Director for his review.

Thanks for listening!


Apr. 27 2010 11:39 AM
Cathy Sheehan from Brooklyn NY

Some yrs. ago while he was still working for an airline my uncle called me and asked me to go out to SF to see Frederica perform. I thought he was crazy but off we went and it was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had. I will miss seeing her perform but am so glad I can listen to her many many CD's in my collection any time. Thank you Flicka for all the memories and may your retirement be long, healthy and happy.

Apr. 26 2010 05:22 PM
Clarence Fanto from Lenox, MA

For Midge Woolsey:

I greatly appreciate your program and listen to most of it daily in my office.

One question: As far as I can find, Sir Simon Rattle did not record the Sibelius Symphony No. 7 (as heard before noon on Monday. April 26. He did record it with the City of Birmingham Symphony on EMI. Sir Colin Davis recorded it with the Bostonians on Phillips. Can you confirm for me which version you played, since it was the best performance of this work I've ever heard, and I'd like to purchase the one that was broadcast.

Many thanks; if you could e-mail me a clarification, I'd appreciate it.

One more thing: Brief news and Wall Street updates at 11, 12, 1 and 2 would be most helpful.

All the best,
Clarence Fanto

Apr. 26 2010 12:08 PM
Mimi Sherwin from NYC

Dear Flicka,

I can't believe it is 40 years since we were doing "Hansel and Gretel" together at Mannes. It seems like yesterday that you arrived at a rehearsal telling us about having just auditioned for the Met.

Here's wishing you and your family a continuing happy and healthy life.

All the best,

Apr. 22 2010 03:34 PM
Rebecca Scott from Monterey, VA

Frederica, Your beautiful voice captures me. I wish I could be in New York to see you tonight. I pray God will bless you in all you set your heart and life to.

Apr. 22 2010 03:12 PM
Greg from NYC

Since moving to NYC I have had the great pleasure of attending many of Ms. Von Stade's performances at the Met, San Francisco and concert stage as well as having almost all of her recordings. With her distintinctive expressive voice and great stage presence she has sung many memorable roles with Cherubino, Cenerentola, Octavian, Cherubin and Rosina being true favorites of mine and classic performances of our time. To me she has always been and will be a refreshing young American singer. While I'm looking forward to this evening's concert I don't regard it as a farewell but as a celebration of a great artist whose work I will continue to treasure and listen to during my lifetime. So it is with many thanks that I wish her well on the occasion of her farewell concert in New York.

Apr. 22 2010 03:00 PM
Susan Yates from Croton-on-Hudson, NY

My very best wishes to Frederica von Stade on her retirement! Her career was constantly brilliant from the very beginning, and I'm honored to be able to send wishes to her at the end (of this phase). The selection from La Perichole played earlier today is a stunning nexample of her acting abilities ... and I recall many a sumptuous Pelleas and Melisande.

Apr. 22 2010 02:25 PM
B James Quigley

Dear Flika, There is no reason for you to remember me, but you, Charlemagne Palestine and I were at Mannes together. We frequently had lunch around the corner together. I have followed your amazing, brilliant career for all these years. Heard you in concert, at the Met and I have most of your CD's. Thank you for the glorious musical moments you gave us all. Best wishes for a glorious future. Jim (guitar major at Mannes).

Apr. 22 2010 12:32 PM
Jeanne from NYC

I am new to classical music and was listening to WQXR before retiring last night when I heard a most amazing voice. I thought to myself what an extraordinary gift! I made a mental note to find out who was singing, which I did this morning, and then promptly discovered that this voice will no longer be enthralling listeners. I will now go out and buy a few of her CDs and wish her all the best in life.

Apr. 22 2010 12:10 PM
Anne from New York

So much in one "package"--outstanding voice, great personality, great acting ability, good looks!!

I do hate to see her retire, but she will remain one of my all time favorites--a real American treasure!!

Apr. 21 2010 07:32 PM
June Severino Feldman from NYC

Frederica von Stade is, and will always be a truly elegant artist. Her decision to retire because she feels that it is the "right" time is an extension of her grace and talent. I'm sure many of us are familiar with people, not just performers, either - whose inflated egos prevented them from discerning the right time to retire. Usually not a happy situation...

Apr. 21 2010 12:44 PM
Patrick Shea from NYC

It was summer 1976--Bicentennial time.

The Paris Opera was at the MET.

Flicka was Cherubino in a Solti-conducted

'Figaro.' What an exquisite performance.

There was our NJ-born star reinforcing

Franco-American ties with her exuber-

ant performance. Happy retirement,

dear lady!

Apr. 21 2010 02:06 AM
Kenneth Bennett lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Flicka, congratulations on a career spanning many genres successfully and endearing yourself to listeners of every age and every music taste.
Your vivacious personality comes through in what you perform. Enjoy your new vistas and, as an opera singer myself, I can envisage no more thrilling and communicative activity, which indeed may continue even after the professional stage appearances. Bravo!
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor

Apr. 20 2010 02:17 PM
Gregg L from Astoria Queens

My apologies!
I meant to call one of the best over-night hosts by her right name Nimet, not how she pronounces her own name.

The rest is all correct.

Apr. 20 2010 12:46 PM
Michael Chang from Garrison, NY

I've many joyful memories of Federica von Stade's performances, and her recordings continue to fill my ears and heart. But there is one memory that remains indelible: Many, many years ago, as a young singer, I had just finished a coaching session, when in walks one of the loveliest human beings, Flicka. Oh m'gosh. Wide-eyed, jaw-dropped and entirely dazed, I think I caused some traffic accidents as I attempted to cross the busy intersection of West 72nd and West End Avenue, where the studio was located. Ah, memories!

All the very best wishes for a joyful retirement, the same joy you've given so generously to all of us.

Apr. 20 2010 11:48 AM
Gregg L from Astoria Queens

Many years ago, and yes in April, I caught Flicka on the original station singing something from "Sound of Music". It was the song Maria sings to calm the unhappy children during a bad storm, "My Favorite things". She even sang it better then nearly all the people who've played the part.

For irony the same song was sang by an actress who's normal roles do not include that style of work for a TV series featuring the Muppets later in the month.

Later on Nehmet would play other works from the same album, and contrast them with the original singers. Flicka still came out on top.

I suggest that you teach your style of singing to a new generation of hopefuls. And yes this does suggest to your own family. Surely a beautiful voice as yours has surfaced among someone else there.

Best wishes with what you do otherwise.

Apr. 20 2010 11:27 AM
Victor from Brooklyn

Nobody sings the Song to the Moon by Dvorak like Frederica Von Stade. It does it to me every time I hear it, and I could hear it every day.

Apr. 20 2010 11:00 AM
Bob Burke from South Orange, NJ

As an extension of her impressive career, I'd love Ms. von Stade to do a lecture tour to various opera houses. My idea would be to have her discuss her career, with a twist. She'd discuss her experience in an opera in that company's current repertory with a member in the current cast.

Whatever she decides, all my best to someone who has trilledme for years.

Apr. 20 2010 10:23 AM
Moshe Rozenblit from Jersey City, NJ

Dear Ms Woolsey,
I tune in to WQXR for 1 reason only: great music, e.g., hearing von Stade sing. Those interested in your comments re von Stade, or whatever, can read this blog. Please don't take any more time away from great music to expand your views, enlightening as they might be, on the air waves.

Apr. 20 2010 10:16 AM
Susan from Columbia, South Carolina

You don't retire your talents - EVER!
You simply learn to use them in other ways, or for other purposes.

Many happy wishes to Frederica von Stade for all the joy she has brought to so many of us who didn't have the pleasure of knowing her personally. Thank you for sharing all that with us. Continued joy and blessings.

p.s. I love your show! Originally a native New Jerseyan, I migrated south in 2005, but it's you and me! everyday until 3pm! God bless.


Apr. 20 2010 10:14 AM
Virginia Reed

I've always thought of Frederica as a lovely person with a lovely voice - that rich, dark gold note at the back of her lower range seemed emblematic. I wish her a long and happy retirement with her family and hope she'll grace us with an occasional visit on stage.

Apr. 20 2010 10:14 AM
Eileen Jalet from Albany, NY

Many, many years ago my son (about to enter Eastman School of Music) and I saw Frederica at LG Opera's summer concerts in Saratoga Springs. We were right up front and able to see all. She sang a collection of famous french folk songs which my son knew completely. She happened to catch sight of him and focused on him during the concert. Not only does she have an amazing voice, but she is a beautiful and gracious woman. Best wishes, Flicka for a long and prosperous life with your new grandchild

Apr. 20 2010 09:11 AM

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