Mara [née Schmeling], Gertrud Elisabeth
- Julian Marshall
(b Kassel, Feb 23, 1749; d Reval [now Tallinn], Jan 20, 1833). German soprano. She was neglected in infancy and suffered from rickets, from which she never fully recovered; this marred her stage appearance later. She showed musical talent at an early age, first on the violin, and from 1755 her father, a violinist, exhibited her as a prodigy in Vienna. In 1759 she was taken to London, where she played before the queen and was urged to take up singing in preference to the violin, and took singing lessons under Paradisi. She returned to Germany in 1765 and the next year was engaged as principal singer in J.A. Hiller’s concerts in Leipzig. In her memoirs she denied the often repeated assertion that she had also been his pupil, but no doubt she learnt much from him. In 1767 she made a successful opera début in Dresden, then returning to Leipzig. In ...