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Fritzi Scheff

Biography: 

(1879-1954)

Friederike Scheff was born in Vienna in 1879 and trained as a vocalist at Frankfurt's Hoch Conservatory. At a relatively young age, she became an opera singer capable of playing roles from Mozart to Wagner. During her 1901 sojourn at the Metropolitan Opera, Victor Herbert realized that she would be the ideal lead for “Babette,” because of her seductive style. His instinct proved correct, and he followed the show up with an operetta on feminist themes, "Mlle. Modiste." This sensational hit would become Scheff’s bread and butter for twenty years. Herbert's “Prima Donna” did not fare so well in 1908. Scheff enjoyed a long career in vaudeville when not performing revivals of "Mlle. Modiste." David S. Shields/ALS