Margarethe Susanna Kayser: "The Kayserin"

To clear up any confusion right off the bat: No, Margarethe Susanna Kayser was not the wife of the composer Reinhard Keiser, even if the usual spelling variations from the time (Keiser, Keyser, Kaiser, and Kayser) lead one to suspect as much.

Born in 1690 as the daughter of the Hamburg singer Johann Heinrich Vogel, Margaretha Susanna Vogel was trained as a singer during Johann Sigismund Kusser's tenure at the Hamburg Opera. She married the musician Johann Kayser in 1706. In 1709, the couple went to the Darmstadt Court of the landgrave Ernst Ludwig, where Christoph Graupner was serving as the vice Kapellmeister. Back in Hamburg, she performed at the cathedral in September 1716 – and was the first woman to sing church music there. The soprano and her husband appeared together on many stages in Germany and Copenhagen. She sang in operas by Keiser, Georg Philipp Telemann, and Georg Friedrich Händel, which were in the Hamburg repertoire at the beginning of the eighteenth century. From 1729 to 1737, she was even the director of the Oper am Gänsemarkt in Hamburg. In 1746 she joined impresario Pietro Mingotti's traveling opera troupe and probably performed in Telemann's Kapitänsmusik in August 1749. After that, she retreated from musical life. Kayser died in 1774 in Stockholm.

The designation "Madame Kayserin," which she was often called at the time, can be found on many sources. The RISM online catalog has fifteen sources related to Margarethe Susanna Kayser, Germany's best opera singer at the time.


Image: The Oper am Gänsemarkt in Hamburg. Drawing by Peter Heineken, 1726. Staatsarchiv Hamburg.


Category: RISM A-Z

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