Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 20, 2012

Renowned opera singer in Vienna going strong at 95


Her father's four-story shoe emporium was destroyed in 1938 as Nazis rampaged, thrashing and torching Jewish businesses in what became known as "Kristallnacht" — the "Night of Broken Glass." He was sent to a concentration camp shortly afterward.

Jews could still leave if they had elsewhere to go, and Zadek got her family visas for Palestine after her father was released. He opened a small shoe store and she left the hospital to work for him. At night she studied voice — she had wanted to sing opera from childhood, but she said "nothing sang in me" from the time she fled Germany until that joyful family reunion.

"Then everything in me started singing again."

Her teachers were Austria's and Germany's best — renowned Jewish voice coaches who fled to Palestine. At the same time, there were few prospects. There was no opera house — and Zadek says that in British-ruled Palestine, singing in German, the language of much of the world's greatest operas, was prohibited.

Once the war was over, the young singer was accepted at the Zurich Conservatory. She paid her way to Europe on a British troop ship by singing to the soldiers. In Switzerland, she worked as an au pair, studied voice — and through a chance acquaintanceship suddenly found herself singing for Vienna State Opera Director Franz Salmhofer, who invited her to come to a city still closely identified with the Nazis, even if the party had been banned after the war.

"I would have returned to Berlin as well, because I had only one goal; to become an opera singer," she said. "At the same time, I went through unbelievable emotional turmoil, not only because of my own doubts but because of what my family and friends in Palestine said. I was bad-mouthed from top to bottom for entering this 'nest of Nazis.'"

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