31 August 2011

Gitta Alpár

Hungarian-born Gitta Alpár (1903 - 1991) was a Jewish opera and operetta singer, who had a successful film career in Germany. Her career and her marriage to film star Gustav Fröhlich were destroyed by the Nazis.

Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7049/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Frhr. von Gudenberg Phot.

Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8756/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Angelo Fotos.

Gitta Alpár was born as Regina Kalisch in Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary) in 1903 as the daughter of a kantor. At 16, sshe studied music at the conservatory of Budapest where she learned singing and later piano. With it she laid the foundations of a successful singing career. In 1923, she made her stage debut at the Magyar Állami Operaház (Hungarian State Opera House). In 1927 she started to sing at the Wiener Staatsoper and later she moved on to Berlin, where she sang in operas like Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by W.A. Mozart as the Queen of the Night, Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Gioacchino Rossini, and Rigoletto and La Traviata, both by Giuseppe Verdi.

Gitta AlparDutch postcard by Remaco, no. 236.

Gitta Alpar
Dutch postcard by Remaco, no. 291.

The New Operetta Diva
In 1930 Gitta Alpar had a huge success in the operetta Der Bettelstudent by Carl Millocker at the Metropol Theater in Berlin, and she was hailed as the new operetta diva. She played the title role in Die Dubarry (1931, The Dubarry), the revised version of Gräfin Dubarry (Dubarry) by Millöcker. In 1931, she also married film star Gustav Fröhlich, with whom she had a child, Julika Fröhlich. She had been married before to a big businessman in Budapest. The film industry became aware of the new darling of the public and she made films like Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz/Gitta Discovers Her Heart (1932, Carl Froelich) with Fröhlich, and Die - oder keine/She, or Nobody (1932, Carl Froelich) in which she co-starred with Max Hansen.

Gitta Alpar, Gustav Fröhlich
Dutch postcard by Jospe, no. 379. Photo: Remaco. Gitta Alpar and Gustav Fröhlich co-starred in Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz/Gitta discovers her heart (1932, Carl Froelich).

Gustav Fröhlich, Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7926/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Niedecken, St. Moritz.

At the top, Gitta Alpár's career abruptly came to an end because of the rise to power of Adolph Hitler. Alpár was Jewish and despite her popularity she had to leave Germany. Her marriage to Gustav Fröhlich was dissolved in 1935 because it was illegal in National Socialist Germany. She first emigrated to Austria where she took part in the film Ball im Savoy/Ball at Savoy (1935, Steve Sekely) with Rose Barsony. Until 1936 Alpár worked in Austria, but then she had to emigrate again, first to Great Britain and one year later to California. In the US she could continue her career as an operetta singer. She also acted in the British films I Give My Heart/The Loves of Madame Du Barry (1935, Marcel Varnel), a faithful adaptation of the stage opera Die Dubarry (The Dubarry) with Owen Nares. Hal Erickson writes at Rovi: "The seamier aspects of DuBarry's rise to prominence (notably her brief stopover at a house of ill repute) are neatly glossed over, but that was to be expected. Among those responsible for adapting The Dubarry to the screen was Curt Siodmak, who together with his brother Robert went on to a rewarding Hollywood career". In Great Britain Alpár also appeared in Guilty Melody (1936, Richard Pottier) with Nils Asther, and Everything in Life (1936, J. Elder Wills). Guilty Melody (1936) was an alternative language version of the French film Le disque 413/Disk 413 (1937, Richard Pottier) in which she also starred, now opposite Jules Berry. Her final film appearance was as an opera singer in the Universal Pictures period comedy/drama The Flame of New Orleans (1941, René Clair) with Marlene Dietrich. After the war Gitta Alpár seemed ro be forgotten, but in 1987 Germany honoured her with the Filmband in Gold for her contributions to the German cinema. In 1991 Gitta Alpár passed away in Los Angeles, just before her 88th birthday.

Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7505/2, 1932-1933. Photo: Frhr. von Gudenberg Phot.

Gitta Alpár sings In meinen weißen Armen in Ball im Savoy (1935). Source: Alparfan (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Karin Nusko (Universität Wien), Hal Erickson (Rovi), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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