17 March 2013

Dora Komar

Austrian Dora Komar (1914 - 2006) was a Viennese opera star of the 1930’s and 1940’s. She also appeared in five successful film operettas and musicals. After the war she moved to Brazil where she continued her stage career as an opera singer.

Dora Komar
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 144, 1941-1944. Photo: Wesel / Berlin-Film.

Popular Soubrette
Dora Komar was born in 1914 in Wien (Vienna), Austria-Hungary (now Austria) as Dorothea Komarek. She studied dancing and singing. As a young girl, she already performed in the children’s ballet at the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera). There she also made her professional debut as an adult in 1933. Two years later she first sang as a light soprano at the Staatsoper. She would stay there until minister Joseph Goebbels ordered the closure of all German venues in the late summer of 1944. To her greatest stage successes belong Die verkaufte Braut (The Bartered Bride), Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio). From 1940 on, the popular soubrette also played leading parts in a series of films. She had a brilliant debut opposite Willi Forst in the box office hit Operette/Operetta (1940, Willi Forst). Jan Onderwater at IMDb: “It has charm, tenderness and wit; it is galant and melancholic. Forst's directing is as always that of the light touch which gives the film a feeling of charm (though the influence of Karl Hartl is unclear to me). Of course Forst was helped by a very good script by his regular (co)writer Eggebrecht, that cleverly and plausibly romanticizes the lives of 3 main operetta composers.” It was immediately followed by two films in which she was Johannes Heesters’ partner: Immer nur Du/You Only You (1941, Karl Anton) and the revue film Karneval der Liebe/Carneval of Love (1943, Paul Martin). In Glück unterwegs/Happiness on the road (1944, Miroslav Cikán) her co-star was O.W. Fischer. Her last production before the end of the war was Wiener Mädeln/Vienna Beauties (1944, Willi Forst), filmed entirely in Agfa-colour. Her partner was Willi Forst again and the operetta was shot in Prague, which had been largely unaffected by the war.

Dora Komar
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3718/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Wesel / Berlin-Film.

Dora Komar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3170/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Wien-Film / Tobis.

Rio de Janeiro
In 1941, Dora Komar had married lawyer Hans Somborn from Köln (Cologne). He was also co-producer of the films she had starred in with Willi Forst, Operette/Operetta (1940) and Wiener Mädeln/Vienna Beauties (1944). Wiener Mädeln was the first colour film of the production company Wien-Film. It was also the last Austrian production during the Third Reich. The film about fairly unknown Austrian composer Carl Michael Ziehrer was not finished when the war ended. The film material was confiscated by the Russian army and according to Erich Körner at DamalsKino, the Soviets presented a first cut in 1949 without the consent of director Forst. After his protests Willi Forst was allowed to make his own version which had its premiere in December 1949. Three years earlier, in 1946, the couple Somborn/Komar had moved to Rio de Janeiro. There Dora Komar continued her singing career. At the Teatro Municipal in Rio, she gave concerts with songs by Mozart, Strauss, Lehár and Schubert. Guest appearances brought her to Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, where she performed opera arias. In 1970, the couple returned to Austria. They often stayed in Portugal, where their youngest son was living. Both passed away there. At 92, Dora Komar died in 2006 in Lisbon. She had three sons with Hans Somborn.

Scene with Johannes Heesters and Dora Komar in Immer nur Du/You Only You (1941). Source: Liriode100 (YouTube).

Sources: Erich Körner (DamalsKino) (German), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Jan Onderwater (IMDb), Der Tagesspiegel (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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