Edda Moser became one of the most prominent and versatile sopranos in the latter decades of the twentieth century. She was effective in standard-repertory operatic roles, including those of Mozart, Wagner, and Puccini, as well as in modern music, singing works by Luigi Nono, Wolfgang Fortner, and Bernd Alois Zimmerman. Her voice has been described as powerful, able to negotiate both coloratura and lyrico-dramatic styles.
Moser was born in Berlin on October 27, 1938, the daughter of well-known musicologist (also novelist and composer of minor distinction) Hans Joachim Moser. Young Edda exhibited vocal talent by her early teens and went on to study at the Berlin Conservatory under Hermann Weissenborn and Gerty König. Her career began slowly, first with a minor role in 1962 at the Deutsche Oper (Kate Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly), then retreating the following year to sing in the Würzburg Opera chorus.
She sang for smaller opera companies in Germany in the mid-'60s, then with the Frankfurt am Main Opera, from 1968 to 1971. It was also in 1968 that she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Wellgunde in Wagner's Das Rheingold. During her stint in Frankfurt she also began making frequent appearances in Vienna and Salzburg, as well as in various major German cities.
Her appearances at the Metropolitan Opera became more frequent in the 1970s and early '80s: she sang eight different roles there during this period, and her portrayals, in particular, of Liu, from Puccini's Turandot; the Queen of the Night (Mozart's The Magic Flute); and Donna Anna (Mozart's Don Giovanni) generally drew high praise. The latter role became something of a signature item with New York audiences: she sang Donna Anna more times at the Met — 48! — than any other singer in history. She appeared nine seasons at the Met between 1968-1984.
While Moser has largely been associated with opera during her long career, she has distinguished herself in other vocal repertory, with performances and recordings in wide ranging fare, taking in such varied works as Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (recorded for DG, Leonard Bernstein conducting), Hans Werner Henze's Cantata della Fiaba Estrema (recorded for Orfeo, Leif Segerstam conducting), and lieder by Hans Pfitzner. Since the 1980s Edda Moser has curtailed operatic and recital activity, but many of her recordings have been reissued on EMI, DG, and other major labels.