Frederica von Stade was born in
Somerville, New Jersey.
 She acquired the nickname "Flicka" in her childhood. Her father,
Charles S. von Stade, was a
polo champion and Lieutenant in the
United States Army who was killed in service in
Germany during the
Second World War, prior to her birth.
 Her grandfather,
Francis Skiddy von Stade, Sr., (1884–1967), was also a polo champion.
She attended the
Mannes College of Music in
New York City.
She made her debut with the
Metropolitan Opera in 1970 and in 1971 appeared as Cherubino in
Le nozze di Figaro at the
Santa Fe Opera. "It was two of the newcomers who left the audience dazzled: Frederica von Stade as Cherubino and
Kiri Te Kanawa as the Countess. Everyone knew at once that these were brilliant finds. History has confirmed that first impression."
Cherubino remained her most celebrated signature role, which she sang at her European debut in Versailles 1973, which was the starting point of her great international career. At the
inauguration of Jimmy Carter as the
President of the United States on January 20, 1977, she performed "Take Care of This House" from the
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by
Leonard Bernstein and
Alan Jay Lerner, accompanied by the
National Symphony Orchestra.
After a hiatus of six years she returned to the Met in 1982 and remained a pillar of the ensemble, highly appreciated by critics and loved by the public in such roles as Idamante in
Idomeneo, Hansel in
Hansel and Gretel, Rosina in
Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Octavian in
Der Rosenkavalier, Blanche in
Dialogues des Carmélites, Cherubino, Mélisande in
Pelléas et Mélisande, Charlotte in
Werther and Hanna Glawary in
The Merry Widow.
Trained in the
bel canto style, von Stade is known for her roles in
The Barber of Seville and
La Cenerentola. In addition to
opera, von Stade has also performed a wide range of musicals, from
Show Boat to
The Sound of Music to
A Little Night Music and has appeared on numerous
PBS specials, most notably in 1991's
A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert. She has also appeared in many
Kennedy Center Honors broadcasts for
CBS. Von Stade is also a respected recital artist, performing works ranging from
Broadway show tunes. Her
LP album of Mahler songs was praised as "cherishable" by Peter G. Davis of
The New York Times.
Contemporary composers, including
Jake Heggie, Thomas Pasatieri,
Conrad Susa and
Richard Danielpour, have produced works specifically for von Stade. She originated the role of "Tina" in
Dallas Opera's world premiere production of Argento's
The Aspern Papers in 1988. She has also recorded other works by Argento.
Conrad Susa wrote for her the role of the "Marquise de Merteuil" in his opera
Dangerous Liaisons, which premiered at the San Francisco Opera on September 10, 1994. Danielpour composed
Elegies for orchestra, mezzo-soprano, and
baritone in memory of von Stade's father, Charles von Stade, who was killed late in
World War II, two months before von Stade's birth. Elegies premiered in January 1998 with the
Jacksonville Symphony led by Roger Nierenberg and has now been recorded by the
London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 2008, she created the role of "Madeline" in the opera Three Decembers, a part which the composer
Jake Heggie had specially written for her. She gave what was billed at the time as her farewell performance on the opera stage in Heggie's
Dead Man Walking at
Houston Grand Opera on February 6, 2011 as "Mrs. Patrick de Rocher", a part also written for her. She has subsequently continued to perform in fully staged operas.
On January 19, 1985, she sang at the 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, the day before the second inauguration of
Ronald Reagan. She was introduced by
Tony Randall. She sang an aria from
Les Huguenots by
Von Stade was the featured performer at the Opening Ceremonies of the
2002 Winter Olympics in
Salt Lake City and also sang with the
Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Cultural Olympiad held in conjunction with the games. She also sang at the choir's annual Christmas Concert the following year.
Ricky Ian Gordon wrote his opera
A Coffin in Egypt specifically as starring vehicle for von Stade. She portrayed the role of Myrtle Bledsoe in the opera at its world premiere in 2014 at the
Houston Grand Opera, and in subsequent stagings at
Opera Philadelphia and the
Chicago Opera Theater in the 2014–15 season.
 She appeared in
Jake Heggie's new work,
Great Scott at the
Dallas Opera in 2015 and at the
San Diego Opera in 2016.
She currently resides in