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June 26, 2014

Rita Walter (1885?-1906), German actress/soprano
(photo: unknown, probably Germany, circa 1903)

‘PRIMA DONNA SHOT.
‘MURDERED BY DISCARDED LOVER
‘ASSASSIN’S SUICIDE.
‘From Berlin on the night of 5th October [1906] the corresponded of the Daily Mail [published in London] wrote:-
‘A few hours before she would have fallen upon the stage of the Opera Comique as Carmen, stabbed to death with the dagger of the jealous Don Jose, the young and beautiful prima donna Fraulein Rita Walter was last night murdered at her home by her discarded lover. Karl August Hesse, who then turned his weapon against himself and fell shot through the heart.
‘Hesse had waited all the afternoon at Fraulein Walter’s house, expecting to surprise her in the company of his rival, Senor Juan Raventos, a young Spanish tenor at the Opera Comique, for whom the prima donna had latterly shown a fondness, and to whom Hesse suspected that she was about to become engaged.
‘Only the fact that the Spaniard was lying in hospital saved his life, as letter left by Hesse indicate that he intended to kill him. Fraulein Walter’s mother was sitting in the adjoining room when her daughter was shot.
‘The singer was only twenty-one years of age, and of remarkable beauty and promising voice. She was the daughter of a well-to-do manufacturer, who died a few years ago. Hesse’s ambition was to be an operatic star himself, but he did not possess the required talent, and this made him exceedingly jealous of his fiancee’s success, as well as of her smiles upon other men. He had several times struck her in the midst of jealous fits.
‘Fraulein Walter attempted repeatedly to induce him to leave her and go his own way, but Hesse claimed to be madly in love with her and refused to be repulsed. The police found in his apartments to-day letters from his Spanish rival wherein the latter had rejected Hesse’s demand that he should break off his relationship with the prima donna. The murderer’s parent are wealthy residents of Hamburg.’
(The Grenfell Record and Lachlan District Advertiser, Grenvell, NSW, Australia, Saturday, 22 December 1906, p. 7g)

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