Category Archives: Bass-Baritones

RICHARD MAYR, Bass-Baritone * 18 November 1877, Salzburg Stadt, Salzburg, Austria + 01 December 1935, Vienna;

Opera Singer. He was an Austrian operatic bass-baritone singer particularly admired for his theatrical performances. He made his professional opera debut to critical acclaim at the Bayreuth Festival in 1902, which led to him being engaged as a principal singer at the Vienna Hofoper for three decades. From 1911 to 1913 and in 1924, he sang at the Royal Opera in London and for three consecutive seasons at the Metropolitan Opera New York City, in the 1930s. He was also a mainstay at the Salzburg Festival, appearing every year there from 1921, until his retirement from the stage in 1934.

Courtesy: Find A Grave

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Richard Mayr 1902

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Richard Mayr 1904


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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Bass-Baritones


KIM BORG, Bass-Baritone * 07 August 1919, Helsinki, Finland + 28 April 2000, Fredensborg Municipality, Denmark

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The Finnish bass-baritone Kim Borg, who has died aged 80, was a well- regarded singer in opera and song from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, with a wide repertory but a natural preference for the music of Scandinavia and Russia. He was a specialist in the songs of his fellow Finns Sibelius and Kilpinen, many of which he recorded. He appeared in many opera roles internationally, his gifts as an actor much to the fore.
Britain saw him on stage all too seldom. He appeared at Glyndebourne in 1956 as an imposing, if slightly too rough-hewn, Don Giovanni. He returned to the festival as, more appropriately, Don Pizarro, in Fidelio in 1959.

At about this time, Sir John Barbirolli took a liking to Borg’s voice, and afterwards frequently asked him to sing the roles of the Priest and the Angel of the Agony in The Dream Of Gerontius. When Barbirolli recorded the work in 1964, a version some consider the best of all, Borg was chosen for those bass-baritone roles. His self-evident sincerity of interpretation overcame the drawback of rather a thick accent.

He appeared for the first time in recital in London in 1959, when his interpretations, and wholehearted powers of expression, were greatly admired. This was also the year of his debut as Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, where he appeared for the following three seasons.

Borg was born into a musical family in Helsinki, and was first taught at home by his mother; she told him to sing from the chest, not the throat. Notwithstanding this support, he chose to study chemistry rather than music.

With the war between Finland and the Soviet Union breaking out in 1939, he was recruited to the Finnish army and served as a photographer in his platoon (photography then being his hobby). In 1945, he turned to music and studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and voice with teachers in Copenhagen, where he was later to make his home. He gave his debut recitals in those two cities in 1947.

Borg’s opera debut followed in 1952, not in his home city – where his talents were, at first, under-appreciated – but in Aarhus, in Denmark, as Colline in La Bohème. This led to his breakthrough, when he was invited to take the short, but plum, bass role of Prince Gremin in Yevgeny Onegin at the Royal Opera, Copenhagen, where he was immediately engaged on a regular basis.

It was at this point that Borg’s international career took wing. He was engaged to sing the oily monk Rangoni to Christoff’s Boris Godunov in Issay Dobrowen’s ground-breaking recording of Mussorgsky’s opera for EMI in 1952. Soon, Deutsche Grammophon was on his trail, and he made a number of recordings of opera, oratorio and song for the company during the following 10 years.

Borg was much admired in Germany and, from 1965 to 1968, was a member of the Hamburg State Opera. But he was always welcome in his native Scandinavia, and from 1960 was a member of the Stockholm Opera, where his Scarpia was much praised in 1963. In 1971, he sang Fafner and Hagen in the company’s performances of Wagner’s Ring. A year earlier, he sang Osmin at the Drottningholm festival, another histrionic triumph.

He appeared in concerts at the Salzburg festival from 1956, singing Mozart, and in 1965-66 sang Pimen in Karajan’s staging of Boris Godunov. His Mussorgskian credentials were also confirmed by a fine recording of Songs and Dances of Death.

In 1972 he became professor of singing at the music academy in Copenhagen, though he had equivocal views on the art of teaching singers. He was also much in demand as an adjudicator at singing competitions. A wise and intelligent man and singer, he appreciated that musicianship was as important as voice in his art. His career confirmed that.

He married Ebon Karin Ingeborg Ringblom in 1950; they had two children.

• Kim Borg, bass-baritone, born August 7 1919; died April 28 2000

Courtesy: The Guardian

Kim Borg photo taken on 1965

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Bass-Baritones


OLEG BRYJAK, Bass-Baritone * 27 October 1960, Jezkazgan, Kazakhstan + 24 March 2015, Prads-Haute-Bléone, France;

Oleg Bryjak.jpg

Oleg Bryjak (Ukrainian: Олег Брижак, 27 October 1960 – 24 March 2015) was a Kazakhstani-German bass-baritone opera singer. Born in Jezkazgan, Kazakh SSR, into an ethnic Ukrainian family, he moved to Germany in 1991 to join the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. From 1996 until his death, he was a soloist with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf.

Bryjak had been a protodeacon in an Ukrainian Orthodox church in Krefeld.

Bryjak died on 24 March 2015 along with his colleague Maria Radner when Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in Prads-Haute-Bléone, France, during their return from performances of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.

Notable recordings

Leoš Janáček: Káťa Kabanová – Karita Mattila (Katia), Bryjak (Dikoj), Chorus and Orquesta del Teatro Real; Jiří Bělohlávek (conductor), Robert Carsen (director). Recorded at Teatro Real, Madrid, December 2008. Fra Musica (Harmonia Mundi) FRA003 (DVD).

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Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Bass-Baritones


FRANZ BETZ, Bass-Baritone * 19 March 1835, Mainz, Germany + 11 August 1900, Berlin, Germany;

Franz Betz (19 March 1835 – 11 August 1900) was a German bass-baritone opera singer who sang at the Berlin State Opera from 1859 to 1897. He was particularly known for his performances in operas by Richard Wagner and created the role of Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Franz Betz was born in Mainz and trained as a singer in Karlsruhe. He made his debut in 1856 at the Court Theater of Hanover as The Herald in Wagner’s Lohengrin, after which he sang as a guest performer in various other German opera houses. His 1859 success at the Berlin State Opera in the role of Don Carlo in Verdi’s Ernani, led to a permanent contract with the company.

He became one of Wagner’s most trusted singers, and sang the role of Hans Sachs in the world premiere of his Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (National Theatre Munich, 1868). Betz sang the role more than a hundred times and was closely identified with the character. He also sang Wotan in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre and The Wanderer in Siegfried for the first complete performance of Der Ring des Nibelungen (Bayreuth Festspielhaus, 1876). In May 1872, he was one of the four soloists in the performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to mark the laying of the foundation stone for the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

From 1882 to 1890, he served as the first president of the Genossenschaft Deutscher Bühnen-Angehöriger (the German trade union for stage artists, technicians and administrative staff). He never sang in operas in either the United States or the United Kingdom, although he sang in concerts in London in 1882 and 1889. His singing in the 1889 concert when he was in his mid-fifties was described as “still without flaw”.

Upon his retirement from the stage in 1897, Betz was made a Kammersänger of the Berlin State Opera. Franz Betz died on 11 August 1900 in Berlin and is buried in the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Friedhof there. He was married to the coloratura soprano, Johanna Betz (1837–1906).

Franz Betz  Wanderer 1876

Photograph (1876), by Josef Albert (1825-1886), of Franz Betz (1835-1900), as Wotan, in “Die Walküre” (1856), by Richard Wagner (1813-1883).

Franz Betz (1835-1900), as Wotan, in “Die Walküre”

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Posted by on November 20, 2017 in Bass-Baritones


ANDRÉ PERNET, Bass-Baritone * 6 January 1894, France + 11 June 1966, France;

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André Pernet (1894–1966) was a French bass-baritone opera performer.

After serving as a military officer in World War I, Pernet studied at the Paris Conservatory before making his operatic debut in Massenet’s Hérodiade at Nice, in 1921. He sang at the Paris Opéra beginning in 1928. He also performed in Amsterdam, Brussels, London and Monte Carlo.

He is perhaps best remembered today for his role as the father in the 1939 film version of Gustave Charpentier’s Louise, directed by Abel Gance and also featuring Grace Moore and Georges Thill. He was noted for singing the title parts in Mefistofele, Boris Godunov, Don Giovanni and Don Quichotte. Among the operas in which he created roles during the premiere performances were Le marchand de Venise (Hahn), Oedipe (Enesco), Maximilien (Milhaud) and Vercingétorix (Canteloube).

Pernet’s smooth, elegant, well-produced voice can be heard on a number of recordings which he made between the two world wars. Some of his records are available on CD re-issues.

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Posted by on November 19, 2017 in Bass-Baritones


TOM KRAUSE, Bass-Baritone * 05 July 1934, Helsinki, Finland + 06 December 2013, Hamburg, Germany;

The Finnish baritone, Tom Krause, had begun studying to become a psychiatrist, and obtained a medical degree from Helsinki University. But he gave it up to study singing. He received his training in Helsinki, and later at the Vienna Music Academy and in Berlin.

Since his debut in Berlin in 1957, Tom Krause has established himself as a leading baritone with a vast repertoire, ranging from J.S. Bach to Messiaen. He was with the Deutsche Oper Berlin for three years and has been a member of the Hamburg State Opera since 1962, where he created the leading role in the world premieres of various modern operas such as The Golden Ram and Hamlet. He also appeared as guest with most of the leading operas in Europe, including La Scala, Vienna, London, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam and Rome.

Tom Krause was awarded the Harriet Cohen Bach Prize for his singing in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in London. In 1963, he made his debut in America at Tanglewood with Boston Symphony Orchestra in the American premiere of this work. He also sang it at the Carnegie Hall. Since then, his career has lead him to all great American and European theatres, in London, Berlin, Vienna, Milan, and Paris where he sang Le nozze di Figaro, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, La Concrentola, Parisfal, Elektra, Cosi fan Tutte, etc. at the Garnier Opera House, and more recently The Queen of Spades, Katya Kabanova, and Saint Francois d’Assise at the Bastille Opera House. He sang at the music festivals in Bayreuth, Glyndebourne, Tanglewood, Vienna, Baalbeck, and at the City of London Festival. He was named ‘Kammersänger’ in Hamburg in 1967 and in the same year he made his very successful Metropolitan Opera debut in the role of Count Almaviva.

Tom Krause performed oratorio, and sung in Lieder recitals many times. At the end of the 1960’s he was also under contract with the Metropolitan Opera, as well as with the Hamburg State Opera. Among his more important roles are Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva, Amonastro, Germont, Don Carlos (Forza del Destino), Escamillo, Malatesta, Oreste (Elerktra), Marcello and Nick Shadow.

Tom Krause also performed on stage St François at the 1998 Salzburg Festival and at the Luzern Festival (in concert version). In 1999, he returned to Paris to sing Titurel in Parsifal. Tom Krause was regularly invited to the Salzburg Festival as well as the Savolinna Festival.

Tom Krause did many great recordings, including not only opera, but Lieder as well (Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Moussorgksi, Schubert, Sibelius). His numerous recordings won him wide acclaim

Tom Krause taught in Hamburg and was a member of numerous Voice Competitions through the world.

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Posted by on November 7, 2017 in Bass-Baritones


CLARENCE WHITEHILL, Bass-Baritone * 05 November 1871, Marengo, Iowa + 19 December 1932, Manhattan, New York City; Manhattan, New York City;

Litrato ni Gerhard Santos.

American baritone and bass-baritone. His vocal talent was discovered in Chicago in 1896 by Melba, who advised him to study in Paris; his teachers there were Giraudet and Giovanni Sbriglia. He made his début in Brussels in 1898. After performing in Europe and the USA, and further study with Julius Stockhausen in Frankfurt, he undertook engagements in several German cities, studied the Richard Wagner repertory at Bayreuth, appeared there very successfully as Wolfram (1904) and Amfortas (1908), and was also the much applauded Wotan in Hans Richter’s English-language Covent Garden Ring of 1908 and 1909. In 1904, he sang in the premiere of Koanga by Frederick Delius at the Elberfeld Stadtheater. His début with the Metropolitan company (15 November 1909, Brooklyn) as Wolfram, and at the Metropolitan Opera House (25 November 1909) as Amfortas began a long and successful, though not entirely harmonious, association with that house, where his Hans Sachs was particularly admired. His Metropolitan career lasted until 1932, the year of his death. Whitehill was an outstanding singer and artist, notable for beauty of tone and for nobility and dignity of style. The best of his many recordings are the earlier ones, in which he sang his Wagner excerpts in the original German. His 1914 version of Amfortas’s Prayer is unsurpassed in its combination of pure line, perfect enunciation and poignant intensity.


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Posted by on November 5, 2017 in Bass-Baritones

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