Wolfgang BrendelBaritone

Brendel grew up in Wiesbaden, where he took singing lessons with Rolff Sartorius during his time at the conservatory. In 1971, he debuted at the Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. His artistic home for the greater part of his career was the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, where in 1977 he became the youngest Kammersänger in the company’s history. In some sense taking up the mantle of Josef Metternich, who had retired in 1971, Brendel established his primacy as the star Munich baritone of his era across an extraordinary range of roles, from Mozart (not only Guglielmo but Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, the title role in Don Giovanni) to Verdi (Germont in La traviata, Posa in Don Carlo, Renato in Un ballo in maschera, Carlo in La forza del destino, and di Luna in Il trovatore) and beyond. Already in 1973, he achieved acclaim as Pelléas in a new production by Jean-Pierre Ponelle of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Sabine Tomzig wrote in the Hamburger Abendblatt: “A discovery: the 25-year-old Munich baritone as Pelleas, a Gallic figure with that lightness and brightness of timbre that predestines him for a part that is usually sung by tenors” (“Eine Entdeckung: der 25jährige Münchener Bariton Wolfgang Brendel als Pelleas, ein romanishcer Typ mit jener Leichtigkeit und Helligkeit des Timbres, das ihn für diese meist von Tenören gesungene Partie prädestiniert”). Early on the conductor Carlos Kleiber selected him to sing Germont, conducting him also in other roles (for example, Falke in Die Fledermaus; in later years, Brendel would graduate to Eisenstein). In these early years he also sang a variety of other roles, including Silvio in Pagliacci. Brendel began his Wagner career with Wolfram von Eschenbach in Tannhäuser. Over the years he would take on heavier Wagner roles (Amfortas in Parsifal, Holländer in Der fliegende Holländer), eventually singing Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and adding Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde to his repertoire in 2005. Other Verdi baritone roles included Ford in Falstaff, Miller in Luisa Miller, and the title roles in Simon Boccanegra, Nabucco and Macbeth. He performed the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin frequently but became perhaps most closely associated with a series of baritone roles in Richard Strauss operas — Mandryka in Arabella and Barak in Die Frau ohne Schatten — that were particularly well-suited to him. (He has also performed the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos, Orest in Elektra, the Count in Capriccio, and Altair in Die ägyptische Helena). He has also sung Puccini: Marcello in La bohème, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Rance in La fanciulla del West, and, most recently, Scarpia in Tosca. Brendel has performed on all the major opera stages in Germany (Hamburg State Opera, both the Deutsche Oper and the Staatsoper in Berlin, Dresden) and throughout Europe (Vienna, Milan, London, Paris, Bayreuth, Dresden, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Madrid), in Tokyo, and in the United States (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas). Since Brendel’s debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1975, age 27, as Count Almaviva, he has sung 91 performances there through 2007 in Mozart (Papageno), Verdi (Germont, Miller), Wagner (Amfortas), Puccini (Sharpless), J. Strauss (Dr. Falke and Eisenstein), and R. Strauss (Mandryka, Barak, Count in Capriccio, Music Master, Altair). In his Andante on-line review of Brendel’s Barak in the new production of Frau in 2001, Paul Griffiths catches the essence of the baritone in so many of his roles: “Wolfgang Brendel is extraordinarily resourceful. With his subtle control of color and phrasing, he can suggest a man fiercely resolute, tired or ironically self-dismissive, yet always good and trustworthy. He sings with melodious ease: the entire part comes across as the man’s natural mode of expression.” Brendel is a professor of voice at the Munich Hochschule für Musik und Theater. In 1997 he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany). His most recent appearances have been as Scarpia, Mandryka, Sachs, Eisenstein, and Holländer. You can view Wolfgang Brendel’s complete schedule at: www.WolfgangBrendel.com