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Wolfgang Windgassen (1914 - 1974)

Windgassen’s family had strong operatic connections: his father Fritz was a well-known tenor who served at the Stuttgart State Opera from 1923 and then taught at the Stuttgart Music High School; while his mother, also a long-term member of the Stuttgart Opera, was the coloratura soprano Vally van Osten (real name Vally von der Osten) whose sister Eva von der Osten created the role of Octavian / Der Rosenkavalier. Having commenced his vocal studies with his father, Windgassen later moved to Alfons Fischer and Maria Ranzow at the Stuttgart Music High School and made his operatic stage debut in 1939 at the Pforzheim Municipal Theatre, where his roles included Pinkerton / Madama Butterfly, Alvaro / La forza del destino and Primus Thaller / Der Kuhreigen.

After service in the German army during World War II Windgassen joined the Stuttgart Opera in 1945, remaining a member of the company for the rest of his life. Initially his parts included Tamino / Die Zauberflöte, Florestan / Fidelio, Hoffmann / Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Max / Der Freischütz and Schwalb in the 1946 German premiere of Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler. Gradually he began to tackle the Wagnerian tenor roles, singing Siegmund / Die Walküre for the first time in 1950 and making his debut at the Bayreuth Festival during the year of its post-war reopening, 1951.




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