Label : EMI
Format : Flac track
Cover : No
Friedrich “Fritz” Karl Otto Wunderlich was born into a musical family – his father was a choir director, his mother a violinist – and for a time the family kept an inn. His father had been severely wounded during WW1 and, owing to pressure from local Nazis, he lost his job and he committed suicide when Fritz was five years old. As a young man he worked in a bakery and neighbours and customers alike noticed his beautiful singing and encouraged him to take music seriously. A scholarship granted by the town fathers granted him five years at the Music Academy of Freiburg in Breisgau where he studied voice and classical horn which may help explain his remarkable breath control.
In 1955 in a student production of Die Zauberflöte he played Tamino and was engaged by the Wurttemburg State Opera in Stuttgart where his first role was Ulrich Eislinger in Die Meistersinger. Replacing an ailing Josef Traxel as Tamino Stuttgart had a new star and Wunderlich’s short but brilliant career began. He sang regularly in Vienna and Munich as well as the Salzburg Festival, together with engagements at Covent Garden and Edinburgh in 1965. He had a highly successful USA tour in 1964 and was due to make his Metropolitan debut as Don Ottavio on October 8, 1966.
The previous month he was an enjoying a hunting vacation when tragedy struck, his great friend and accompanist, Hubert Giesen, described the fatal accident as follows:
When the family and the other guests retired to bed, Wunderlich also went to his room on the ground floor, but left it again to get a book from the library on the first floor. He had slipped on his shoes but failed to tie the laces, and on his return he seems to have stepped on a shoelace and tripped. He grabbed at the thick rope that ran down the side of the stairs but it came away from the wall and he fell headlong on to the stone floor below. He must have turned as he fell and hit the back of his head on the flagstones, for he was already in a deep coma when he was found and taken to hospital in Heidelberg but he never recovered consciousness.
In hindsight it is fortunate for us that he spent so much of his career in the recording studio. His range was wide, to the classics of J.S, Bach, Mozart, Bach, Schubert and Mahler he brought lyrical brilliance and to Bel Canto and light opera a melodic tenderness which recalls Tauber. In the 1960s it was the fashion for German opera houses to perform operas in the local rather than original language hence virtually all his recordings are in German.
In April 2008 the BBC Music Magazine a survey voted him the fourth greatest tenor of all time – and that on a mere six years of recording. One can only ask what might have been had he not been killed so young.
CD 1: German songs and arias [67:22]
CD 2: German opera and operetta by Flotow, Cornelius, J. Strauss, Jr., Millöcker, and Kienzl [47:03]
CD 3: Operetta favourites by Lehár, Fall, Kálmán, and Künnecke [76:16]
CD 4: Lyric opera roles by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini [75:45]
CD 5: French, Czech, and Russian Opera by Boieldieu, Thomas, Massenet, Smetana, and Tchaikovsky [74:05]
CD 6: Lieder by Schubert, Wolf, R. Strauss, Mahler, Neumeyer, Neuendorff, and Heins [67:17]
Tracklist : Friz Wunderlich – A Poet among Tenors