Matti Salminen (born 7 July 1945, in Turku) is a Finnish operatic bass singer, who has sung at all of the most important opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan and Bayreuth Festival.
Salminen is distinguished by an imposing figure and height; an enormous, sonorous and dark voice; and an expressive face. According to one reviewer, in his prime Salminen was "... simply the largest bass voice in captivity. It is not just its roar in powering over Wagner's maximum orchestra, but the way he carves the sonority and forms the color."
He performed as Fafner and Hagen in the PBS video broadcast Ring Cycle from the Metropolitan Opera, for the largest viewing-audience of the Ring in history.
Salminen has a contract at the Zurich Opera, and he also frequently performs in his native Finland. Most of all he has been admired in such Wagner roles as Daland (Der fliegende Holländer), Gurnemanz and Titurel (Parsifal), King Marke (Tristan und Isolde), Fasolt and Fafner (Das Rheingold / Siegfried), Hunding (Die Walküre), and Hagen (Götterdämmerung).
At the Bayreuth Festival he first appeared in 1976 (Titurel (Parsifal), and Hunding (Die Walküre) and Fasolt (Das Rheingold) in the Jahrhundertring (Centenary Ring) in 1976, celebrating the centenary of both the festival and the first performance of the complete cycle, conducted by Pierre Boulez and staged by Patrice Chéreau, recorded and filmed in 1979 and 1980. He continued until 1989 adding Fafner (Rheingold, Siegfried), Daland (Der Fliegender Holländer), King Mark (Tristan und Isolde), Heinrich (Lohengrin), Pogner (Meistersinger), Landgraf (Tannhäuser) and Hagen (Götterdämmerung) to his roles there.
Other important roles are King Philip II (Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi), the Grand Inquisitor in the same work, Seneca in L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and the title roles of Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina.
Salminen is also one of the most videotaped opera singers in history. At least three different performances as Hagen are available on DVD; also two performances as the Commendatore, and two as Daland.
In his youth he earned money for voice lessons by singing Finnish tangos in night clubs. He first caught public eye as a lucky understudy in the role of King Phillip II, which he continues performing (pirated recordings exist from as recently as 2008).
- Ruth-Esther Hillila, Barbara Blanchard Hong (1997) Historical dictionary of the music and musicians of Finland Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 359 ISBN 0-313-27728-1
- San Francisco Chronicle, May 1989
- Anderson, Martin. Strong and Simple. Interview with Aulis Sallinen. Finnish Music Quarterly magazine, 2/1999.
- LATimes interview