Max Lorenz (tenor)
Lorenz was born in Düsseldorf, and studied with Ernst Grenzebach in Berlin in the 1920s. He made his debut at the Semperoper in Dresden in 1927, becoming a principal tenor. From 1929 to 1944 he was a member of the ensemble at the Berlin State Opera, appearing also at the New York Metropolitan Opera (1931–34), the Bayreuth Festspielhaus (1933–39, 1952, 1954) and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1934 and 1937). He sang, too, at the Vienna State Opera (1929–33, 1936–44, 1954).
Audiences at the Salzburg Festival also heard him, and he created roles in such post-World War II works as Gottfried von Einem’s Der Prozess (Josef K, 1953), Rolf Liebermann’s Penelope (1954) and Rudolf Wagner-Régeny’s Das Bergwerk zu Falun (1961).
Lorenz's operatic and recital career lasted almost three decades. He became known as one of the world's leading heldentenors, particularly renowned for his performances as Tristan, Walther and Siegfried (in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung). He was also a notable Otello, Bacchus and Herod.
At his best in the 1920s and 1930s, Lorenz possessed a powerful, ringing voice which he used in an impassioned manner. Some of his recordings of operatic arias have been issued on CD. Notably, he was recorded live in a performance of Die Meistersinger at the Bayreuth Festival, under the baton of the celebrated conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler.
Lorenz was homosexual, but from 1932 he was married to Charlotte (Lotte) Appel, who was Jewish and was aware of his homosexuality. His homosexuality was almost tolerated by the Nazis as a well-known secret. When Lorenz had to appear in court because of an affair with a young man, Hitler advised Winifred Wagner, the director of the Bayreuth Festival, that Lorenz would not be suitable for the Festival. Wagner answered that in that case she might close the Festival because, without Lorenz, "Bayreuth can't be done."
As for his Jewish wife, Lorenz insisted on being open about his marriage, which was taken as a provocation by the Nazis. When Lorenz was away from his house, the SS burst in and tried to take his wife and mother-in-law away. At the last moment, they were prevented from doing so when Lotte Lorenz was able to make a phone call to the sister of Hermann Göring. The SS was ordered to leave their residence and not to bother the two women. Göring stated in a letter of 21 March 1943 that Lorenz was under his personal protection and that no action should be taken against him, his wife, or her mother.
- Schulz, Eric; Claus Wischmann (14 July 2008). "Wagners Meistersänger — Hitlers Siegfried: Auf den Spuren von Max Lorenz" (in German). SWR. Retrieved 27 July 2008. [dead link] Documentary, 45 mins., Wagner's Mastersinger, Hitler's Siegfried: The Life and Times of Max Lorenz
- "Max Lorenz (short biography & images)". Find A Grave. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
- "Ehrengräber Gruppe 40" (in German). Vienna Tourist Guide, Hedwig Abraham. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
- Harold Rosenthal and John Warrack, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1979.
- Branscombe, Peter. "Lorenz, Max", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 3 February 2006), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- Biography and discography at allmusic.com
- Walter Herrmann: Max Lorenz. Österreichischer Bundesverlag, Vienna 1976.