Brigitte Fassbaender (German pronunciation: [bʁiˈɡɪtə ˈfasbɛndɐ]; born Berlin, 3 July 1939), is a German mezzo-soprano opera singer, a stage director and from 1999 to 2012 Intendant of the Tiroler Landestheater in Innsbruck, Austria. She holds the title Kammersängerin from the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the Vienna Staatsoper.
Fassbaender was born in Berlin, the daughter of screen actress Sabine Peters and the German baritone, Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender. The family settled in Nuremberg after World War II. She spent her early career in Munich.
Brigitte Fassbaender studied singing with her father, Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender, at the Nuremberg Conservatory. She joined the Bavarian State Opera in 1961, where her first leading role was Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann. Fassbaender sang Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier) in Munich, in 1967, the role that launched her international career. In 1971, she sang at Covent Garden and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1974.
In addition to her operatic work, Fassbaender has performed in the concert hall as a Lieder singer and in movies, singing the role of Prince Orlofsky in the 1984 film production of Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus. Her recordings range from operas, vocal works with orchestra, to Lieder, including Schubert's 'Winterreise' and 'Schwanengesang', oratorios such as Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah, and also speaking roles after her retirement from singing. She has appeared in numerous televised opera productions now available on DVD, such as her signature roles Octavian and Orlofsky, both conducted by her frequent collaborator Carlos Kleiber.
Fassbaender has also taught masterclasses. In 2010, she wrote the book and texts for two successful musicals - Lulu - das Musical and Shylock!, based on Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Both were a collaboration with the composer Stephan Kanyar and written for the Tiroler Landestheater in Innsbruck. In recent years, Fassbaender has worked in arts administration. She was the Opera director at the Staatstheater Braunschweig for two years from 1995 to 1997. In 1999, she became Intendantin (managing director) of the Tiroler Landestheater in Innsbruck, a position she held until 2012. In 2006, she was awarded the Musikpreis der Landeshauptstadt München. In January 2011, the French Government appointed her an honorary Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur. More recently, she has been director of the annual Richard Strauss Festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
- Andrew Clements (2009-01-16). "Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier; Watson/Fassbaender/Popp/Ridderbusch/Kusche/Bavarian State Opera/Kleiber". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
- Andrew Clements (2011-07-21). "Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
- Tim Ashley (2014-10-09). "Strauss: Intermezzo CD review – darker than ever before". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
- Daniel Ender (2014-02-11). "Junge Sänger kommen mit den Noten auf dem iPad". Der Standard. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
- "Fassbaender wurde "Ritter der Ehrenlegion"". ORF (Tirol). 2011-01-24. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
- Short biography from Bach Cantatas page
- Interview with Brigitte Fassbaender by Bruce Duffie, December 8, 1988
- Public domain music recording
- Richard Strauss Festival