Life and career
Schmitt-Walter was born in Germersheim. He studied in Nuremberg with Gustav Landauer, and made his debut there in 1921. He subsequently appeared at provincial opera houses in Oberhausen, Saarbrücken, Dortmund and Wiesbaden, building a reputation for vocal excellence as he went along. Schmitt-Walter made his key debut at the Berlin State Opera in 1935, as Luna in Il trovatore, which led to a long association with this important theatre, where he would sing wide repertory of lyric parts for the baritone voice. He also performed often at the Hamburg State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Bayreuth Festival, and, from 1950, the Munich State Opera.
Outside the Austro-German operatic heartland, he made guest appearances at the Paris Opéra, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London, the Liceo in Barcelona, La Monnaie in Brussels and the Holland Festival, among other major European venues.
Schmitt-Walter possessed a comparatively light, high-baritone voice of great beauty and was equipped with an exceptionally good singing technique. He was particularly admired in Mozart and Wagner roles, notably Papageno, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Beckmesser, which role he often sang at Bayreuth. Schmitt-Walter also performed in Verdi operas such as Ernani, La traviata and Un ballo in maschera, mostly in German translation. He enjoyed considerable success in light German operas by Lortzing and also in operetta. He was an excellent lieder interpreter, too. From 1962, he taught in Munich and Copenhagen and died in Bavaria at the age of 84.
- Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Bayreuth 1960, conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch.
- Die Zauberflöte, Salzburg, 1949, conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.
- Whom the Gods Love (1942)