Walter Berry (bass-baritone)

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Walter Berry
Heiligenstädter Friedhof - Walter Berry.jpg
Grave in the Heiligenstädter Friedhof cemetery
Born(1929-04-08)8 April 1929
Died27 October 2000(2000-10-27) (aged 71)
Alma materUniversity of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
OccupationOpera singer
Years active1949-1998
Spouse(s)Christa Ludwig
(1957-1970, divorced)
ChildrenWolfgang
External audio
You may hear Walter Berry performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor K. 626 with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Fritz Wunderlich, Eberhhard Wachter, Leontyne Price, Hilde Rossel-Majdan in 1960 Here on archive.org

Walter Berry (8 April 1929 – 27 October 2000) was an Austrian lyric bass-baritone who enjoyed a prominent career in opera. He has been cited as one of several exemplary operatic bass-baritones of his era.[1][2]

Professional career[edit]

Walter Berry was born in Vienna. He studied voice at the Vienna Music Academy and made his stage debut with the Vienna State Opera in 1947. He became a permanent member of the company in 1950, remaining with that ensemble for his entire career, although he undertook frequent guest appearances elsewhere in Europe and in the UK.[3][4]

In 1952 Berry made his first appearance at the Salzburg Festival, where he subsequently performed on a regular basis. While in Salzburg, he collaborated with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in a production of Wolfganag Amadeus Mozart's opera Don Giovanni with Leontyne Price and Elizabeth Schwarzkopf.[5] While appearing in Vienna and Salzburg he interpreted an extensive operatic repertoire which included over one hundred roles. He received high praise for his interpretations of Franz Schubert's lieder as well as songs by Gustav Mahler. Included among his acclaimed renditions of sacred works were: Johann Sebastian Bach's "Passions" and Ludwig von Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.[6]

He made many memorable appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s in such roles as Barak in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Telramund in Lohengrin, Wotan in Die Walküre, Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier, Don Pizarro in Fidelio, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos and Leporello in Don Giovanni. He sang his last Barak on 18 November 1984.[7][8]

Berry's other signature roles included: Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Figaro in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and Bluebeard in Béla Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle. He was also a noted interpreter of lieder and was accompanied often at recitals by the German pianist Sebastian Peschko. Berry also appeared in choral works. Performing in light-hearted operettas, particularly Die Fledermaus, was one of his pleasures.[9] Astonishingly, Berry never appeared in London in the role with which he perhaps became most closely linked, Papageno, despite an operatic career that spanned more than 40 years.

Walter Berry married the leading mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig in 1957 and collaborated with her both on stage and in several recordings. The couple was divorced in 1971.[10]

Death[edit]

Walter Berry died in 2000 at the age of 71 in Vienna following a heart attack. He was entombed in the Heiligenstädter Friedhof cemetery (Part A, Group 1, Number 263) in Vienna.[11][12]

Recordings[edit]

Berry lent his talents to many highly regarded recordings, including the classic Otto Klemperer recordings of The Magic Flute (as Papageno) and Fidelio (as Don Pizarro), both for EMI. He also recorded Johann Sebastian Bach's sacred oratorio St. Matthew Passion for Columbia Records with Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1961 and years later for Deutsche Grammophon with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1972.

Also included among his recordings are performances in: Béla Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle (London Records), Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (Deutsche Grammophone), Franz Josef Haydn's The Creation (Deutsche Grammophon), Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (Angel Seraphim) and Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne (Philips World Series).[13]

Critics at Billboard magazine noted that his collaboration with his wife Christa Ludwig in a recording of Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle was delivered with dramatic force and strength.[14] In 1967 Billboard's critics also praised his recording with Ludwig for RCA Victor of Richard Strauss's Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Der Rosenkavalier as outstanding and worthy of Strauss' best traditions.[15] Berry's definitive recordings have earned him the distinction of being cited as one of the truly exemplary bass baritones and basses in opera.[16][17]

Berry can be seen on DVD as Don Pizarro, opposite Ludwig, James King, and Josef Greindl; and as Papageno with Pilar Lorengar as Pamina; also as Leporello opposite Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Josef Greindl, in a German translation performance of Don Giovanni.

Discography[edit]

External audio
You may hear Walter Berry as Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss II's operatta Die Fledermaus with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Ettore Bastianini, Teresa Berganza, Jussi Bjorling, Hilde Gueden, Birgit Nilsson, Leontyne Price, Renata Tebaldi, Joan Sutherland, Eberhhard Wachter and Ljuba Welitsch in the mid 1960s Here on archive.org

A partial listing of Walter Berry's recordings includes:[18][19]

References[edit]

Sources
  • Peter Gammond: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Recorded Opera. Salamander Books, 1979.
  • Richard Miller: Securing Baritone, Bsss-Baritone and Bass Voices. Oxford University Press, New York, 2008.
  • Dorottya Fabian: Bach Performance Practice 1945-1975 - A Comprehensive Review of Sound Recordings and Literature. Routledge, New York, 2017.
Notes
  1. ^ "The New York Times- Walter Berry, 71, Opera Star Specializing in Mozart Toles Obituary, Allan Kozinn. October 31, 2000. Walter Berry in the New York times Archives on nytimes.con
  2. ^ Securing Baritone, Bass-Baritone & Bass Voices. Richard Miller. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008 p. 175-176 ISBN 978-0-19-532265-1
  3. ^ "The New York Times- Walter Berry, 71, Opera Star Specializing in Mozart Toles Obituary, Allan Kozinn. October 31, 2000. Walter Berry in the New York times Archives on nytimes.con
  4. ^ The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Recorded Opera Peter Gammond. Salamander Books 1979 p. 237 Biography of Walter Berry on books.google.com
  5. ^ The Library of Congress - Don Giovanni - Audio recording featuring Walter Berry on loc.gov
  6. ^ "The New York Times- Walter Berry, 71, Opera Star Specializing in Mozart Toles Obituary, Allan Kozinn. October 31, 2000. Walter Berry in the New York times Archives on nytimes.con
  7. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica - Walter Berry - Austrian Singer Biography on Britannica.com
  8. ^ The Billboard -Classical Music: 17 to Make Debut with Met Opera - Walter Berry September 17, 1966 p. 49 Walter Berry in "Die Frau ohne Schatten" on books.google.com
  9. ^ Walter Berry sings in Die Fledermaus on archive.org
  10. ^ "The New York Times- Walter Berry, 71, Opera Star Specializing in Mozart Toles Obituary, Allan Kozinn. October 31, 2000. Walter Berry in the New York times Archives on nytimes.con
  11. ^ "The New York Times- Walter Berry, 71, Opera Star Specializing in Mozart Toles Obituary, Allan Kozinn. October 31, 2000. Walter Berry in the New York times Archives on nytimes.con
  12. ^ Walter Berry's Tomb in the Heiligenstädter Friedhof cemetery on Wikipedia Commons
  13. ^ The Billboard - Classical Music - Met Opening Sparks Opera Record Push October 8, 1966 p. 54 Walter Berry's recordings on books.google.com
  14. ^ The Billboard - Album Reviews - Bartók's "Bluebeard's Castle" August 27, 1966 p. 36 Critical review of album by Walter Berry and Christa Ludwig on archive.org
  15. ^ The Billboard - Special Merit Picks - Rciahrd Strauss Operatic Scenes - Wallter Berry & Christa Ludwig November 11, 1967 p. 41 Walter berry 7 Christa Ludwig on bookks.google.com
  16. ^ Bach Performance Practice 1945-1975. Dorottya Fabian. (The University of New South Wales, Australia) Routledge , New York 2017 p. 280-282 ISBN 978-0-7546-0549-2 Walter Berry on books.google.com
  17. ^ Securing Baritone, Bass-Baritone & Bass Voices. Richard Miller. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008 p. 175-176 ISBN 978-0-19-532265-1
  18. ^ Walter Berry on discogs.com
  19. ^ Walter Berry's recordings on worldcat.org

External links[edit]