Opera director and wife die in suicide pact

Opera director and wife die in suicide pact


norman lebrecht

March 01, 2016

It has been confirmed to us by mutual friends that the former Netherlands Opera chorus director Winfried Maczewski and his wife Sophie arranged to end their lives together on Sunday.

winfried maczewski1

Winfried, who was 74, had a terminal illness, and Sophie, who suffered from a longterm condition, decided she did not want to go on without him.

Winfried told friends that his last two weeks were the most beautiful of his life. However, two days before the due date he suffered a collapse and was no longer deemed fit in legal terms to press the requisite button. Sophie went ahead with the procedure. Winfried died on the same day, a few hours later, on his way to a German hospice.

May they rest in perfect peace.

winfried maczewski

Pierre Audi, director of Netherlands Opera, writes:
Winfried was no ordinary chorus master. He was a man imbued with a deep artistic mission. He brought to our Company and espescially to our chorus the gift of artistic consciousness: WHY do we make music together? WHY do choristers also have a responsibility to make great theatre? His leadership provided profound inspiration, and a greater understanding for the need to reach for perfection whilst remaining a humble servant to the gift of artistic expression.

Working with Winfried shaped my artistic project for DNO in crucial years which saw historic productions such as Moses und Aron by Schoenberg with Pierre Boulez and Peter Stein, come to light. Without Winfried this milestone in the history of opera in the Netherlands would not have been possible.

His legacy survives him as a standard and an ethic this Company will always want to live up to.
Thank you Winfried from the bottom of my heart.

boulez moses




  • Holly Golightly says:

    Reminds me of the similar ending for Sir Edward and Lady Downes who died together in a suicide pact in Zurich. It was the right decision for all of these parties. I’m sure they had fulfilling lives and happy relationships.

  • Una says:

    I suppose until you get to that stage in life, one does not really understand it, but still it doesn’t really rest well for some of us, particularly the case of Ted Downes with whom I worked a few times. He became both deaf and blind in the end, and that is unimaginable for anyone. May they all rest in peace, and those who have been left behind.

  • W. de Kler says:

    I met Winfried several times at Arti et Amititiae in Amsterdam and played chess with him
    in ZZ-schaakclub on Lange Leidse Dwarsstraat. Very nice person. Now I understand why
    he was not around any more in this life. Greetings to you both, Willem de Kler.

  • Arlette H Moller says:

    I fully understand
    There is something to do with dignity, everyone has his own measure of it and knows where the threshold is
    Not the same for everyone
    From where I am, this is a love story

  • MDS says:

    “May they rest in perfect peace”?

    Deliberate suicide… highly unlikely that they are resting in peace. We do not have the authority to decide when our lives end.