Sad news: International bass, 44, is found dead in hotel

Sad news: International bass, 44, is found dead in hotel


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2017

Dutch opera is mourning the death of Dennis Wilgenhof, a popular and accomplished singer whose career was on an upward trajectory.

A few months ago he sang Wagner at Bavarian State Opera, a few weeks ago he was singing at La Scala.

Dennis, who was 44, was found dead on Tuesday in a hotel in Maastricht, where he taught at the local academy. He is believed to have suffered a heart attack.

Our condolences to his loved ones.

The tenor Mihael Schade writes: ‘Holland has lost not only its tallest and nicest bass, but a superbly musically gifted opera bass on the doorstep of a big career.

‘Our opera community lost a wonderful young man who was personable, friendly, professional, outgoing and a team player. I spent 44 days rehearsing and performing at LaScala with Dennis Wilgenhof in February and March just recently, and can say that my life is better for having met him- his completely shocking death is to me a reminder to go out there and Carpe Diem, live the dream you love , but while you do just love and call your loved ones- rest in peace Dennis- too soon Lord too soon!’


  • Ungeheuer says:

    Sorry to hear. Far too young. RIP.

  • Peter says:

    What are all these heart related deaths of not so old singers recently? Crystal Meth?

    • Betsy Horne says:


    • AB says:

      Peter, I personally find your question whether funny, nor clever. Without being a singer, nor having known Dennis Wilgenhof in person, I really feel offended by your message and find it inappropriate and disgusting.

      • Peter says:

        I find it legitimate to speculatively ask for reasons for an apparent cluster of relatively young professional musicians dying prematurely. One of them having even openly spoken about performance enhancing/fear inhibiting drugs in the business, particularly the business of opera singing. It’s a question of someone who cares.

        • Jennifer Johnston says:

          You say you care? Nonsense. Your intention is to create unfounded speculation and debate. For those of us grieving for our much beloved friend and colleague, your ‘question’ about whether we all use performance enhancing drugs or ‘fear inhibitors’ isn’t just inappropriate, but utterly disrespectful, offensive and extremely wide of the mark. Keep your groundless opinions to yourself, before you get sued for defamation. And maybe in future Mr Lebrecht might like to screen offensive comments like this instead of allowing them to be published, as he does with many other comments people make about his articles.

          • Peter says:

            I’m afraid there is never the right time to talk about this, but yet it is necessary to do so. Maybe to even save lives in the future.
            I’m wondering about the many untimely deaths of relatively young musicians with performance pressure. Particularly in the most demanding Wagner Fach. One of the victims even having spoken openly about drugs and the pressure. That’s all.

          • Peter says:

            Unfounded? groundless? extremely wide off the mark?

  • Loulou says:

    Peter a raison, je le soutiens. Dans le showbizness, il se déroule des choses trop étranges et malsaines…

    • Jennifer Johnston says:

      Someone else speculating with no knowledge. Please keep your unfounded opinions to yourself at a time when my profession is grieving for a much loved colleague.

        • Jennifer Johnston says:

          Do you always believe everything you read in the Guardian? The fact you’re even trying to defend your comments reveals just what a low-life you are. Leave us all to grieve, rather than trying to cause a scandal and cast shadows on the dead, you vile man.

          • Peter says:

            Stop the insults.
            I’m simply asking a legitimate question. And here is a proper forum for it. If that’s already trying to cause a scandal for you, then you need to readjust your sense of reality.
            It is an interview with Mr. Wottrich, authorized by him, who also died tragically only very recently. I have no reason to believe they wrote something he didn’t actually say.

  • Ilka says:

    in terms of my dear friend dennis wilgenhof this is very far fetched and wrong no matter what the media might report about others: please, please leave us mourning in peace and stop your saddening comments, peter, i have spoken to dennis personally about his heart condition just 10days prior to his passing. thanks jennifer for the spontaneous replies…

  • Jennifer Johnston says:

    Peter, you have insulted my entire profession and yet you have the audacity to accuse me. This is NOT a proper forum for a discussion of the mental health and any substance abuse of performers (Wagnerians or not), and a wholly inappropriate time to be raising such issues, in the wake of the premature death of a much loved young singer from natural causes. Attempting to justify and support your groundless speculation (and suggestion that we all take crystal meth) with a single newspaper article is highly irresponsible, and to suggest that you are somehow doing everyone a favour and might even save lives is utterly laughable. Give us all a break and pipe down.

  • Anthony Sandle says:

    Peter: I am probably going to get kicked off this forum for my blunt and unprofessional approach. I apologise to all concerned, who may be offended.

    I have just been to Dennis’s funeral. We have all lost a dear friend and colleague. Although Dennis would not have counted me amongst his close friends, I worked with him a great deal and I valued and cherished him very highly.

    I know that I am not alone in feeling bereft and lost, and yes, cheated because of his departure.

    Whether or not the questions you raise are legitimate, this is absolutely not the place or the time to pursue them. Your dogged determination to prove that you are right to do so is tasteless and hurtful.

    Peter, **** you.

  • Marius Felix Lange says:

    Dennis sang a dwarf in my second opera Snow White…he was a huge dwarf with a huge voice, but his heart was even huger…what a loss!!! He was such a wonderful human being.