Piotr Beczala joins the Vienna elite

Piotr Beczala joins the Vienna elite


norman lebrecht

June 13, 2019

The Polish tenor will receive the title ‘Kammersänger’ of the Vienna Opera when he performs in Tosca on June 23.


  • Don Ciccio says:

    Speaking of ‘Kammersänger’, I found this story online about how Hans Hotter got this title – in 1999! Here it is, with minor corrections.

    Wait! What was that? In 1999? As a matter of fact, yes. As Ioan Holender tells in his book, “Der Lebensweg des Wiener Staatsoperndirektors. Von Temesvar nach Wien,” Hans Hotter was for a long time Honorary Member of the Vienna State Opera, but, for whatever reason, not Kammersänger. When Mr. Holender asked his predecessors why was that, they were all stunned and gave the same answer: “I thought that Hotter was made long time ago Kammersänger.” One thing to note: that Holender himself only conferred this title to Mr. Hotter in 1999, after Holender’s initial contract as Intendant was extended. One can of course speculate that without this extension Hans Hotter would have died without being Kammersänger of the Vienna State Opera.

    The title was conferred after a performance of, what else, “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” This is the story that Mr. Holender told the public.

    It took place (in 1947 I think) during a rehearsal of Pfitzner’s “Palestrina” at Theater an der Wien, rehearsal which was attended by the composer, by that time weak and blind. In one scene, Hotter’s character, the Cardinal Borromeo, was supposed to kneel before Palestrina (Julius Patzak, of course.) At that point, the Intendant, Franz Salmhofer, said to Hotter something along these lines: “don’t have a Cardinal kneel in front of a civilian because I don’t need any troubles with the Church.” Hotter protested and asked Pfitzner what should he do. The composer replied something like this: “stand up, sit down, kneel – I don’t care, just sing” (hmm, the composer didn’t care about staging details…) And of course, during the representations, Hotter did kneel.

    As it happens, one of the representations was attended by a high representative of the Viennese Catholic Church, perhaps even the Bishop of Vienna himself, I don’t remember. So Hotter asked this Church figure, who replied: “yes, it is OK to kneel, because you don’t kneel at the human being, but at the Divine Inspiration!”

    After he finished telling the story to the public, Ioan Holender faced Hans Hotter and said: “and thus, I kneel before you, Kammersänger Hans Hotter.”

    Needless to say, the public was delirious.

  • Ramon Figueroa says:

    I love Beczala. Beautiful voice, a generous performer who transmits a sense of joy in his performances and who has conducted his career with a minimum of drama and without being shoved down everybody’s throat. A real artist who doesn’t get in the way of the music.