The mighty mezzo is 80 today

Happy birthday, Brigitte Fassbaender!

Survivor of Munich’s legendary 1960s cast, she has been a world-class artist, a gender-bending lieder singer, a thoughful stage director and a capable intendant of a state opera. Not many opera singers get to succeed at four careers.

In a Lebrecht Interview, which the BBC have archived deep in the vaults, I remember her telling me how, as a child of five or six, she ran barefoot with her grandmother through the burning streets of Dresden, masonry falling all around, her life protected by an angel.

Opera held few terrors for her ever after.

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  • Happy birthday! Along with the rest of the cast ( Jones, Popp, Moll, Araiza ) she was unforgettable in a magical July 1982 evening of Rosenkavalier under Kleiber’s illuminated direction.

  • Ah, the legendary Der Rosenkavalier with Jones, Popp, and Fassbaender, Kleiber conducting. One of life’s greatest delights.

  • While we wish her a happy birthday, I hardly think her singing male repertoire amounts to gender-bending.

  • Brigitte Fassbaender performed together with Wolfram Rieger the first ever recital at the Schubertiada Vilabertran, a leading lied festival, in 1993. That Winterreise is still remembered. The festival has offered a hommage to this legendary performer by citing a wonderful quote about her love towards Schubert. The festival offers an incredible line-up this summer with Karg, Schuen, Prégardien, Goerne, Di Donato, Konradi, Seidler, Walser, Gerhaher, Rieger, Martineau, Heide, Huber, Schmalcz, Angelich…

  • I can still recall the magical Rennert production of Cosi at Salzburg in 1972 in which she was in the company of Janowitz, Reri Grist, Schreier, Prey, Fischer-Dieskau and Boehm with the Vienna Phil. What a cast!

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