Opera’s great Doctor has died, at 95

Opera singers the world over are mourning Franz Mazura, the Austrian bass-baritone who was not only the most charming of colleagues but the outstanding Dr Schön in Berg’s Lulu. In this, as in Berg’s Wozzeck, he was dramatically powerful and uncannily accurate in rendering the counter-intuitive atonal lyrical lines. I saw him once in Lulu: never to be forgotten.

Born in Salzburg in 1924, he made his stage debut at Kassel at the age of 25 and joined the Mannheim ensemble from 1964 to 1987.

He sang at Bayreuth from 1971 to 1995.

He was Solti’s Alberich, Boulez’s Schön, Levine’s Klingsor. In April 2019, he sang Meister Hans Schwarz for Barenboim in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Berlin.

Laua Aikin writes: Rest In Peace, dear Franz. You were a wonderful colleague and inspirational artist. You made the world a better place for so many.

John Daszak: Hearing reports that the great Franz Mazura has died.
What a lovely singer/person/character/colleague he was..
He always had advice, encouragement and a vast library of fun stories for his younger, less experienced singers.
I always thought I was the first to come up with “Manon… Let’s go!” Imagine my surprise when I heard him say exactly that after a coffee break in Munich in 2004… he’d probably been using it for decades…😂
A real gentleman of our business has left us!

Paul Gay: So sad to hear about the passing of Franz Mazura. I had the privilege to share twice the stage with him in Lulu and the last time in Peter Stein’s production. We spent so much time together and he told me so many stories about his life . I regret one thing especially : he said he wanted to be Schigolch when I do my debut as Dr Schön, and it will be obviously without him


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  • Condolences to the family of a fine singer.

    Now, I am anything but a passionate Wagnerian, but shouldn’t that be Hans Sachs, the shoemaker, rather than Hans Schwarz? The guy whose fault it is that the opera goes on for another half a day, as a result of his “Ehrt Eure deutschen Meister” spiel?

  • RIP, wonderful man and great artist. I was told he was, for a long time, stalked by a lady in nothing but a fur coat who would flash him when he came out of the stage door. Apparently, she never engaged him in conversation, just exposed herself to him before disappearing into the night.

  • His Gunther in the 1976 Chereau Ring in Bayreuth was unforgettable but what really made a lasting impression on me was his Moses in Moses und Aron at the Vara matinee in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam under Kenneth Montgomery in 1986.

  • I saw him three years ago as Orest’s servant in Chéreau’s Elektra. He was onstage during the last part of the opera, a menacing and hauting figure. Unforgettable. He sang a lot in Bayreuth, including Gunther, Alberich, Klingsor and even Gurnemanz and the Wanderer, and he’s in my favourite Parsifal recording, Kubelík’s.

  • Are there any other examples of opera singers still active in their tenth decade? I’m not aware of any.
    If I’m not mistaken the most seasoned performer I ever saw was Martha Mödl in Pique Dame. She was eighty (and magnificent).

  • Dear, dear Franz, I’m so sad to hear of your passing. You were a wonderfully generous and supportive colleague and a fabulous performer. It was a huge privilege to share the stage with you. Rest in peace dear friend. You have a place in my heart for ever. Graham Clark.

  • A Great, great artist and a sweet fellow! The last time I saw him he was sitting at a table next to the book/CD/DVD kiosk to the left of the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth in 2004, chatting and autographing his self-drawn cartoons which he was giving away.

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