Vienna laments bass-baritone, 81

Vienna laments bass-baritone, 81


norman lebrecht

March 24, 2021

The Vienna State Opera reports the death of Peter Wimberger, a bass-baritone who sang 57 roles in 44 operas over 900 nights until his retirement in 2002.

He also appeared at the Met, La Scala, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Lyon, Buenos Aires and numerous festivals.


  • Anthony Sayer says:

    I liked him. He still puffed away on his ciggies well into retirement. ‘Hab mal aufgegeben. War nur noch krank. Hab also wieder angefangen’. That was well over ten years ago. RIP, great character.

  • This saddens me immensley. This colossal bass-bartione has been a constant towering operatic presence since my childhood days. His most famous role was undoubtedly Wotan which he not only sang at the Vienna State Opera, his artistic home for 30 years, but also the Metropolitan Opera, in Florence with Zubin Mehta at the Maggio Musicale, the Liceu in Barcelona, Hamburg and many other theatres.

    His last Wotan was actually one of my first contracts as an agent – a jump in at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires in 2005. He was 65, hadn’t sung the role in 15 years, but didn’t hesitate to fly around the globe at short notice – and of course did an excellent job. I remember warning him that the production was supposedly very complicated. His reply was memorable: “Des werma a bissl vereinfachen. I find mir ein schönes Platzerl und werd mich hinparken” (We will simplify it: I’ll find myself a nice spot and park there). What he may have lacked in dynamic acting he more than compensated with the enormous presence of his voice. I still remember his last performance at the Volksoper as Bonzo in Madama Butterfly. He way already in his seventies, but the walls almost literally shook when he cursed poor Cio Cio San.

    Only this week I thought of calling him, since I still have a book which he lent me, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to catch up with him. Missed opportunities.
    In spite of his gigantic voice and presence he had a gentle, sensitive soul. I’m glad to have heard him so many times and got to meet him.

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    With all due respect to KS Wimberger, he never sang AT the Met – his entire history with the company consists of three performances as the “Walküre” Wotan during a spring tour – one performance each in Washington, Dallas, and Cleveland in April, May, and June 1984, apparently when Simon Estes withdrew from several consecutive scheduled performances.

    Norman, please be more careful when labeling or crediting someone as a “Met singer” or “Bayreuth singer” – etc. – when, indeed, the performer sang only a few performances, often as an understudy and/or on tour.