Fritz Wunderlich

German opera singer

Fritz Wunderlich (born Kusel, Rhineland-Palatinate, 26 September 1930; died Heidelberg, 17 September 1966) was a German tenor. He was one of the great singers of his time, famous both as an opera singer and as a recitalist singing Lieder.

Wunderlich came from a musical family. His mother was a violinist and his father was a choir-master. The family did not find it easy to make a living, especially after Fritz's father committed suicide when Fritz was five years old. As a young man Wunderlich worked in a bakery. People heard him singing while he worked, and he was persuaded to study music. He got a scholarship to study at the Freiburg College of Music where he studied French horn and singing.

Wunderlich soon became known as a brilliant young tenor. He sang several roles in Mozart's operas, and gradually learned roles in many other operas, including Verdi's Rigoletto and Don Carlo. There is an excellent recording of Mozart's Magic Flute in which Wunderlich sings the part of the Prince Tamino and the famous baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sings the part of Papageno, the birdcatcher.

Wunderlich had a lovely, clear voice which was excellent for German Lieder. He sang the great songs of Schubert and Schumann, especially Schumann's Dichterliebe song cycle.

Wunderlich was becoming world famous when he died from an accident: he fell down the stairs of a friend's hunting house and died just before his 36th birthday.

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