Skip to main content
Baritone

Eberhard Wächter, Austrian Lyric Baritone

By October 22, 2023No Comments

Wächter was an Austrian Baritone, particularly noted for his performances in Mozart, Strauss, and Wagner. Without trying not to sound too maudlin, we just don’t get these types of baritones any longer. I have gone on in other posts as to why I think that this is the case today. I think that that is part of the pleasure of listening to a singer like Wächter today. We can hear the possibility of the art.

Wagner, Das Reingold, “Schwüles gedünst”

Donner
(auf den Hintergrund deutend der noch in
Nebel gehüllt ist)

Schwüles Gedünst schwebt in der Luft;
lästig ist mir der trübe Druck!
Das bleiche Gewölk samml’ ich zu blitzendem Wetter,
das fegt den Himmel mir hell.
(Donner besteigt einen hohen Felsstein am Thal-
abhange, und schwingt dort seinen Hammer; mit
dem Folgenden ziehen die Nebel sich um ihn zusammen.)

Heda! Heda! Hedo!
Zu mir, du Gedüft! Ihr Dünste zu mir!
Donner, der Herr, ruft euch zu Heer!
(Er schwingt den Hammer.)
Auf des Hammers Schwung schwebet herbei!
Dunstig Gedämpf! Schwebend Gedüft!
Donner, der Herr, ruft euch zu Heer!
Heda! Heda! Hedo!
(Donner verschwindet völlig in einer immer
finsterer sich ballenden Gewitterwolke.)

(Man hört seinen Hammerschlag schwer auf den
Felsstein fallen. Ein starker Blitz entfährt der Wolke;
ein heftiger Donnerschlag folgt.)

(Froh ist mit dem Gewölk verschwunden.)

Wager, Das Rheingold, “Sultry Mists”

Donner
(pointing to the background which is still
wrapped in a veil of mist)

Sultrily mists float in the air;
heavy hangeth the glomy weight!
Ye hovering clouds, come now with lightning and thunder
and sweep the heavens clear!
(Donner has mounted on a high rock by the
precipice and now swings his hammer: during the
following the mists collect around him.)

Heda! Heda! Hedo!
To me, all ye mists! Ye vapors, to me!
Donner, your lord, calleth his hosts!
(He swings his hammer.)
At his hammer’s swing hitherward sweep!
Vapors and fogs! Wandering mists!
Donner, your lord, calleth his hosts!
Heda! Heda! Hedo!
(Donner disappears entirely in an ever-darkening
and thickening thundercloud.)

(The stroke of his hammer is heard to fall heavily
on the rock. A vivid flash of lightning comes from the
cloud; a violent clap of thunder follows.)

(Froh has also disappeared into the clouds.)

Wagner, Tannhäuser, “Wie Todesahnung, Dämm’rung deckt die Lande”

WOLFRAM
Wie Todesahnung, Dämm’rung deckt die Lande,
umhüllt das Tal mit schwärzlichem Gewande;
der Seele, die nach jenen Höh’n verlangt,
vor ihrem Flug durch Nacht und Grausen bangt!
Da scheinest du, o lieblichster der Sterne,
dein sanftes Licht entsendest du der Ferne,
die nächt’ge Dämmrung teilt dein lieber Strahl,
und freundlich zeigst du den Weg aus dem Tal.
O du, mein holder Abendstern,
wohl grüsst’ ich immer dich so gern;
vom Herzen, das sie nie verriet,
grüsse sie, wenn sie vorbei dir zieht, –
wenn sie entschwebt dem Tal der Erden,
ein sel’ger Engel dort zu werden!
(Er verbleibt mit gen Himmel gerichtetem Auge auf der Harfe fortspielend)

Wagner, Tannhäuser, “Like a presentiment of death, twilight covers the land”

Like a presentiment of death, twilight covers the land
and shrouds the valley in sombre raiment;
the soul that yearns for heaven’s heights
is fearful before its flight through night and horror.
There thou shinest, oh loveliest of stars!
Thy sweet light thou dost send into the far-off distance,
thy dear beam pierces the evening twilight,
and, in friendly fashion, thou dost point the way out of the valley.
Oh thou, my gracious evening star,
how gladly have I always greeted thee;
from a heart that she never betrayed
salute her as she passes by thee,
as she soars from this earthly vale,
to become a blessed angel yonder.

July 9, 1929 – March 29, 1992

Wachter, a baritone famous for his roles in Mozart operas, was born in Vienna and descended from a noble Austrian family. He studied at Vienna University and the Academy for Music. He made his debut at the Volksoper, the second opera house in Vienna, in 1953. The next year, he was hired by the Vienna State Opera. He was best known for the roles of the Count in “Le Nozze di Figaro,” which he sang at Covent Garden in London in 1958, and Amfortas in “Parsifal” at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany.

He became director of the Volksoper in 1986 and later moved to the State Opera. Directing the State Opera was always “the wish of my life,” Wachter said recently on Austrian television.