Wolfgang Windgassen (26 June 1914 – 8 September 1974) was a heldentenor internationally known for his performances in Wagner operas.
Life and career
Born in Annemasse, France, he was the son (and pupil) of a well known German Heldentenor, Fritz Windgassen (who was also the teacher of Gottlob Frick). His mother was the German coloratura soprano Vali von der Osten, sister of the much more famous soprano Eva von der Osten, who created the part of Octavian in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Both Windgassen's parents were longtime mainstays of the Staatsoper Stuttgart.
Wolfgang made his début at Pforzheim as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. After army service he became a member of the Stuttgart opera company, and succeeded his father as principal tenor. Stuttgart opera remained his home base throughout his career, and for the last two years of his life he was its artistic director.
Windgassen sang at all the important opera houses all over the world. He was invited to perform at the reopening of the Bayreuth Festival in 1951 and continued to appear there till 1970, singing all the great Wagner tenor roles: Erik, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan, Walter, Loge, Siegmund, both Siegfrieds and Parsifal, his debut role in 1951.
His voice was not as heroic as pre-war Heldentenors such as Lauritz Melchior or his immediate predecessor Max Lorenz, but he used it with such skill and musicianship that he is generally regarded as the most accomplished Wagner tenor of the second half of the twentieth century.
He died from a heart attack in Stuttgart, Germany at the age of 60.