Opera Scotland

Gerhard Unger Suggest updates

Born Bad Salzungen, 26 November 1916.

Died Stuttgart, 4 July 2011.

German tenor.

Gerhard Unger was  perhaps the best-known light character tenor in the German repertoire in the twenty-five years after the war. He was particularly renowned for his interpretations of David (Meistersinger), Jaquino (Fidelio), Pedrillo (Entführung), Monostatos (Zauberflöte), Valzacchi (Rosenkavalier) and Brighella (Ariadne auf Naxos).

He studied at the Berlin Hochschule and started his singing career in concert when the war ended. He was a member of the opera company at Weimar from 1947 to 1952, then the Berlin Staatsoper until 1961, when he moved to the West. For the rest of his career he was based in Stuttgart until his retirement in 1987. Between 1962 and 1973 he was a frequent guest at Hamburg, and it was with them that he made his only visit to the Edinburgh Festival, in 1968.

He appeared at Bayreuth in 1951 as David in a production conducted by Karajan. He appeared frequently at the Salzburg Festival, most famously in the Entführung production by Giorgio Strehler which ran from 1965 to 1975. His other Salzburg roles included Monostatos, Brighella, Valzacchi and one of the Jews in Salome. At La Scala he sang Jaquino, Pedrillo and Mime.

He recorded his most noted roles on several occasions - Pedrillo with both Beecham and Josef Krips. He appears as David in an excellent 1956 recording of Meistersinger conducted by Kempe, with Elisabeth Grümmer, Hans Hopf and Hans Hotter in the cast, and the 1951 Bayreuth recording is also good. Valzacchi and Brighella were recorded under Karl Böhm. He also appears in the recordings by Otto Klemperer made in London with the Philharmonia - Fidelio (1962), Zauberflöte (1964) and Flying Dutchman (1968).

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