Wolfgang Windgassen is one of the greatest Wagnerian tenors of the 20th century. Known for his intelligence of interpretation and exactness of tone and musicality, he quickly built up a legacy that remains among the most fascinating on record. Perhaps the most fascinating bit of information about the tenor is that he sang every major Wagner role there is to sing for a tenor starring with Erik from “Die Fliegende Holländer” and ending with the title role in “Parsifal.” No tenor has accomplished that same feat ever since.
What’s more, you can hear his great interpretations as they were all recorded on CD for posterity. Here is a rundown of all the major recordings you can obtain of the great tenor in the operas he so thoroughly dominated.
While most Wagnerians ignore any opera prior to “Der Fliegende Holländer,” Windgassen did not overlook “Rienzi” at all and a celebrated recording of his interpretation exists from Stuttgart from 1957.
Die Fliegende Holländer
A recording from the Bayreuth Festival under the direction of Hans Knappertsbutsch exits. It also features Hermann Uhde, Astrid Varnay, and Ludwig Weber.
The tenor has a few recordings of the early Wagner work, including one from 1962 under the direction of Wolfgang Sawallisch and featuring Josef Greindl, among others. There is also a recording from 1955 that also features Greindl, but also showcases Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gré Brouwenstijn under the direction of conductor André Cluytens.
When it comes to “Lohengrin,” you can’t go wrong with the Eugen Jochum-led performance from 1954 which features frequent collaborator Varnay, this time as Ortrud as well as Birgit Nilsson as Elsa, Theo Adam as König Heinrich and Hermann Uhde as Telramund.
The tenor also took on the role of Loge and famously recorded it with Kalm Böhm with a cast that also included Theo Adam, Martti Talvela, and Gustav Neidlinger.
Windgassen was renowned as Siegfried, but he did take on the role of his father Siegmund, which is available in a recording from Bayreuth in 1960. Rudolf Kempe leads Varnay and Jerome Hines among others.
Tristan und Isolde
One of the most celebrated performances in the history of the opera’s recorded legacy, Windgassen’s recording with Birgit Nilsson under Karl Böhm from 1966 is simply an incredible feat that has not been surpassed since.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
A performance from Bayreuth in 1960, conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch was recorded of this opera with Windgassen as Walther. The performance also stars Josef Greindl, Theo Adam, Karl Schmitt-Walter, and Ludwig Weber.
Siegfried & Götterdämmerung
Now we get to two operas that Windgassen made his own and recorded numerous times. Of course, the major Ring interpretations that come to mind in his recorded legacy is that of Böhm and Solti, both of which showcase him alongside Birgit Nilsson. He also has a Ring conducted by Clemens Krauss from Bayreuth which also features Varnay.
The most famous recording of the final Wagner opera for Windgassen sees the tenor under the direction of Erich Leinsdorf with Regine Crespin, Theo Adam, and Franz Crass rounding out the cast. The performance hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Did we miss any of your favorite recordings? Tell us in the comments below!