Artist Profile: Swedish Baritone Ingvar Wixell, Verdi Specialist

By David Salazar

Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell engaged in a lengthy career that spanned from 1955 all the way to 2003.

Born on May 7, 1931, in Lulea, Sweden, he studied at the Stockholm Academy of Music, making professional debuts in 1952 in Galve and 1955 in Stockholm, where he would become a member of the Royal Swedish Opera until 1967.

Then came an international career that saw him debut in the UK, Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he would be a member for 30 years. He also appeared at Salzburg and the Bayreuth Festival in 1971.

His final performance came in 2004 in “Ariadne Auf Naxos” and he passed away in his native country on Oct. 8, 2011.

Signature Role

Wixell was well-known for his immersion in the Italian repertoire, dominating operas by Rossini, Mozart, and Verdi. He was especially recognized for his interpretations in the Verdi baritone roles, though his most famous is undeniably Rigoletto.

The baritone sang the role in his Metropolitan Opera debut and sang it 10 times with the company. His interpretation was renowned for its clarity of dictation and his manner with the text.

“What gave Mr. Wixell’s singing its distinction was his awareness of the text,” stated New York Times critic Raymond Ericson. “His clear enunciation and concern for words charged the vocal line with vitality.”

His performance of the role is immortalized in a filmed version by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle that stars Edita Gruberova and Luciano Pavarotti.

Watch and Listen

Here is the film mentioned above.


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