Obituary: German Baritone Ekkehard Wlaschiha Dies At 80

By Francisco Salazar

German baritone Ekkehard Wlaschiha has died at the age of 80.

The baritone, who passed away on Feb. 20, was born in Pirna, Saxony, and studied music at the Musikhochschule in Weimar. The baritone started his operatic career at the Theater Gera and went on to perform at the Sächsisches Landestheater Dresden-Radebeul, the Nationaltheater Weimar, and the Leipzig Opera. He became a member of the Berlin State Opera in 1982 and eventually became a regular guest of the Dresdner Staatsoper.

Two years later he went on to make his Bayreuth Festival debut as Alberich in “Götterdämmerung” and became a regular until 1998, performing a wide range of Wagner roles. Debuts immediately came at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Royal Opera House, Metropolitan Opera, and Semperoper Dresden, among others.

Throughout his career, Wlaschiha went on to sing most of the Wagner baritone roles including Telramund in “Lohengrin,” the title role in “Der Fliegende Holländer,” Amfortas and Klingsor in “Parsifal,” Kurwenal in “Tristan und Isolde,” and Hans Sachs in “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” He was involved in the world premieres of Robert Hanell’s “Griechische Hochzeit” and the world premiere of Fritz Geißler’s “Der Schatten.”

Outside of Wagner and modern works, the baritone also performed Don Pizarro in Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” Kaspar in Weber’s “Der Freischütz,” Jochanaan in Strauss’ “Salome,” Escamillo in Bizet’s “Carmen,” Amonasro in Verdi’s “Aida,” and the title role in “Rigoletto.”

Wlaschiha went on to win won two Grammy Awards, in 1990 and 1991, both for recording the role of Alberich.

Among the many recordings, he left behind are the Ring Cycle from the Metropolitan Opera conducted by James Levine, “Parsifal” with Plácido Domingo and Jessye Norman, and “Der Freischütz” with Karita Mattila and Francisco Araiza.

Here is a look at the baritone performing one of his signature roles.