Obituary: German Soprano Gabriele Schnaut Dies at 72

By David Salazar
(Photo Credit: Kirchbach)

Famed German soprano Gabriele Schnaut passed away on June 19, 2023. She was 72.

Born in Mannheim on Feb. 24, 1951, Schnaut commenced her musical journey as a violinist and singer. She studied at the Peter Cornelius Conservatory in Mainz, majoring in violin, while also studying musicology. However, in 1971, she studied singing at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts.

From there, she started her vocal career as a mezzo-soprano, debuting in 1976 at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. Her Bayreuth Festival debut came the next year in productions of Wagner’s Ring Cycle directed by Patrice Chéreau.

Schnaut would go on to become a member of the Staatstheater Darmstadt and the Nationaltheater Mannheim in the late 1970s and throughout the1980s. Starting in 1988, she became a member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and a member the Hamburg State Opera in 1995. She would also become a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper, making her debut with the company in 1982.

Eventually Schnaut became a dramatic soprano, appearingwith such companies as the Hamburg State Opera, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera (she performed as Brünnhilde in 1996), the Vienna State Opera, and the Salzburg Festival among others. She took on operas by Wagner and Strauss throughout her career, though she also appeared as Tosca and Turandot.

In 2008, she switched back to mezzo roles and appeared in the world premiere of “Babylon” in 2012.

Between 2005-14, Schnaut became a professor of voice at the Universität der Künste.

The opera star was honored as a Kammersängerin in Hamburg in 1995 and in Munich in 2003; she was also a recipient of the Bavarian Order of Merit.