Obituary: Legendary Bass Theo Adam Dies At 92

By Francisco Salazar

Theo Adam has died at 92.

According to the great bass’ agency, the family stated that Adam died on Jan. 11, 2019 in Dresden in his hometown.

Born on August 1, 1926, Adam sang with the Dresdner Kreuzchor as a boy and went on to serve in the German Army in World War  II.

At the end of the war, he began to study opera and went on to make his professional debut at the Semperoper in 1949 in “Der Freischutz.” The debut led to a permanent spot at the Berlin State Opera in 1952 and a debut at the Bayreuth Festival. He would become a regular guest at the festival, performing in such works as the Ring Cycle, “Parsifal,” Lohengrin” and “The Flying Dutchman.” He would become one of the great Wagner basses of his generation and one of the most sought after Wotan interpreters.

Adam went on to make debuts at the Royal Opera House, Wiener Staatsoper, Theater an der Wien, and Salzburg Festival, among others.

His Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1969 when he performed “Die Meistersinger” and would return in 1972 for the Ring Cycle with Gwyneth Jones.  Adam would not return until 1988 to perform Wotan alongside James Levine, Peter Hofmann, and Sabine Hass.

Outside of his work in Wagner, the bass performed in a number of world premieres including Paul Dessau’s “Einstein,” Friedrich Cerha’s “Baal,” Luciano Berio’s “Un re in ascolto.”

He also performed such works as “Così fan tutte,” “Der Rosenlavalier,” “Fidelio,” “Wozzeck,” “Lulu,” “Die Zauberflote,” and “Hansel and Gretel.”

Throughout his career Adam left a number of recordings of such works as “Die Meistersinger” with Herbert von Karajan, “Parsifal” with René Kollo, two Ring Cycles with Karl Böhm and Marek Janowski.

He also recorded “Tannhäuser,” “Der Fliegende Hollander” with Anja Silja as well as Berio’s “Un re in ascolto” alongside Karan Armstrong and Lorin Maazel,  and Strauss’ “Die Schweigsame Frau.” There is also a DVD of “Fidelio” with Richard Cassilly, Anja Silja, and Lucia Popp.

Adam also wrote two books: “Seht, hier ist Tinte, Feder, Papier …: Aus der Werkstatt eines Sängers” and “Die hundertste Rolle, oder, Ich mache einen neuen Adam”

Here is Adam as Wotan alongside Birgit Nilsson.

And here he is as Baron Ochs in “Der Rosenkavalier.”