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WALTRAUD MEIER

Waltraud Meier was already active as a singer in her youth, singing in numerous choral groups and taking singing lessons at university (where she studied English and Romance languages) firstly with Anton Theisen and, after his death, with Dietger Jacob in Cologne. Having sung in the chorus of the Würzburg Municipal Theatre, she made her solo debut there in 1976, as Lola / Cavalleria rusticana. At Würzburg between 1976 and 1978 Meier sang such roles as Cherubino / Le nozze di Figaro, Niklausse / Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Concepción / L’Heure Espagnole.

It was in Mannheim, where she was a member of the Opera between 1978 and 1980, that Meier sang her first Wagnerian roles. These were Fricka and Waltraute / Der Ring des Nibelungen; and here too she sang the title part in Carmen and Octavian / Der Rosenkavalier. From 1980 to 1983 she was with the Dortmund Opera, where she sang Kundry / Parsifal, Eboli / Don Carlo and Santuzza / Cavalleria rusticana.

Meier’s international debut was as Fricka at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 1980; but her major breakthrough came in 1983 when, having on her own initiative telephoned the Bayreuth Festival for an audition, she was hired to sing Kundry. Great success and immediate fame followed, with Bayreuth becoming Meier’s artistic home. Here she sang Kundry (1983–1993), Brangäne / Tristan und Isolde (1985), Isolde / Tristan und Isolde (1993–1999), Sieglinde / Die Walküre (2000) and Waltraute before leaving Bayreuth in 2000 following a disagreement with the Festival’s management.

During this period Meier was a member of the Hanover Opera for the 1983–1984 season and sang with the Stuttgart Opera between 1985 and 1988. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 1987 as Fricka, with James Levine directing his first Das Rheingold. The following year she sang Kundry at the Royal Opera House, London with Bernard Haitink conducting; while in Europe she appeared regularly at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Milan and the Paris Opera. At the Met she sang Kundry for the first time in 1992 and Santuzza in 1993, a performance which the New York Times hailed as ‘superb’.

Throughout this time Meier worked closely with Daniel Barenboim, not only at Bayreuth but elsewhere: for instance singing Marie / Wozzeck with the Berlin State Opera in 1994 and Leonore / Fidelio at the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1998, the year in which she made her Munich debut as Ortrud / Lohengrin. She sang Isolde at the Salzburg Festival in 2000 with Lorin Maazel conducting and in 2001 opened the Munich Opera Festival as Dido / Les Troyens under Zubin Mehta.

Meier devoted the 2003–2004 season entirely to recitals and concerts, singing not only works by Schubert, Brahms and Wolf but also Bach’s St Matthew Passion throughout Europe, Russia and the United States. She returned to the operatic stage the following season, as Carmen in Dresden; and in 2005 sang Isolde in a new production at the Paris Opera conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Her Kundry at the Met in 2006 ignited the critics, with the New York Times describing her assumption of the role as ‘propelling herself into it like a wide-bore, high-explosive cannon shell.’ The same newspaper hailed as ‘perfect’ her performance as Venus / Tannhäuser at Baden-Baden in 2008. Continuing to expand her repertoire, Meier tackled Klytaemnestra / Elektra at the Salzburg Festival in 2010.

Essentially a mezzo-soprano with sufficient flexibility at the top of her voice to allow her to sing dramatic soprano roles from time to time (such as Leonore / Fidelio), Meier at her best combines a floating expressivity with a seemingly effortless ability to cut through orchestral textures. Dramatically she is one of the finest singing actors of her generation and one who can generate great intensity of emotion on stage.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Singers, Naxos 8.558097-100).

Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphony No. 9, "Choral" / Leonore Overture No. 3 (Barenboim) (NTSC) EuroArts
2055528
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN, L.: Fidelio (Palau de les Arts "Reina Sofia", 2006) (NTSC) EuroArts
2072498
Opera DVD
BERG, A.: Wozzeck (Staatsoper unter den Linden, 1994) (NTSC) EuroArts
2066758
Opera DVD
ESSENTIAL BEETHOVEN (THE) (NTSC) EuroArts
2057958
Classical Concert, Opera DVD
LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES - WAGNER, R.: Tannhäuser (Bavarian State Opera, 1995) (Blu-ray) Arthaus Musik
109154
Opera DVD
LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES - WAGNER, R.: Tannhäuser (Bavarian State Opera, 1995) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
109153
Opera DVD
MAGIC MOMENTS OF OPERA (NTSC) (DVD Box Set) Arthaus Musik
107515
Opera DVD
MAHLER, G.: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 (P. Järvi) (Blu-ray, HD) C Major
719204
Classical Concert
MAHLER, G.: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 (P. Järvi) (NTSC) C Major
719108
Classical Concert
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 3 (Meier, London Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Tennstedt) (1986) ICA Classics
ICAC5033
Orchestral
MEIER, Waltraud: I Follow a Voice Within Me EuroArts
2051889
Classical Concert, Classical Documentary
OPERA HIGHLIGHTS, Vol. 3 (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
102051
Opera DVD
STRAUSS, R.: Elektra (Salzburg Festival, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Arthaus Musik
101560
Opera DVD
STRAUSS, R.: Elektra (Salzburg Festival, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) (version with video samplers) Arthaus Musik
108110
Opera DVD
STRAUSS, R.: Elektra (Salzburg Festival, 2010) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101559
Opera DVD
WAGNER COLLECTION (THE) - Lohengrin / Tannhauser / Rienzi (6 DVD Box Set) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
107527
Opera DVD
WAGNER EDITION (The) (25-DVD Box Set) (NTSC) Opus Arte
OA1095BD
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Götterdämmerung (La Scala, 2013) (Blu-ray, HD) Arthaus Musik
108093
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Götterdämmerung (La Scala, 2013) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101696
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Lohengrin (Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, 2006) (Blu-ray, NTSC) Opus Arte
OABD7026D
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Lohengrin (Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, 2006) (NTSC) Opus Arte
OA0964D
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Parsifal (Baden-Baden, 2004) (Blu-ray, HD) Opus Arte
OABD7063D
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Parsifal (Baden-Baden, 2004) (NTSC) Opus Arte
OA0915D
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Parsifal (Staatsoper Berlin, 1992) (NTSC) EuroArts
2066738
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Ring des Nibelungen (Der) (La Scala, 2010-2013) (4 Blu-ray Disc Box Set, HD) Arthaus Musik
107550
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Ring des Nibelungen (Der) (La Scala, 2010-2013) (7 DVD Box Set) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
107549
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Tannhauser (Baden-Baden, 2008) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Arthaus Musik
101352
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Tannhauser (Baden-Baden, 2008) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101351
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Tannhauser (Bayerische Staatsoper, 1994) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100014
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Tristan und Isolde (Bavarian State Opera, 1998) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100057
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Walküre (Die) (La Scala, 2010) (Blu-ray, HD) Arthaus Musik
108091
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Walküre (Die) (La Scala, 2010) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101694
Opera DVD
WAGNER: Tristan und Isolde (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100056
Opera DVD





 
 
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