OP2006. FIERRABRAS (Schubert), Broadcast Performance, 1959, w.Müller-Kray Cond. Radio Bern Ensemble; Fritz Wunderlich, Hetty Plümacher, Otto von Rohr, Sieglinde Kahmann, etc. (E.U.) Myto 00192. - 8014399501927
“FIERREBRAS is a three-act opera written by the composer Franz Schubert in 1823, to a libretto by Josef Kupelwieser, the general manager of the Theater am Kärntnertor (Vienna's Court Opera Theatre). Along with the earlier ALFONSO UND ESTRELLA, composed in 1822, it marks Schubert's attempt to compose grand Romantic opera in German, departing from the Singspiel tradition.
The Kärntnertor Theater in 1822 commissioned operas from Schubert and Carl Maria von Weber in a drive to increase the number of German operas in repertoire. Schubert fulfilled his commission with FIERREBRAS, von Weber his with EURYANTHE. The Italian theatre director Domenico Barbaja, who had taken over the theatre in 1821, at the same time brought Rossini to Vienna to oversee production of several of his operas at the Kärntnertor Theater. Rossini's operas were so popular that EURYANTHE unsuccessfully premiered in October 1823, resulting in the shelving of plans to stage FIERREBRAS, and the resignation of Josef Kupelwieser as director of the theater, complaining of ‘arrogance’ on the part of Barbaja. As a result, Schubert never saw the opera staged, or even received payment for his work."
“Fritz Wunderlich was discovered for the opera stage at a student production of ZAUBERFLÖTE. At the age of 25 he was engaged at the Württemberg Staatstheater in Stuttgart, one of the most renowned opera houses in Germany at the time. Erich Schäfer was its General Manager, Ferdinand Leitner its conductor, and Wieland Wagner and Günther Rennert created very interesting productions. Wunderlich never broke off relations with Stuttgart completely, not even when he was engaged by the Munich Opera in 1958. Here he was influenced by Rudolf Hartmann, Günther Rennert and Josef Keilberth. In 1959 he made his début at the Salzburg Festival (Henry Morosus in Strauss’ DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU). He soon became the leading lyrical tenor and he was particularly admired in the Mozart repertoire. He also sang Alfredo, Lenski, Palestrina, and the Steersman in DER FLIEGENDE HÖLLANDER. He loved to sing Egk, Liebermann and Orff and was an eminent operetta singer. He sang operettas on stage only at the outset of his career in Freiburg and Stuttgart. He regularly appeared in oratorios and has been unsurpassed as Evangelist. With his fatherly friend Hubert Giesen he worked on Lieder and he soon was very much in demand as a recitalist. His career was one of the most successful after World War II. He died tragically of an accident, a few days before his 36th birthday. It is pointless to speculate what direction he would have taken if he had been granted a longer career. With the natural power of his voice he would have been able to move into heroic regions.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“Fritz Wunderlich spent five years in Stuttgart before he became a world figure.....The voice is young and fresh. There has hardly ever been a more beautiful tenor voice, and his career lasted only ten years because he died young.”
- Donald R. Vroon, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/Aug., 2004