Gundula Janowitz

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Gundula Janowitz

Gundula Janowitz (born August 2, 1937 in Berlin, Germany) is one of the greatest lyric sopranos in modern history, known for its high-luminosity timbre and vocal control in the most acute notes of his tessitura.

Gundula_Janowitz’s Biography

He was born in Berlin but grew up in Graz, becoming an Austrian. He studied at the Graz Conservatory and, in 1960, debuted in Vienna. She was admired especially by the director Herbert von Karajan, who often counted on her for his productions, in 1959, Karajan made her debut as Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro in the Staatsoper, of which she was a permanent member since 1962 and of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1966.

In addition to his mentor Karajan, with whom he worked until 1979, he was a favorite of Otto Klemperer, Eugen Jochum, Leonard Bernstein, Rafael Kubelík, Karl Böhm, Georg Solti and Carlos Kleiber.

His fame comes mostly from compositions in German, with works by Mozart, Wagner, Weber, Beethoven, Richard Strauss, and Bach. She played the role of Elisabetta in Don Carlo and the Countess in Las bodas de Figaro with brilliance, despite her decidedly non-Italian pronunciation. An extract of these exceptional stylistic features appears in the film Perpetual Chain, in the interpretation of Canzonetta sull’aria with Edith Mathis in the version of Deutsche Grammophon directed by Karl Böhm in 1967.

His main performances were in Glyndebourne, Bayreuth (1960), Aix-en-Provence (1963), Salzburg Festival (between 1963 and 1981), Metropolitan Opera, Opera de Paris, Teatro alla Scala and the Royal Opera House. In 1980, he sang in Le nozze di Figaro with Georg Solti directed by Giorgio Strehler.

He retired on May 18, 1990, at the age of 53, at the Vienna Opera as Ariadne auf Naxos although he continued with recitals until 1997.

He is an honorary member of the Vienna Opera, Berlin Opera, Graz Academy and the Royal Academy of London.

Gundula Janowitz was married to the Berlin director Nikolaus Sulzberger until her death in 2014 and since 1992 lives in St. Polten, Niederösterreich.

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