Il mese del tenore verdiano XXIX: Marcel Wittrisch (1903-1955)

Marcel Wittrisch e Wilhelm Strienz

Marcel Wittrisch studied in Leipzig, later in Munich and als spent some time in Milan. His debut took place in 1925 at the Theater von Halle (Saale) in Heinrich Marschner´s „Hans Heiling“. 1926 he moved on to Braunschweig and in 1929 to Berlin, having sung there already in 1928 in the role of Pygmalion in Franz von Suppé´s „Die schöne Galathée“.  His repertory was very varied and ranged from an excellent Tamino to Lohengrin, which he sang at Bayreuth in 1937. In 1934, the year before this recording, Wittrisch sang much acclaimed premiere of Ernani at the Opera Unter den Linden in Berlin under Leo Blech with Tiana Lemnitz, Herbert Janssen and Michael Bohnen. Until the closure of all German theatres in 1944 Wittrisch was one oft he main artists at the Lindenoper in Berlin – and he also rarely missed an occasion to curry favour with the regime…. Wittrisch left more than 400 recordings, many also in operetta and Schlager. The many Lohengrins eventually started to make themselves heard and by the time the war was over – so was actually his career.

Wittrisch Lemnitz ErnaniWe hear a full lric tenor with spinto qualities and vocal stamina. We also hear a LOT of Richard Tauber, who clearly influenced him a lot, although Wittrisch had the freer and fuller upper range. The tempo here seems a little hurried, but nonetheless, there is much to admire in Wittrisch´s singing. He has verve, vocal control and musicality (although not the refinement of Richard Tauber), although I find his natural vocal resources a touch lightweight for the role. But then… remembering the Ernani of Neil Shicoff in Vienna back in 1998 – maybe not…

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