Waldemar Kmennt died in Vienna today, on January 21st 2015.
Kmentt had switched from piano to singing in 1949 and studied with Elisabeth Radó, Adolf Vogel and Hans Duhan. At the age of 21 he sang in Beethoven´s 9th under Karl Böhm and made his debut at the Staatsoper in 1951 and sang at its re-opening in 1955 Jacquino in Beethovens „Fidelio“. His farewell at the Staatsoper took place as the Haushofmeister in „Ariadne auf Naxos“ in 2005. Although he was generally considered as the Wiener Staatsoper´s house tenor he did also sing in the United States (though at the Met only in 2005 again in “Ariadne”) and Japan and all around Europe including the festivals at Bayreuth, Edinburgh, Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg. Between 1978 and 1995 he was directed the opera studio oft he Music Conservatory in Vienna.
One can safely say, that he was the logical successor to Julius Patzak, not only taking over many of his roles, but also carrying on as one of the last worthy exponents the German tradition of lyric tenors. His voice had more beef and ring than Patzak´s, but his interpretations lacked maybe a little the very special imprint Patzak added to his roles. His repertory was vast and varied ranging from Eisenstein in „Die Fledermaus“ to Don José in „Carmen“. His „cavalli di battaglia“ were Don Ottavio Ferrando in „Così“, Hans („Verkaufte Braut“), Idomeneo, Tamino, Lenski, Cavaradossi, or the title role in Stravinsky´s „Oedipus Rex“. He also was a concert and oratorio singer of great renown. He was a very intelligent singer, knowing well his limits and a man, who in private had great charm and wit. Like Patzak´s, his voice became a little drier in later years, but there still was a lot to cherish in his stylish singing. Featured here in his prime, listen to his fresh and poetic „Che gelida manina“ or his vigorous and lovely performance in the „Così fan tutte“ duet with Grümmer and his taste and charm as a operetta singer. A singer, who was taken a bit for granted in Vienna, but what a great, expert and stylish singer he was! His likes are sorely missed today (especially in Mozart).