Obituary: Karl Ridderbusch
He duly sang Fasolt, Hunding, Fafner and Hagen in Bayreuth, and several of those roles at the Metropolitan, New York and at Covent Garden, but his voice encompassed a very wide range, and he became particularly noted for his portrayal of Hans Sachs, which he sang at the Easter Festival in Salzburg under the baton of Herbert von Karajan.
Another favourite and much-admired role was that of Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier. An excellent actor, he sang a number of comic roles, including Rocco (Fidelio), Van Bett (Lortzing's Zar und Zimmermann), Nicolai's Falstaff, and Kecal (The Bartered Bride); he never, even as Ochs, overplayed the comic business, but in more dramatic parts such as Caspar (Der Freischutz) and Pizarro (Fidelio), not to mention his Wagner repertory, he used his fine voice and impressive height to even greater advantage.
Karl Ridderbusch was born in Recklinghausen in 1932. He trained to be an engineer, intending to work in his father's brick-works. His voice was discovered when he entered an amateur competition held by the Herzog Film Company in Dusseldorf, where he was heard by the tenor Rudolf Schock. Encouraged by Schock, who paid for part of his studies, first in Duisberg, then in Essen, Ridderbusch made his stage debut in 1961 at Munster.
In 1964 he moved to Essen, and in 1965 to the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf/Duisberg, which remained his home base for the remainder of his career, and where he sang Italian roles such as Henry VIII in Donizetti's Anna Bolena and Philip II in Don Carlos, as well as the German repertory.
Ridderbusch was soon giving guest performances, in Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, in Dallas, where he sang Sarastro in Die Zauberflote in 1966, and at the Paris Opera, where he sang King Mark in Tristan und Isolde in 1967. That same year he made his Bayreuth debut as King Henry in Lohengrin, followed by Titurel in Parsifal and Fasolt in Das Rheingold, and his Metropolitan debut as Hunding in Die Walkure, later singing Fafner in Siegfried.
He made his Covent Garden debut in 1971 as Fasolt, Hunding and Fafner, returning as the Landgrave in Tannhauser in 1974.
Ridderbusch continued to appear at Bayreuth for the next decade, as Hunding, Hagen (Gotterdammerung), Daland (Der fliegende Hollander), and Pogner as well as Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger, which soon became his most successful role. He gave an especially fine performance at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 1974. He returned to the Metropolitan in 1976 as Sachs and sang the role at the Lyric Theatre, Chicago in 1977.
During the 1980s Gurnemanz in Parsifal became one of his most successful interpretations: he sang it at Turin (1982), Cologne (1983) and Rome (1984). Another finely characterised part was the Doctor in Wozzeck, which he sang in Munich in 1982, and repeated at Madrid in 1987, when I wrote that he was "a sinister Doctor, his colossal shoulders twitching with maniacal glee as he contemplated Wozzeck's moral and physical failings . . ."
The last time I heard Karl Ridderbusch was later that year, when he took the small role of the Podesta in Schreker's Die Gezeichneten in Dusseldorf. This production was taken to the Vienna Festival in 1989. He sang Falstaff in Die lustige Weiber von Windsor for the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in 1991.
In his prime Riddersbusch made a great many recordings: he can be heard as Pogner and Sachs, King Mark, Titurel and Gurnemanz, as well as in his usual roles in Der Ring, and as Rocco. My own favourite among his recordings is Richard Strauss's Capriccio, in which he takes the part of the theatre director La Roche and in his great monologue both explains and demonstrates what opera is all about.
Karl Ridderbusch, opera singer: born Recklinghausen, Germany 29 May 1932; twice married (two sons, one daughter); died Wels, Austria 21 June 1997.
From the blogs
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
If you had any doubt where Binky gets her brilliantly brassy disregard for social graces, episode se...
As England’s new football strip – made by Nike – is revealed today, new research shows the English F...
The Photography Blog: ‘Control Order House’ by Edmund Clark – Photographing our response to terrorism
Recent events in Boston have served as a painful reminder of the threat posed by terrorism. In Contr...
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
At least 91 feared dead including 20 children as massive tornado rips through Oklahoma
David Cameron offers civil partnership review and seeks to smooth relations with angry activists as gay marriage Bill clears major hurdle
- 1 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
- 4 Be more professional! GCHQ staff rapped as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reveals messages that he says point to 'fit up'
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£350 - £500 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Project Manager - Public Sector ...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: HR Manager Independe...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Huxley Associates: INTERIM HR MANAGER - ...