Perhaps the most refined of the post-war lighter tenors, Peter Schreier is valued for the conviction of his operatic roles, his sincerity in religious music and intelligence in Lieder.
As a chorister in the Dresden Keruzchor, his initial aspirations were toward sacred music, in particular the great Evangelist roles in the Bach Passions and Christmas Oratorio; indeed, his last appearance as a professional singer was as the Evangelist in the Christmas Oratorio, which he was also conducting, in Prague in 2005, at the age of 70. His operatic career began with the role of first prisoner in Fidelio in 1959, but rapidly blossomed with work at the then East-Berlin Staatsoper, Vienna State Opera, Salzburg and Bayreuth Festivals. While valued chiefly for Mozartean roles, such as Belmonte and Tamino, he maintained his love of the Bach. Schreier was also one of the finest Lieder singers of his generation; his 1991 recording of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin is remarkable for its unforced insight.
In his own words: 'It must be like a ride over the Bodensee, you must do it without showing any fear.’ (Schreier speaking about the coloratura Alleluia from JS Bach’s Cantata 51)
Greatest recording: Schubert Die schöne Müllerin, Decca 475 2682 (3 discs) £17.99