Wolfgang Windgassen followed in his father’s footsteps, also a tenor and with whom he studied, working at the Stuttgart opera, first as a singer and from 1972, until his death two years later, as director. Although famed for his Wagnerian roles, Windgassen made his debut in 1941 as Don Alvaro in La forza del destino. At Bayreuth he sang major tenor roles and was the Siegfried in Solti’s 1960s recording of the Ring for Decca. Although his voice lacked the baritone resonance of other pre-War greats, his exquisite tone made him one of the most valued Wagnerian singers of his generation. His Siegfried in the famous Decca Ring is unforgettable for its strength and fragility.
In his own words: ‘Gott, welch’ dunkles Bier’ (‘What dark beer’) – Windgassen on making a rapid stage exit from Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, with a stomach upset.
Greatest recording: Wagner Tristan und Isolde Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Karl Böhm DG 449 7722 (3 discs)