Born: September 22, 1892 - Colgne, Germany
Died: June 3, 1965 - New York, USA
The noted German-born American baritone, Herbert Janssen, studied first law and served as an officer in World War I. Afterwards he studied with Oskar Daniel in Berlin.
Herbert Janssen made his late debut at the Berlin State Opera in 1922 as Herod in Schrekerís Der Schatzgräber. He remained with the company until 1938 where he was very successful not only in Wagner but also in Verdi and French operas. He also appeared as Orest and Prince Igor. Guest appearances followed in Vienna and Buenos Aires. He was regarded as the outstanding exponent of the lighter Wagnerian baritone parts (Kurwenal, Wolfram, Amfortas, Gunther, Telramund, Kothner, Donner, Heerrufer) and appeared at Covent Garden (1926-1939) and Bayreuth (1930-1937).
The Nazi regime caused Herbert Janssen to leave Germany (1938). He made his debut at the opera house of Philadelphia in 1939 (as Wotan in Siegfried). He was immediately engaged at the Met and remained there from 1939 to 1952. He was a frequent guest at all major American opera houses. After Friedrich Schorrís retirement in 1943 he reluctantly took over the heavier roles of Wotan and Hans Sachs but they did not suit his voice. He considered the loss of vocal refinement and darkening of his famous upper tones. Herbert Janssen had always been a favorite recitalist and conquered a new generation of concertgoers, when he reappeared in London as a Lieder singer after World War II.
At the end of his career Herbert Janssen became a vocal coach.