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Peter Lagger (Bass)

Born: September 7, 1930 - Buchs (St. Gallen), Switzerland
Died: September 17, 1979 - Berlin, Germany

The Swiss bass, Peter Lagger, was reared in Switzerland, but his family originated on the paternal side from Italy, and on the maternal side from Russia. First he studied to play piano at the Conservatoire of Zürich, then in Vienna with Seehofer, and in Italy. However, he trained his voice finally in Vienna, with Hans Duhan and others.

Peter Lagger began his career 1953 in Graz, sang from 1955 to 1957 at the Opera House of Zürich, from 1957 to 1959 at the State Theater of Wiesbaden and from 1959 to 1963 at the Opera House of Frankfurt a.M., since then up to his death at the Deutschen Oper in Berlin. Here he came soon to a great career, then also international level.

Peter Lagger won international renown both as opera singer and appeared with many important opera houses throughout the world. At the Salzburg Festival he sang in 1963-1964 Bartolo in Le Nozze do Figaro, and in 1964 Banquo in Macbeth by Verdi. In August 1966 he participated at the same festival in the premiere of the opera Die Bassariden by H.W. Henze, and in 1974 in the premiere of the Magnificat of K. Penderecki. He appeared as a guest at Milan's La Scala, at the Vienna State Opera, and at the opening of the Osaka World Fair, in Munich, Paris, Lyon, Rio de Janeiro, Warsaw, Naples, Madrid and Geneva (1965), and was connected since 1972 by a guest contract with Hamburg State Opera. He sang also at the Festivals of Glyndebourne (1957), Aix-en-Provence, Luzern, Orange, Madrid, etc. In 1967 he performed in Berlin for the first time the title role of Boris Godunov. Since that time this role was a special high point in his comprehensive repertoire for the stage. In 1982 he also participated in Frankfurt a.M. in the premiere of the opera Alkestiade by Louise Talma.

Apart from his career as an opera bass singer, Peter Lagger unfolded a second, just as successful career in the concert hall. Here he performed in masterful interpretation works of J.S. Bach up to modern composers. He appeared with many orchestras as well as recitals throughout the world.

In 1970 Peter Lagger was awarded in 1970 the honorary title of Kammersänger by the Senate of Berlin. His performances with Antal Doráti and Rose Marie Freni-Pallo as Bluebeard (at the Kennedy Center) were termed by critics ‘an artistic Triumph’. His brother, under the name Alexander Malta (born 1942), had likewise a great career as bass-baritone, particularly at the opera houses of Munich and Stuttgart.

Recordings: Philips (Russian folk songs; English and German folk songs as well as Lieder of Schubert), Columbia (Der Mond by Carl Orff), DGG (Le Nozze di Figaro, Meistersinger, Te Deum by A. Bruckner), Eurodisc (Fidelio), Philips RCA (Utrenja by Penderecki), HMV Electrola (Don Giovanni), Orfeo (Macbeth by Verdi), Disco Jecklin (Requiem by Franc Martin), GAM (Le Prophète by Meyerbeer); Topaz-Video (Eugen Onegin).

Source: Programme notes to a concert of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antal Dorati (February 1977); Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (October 2004)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2001, October 2004); Manfred Krugmann (Photos 02-09, July 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Hermann Scherchen


BWV 244

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