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Martin Wölfel (Counter-tenor)

Born: Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

The German counter-tenor, Martin Wölfel, was born and educated in Potsdam, and studied singing at the Carl Maria von Weber College of Music in Dresden. At first he concentrated on becoming a tenor before he found his true calling as a countertenor after visiting an recital given by Axel Köhler. After changing course he studied with Margret Trappe-Wiel until 1999, finally as a master student. He furthered his studies by taking master-classes with such distinguished musicians as Paul Esswood, Axel Köhler, Jessica Cash and Brigitte Fassbaender. At the same time he undertook a lively series of concert activities.

Martin Wölfel has been engaged by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Virtuosi Saxoniae, Lautten Compagney Berlin, Dresdner Kammerchor, Rheinische Philharmonie, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Cairo Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble, Britten-Pears Orchestra and Rheinische Kantorei. In addition he has worked with other renowned orchestras and ensembles including the Barockorchester Stuttgart, Dresdner Barockorchester, Berlin Oriol Ensemble, Kölner Kammerorchester, Dresdner Kreuzchor, La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy from Tourcoing, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Vienna "Klangforum", chamber choir "les éléments", and the Jacques Moderne and Café Zimmermann ensembles.

Martin Wölfel is a popular guest singer at international festivals such as the Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts, the Settimana Musicale Senese, the MDR Music Summer and the "Festival van Vlaanderen Brugge". The list of prominent festivals can be continued with the Mosel ďFestwochenĒ, the Stuttgart European Festival of Music, the Utrecht Festival of Early Music, the Dresden Music Festival and the "Septembre Musical - Festival de Musique Montreux-Vevey".

Now that serious Baroque opera productions have become inconceivable without counter-tenors, and counter-tenors are also gaining importance in contemporary opera repertoires, Martin Wölfel has not only conquered the concert world but also the stage. In the 2001-2002 season he took on the role of Arsace in George Frideric Handel's Berenice at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe (Händel Festival) and of Claire in the German premiere of John Lunnís The Maids at the Dresden Semper Opera. In the 2001-2002 season he made a guest appearance in a production of Monteverdi's LíOrfeo at the German Opera on the Rhine in Düsseldorf and Duisburg. He also appeared at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt in G.F. Handelís Teseo, at the Staatstheater Mainz in the premiere of the opera "G" by Gavin Bryars. In 2002 he made his debut at the National Theater Mannheim as Oberon in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Nightís Dream. In summer 2003 Wölfel was engaged to sing the role of Pisandro in Il ritorno díUlisse in patria on the stage of the German Opera on the Rhine in Düsseldorf and Duisburg, as part of the continuation of the Monteverdi cycle. In autumn that year he was a guest at the Steirische Herbst Festival in Graz in Bernhard Lang's The Theatre of Repetitions - a production with which he made a guest appearance at the Opéra National de Paris in 2006.

In 2004 he took on the challenging role of Ottone in Monteverdiís L'Incoronazione die Poppea at the Opera of the Rhine; and the "Volkstheater Rostock" engaged him to play the male title role in the opera Orpheus and Euridice by Gluck. In addition he also made an appearance in the German premiere of Philip Glass's opera Galileo Galilei at the Staatstheater Braunschweig (2004). In February 2005 Martin Wölfel sang the role of Tolomeo in Julius Caesar at the Hamburg State Opera House, and in May 2005 he performed in the world premiere of Nico. Sphinx aus Eis by Ari Benjamin Meyers on the studio stage of the State Opera House in Dresden.

His other roles include: Guido in G.F. Handelís Flavio, Prinz Orlowski in Johann Straussí Die Fledermaus, Andronico in G.F. Handel's Tamerlano, Nearco in Ristoriís Calandro, Antippo in Georg Philipp Telemann's Der geduldige Socrates - at the French premiere of the opera, conducted by Jean-Claude Malgoire - and the Devil in Detlev Glanert's Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung at the National Theater Mannheim.

Martin Wölfel has worked with such well-known conductors as Frieder Bernius, Helmut Müller-Brühl, Helmut Winschermann, Jörg-Peter Weigle, Andreas Spering, Hans-Christoph Rademann, Jane Glover, Ludwig Güttler, Ludger Rémy, Nicholas Kok, Sir Neville Marriner, Markus Stenz, Christopher Moulds, Joël Suhubiette, Johannes Kalitzke and Andrea Marcon. Amongst the directors who have had the pleasure of working with him as a singer and performer are David Mouchtar-Samourai, Christof Loy, Georges Delnon, Alexander Paeffgen, Anouk Nicklisch, Ullrich Peters, Vera Nemirowa, Andreas Baesler, Thilo Reinhardt, Arila Siegert and Christian Pade.

Accompanied by the lute player Wolfgang Katschner, Martin Wölfel presented a recital at the "Hohenloher Kultursommer", in the "Händelhaus" in Halle and the Festival of Music in Trier. He has also appeared as a soloist with the "Caputher Musiken" at Schloss Caputh, near Potsdam. He has taken part in countless radio and CD recordings. The MDR Kultur channel broadcast a portrait of him in its series "MDR Profile" - and nowadays his name is always mentioned when specialists are talking about the small group of prominent altos and counter-tenors.

Martin Wölfel has earned much praise from the critics for his current projects: as Helicon in Detlef Glanertís Caligula, a co-production between the opera houses of Frankfurt and Cologne, which was premiered in October 2006; as well as the role of Nurse Delfa in Francesco Cavalliís baroque carnival opera Giasone which opened in January 2007 at the Frankfurt Opera House. Wölfel will be appearing once again in the role of Tolomeo in Karoline Gruberís production of G.F. Handel's opera Julius Caesar in Cologne, conducted by Christopher Moulds. The premiere is scheduled for May 2007. Before that he will be going on tour to Athens, Barcelona, Murcia and Valencia with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Thomanerchor Leipzig, where he will be performing in J.S. Bach's Johannes-Passion (BWV 245). In 2008 Martin Wölfel has already been engaged by the Frankfurt Opera house for the role of Edgar in Aribert Reimann's Lear, directed by Keith Warner, conductor Sebastian Weigle.

Source: Martin Wölfl Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2007)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Hans-Christoph Rademann


BWV 54, BWV 106

Helmut Winschermann


BWV 244

Links to other Sites

Martin Wölfl - Countertenor (Official Website) [German/English]


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