This spring we've been having fun with opera quizzes on Saturday Afternoon at the Opera with Peter Fox Smith. April's quiz is one of the last two we'll have this Met opera season, and like the others it's just a matter of listening to a great operatic voice (past or present), picking up a clue or two, and taking your best guess as to who the voice is.
Our April mystery voice is someone who was seemingly destined for a life in music. His mother was an accomplished violinist and his father was a choir director. As a young man he worked at a busy bakery in his hometown in Germany and entertained the shop's patrons with his beautiful voice. At their urging he finally applied for enrollment in the Freiburg Music Academy in Breisgau, and the town fathers awarded the promising young talent a scholarship to attend. He studied both voice and French Horn at the school.
The natural lyric tenor went on to make his successful professional debut locally in the mid-1950s, and enjoyed singing roles (particularly Mozart roles) in major European opera houses including those in Bavaria, Vienna, and England.
He very much looked forward to the day he could sing on the Metropolitan Opera stage as well. That date should have been October 8, 1966, singing the role of Don Ottavio in a new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. But, it was not to be. He died unexpectedly on September 17, 1966 (a week before his 36th birthday) when he took an accidental fall down a stone stairway at a friend's country estate in Heidelberg.
Though his career was cut short he is still considered one of the finest lyric tenors the world has ever known. Ready to guess? ...... OK, here goes: the subject of April's opera quiz is......Fritz Wunderlich!
No one correctly guessed the mystery voice this time around, but please listen in again for the next one. Our season finale Saturday Afternoon at the Opera quiz is coming up on May 21st.
Here's Herr Wunderlich singing Tamino's aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute: