20 January 2023

P.R. Jenkins

Karajan artists: Eberhard Waechter – a Viennese institution

Eberhard Waechter was definitely one of Karajan’s favourite singers when he was head of the Vienna State Opera. Between 1956 and 1965, Waechter appeared 117 times under Karajan’s baton and in as many as 18 different productions for the stage and on record.

Waechter performed major parts in operas by Mozart (Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute), Beethoven, Wagner (Rheingold, Tannhäuser, Meistersinger, Parsifal), Verdi (Trovatore, Falstaff), Richard Strauss (Rosenkavalier, Elektra), Johann Strauss (Fledermaus), Debussy, Puccini (Butterfly) and Mussorgsky (Boris Godunov) – plus concerts with Bach (Magnificat, St Matthew Passion, Mass in B minor), Haydn (Creation), Mozart (Requiem) and  Brahms (Requiem)!

Waechter – a Viennese public favourite par excellence – later became head of the State Opera himself. Still in office there, he died suddenly on a stroll in the Wienerwald in March 1992 at the age of 62.

“We rehearsed ‘Die Fledermaus’ with the director Leopold Lindtberg for weeks and then Karajan came to the orchestra rehearsals and changed many of the things we had spent days working on. On stage, everything was a mess. I told him he should show a little bit of consideration for us. His response was that it would be better if we went our separate ways. I hadn’t expected that! A few days later Karajan sent for me and said: ‘Do you know what? Let’s forget the whole business. Here’s a box of Chinese tea for you.’”

Waechter on Karajan


in “Die Fledermaus” in 1960


in “Fidelio” in 1962


in “Il Trovatore” in 1963

We’ve prepared playlists for you with Karajan and Eberhard Waechter. Listen to them here.

from “Unglaubliche Begeisterung für die Oper” oe1.orf.at,  8 April 2017

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