Franz Mazura, Celebrated Bass-Baritone, Has Died
BroadwayWorld has learned that Austrian bass-baritone opera singer and actor Franz Mazura has died.
He performed at the Bayreuth Festival from 1971 for 25 years and at the Metropolitan Opera for 15 years. He was made a Kammersänger in 1980 and an Honorary Member of the Nationaltheater Mannheim in 1990. He most often played villains and strange characters, with signature roles including Klingsor in Wagner's Parsifal. Mazura took part in world premieres, such as the double role of Dr. Schön and Jack the Ripper in the world premiere of the completed version of Alban Berg's Lulu at the Paris Opera in 1979, and as Abraham in Giorgio Battistelli's Lot in 2017.
Two of his recordings received Grammy Awards. His voice was described as with dark timbre, powerful and like granite ("dunkel gefärbt, kräftig und wie Granit"), with perfect diction. He had a long career, appearing at the Staatsoper Berlin the night before his 95th birthday.
Among Mazura's roles at the Met was Alberich in Der Ring des Nibelungen in 1981, conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. In Siegfried, reviewer Donal Henahan found him and Heinz Zednik as Mime the most interesting in their character roles. The same year, he appeared as Creon in Stavinsky's Oedipus Rex. He performed as Gurnemanz and Pizarro in 1983, as Count Waldner in Arabella by Richard Strauss in 1984, alongside Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role and conducted by Marek Janowski, and as the Doctor in Wozzeck in 1995. After repeating Lulu and Parsifal, he was Frank in a new production of Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss in 1986, and Mr. Flint in Britten's Billy Budd in 1989. His last performance at the Met was again Dr. Schön in 2002.
Mazura appeared in 2006 in the narrating role of Charon in Henze's Das Floß der Medusa, which was performed for the composer's 80th birthday at the Berliner Philharmonie, conducted by Simon Rattle, and with Christian Gerhaher as Jean-Charles and Camilla Nylund as La Mort.
Mazura's career as an opera singer was extremely long. He performed in 2017 in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli's opera Lot, in the role of Abraham, at age 93. In April 2019, he performed as Meister Hans Schwarz in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Staatsoper Berlin. The final performance of this run was on 21 April, the night before Mazura's 95th birthday.
Mazura lived in Edingen-Neckarhausen since 1964. He died on 23 January 2020.