German operatic baritone Olaf Bär is considered to be one of the foremost Lieder interpreters of his generation.
German operatic baritone Olaf Bär is considered to be one of the foremost Lieder interpreters of his generation, and he regularly appears in the world’s greatest recital venues. Bär received his musical training in his home city of Dresden, studying at the city’s Hochschule für Musik. His career has concentrated on lieder and on the lyric baritone roles of the operatic repertoire. Many of his early lieder performances were accompanied by Geoffrey Parsons.
His operatic debut was in 1981 in Dresden and he was a member of that city’s opera company (Semperoper) from 1985 to 1991. His voice has been compared favorably with that of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
In 1982 he won the 1st Prize in Dvořák vocal competition in Karlovy Vary, and, in 1983, 1st prize in the vocal competition sponsored by the East German opera houses and the Walter Grüner Lieder Competition in London. In 1984 he was a prizewinner in the first Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition.
Olaf Bär has made major recital tours of Australia and Japan and has given recitals in New York, San Francisco, Washington and Philadelphia, in addition to many international festivals including Salzburg.
Olaf Bär is equally at home in the concert hall and opera house. He has appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors including the London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas, and Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala under Riccardo Muti. His work in Opera includes appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Harlekin/Ariadne auf Naxos and Papageno), at La Scala, Milan (Papageno), at the Aix-en-Provence Festival (Harlekin/Gugliemo), in Frankfurt (Gugliemo), at the Vienna State Opera (Harlekin, Olivier/Capriccio), the Netherlands Opera (Count/Le Nozze di Figaro), and the title role in Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne, as well as many principal roles at the Semper Oper in Dresden.
His recordings of opera and concert repertoire include performances in Ein Deusches Requiem and Die Zauberflöte with Roger Norrington and the London Classical Players, a disc of Bach Cantatas with Peter Schreier and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and both Maurice Duruflé and Gabriel Fauré Requiems. All are available on EMI Classics.
In the summer of 1985 Olaf Bär made his first Lieder record for EMI Classics, a programme of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe Op.48 and Liederkreis Op.39. Since then, under his exclusive contract for Lieder with EMI Classics, he has recorded much of the most important Lieder repertoire, including Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, (which won a Gramophone award) Winterreise and Schwanengesang, a selection of Wolf’s Mörike Lieder, Robert Schumann’s Liederkreis Op.24 and Kerner-Lieder Op.35, and a disc of songs by J. Brahms.
Photo: Matthias Creutziger