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John Wegner (Baritone)

Born: West Germany

Born in West Germany, John Wegner travelled to Australia at an early age and was a member of Melbourne's St. Patrick's Cathedral Choir. While working as a teacher he appeared in a number of ABC/TV productions and with amateur musical societies in leading roles. He completed an Associate Diploma in Opera and Music Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, and in 1979 reached the Pan Pacific Finals of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Hawaii.

In 1981 John Wegner joined The Australian Opera as a resident principal artist. His roles with the Company included Theseus (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Collatinus (The Rape of Lucretia), Zuniga and Escamillo (Carmen), Banquo (Macbeth), Angelotti (Tosca), Night Watchman (Die Meistersinger), Henry (Whitsunday), the Bonze (Madama Butterfly), Horn (Un Ballo in Maschera), Ashby (La Fanciulla del West), Nourabad (Les Pecheurs de Perles), Gazella (Lucrezia Borgia), St.Bris (Les Huguenots), Baron Ochs (Der Rosenkavalier), Judd (Voss), Timur (Turandot), Pistol (Falstaff), the Commendatore and Leporello (Don Giovanni), Lodovico (Otello), the Baron and the Marchese (La Traviata), Fasolt (Das Rheingold), Rocco (Fidelio), Ferrando (Il Trovatore), Pimen and the title role in Boris Godunov, Sparafucile (Rigoletto), the Duke and Capulet (Romeo et Juliette), Melisso (Alcina), Colline (La Boheme), Swallow (Peter Grimes), Prince of Bouillon (Adriana Lecouvreur) and Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor) - the last two with Richard Bonynge and Dame Joan Sutherland. His debut as Boris Godunov at a few hours' notice drew rave reviews from the critics. He also sang the King of Egypt in Aida for Victoria State Opera (1984) and Daland in Der Fliegende Holländer at the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 1987.

John Wegner was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1986 for advanced opera study in Europe and the 1987 Bayreuth Scholarship. In 1992 he appeared at the Adelaide Festival as Kissinger in the Australian premiere of Nixon in China. In the same year (1992) he took up a contract in Karlsruhe where he moved into the heldenbariton repertoire, making his debut as Jochanaan in Salome. Other roles with this company included Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Orest in Elektra, Moses in Mahagonny, the King in Die Kluge, and Wotan/Wanderer in a new production of the Der Ring des Nibelungen. He made his debut in the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer in Bern in 1994.

1995 performances included the Der Ring des Nibelungen, the title role in a new production of Cardillac in Karlsruhe, and L.v. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the Beethoven Halle in Bonn and at the Köln Philharmonie. He also made a welcome return to Australia to make his role debut as Scarpia in Tosca for The Australian Opera and subsequently with the Victoria State Opera and in The Puccini Spectacular, Escamillo for Lyric Opera of Queensland and Cadmus in a concert performance of Semele for VSO.

John Wegner became a freelance artist at the end of 1995. 1996-1997 engagements included the title role in Prince Igor, Iago in Otello, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana and Leporello in Karlsruhe, Donner in Das Rheingold at the Staatsoper in Munich, Leporello in Luxembourg, Pizarro in Fidelio in Hannover and Bern, Jochanaan, Holländer and Escamillo in Leipzig, Iago in Mannheim, Wotan in Rheingold at Nuremberg, Jochanaan in Salome at Düsseldorf, the title role in Falstaff for Opera Queensland, Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia for The Australian Opera, his debut at the 1997 Bayreuth Festival as Donner under the baton of James Levine, performances at the Sigulda Opera Festival in Latvia, his debut with the Royal Danish Opera as Scarpia, Pizarro in Sao Paulo, Wotan (Die Walküre) with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Edo de Waart and Holländer for Opera Australia (formerly AO and VSO). In 1997 he won the Green Room Award for Best Male Performer in Opera for his performances as the Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer.

In 1998 John Wegner sang Scarpia (Tosca) for Opera Australia, Scarpia and Escamillo (Carmen) for Latvian National Opera, Mephistopheles (Faust by Charles Gounod) - Director: Ian Judge, for Opera Queensland, Jona in Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Wotan/Wanderer in 3 Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for The State Opera of South Australia under the baton of Jeffrey Tate. His 1999 commitments were Scarpia (Tosca) and Escamillo (Carmen) for Opera Australia, Jochanaan (Salome) for Opera Ireland, Wotan (Walküre) in Toulouse and Bonn, Holländer in Krefeld and Scarpia (Tosca) in Saarbrücken. In 1999 he won The Australian Entertainment Industry MO AWARD as Operatic Performer Of The Year. In 2000 he sang Alberich (Götterdämmerung) in Stuttgart, and was first cover for the February Wotans (Walküre) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In April 2000, he performed Jona in Des Jona Sendung (Jonah’s Mission) by Rudolf Tobias in Cologne as well as the L.v. Beethoven 9th in Adelaide. In June John sang Prus in The Makropulos Affair by Janacek in Düsseldorf. In 2000 John also performed Scarpia in Tosca - at La Monnaie Brussels.

In August 2000 John Wegner took up a resident contract as Helden Baritone at Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf. His Düsseldorf commitments for 2000-2001 were: Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer, Prus in Makropulos, Boris in Boris Godunov, Wotan in Das Rheingold, Jochanaan in Salome. 2000-2001 Season: Opera North, Leeds - Kurvenal in Tristan und Isolde. Stuttgart - Wotan in Walküre, Alberich in Götterdämmerung. Bonn - Gunther in Götterdämmerung and Scarpia in Tosca. Mannheim - Wanderer in Siegfried. Berlin Staatsoper - Jochanaan in Salome. Oratorio: Dusseldorf - L.v. Beethoven 9th Symphony. Season 2001-2002 Sydney - Telramund in Lohengrin. Cologne WDR - Arbogast in Heilige Linde. Stuttgart - Pizarro in Fidelio. Düsseldorf - Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer, Scarpia in Tosca, Wotan in Die Walküre.

2002-2003 Düsseldorf - Wanderer in Siegfried, Scarpia in Tosca, Jochanaan in Salome, Boris in Boris Godunov, Holländer in Der Fliegender Holländer, Escamillo in Carmen. Oslo - Telramund in Lohengrin. Stuttgart - Pizarro in Fidelio. Bayreuth - Telramund in Lohengrin, Biterolf in Tannhäuser. 2003-2004 La Scala, Milan - Simone in Florentinische Tragödie. Düsseldorf - Wotan/Wanderer in Der Ring des Nibelungen, Holländer, Escamillo in Carmen. Opera Australia, Melbourne - Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer. Komische Oper Berlin - Simone in Florentinische Tragödie. Bayreuth 2004 - Klingsor in new Parsifal, Biterolf in Tannhäuser. 2004-2005 Adelaide, Australia 2004 - Alberich in Der Ring des Nibelungen.Tragödie. Düsseldorf - Scarpia in Tosca, De Flores in Vipern by Christian Jost; Oslo - Scarpia in Tosca. Prague - Wotan/Wanderer in Der Ring des Nibelungen with John Fiore. Bayreuth 2005 - Klingsor in Parsifal, Biterolf in Tannhäuser. 2005-2006 Adelaide, Australia 2004 - Alberich in Der Ring des Nibelungen.Tragödie. Düsseldorf - Scarpia in Tosca, Sebastiano in Tiefland, Wotan in Walküre, Klingsor in Parsifal; Bonn - Pizarro in Fidelio. Stuttgart - Alberich in Götterdämmerung. ENO - English national Opera - Prus in the Makropulos Affair with Sir Charles Mackerras.

Concert repertoire includes J.S. Bach’s St. Matthews Passion (BWV 244), Haydn’s Die Schoepfung, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, Mozart s Requiem, Dvorak’s Requiem, L.v. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem, Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias and Arbogast in Die Heilige Linde by Siegfried Wagner (Köln WDR 2001).

John Wegner’s recordings include Wotan/Wandererin the Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen on the Bella Musica label. Villains - Sinister Songs and Arias by ABC Classics Australia.

Source: John Wegner Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2008)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Richard Bonynge


G.F. Handel: Opera Alcina, HWV 34 [Melisso]

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