Janowitz, Gundula (1937—)

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Janowitz, Gundula (1937—)

German soprano. Born on August 2, 1937, in Berlin, Germany; studied with Herbert Thöny at the Graz Conservatory.

Made debut at the Vienna Staatsoper (1959); appeared at Bayreuth (1960–63); was a member of the Frankfurt Opera (1963–66); made Metropolitan Opera debut (1976), Paris Opéra (1973), Covent Garden (1976); was a director of the Graz Opera (1990).

At age 22, Gundula Janowitz won a student contract at the Vienna State Opera. Two years later, she had appeared not only in Vienna but also at Bayreuth and Glyndebourne, and came to the attention of Herbert von Karajan who was a major influence in her career. Janowitz appeared on the stages of international opera houses, but divided most of her time between Berlin and Vienna. Her voice was characterized by purity of tone, cleanness of line, and aristocratic phrasing. Hers was a pure "white" soprano usually associated with Central European sopranos. For most of her career, Janowitz never tried to push her voice beyond its capabilities, choosing only the lighter Wagnerian roles, but Von Karajan persuaded her to sing Sieglinde for his Salzburg Ring in 1967 which was a triumph. Describing herself as "a very normal kind of person," Janowitz was not flamboyant onstage which caused some to criticize her acting as cold and impersonal. Janowitz also performed in concerts and recitals, achieving great distinction. She retired in 1990 to become director of the Graz Opera.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia