Dr. Emil Schipper - The famous Heldenbariton

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

In bis orbituary notice for Emil Schipper, Bruno Walter wrote about Schipper's "wonderful personality and grandiose stage presence inspired by wholly genuine character traits." lndeed Emil Schippei's personality retained a difficult to pinpoint fascination right until the end of bis life. So overwhelming was bis stage charisma that he needed only minimal gestures to achieve the utmost verisimilitude in bis stage portrayals. Schipper was unusually tall. When made bis entrance and bis sonorous voice boomed forth, the sheer theatricality of it all - the vital ingredient of stage performances - reached exemplary heights. Born in Vienna on August 19, 1882 Emil Schipper initially studied law before taking bis Ph.D. Concurrently he began bis vocal tuition with Hermann Winkelmann, the famous Heldentenor, in 1903. Already in 1904 he gave bis first public concert but continued bis studies with Guarino in Milan. In 1908 he auditioned unsuccessfully at the Wiener Hofoper and later at the Volksoper. Thereupon he set off for Prague, where he made bis debut on January 21, 1909 as Telramund and was immediately engaged. One year later he was engaged in Teplitz-Schönau andin 1911 in Linz at which point bis career really took wing. Right from the start he was entrusted with heroic baritone roles. Only rarely did he risk lyric roles for which bis powerful voice was not really suited. Despite bis youth Schipper was already a splendid Dutchman, Wotan and Amonasro but also a poignant Tonio in Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci". He also ventured to sing the four daemonic baritone roles in Offenbach's "Tales of Hoffmann". By the time Rainer Simons offered him a three-year contract for the Wiener Volksoper in 1912 Schipper thus bad a fairly big repertoire. It was at the Volksoper that Schipper sang bis first Hans Sachs, a role with which he made bis much-praised debut at the Wiener Hofoper on June 7, 1915. Initially, however, Schipper only stayed in Vienna for one year because of a prior engagement in Munich, where' from 1916 to 1921 he was one of the outstanding ensemble members during the Bruno Walter aegis. For Schipper these were the years of gradual maturity. On September 2, 1915 he sang Hans Sachs in Munich, followed by Telramund-with tepid success. Very soon, however, he became a public favorite and was keenly sought by other opera houses. Apart from the Standard repertoire he also took part in many first performances and world premieres including the world premiere of Pfitzner's "Palestrina" on June 22, 1917. At the time Schipper alternated with Fritz Feinhals as Carlo Borromeo. Such was Schipper's popularity that Bruno Walter felt safe to stage rare and even forgotten operas. Thus on May 6, 1917 Marschner's "Hans Heiling" with Emil Schipper as the eponymous hero was an unexpected success with the public. As of May 1, 1921 Richard Strauss engaged him to join the Vienna State Opera, where he remained a celebrated artist until bis farewell in 1938. From 1924 to 1928 Emil Schipper was hailed in Wagner roles in London and in 1928-1929 also in Chicago and Boston. In August 1922 he took part in the first staged "Ring" at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, conducted by Felix Weingartner. Schipper also appeared in Berlin, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Paris and many other cities. In 1930, 1935, 1936 he sang Agamemnon and Kurwenal at the Salzburg Festival. In 1927 he was granted the honorary title of "Kammersänger" as he was a truly indispensable member of the Vienna Opera ensemble. Schipper's name was closely associated with innumerable heroic baritone roles. His popularity with the Vienna public is proved by the success he bad as Valentin in the celebrated performance of Gonnod's "Faust" on May 21, 1927 when he virtually upstaged Feodor Chaliapin who appeared as guest artist that night. Emil Schipper bade farewell to the Vienna public as Flying Dutchman. On June 17, 1937 he was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera. In 1955 he was present at the reopening of the Vienna Opera, a prime representative of the legendary golden epoch.