Johannes Heesters

5 December 1903 Amersfoort – 24 December 2011 Starnberg

Picture of Johannes Heesters

Johannes Heesters sings Die lustige Witwe: Es waren zwei Königskinder, with Maria Fedorowa and Magda Steiner
In RA format

For me, Heesters is a do-nothing-tenor par excellence. His is the astonishing story of a singer without any hint of a voice, who became nevertheless one of the most famous operetta tenors ever. He was very handsome, and obviously a good actor, which may have helped, but doesn't explain it. He also made several successful films in Nazi Germany, where he enjoyed a great career, and in post-1945 Germany. There is a 1941 photo of Heesters visiting the Dachau concentration camp; though one of the prisoners later testified that the purpose of Heesters' visit was a concert for the SS, and that he, the prisoner, had to open and close the curtain for Heesters, the singer himself always denied to have performed there.

There's one truly fascinating thing about Heesters: he sang his last concert, though already completely blind, in 2009, played his last theater role in 2010, and appeared in his last film in 2011 – at 106, 107 and 108 years old, respectively. And there was actually not much difference between his voice in the early 2000s, and his voice of 60 years earlier... Danilo in "Die lustige Witwe" was his most famous role by far.

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