Karel Wildbrunn

22 May 1873 Slań – 9 February 1938 Vienna

Picture of Karel Wildbrunn

Born Karel Šmaus, he studied medicine first and then voice, and sang as a baritone in Olomouc and as a guest at the Prague National Theater (Valentin and Germont, 1899) for a few years.

Then he restudied as a tenor with Julius Kniese in Bayreuth, where he made his tenor debut at the 1902 festival as the First Knight in Parsifal. He had contracts in Cologne (1902/03), Wiesbaden (1903/04), Leipzig (1906–09) and Dortmund (1909–14); as a guest, he sang at Covent Garden (1905), in Dresden, Mannheim and Hannover. In his Dortmund period, he married the famous contralto (later soprano) Helene Wildbrunn, and only now he used "Wildbrunn" as his stage name; until then, he had been billed under his real name, or Germanized as Schmaus. (Wildbrunn was in fact a stage name for both of them; Helene's real name was Wehrenpfennig.)

Karel Wildbrunn's repertory comprised Jeník, Lyonel, Tamino, Don Ottavio, Hoffmann, Gounod's Faust or Erik, for instance. He left the stage early, and became a teacher in Vienna, a well-known stage director (even in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro!), and an interpretation coach at the Berlin Städtische Oper.

Reference 1: Kutsch & Riemens; reference 2

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