We mourn the passing of the great German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau who passed away Friday, May 18th at the age of 86. GREAT PERFORMANCES was honored to showcase Fischer-Dieskau in two productions as he memorably played Count Almaviva in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s film version of The Marriage of Figaro which aired in 1977. The production was conducted by Karl Boehm, with a glittering cast including Kiri Te Kanawa, Mirella Freni, Maria Ewing, and Hermann Prey.
In 1986, he also starred in the GREAT PERFORMANCES presentation of Goetz Friedrich’s film of Elektra, alongside Leonie Rysanek, Astrid Varnay, Catarina Ligendza, Hans Beirer, Josef Greindl, again conducted by Boehm.
Fischer-Dieskau’s career spanned the 1940s through his retirement in 1992 and, as The New York Times reported in its lengthy obituary, he continued to be “an influential teacher and orchestra leader for many years thereafter.”
His performances of lieder in concert and on hundreds of recordings set the standard for the repertoire. Similarly, his vast catalog of opera and oratorio were and continue to be an inspiration thanks to his impeccable musical standards, extraordinary sensitivity, and facility for brilliantly conveying the meaning of whatever he sang.
He was married to soprano Julia Varady who survives him.