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Josef Witt

Tenor, Director
He was born on 17/05/1901 in Munich and passed away on 03/01/1994 in Vienna. He studied at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Munich. His debuted in 1920 at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, where he continued working until 1923. In the 1920's and 1930's he sang in the opera houses of the German cities Stettin, Breslau, Karlsruhe, Dortmund, Cologne and Braunschweig. He appeared at the Franfurt Opera as Calaf [Turandot] next to Eva Turner (1930). He sang at the premieres of new operas by composers Hans Gál, Kurt Weil, Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky. In 1937 he was recruited by the Vienna State Opera where, among other performances, he appeared as Palestrina [Palestrina] (1937) and Robespierre in the world premiere of von Einem's opera Dantons Tod (1947). He retired as a soloist in 1955. He had started directing already from the 1950's. He was awarded the "Mozart" medal by the Mozart Society of Vienna (1960) and was named an Honorary Member of the Vienna State Opera (1971). In the period 1937 - 1955, he sang, as a guest soloist, many roles in operas by Mozart, Richard Strauss, Verdi, Bellini and Mussorgsky in many major operas and festivals, such as: Salzbourg Fetival, La Scala in Milan, Opéra National de Paris, etc. He was the Director of the Opera Studio at the Vienna State Opera from 1952 and professor of singing at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna since 1947. His performances survive in recording of works by Richard Strauss under conductors Carl Böhm and Clemens Krauss as well as in many live recordings (EMI, Orfeo D’Or, Preisler, Koch International). He began his collaboration with the Greek National Opera with the opera Don Giovanni at the Olympia Theatre (1965-66).