Simon Estes, the American bass-baritone, had an extraordinary beginning to his career. As a young medical student in Iowa he was fascinated by show tunes and loved singing, but knew nothing about opera, until a voice teacher heard him and lent him some opera recordings. This was the turning point. He auditioned and won a full scholarship to the Juilliard School in New York in 1963, and two years later he began his operatic career singing Ramfis in Aida at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. Many other major roles followed, including Philip II (Don Carlos), Boris (Boris Godunov), John the Baptist (Salome) Gounod’s Méphistophélès (Faust) and Porgy (Porgy and Bess). He also became renowned for his striking performances in Wagner’s operas. He became the first black male artist to take a major role at Bayreuth when he sang the title in role in Der fliegende Holländer, giving an astonishing performance, and he continued in the role for several seasons. He was also praised for his intelligent, articulate interpretation of Wotan.
This CD includes a selection of extended extracts from Der fliegende Holländer (Dutchman), Die Walküre (Wotan) and Parsifal (Amfortas), where Estes is joined by soprano Eva-Maria Bundschuh (Brünnhilde), and bass Heinz Reeh (Titurel).
“As Amfortas Estes is once again at his very best, bringing out the anguish and pity in the music, both in his rich, intense tone and his well-considered diction – the cries of “Erbarmen” truly searing; again, this must
rank with the best interpreters of the past. The recording tends to favour the singer, who – make no mistake – is that rarity today, a really heroic bass-baritone.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.