Günther Leib

Günther Leib (born 12 April 1927) is a German operatic baritone and professor of voice. A Kammersänger of the Dresden State Opera, he sang leading baritone roles both in his native Germany and internationally during the course of his stage career. In 1971 he was awarded the Robert Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau and in 2017 on the occasion of his 90th birthday the "Gotha-Medaille" (Gotha Medal), honoring him for his international career as "Gotha's most famous voice". He appears in a number of complete opera and oratorio recordings on the Eterna, Supraphon, and Deutsche Grammophon labels.[1][2][3]

Günther Leib
Born(1927-04-12)12 April 1927
Gotha, Germany
EducationHochschule für Musik Franz Liszt
  • Opera singer (baritone)
  • Professor of voice

Life and careerEdit

Leib was born in Gotha, where he began studying the violin at the age of seven. When World War II ended he continued his studies at the State Conservatory in Erfurt and was engaged as a violinist in the Gotha City Orchestra in 1949. The orchestra's concerts often included opera and operetta, which piqued his interest in the art form. He studied voice privately at first. Then, encouraged by his teacher, he enrolled in the Weimar Conservatory, graduating in 1952 with a diploma in opera and concert singing and music pedagogy. That same year, he made his stage debut in Köthen as Bartolo in The Barber of Seville.[1][2][3]

After singing in the theatres of Köthen, Meiningen and Nordhausen, Leib went on to become a member of the Dresden State Opera from 1957 and the Berlin State Opera from 1961. In the late 1950s he also went on concert tours in Italy, Egypt and Great Britain. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1976 as Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, a role he had sung the previous year at the Salzburg Easter Festival.[1][2][3] Of his Met debut as Beckmesser, Raymond Ericson wrote in The New York Times:

Gunther Leib, a bass from East Germany, was a first rate Beckmesser. He sang his music instead of barking it. He did not burlesque the character, but gave it a smug stupidity that was all too real. His complacent singing in the final scene was both original and superbly carried off.[4]

Leib also sang as a guest artist at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Paris Opera, and the opera houses of Budapest, Prague, Sofia, Hamburg, Helsinki and Stockholm.[3]

In addition to his performing career in opera and concert, Leib was a professor of voice at the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden from 1964 to 1976 and then from 1976 at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin. Twice widowed, Leib retired to Dresden, where he lives with his third wife Adelheid née Gähler.[2][5]


Leib first performed at the annual Handel Festival in Halle in 1957 and returned there frequently.[2] Several recordings of his Handel performances from the 1950s and 1960s were re-released on CD by Berlin Classics, including:

Leib appears in a number of complete opera recordings on the Eterna, Supraphon and Deutsche Grammophon labels, including:

Leib was also known for his performances in oratorio and sacred music from the earliest days of his career—he was the voice of Christ in a 1957 performance of Bach's St John Passion in Italy conducted by Franz Konwitschny.[3] His recordings in this genre include:


  1. ^ a b c Gröner, Horst (5 June 2015). "Wie aus einem Geigenspieler ein Kammersänger wurde: Günther Leib trägt sich in das Goldene Buch der Stadt Gotha ein". Thüringische Landeszeitung. Retrieved 23 June 2019 (in German).
  2. ^ a b c d e s.n. (12 April 2017). "Kammersänger Günter Leib feierte 90. Geburtstag". City of Gotha. Retrieved 23 June 2019 (in German).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kutsch, Karl-Josef and Riemens, Leo (2012). "Leib, Günther". Großes Sängerlexikon (4th edition), p. 2671. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 359844088X (in German).
  4. ^ Ericson, Raymond (4 April 1976). "Meistersinger Returns to Met". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  5. ^ Buschbeck, Dietrich (1 May 2017). "Wir erinnern an Professor Günther Leib, Wilhelm von Kügelgen und Professor Helmut Trauzettel". Elbhang-Kurier. Retrieved 23 June 2019 (in German).
  6. ^ OCLC 704903823
  7. ^ OCLC 811448759
  8. ^ OCLC 811449520
  9. ^ OCLC 811448780
  10. ^ OCLC 811449472
  11. ^ OCLC 811448623
  12. ^ OCLC 222582714
  13. ^ OCLC 1027724285
  14. ^ OCLC 704902995
  15. ^ OCLC 960460173
  16. ^ OCLC 840329899
  17. ^ OCLC 611331410
  18. ^ OCLC 611332357
  19. ^ OCLC 914131090
  20. ^ OCLC 704903193

External linksEdit