Fritz Wunderlich is considered as one of the most important tenors of all times. In 2008, the BBC music magazine awarded him the 4th position after Plácido Domingo, Enrico Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti.
" 'Fritz Wunderlich is one of those singers whom I've never felt were historical. In his recordings he sounds so much of the present, that it's as though he were still among us.' These comments by Rolando Villazón make it clear that the book of Fritz Wunderlich's life is by no means closed. Forty years after his tragic death, he is a far more potent presence through his recordings than he was during his lifetime. He continues to reach his public, whether they be fans who know his recordings inside-out or people hearing his voice for the first time. But there are also recordings of his that are bound up with a particular time: his films. They represent his own view of things or, rather, of people. He filmed his family and friends, the people he grew up with, his colleagues…"
"This material, which has never before been released, lends this documentary its distinctive profile and gives the film its unusual dramaturgical structure, by presenting the camera's view of the world and Wunderlich's view of himself. We were moved by the candour with which many eyewitnesses expressed both their personal memories and their emotions. Even after the first interviews, it was clear that it would be difficult to compress so much material into an hour's programme. Together with Thomas Hampson and Rolando Villazón – two singers from a younger generation – we would have loved to explore Wunderlich's recordings at random, so spontaneous and lively were their reactions to the recording of Wunderlich rehearsing Richard Strauss's song, Cäcilie."
"From the initial concept to the finished film was a long journey. But what motivated us was the fact that everyone involved was enormously committed to the project. It was a labour of love, not just another job. 'Of course, I'll do it for Fritz' was Anneliese Rothenberger's reply upon being asked to take part in the film, and her words were a leitmotif throughout the production. When he started work on the project, the director, Thomas Staehler, had no first-hand knowledge of Wunderlich, but he soon threw himself into it fully, revealing great sensitivity and patience. For me, the experience of working with him and with the cameraman Wolfgang Wunderlich and the editor Ingo Guski proved hugely productive and enjoyable. The result was no ad hoc assemblage of wildly disparate elements – members of a 'family business', freelance artists, public-service employees and record company staff – but genuine teamwork, for which we have to thank Eva and Barbara Wunderlich, above all. By integrating these elements into a unified whole, they proved its heart and soul, bringing together people from the most different backgrounds to create a single team. In fact, we often felt that Fritz Wunderlich was a member of that team – and not just as a singer and cameraman."
(Translation: Stewart Spencer) Abridged version of the booklet text in DVD 073 4202, Fritz Wunderlich: Life and Legend, reproduced by courtesy, © Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
Portrait of the great Austrian conductor
Südwestdeutsche Kammerphilharmonie Konstanz