Born: January 14, 1940
Ranging from Bach to Wagner, Siegmund Nimsgern employed his warm and sympathetic voice to an operatic, concert, and recital repertory that made him invaluable from the earliest years of his career. One of the most frequently recorded artists of the twentieth century's final three decades, Nimsgern collaborated with nearly every major conductor and visited a majority of the world's most important venues. Though German-born and trained in his native country, he exhibited a Viennese sound: rounded, somewhat hooded, and slightly compressed in the upper register. Such a quality lent a special humanity to his finely judged Barak, while keeping him at arm's length from the more forceful utterances of Wotan. After studying philosophy, German, and musicology, Nimsgern worked with several prominent voice teachers, bass Jakob Stämpfli most prominent among them. Given Stämpfli's abiding interest in the music of Bach, no surprise resulted from Nimsgern's success in the area. Following a concert debut in 1965, Nimsgern made his first opera appearance in 1967 singing Lionel in Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orléans in Saarbrücken. A Salzburg debut took place in 1970 and from 1971 to 1974, Nimsgern was a principal artist at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. At London's Covent Garden, he appeared as Amfortas in 1973, that same year also making debuts at the Opéra de Paris and at La Scala. Nimsgern appeared in the United States for the first time in 1974, singing Jochanaan at the San Francisco Opera, an interpretation of the role described as the most vital of the time. After making his Metropolitan Opera debut as Pizarro in 1978, Nimsgern returned two years later to sing his Jochanaan. Other venues welcoming him included the Wiener Staatsoper and the companies of Berlin, Buenos Aires, Munich, Hamburg, Rome, and Chicago. Leading music festivals, too, he was frequently heard in Munich, Florence, Orange, Ansbach, Flanders, and Bayreuth. Among Nimsgern's many recordings are two of Telramund, one with Karajan, the other with Solti. Opposite such heroic undertakings are his numerous recordings of Bach under such conductors as Harnoncourt, Gönnenwein, and Rilling.