During a long and distinguished career, John Wegner’s impressive Helden Baritone voice has thrilled audiences in opera houses across Europe with performances in major cities including Milan, London, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Berlin, Brussels, Prague, Oslo, Munich, Hamburg, Vienna and across the globe in Australia and Japan.
John Wegner Germanborn baritone
John’s performances have attracted many award nominations. He has won four National “Best Male Performer in an Opera” Awards in Australia. These were at the 1999 Australian Entertainment Industry Mo Awards and the 2005, 2009, 2011 Australian Helpmann Awards. He has won two Best Male Opera Performer Green Room awards in the State of Victoria. At the 2009 Helpmann Awards John also won the “Best Male in a Supporting Role in an Opera” and in 2007 he was awarded the National Theatre Prague “Singer of the Year” Award.
John Wegner was born in Germany but grew up in Australia. He completed an Associate Diploma in Opera and Music Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia. He performed with the Australian Opera as a Bass for eleven years (1981-1992), before moving to Europe to study the Helden Baritone repertoire at the Badisches Staatstheater, Karlsruhe where he made his European debut as Jochanaan in Salome.
Since 2000 John has been a member of Deutsche Oper am Rhein based in Düsseldorf and has performed many Helden Baritone roles with this company including Wotan/Wanderer, Prus in the Makropulos Affair, Jochanaan in Salome, Escamillo in Carmen, de Flores in Vipern, Sebastiano in Tiefland, the King in Hamlet and Klingsor in Parsifal. As Scarpia in Tosca, John played to packed houses in Duisburg and Düsseldorf in an unusual production directed by Dietrich Hilsdorf. In 2003 John performed his powerful portrayal of Boris in Boris Godunov as well as Escamillo in Carmen and the Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer.
Bayreuth: John first performed in the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1997 singing Donner in Das Rheingold. He returned in 2002 as Biterolf in Tannhäuser and eventually sang five different roles in six seasons at Bayreuth. These included Telramund in the 2003 Lohengrin and Kurwenal in the 2006 Tristan and Isolde as well as covering most of the major Helden Baritone roles during the festivals. From 2004 to 2006 he caused a sensation as the sinister Klingsor in the controversial and thought provoking production of Parsifal by Christof Schlingensief.
In 2002, John Wegner performed the role of Simone in Florentinische Tragödie by Zemlinsky for Komische Oper, Berlin. He sang Pizarro in Fidelio for Staatstheater Stuttgart and also travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil for concert performances of Samson and Delilah.
Between 2000-2003 John Wegner appeared often at the Staatstheater Stuttgart which was voted Best Opera House in Germany for several years running. His unusual portrayal of Alberich in Götterdämmerung contributed to the awards won for this outstanding production.
In 2003 John was also seen as Pizarro in Fidelio in Stuttgart, as well as travelling to Oslo to sing Telramund in Lohengrin. At the end of 2003, Deutsche Oper am Rhein presented a production of Wagner’s Ring to packed houses and John had great success in performing the Wotan/Wanderer roles. The company took this production to Prague in 2005 with John again singing Wotan/ Wanderer. John first sang this role for the Badisches Staatstheater, Karlsruhe in 1993/4. He has sung the role of Wotan many times including the first Ring in Adelaide, South Australia in 1998 conducted by Jeffrey Tate.
2004 was an exciting year as La Scala, Milan asked John to repeat the role of Simone in Florentinische Tragödie. Later that year, John travelled to Adelaide, South Australia to sing Alberich in the State Opera of South Australia production of Wagner’s Ring. This all Australian production was highly acclaimed by the Australian Entertainment Industry Association. John received a 2005 Helpmann award for “Best Male Performer in an Opera” after his Alberich in the 2004 Adelaide Ring.
In 2005 John Wegner was off to Oslo for performances of Scarpia in Tosca and further performances of Alberich in Götterdämmerung in Stuttgart. He also sang Pizarro in Fidelio in Bonn.
In 2006 John made his debut with the English National Opera in London singing Prus in the Makropulos Affair conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.
2007 commitments for Deutsche Oper am Rhein included the title role in a new production of Richard 111 by Giorgio Battistelli, for which he recieved rave reviews. He also sang Pizarro in Fidelio, Sebastiano in Tiefland and Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer. In 2007 John Wegner performed in Amsterdam for the first time with the roles of Adorno/Capitano in Die Gezeichneten and made his debut as Rance in La Fanciulla del West at the National Theatre in Prague for which he won “Singer of the Year”. In the latter half of 2007 he sang the role of the Villains in Contes de Hoffmann for the first time with Opera Australia, he also sang Adam and Raphael in Haydn’s Creation with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as well as taking part in a concert for the World Leaders at the APEC Conference in Sydney. At the end of 2007 he made a Chandos recording in the UK as Jochanaan in Salome with Sir Charles Mackerras.
2008 saw John making his Japan debut as Jochanaan in Salome at the New National Theatre Tokyo. This was followed by Klingsor in Munich, Holländer and Scarpia for Deutsche Opera am Rhein, Telramund in Lohengrin for Leipzig and his return to Prague for Rance in La Fanciulla. John made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper with the role of Telramund in Lohengrin. John made his Strasbourg and Mulhouse debuts as Pizarro in Fidelio before going to Australia for Melbourne Symphony concerts of Holländer and his debut as Claggart in Billy Budd for Opera Australia.
In 2009 John sang Wotan/Wanderer in Wagner’s Ring as well as Holländer, Scarpia, Prus in Makropulos and Jochanaan in Salome in Düsseldorf. He sang Boris in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in Sydney and Rance in La Fanciulla del West and Holländer for State Opera of South Australia. He sang Pizarro in Fidelio at the Wiener Staatsoper and also Telramund in Lohengrin in Hamburg. John won an unprecedented two Australian Helpmann awards in 2009: Best Male Performer in an Opera and Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera.
In 2010 John sang Scarpia in 30 Tosca performances for Opera Australia in Sydney and Melbourne and Rance in Fanciulla del West in Sydney. John’s commitments in Düsseldorf in 2010 were Klingsor in Parsifal, Marquis in Dialogues of the Carmelites and the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer. He also sang Escamillo in Carmen for New National Theatre, Tokyo.
In 2011 John made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Pizarro in Fidelio and made his debut in Barcelona as Klingsor in Parsifal. John sang Scarpia in Tosca, Klingsor in Parsifal and Jochanaan in Salome for Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf. John sang Klingsor in Parsifal in Munich, Paris and Budapest. John sang Alberich in a concert Rheingold in Auckland, New Zealand and returned to Tokyo as Jochanaan in Salome. In Australia John won another Helpmann Award as “Best Male Performer in an Opera” for his 2010 Sydney performances of Rance in La Fanciulla del West.
In 2012 John’s commitments include Alberich in the Hamburg Wagner Ring and he sings Scarpia in Tosca, Marquis in Carmelites, Jochanaan in Salome and the Holländer for Deutsche Oper am Rhein. He will sing Walküre Wotan in concert in several New Zealand Cities for the New Zealand Symphony and Jochanaan in Salome for Opera Australia.
2013 sees John return to sing Alberich in Hamburg’s Ring and then create Alberich in the New Australian Ring which will be performed in Melbourne by Opera Australia.
John Wegner is renowned for his acting talent and the psychological insights he brings to his roles.
Award Details: In Australia in 1997 John Wegner was awarded the State of Victoria Green Room Award for Best Male Performer in Opera for the role of Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer. He won the Green Room Award again for Holländer in 2004. In June 1999 he won the Australian Entertainment Industry “Mo” Award as Male Opera Performer of the Year. In 2005 he was the winner of the “Best Male Performer in an Opera” at The Australian Entertainment Industry Association – Helpmann Awards. And in 2007 John was awarded the National Theatre Prague, Komercni Bank – Singer of the Year Award for his Rance in La Fanciulla del West. In 2009 John won two National Helpmann Awards in Australia: “Best Male Performer in an Opera” for Claggart in Billy Budd and “Best Male in a Supporting Role in an Opera” for Boris in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. In 2011 John was awarded another Helpmann as “Best Male Performer in an Opera” for his Sydney performances of Rance in La Fanciulla del West.
John Wegner’s recordings include Wotan/Wanderer in the Wagner Ring Cycle on the Bella Musica label. Villains – Sinister Songs and Arias by ABC Classics Australia and Arbogast in the World Premiere performances of Siegfried Wagner’s “Die Heilige Linde”. Alberich in Das Rheingold, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung in the Super Audio CD release of the Adelaide RING by Melba Records. Prus in The Makropulos Case – Sir Charles Mackerras (English National Opera) by Chandos Records. Jochanaan in Salome – Sir Charles Mackerras by Chandos Records.
1986 Churchill Fellowship for Operatic Studies in Europe.
1987 Bayreuth Scholarship for Operatic Studies in Germany.
1989 International Emmy Award for Arts Programming – Colline in“La Bohème” video by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
1997 and 2005 Melbourne Green Room Award for Best Male Performer in Opera – Holländer in Der Fliegende Holländer, Opera Australia.
1999 Australian Entertainment Industry MO Award as Opera Performer of the Year
2000 Critics Award, Nord-Rhein Westfalen: One critic, ‘John Wegner Singer of the Year’
2000 Critics Award, Nord-Rhein Westfalen: ‘Production of the Year’ – ‘Makropulos’, Deutsche Oper am Rhein. John Wegner as ‘Prus’
2000 German ‘Production of the Year’ Stuttgart’s ‘Götterdämmerung’, John Wegner was Alberich.
2005 “Best Male Performer in an Opera” at The Australian Entertainment Industry Association, Helpmann Awards.
2007 Singer of the Year Award, National Theatre Prague, given by the Komercni Bank.
2009 “Best Male Performer in an Opera” and “Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera” at The Australian Entertainment Industry Association, Helpmann Awards
2011 “Best Male Performer in an Opera” Award at the Australian Helpmann Awards.