Winkler studied at the conservatory in Hannover, where he made his debut in 1949 and was under contract until 1955.
From 1954 to 1958, Winkler was a member of the Stadttheater in Bielefeld.
He was a member of the Zürich Stadttheater from 1958 to 1960. In 1959, he found his artistic home at the Cologne opera,
where he stayed until 1986. 1959–61 and 1963/64, he sang small parts,
such Augustin Moser and the Young Seaman, in Bayreuth; 1964–66, he sang Heinrich der Schreiber there, and in 1965
From 1972, Winkler was a regular guest at the Münchner Opernfestspiele, especially singing Mozart:
Don Ottavio and Idomeneo.
1976/77, he sang Parsifal in Bayreuth and in 1976 Don Ottavio at the Salzburg Festival.
Winkler made his US debut in Chicago as Don Ottavio in 1980. He was a guest, again as Ottavio, at the
Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1981. The same year, he took part at the world premiere of Baal by Friedrich Cerha at the
In 1985, Winkler sang Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten in Zürich.
In 1987, he sang Herodes at La Scala, Loge in Bologna, and Ägisth for the RAI.
1987/88, Winkler was at the Teatro Real in Madrid for Wozzeck und Lulu.
In 1989, he sang Peter Grimes in Zürich, Tambourmajor in Nice, and Ägisth in Marseille.
In 1991, he sang Palestrina in Hannover.
Besides opera, Winkler was a successful lied and oratorio singer. He was the founding director of the opera studio in Hamburg
devoted to promoting young singers. He made recordings of Arabella, Elektra, Massimilla
Doni (by Othmar Schoeck), Mozart's Krönungsmesse, Idomeneo, Wozzeck and Mathis der Maler.
In 1999, he made his last stage appearance at the Prinzregententheater in a concert of Tristan und Isolde conducted by
Winkler died after short severe illness at a clinic in Gauting.
Reference 2 and picture source