Walter Donati

born 1938 Potsdam

Picture of Walter Donati as Erik Picture of Walter Donati
Walter Donati, born 1938 in Potsdam (near Berlin), into a half German, half Italian family. He grew up in Milan, where he also studied, although his singing style seems not too Italianate to me. His career is one of the most unusual of all operatic singers; he first had a career as an advertising graphic designer, and made his debut as a singer only in 1981 – at age 43!!! He was a tenor then, and soon sang leading parts at large theaters such as La Scala, Teatro Colón, Opéra de Paris, Teatre del Liceu, Covent Garden.

His actual successes seem to have been less impressive than that list of theaters, though, and he stopped singing as a tenor after eight years, in late 1989; on the other hand, it's not that unusual for a tenor to give up his career at age 51! What is far less usual is that he decided to become a baritone instead, and kept singing as such until at least 2016!

His baritone career evolved in somewhat smaller, but not always small theaters: Munich, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Wexford and many, many others – Karlsruhe, most notably, where he was a member from 2003 to 2011.

His most successful role was Nabucco, and I heard him sing that role in 2011 in Zvolen (Slovakia); I wouldn't call it beautiful, but it was certainly bewildering for a (then) 73-year-old singer who had personally driven those more than 1000 kilometers from Karlsruhe the two days before (he had stepped in for an Italian colleague, at last moment's notice).

He has a quite interesting website.

Walter Donati singsNorma: Oh! di qual sei tu vittima, with Michèle Lagrange and Martine Dupuy

Donati as a baritone

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