Born in Erfurt, German baritone Stephan Genz is internationally renowned for excellence in the Lied repertoire. After his first musical training as a chorister of the celebrated Thomanerchor in Leipzig, vocal studies were with Hans-Joachim Beyer at the conservatory of Leipzig, Mitsuko Shirai and Hartmut Höll at the conservatory of Karlsruhe and later with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Prizes include the International Johannes Brahms Competition in Hamburg, the International Hugo Wolf Competition in Stuttgart, the Brahms-Preis of Schleswig-Holstein and the Belgium music critics’ Young Artist of the Year. A highly successful debut recital at London’s Wigmore Hall led to invitations for recitals in Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Frankfurt (Alte Oper), Philharmonie Köln, Brussels (Opera Royal de la Monnaie), Paris (Châtelet, Champs-Elysées, Louvre), New York (Alice Tully Hall, Frick Collection), Moscow, Hong Kong, Tokyo (City Opera, Oji Hall, Suntory Hall), Osaka, the Schubertiade (Feldkirch, Hohenems, Schwarzenberg), Edinburgh Festival, Maggio Musicale Firenze, Zermatt Festival and many more.
Also active in opera, Mr. Genz has appeared at the Berlin and Hamburg Staatsopers, Paris’ Bastille, Théâtre des Champs- Elysées, Châtelet, Milan’s La Scala, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Semperoper Dresden, Teatro La Fenice (Venice), Bolshoi (Moscow), Strasbourg, Cologne and the Festivals of Aix-en-Provence and Baden- Baden. He has worked the conductors Myung-Whun Chung, Gerd Albrecht, Daniel Harding, Philippe Herreweghe, Thomas Hengelbrock, Gustav Kuhn, Sigiswald Kuijken, René Jacobs, Jesús López-Cobos, Fabio Luisi, Georges Prêtre, Bruno Bartoletti, Kent Nagano, Jeffrey Tate, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Kurt Masur, Eliahu Inbal, Mario Venzago, Lothar Zagrosek, Edo de Waart, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Recent engagements include Eisenstein in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus at the Bolshoi, Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the Baden-Baden Festival, the roles of Frank and Fritz in Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt at the Teatro La Fenice, the Father in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel in Moscow, Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Russian National Orchestra, Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Gesangsszene with the OSESP São Paulo, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen at the Verbier Festival and Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Grand Théâtre de Genève.
More than fifty recordings document his wide repertoire, some earning such major awards as the Gramophone Award, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Timbre de Platine and Diapason d'Or. Since September 2012 Stephan Genz is Professor of German repertoire at the Conservatoire National de Paris.
Available upon request (MSprizzo@aol.com) is an Art of Stephan Genz sampler.
"Genz and Dalberto set out their stall in the opening Gute Nacht: a brisk, inexorably trudging tempo, sparse staccato textures, broad-spanned phrasing. There is affectionate regret in the major-key final verse, sung in a tender mezza voce, but no lingering sentiment. From the outset we sense that Schubert’s ‘grim journey’, as Samuel Beckett dubbed it, will be unflinchingly undertaken, devoid of self-pity. Other baritones, notably Fischer-Dieskau, in his various recordings, and Matthias Goerne with Brendel (Philips), have explored the cycle’s psychopathology more disturbingly. Gerald Finley, in a recent recording with Julius Drake (Hyperion), stresses elegy and the pain of loss. Genz’s wanderer can protest and despair. Wetterfahne is sung with mocking bitterness, while Erstarrung has an anguished, almost frantic urgency. But with Dalberto emphasising the percussive bleakness of Schubert’s piano-writing, the abiding impression is of unsentimental, stoical resignation to his fate. This man, you feel, will somehow survive, if only at the margins of existence.
Even amid the wanderer’s encroaching exhaustion, the sense of forward motion is never lost. Phrasing, as ever, in long lines, Genz and Dalberto remind you that No 10, Rast, is marked mässig (ie moderato), and evoke a weary trudge rather than stasis. Die Krähe rivals Peter Schreier, with Schiff (Decca), as the swiftest on disc, and distils a palpable sense of panic. Some may feel Genz underplays the impassioned cry of Wein auf meiner Hoffnung Grab (‘Weep on the grave of my hopes’) in Letzte Hoffnung, sung strictly in tempo. But like the brusque, even resentful, address to the sleeping villagers in Im Dorfe and the unflinching onward trudge of Der Wegweiser (shades here of the Andante of the Great C major Symphony), this is of a piece with the whole performance.
In Das Wirtshaus Genz embodies a physical and spiritual weariness without histrionics. He then hurls out manic defiance in Mut, where Dalberto underlines the military march parody, before the two final songs. Die Nebensonnen is ruefully resigned, yet heeding Schubert’s nicht zu langsam marking, while Der Leiermann, sung without nuance, exudes a spectral calm. Other versions of this fathomless cycle, including those mentioned above, may be more immediately engulfing. But if you prefer a predominantly brisk interpretation that tends to stress stoicism and ironic bitterness over pathos and incipient derangement, you’ll find that Genz, in fine voice, and Dalberto give a profoundly thought-through performance. For me, at least, they pass the crucial test of making Schubert’s fathomless cycle a cathartic experience."
-Gramophone January 2016
Schubert's Schwanengesang at the Zermatt Festival:
"With a beautifully clear, youthful voice (that is nonetheless capable of powerful sonority), Stephan Genz captivated the audience with his impeccable diction and the intensity and expressivity of his interpretation, totally inhabiting the text. Der Doppelgänger brought shivers down the spine."
2012 St. Matthew Passion with Roberto Minczuk and the Calgary Philharmonic:
"Also excellent in every way was the singing of Christus by German baritone Stephan Genz, whose voice and style of delivery was everything one might want in this important role."
-The Calgary Herald
“The sheer beauty of his voice is extraordinary.”
-The Washington Post
“Genz was a model of intelligence and attention to detail, at home both in Wolf’s profound evocations of human loneliness (Lebe wohl) and in his occasional moments of rambunctiousness (the Abschied concludes with the composer-poet kicking an importunate critic downstairs) All in all, the four-way collaboration—Wolf, Vignoles, Genz and Rodgers—proved an immaculately blended one, and rewarded every bit of the fierce concentration it demanded from the audience.”
-The Washington Post
“Stephan Genz is decidedly among the best Papagenos of his generation, with supreme vocal ease and irresistible theatricality.”
“…for this debut recital by the young German singer, now on his first North American tour, left one eager to hear more..Genz sings with a wisdom beyond his years. If he has youth on his side vocally and plenty of growth before him, his interpretive choices bespeak an older head. Genz finds a way to the heart of these songs, exploring their vocal and verbal nuances expertly and affectingly.”
“Genz also wisely exhibited his gifts—for mood settings in Schubert, storytelling in Schumann and characterization in Wolf. Like the foremost baritones of his art, Genz shuns overt displays of histrionics in favor of careful phrasing and intimate expression.”
-The San Francisco Chronicle
“The young German baritone Stephan Genz inhabited Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with moving artistry and great intensity. He captured the elegiac melancholy of longing for happier days, with sumptuous beauty and high drama. He sensitively shaded the minutest tonal colors and stirrings of emotion.”
“..Genz made it very clear why he has won rapid success. His demeanor—sunny and youthful but also quietly confident—matches his voice, which is beguilingly fresh, with a delicate tremulousness and an intimate tone, scaling down to a sotto voce without losing words or musical sense. He is altogether an intelligent and alert artist, with a sure sense of the music of words.”
-The New York Times
“…a debuting singer headed for the heights. Genz also wisely exhibited his gifts – for mood setting in Schubert, storytelling in Schumann and characterization in Wolf. Like the foremost baritones of his art, Genz shuns overt displays of histrionics in favor of careful phrasing and intimate expression.”
-The San Francisco Chronicle
Mahler: Ich hab' ein gluehend Messer from Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ("Live" at the Verbier Festival, Switzerland)