How intellectual are opera singers

Opera singer Günther Groissböck, a "positive superspreader"

He is a strong man who also likes to climb the climbing wall at the House of the Sea. This summer he would have the Wotan in Bayreuth for the first time Ring of the Nibelung should sing what would have been a kind of career Olympus for the vital Lower Austrian. But Günther Groissböck has also made a name for himself as a critic lately, as a critic of the measures against the corona pandemic.

DEFAULT: Did the cancellation of the Bayreuth Festival affect you very much?

Groissböck: That was a disappointment, of course, but I saw it coming. When you consider the age structure of the audience, when you know how things are there with the ventilation, it was no surprise. Catherine (Wagner, Richard's great-granddaughter and director of the Bayreuth Festival, note) told me at the time that she doesn't want Bayreuth to become the Ischgl of classical music. But Bayreuth is coming back, so it wasn't so bad. Katharina Wagner's serious illness in the spring affected me particularly hard.

DEFAULT:You let yourself be heard early on with criticism of the corona measures. Why?

Groissböck: In the beginning, very little was known about the virus, so the lockdown, although I was personally against it, was perhaps justified for the first few weeks. It soon became clear, however, that the virus is only really dangerous for older people with previous illnesses. Therefore one should have put more emphasis on the protection of the risk groups and on personal responsibility. You can't cover everything.

DEFAULT: Have political mistakes been made?

Groissböck: It annoys me that you only ever report the number of infections and neither relate them to the number of tests nor make a distinction between people who are actually sick and people who have only tested positive for Covid in order to stir up further fear. But only very few of the infected show symptoms of the disease, and very few of the cases of the disease are severe. On the other hand, the psychological consequences of this fear-mongering policy will be grave.

DEFAULT: How did you personally react to the Corona crisis?

Groissböck: A colleague referred to me as a "positive super spreader" in terms of my zest for action and my powers of persuasion. In any case, I am a person who thinks deeply anti-authoritarian, I am, if you will, naturally difficult to educate. Ask Wolfgang Sobotka, he was my teacher at the Waidhofen high school!

DEFAULT:What financial consequences did the worldwide cancellations due to Corona have for you?

Groissböck: We free singers had zero income overnight, even though we had legal contracts. Many have made us feel: you are irrelevant to the system. Why do you want money? Georg Nigl and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke tried very hard to find a regulation at the Vienna State Opera, but the federal theaters then paid part of the fees for canceled performances. In Germany the situation is more complicated, but similar solutions have been proposed. Ultimately, attempts have been made to pay for something almost everywhere except in the United States. But the whole system is organized differently there.

DEFAULT: So you took the initiative yourself after the many rejections. How exactly?

Groissböck: I phoned Heinz Ferlesch in May and thought about what we could do, so we can quickly respond to them Seasons came. Haydn's music has depth, wit and something that could be described as modern entertainment qualities. Daniel Serafin was very committed to having our first concert in Eisenstadt at Esterházy Palace. Fortunately, Herzogenburg was added. (Stefan Ender, August 5th, 2020)

Günther Groissböck (43) was born in Waidhofen an der Ybbs and performs as an internationally acclaimed bass player, among others. the Grand Inquisitor, the Gurnemanz, the Rocco, the Fiesco and the Ochs on the most important opera stages in the world - the latter two soon also at the Vienna State Opera. Next appointments with Günther Groissböck: Haydn's "Die Jahreszeiten" with the original sound orchestra Barucco under the direction of Heinz Ferlesch in the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt (8th August) and in the Herzogenburg Abbey (9th August), a best of Wagner Program with the Windhag band in the Waidhofen stadium (August 13th). And at the Weinviertel Festival in the Mikulov amphitheater he sings in "Tristan und Isolde" (15th, 17th August).