Georg Nigl - Singer of the Year 2015
It is over ten years ago that I first met baritone Georg Nigl. I can remember sitting with him in the Café Schwarzenberg in Vienna. He was everything else but a typical singer. He smoked. He was loud. He laughed. He made (dirty) jokes. But there was an energy and a passion in his eyes which was mesmerizing. He hated the typical singer career and was not prepared to follow that path. He was too much fascinated with taking music to one extreme after the other to explore the richness of his emotional world and to share that with the world.
Out of that meeting came a song cycle at the Wiener Konzerthaus in 2004/05 – a journey through the Lied repertoire starting with early music and ending at songs freshly written for Georg. In 2006 he sang Hugo Wolf’s “Italian Song Book” together with my lovely friends, soprano Katja Beer, for my birthday. What a treat.
Georg was one of the first people I called about my appointment as CEO of the Wiener Konzerthaus in 2006. We both love J.S. Bach. And so we started the crazy undertaking to perform all cantatas by J.S. Bach in a small and intimate setting. Luca Pianca was instrumental in forming the orchestra for it. Georg got the right singers together. I will never forget when he sang “Ich habe genug” with his ailing father in the audience. It was a moment rarely experienced in music.
In the middle of the night I got a text message that he was just named “Singer of the Year 2015” by the magazine Opernwelt – the Oscar for singers. I am proud of Georg for this amazing achievement. It is also great to see that music critiques saw Georg’s unique artistic qualities making opera not just relevant in today’s world, but an integral part of everyone’s understanding of a world much richer than rationality can understand.
Photo: Bernd Uhlig