Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music



First Advisor

Walter Cuttino


Joseph Metternich, (1915- 2005) a prominent, internationally acclaimed opera singer of the mid-twentieth century, distinguished himself primarily in Italian baritone bel canto roles. In a career that spanned four decades, he performed in the major opera houses of the world, becoming one of the premiere operatic recording artists while portraying the heroes and villains of the operatic repertoire. At the height of his career, from 1946 to 1952, he was contractually bound to five opera houses at the same time, including theaters in Vienna, Austria as well as in East and West Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich in Germany.

From 1952 until 1959, Josef Metternich was a member of the Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan, Covent Garden in England, the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, and several major German opera houses. He debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1953 as Don Carlos and performed regularly with the Met until 1957. The Bavarian State Opera in Munich became his home base from 1957 onward. Metternich’s work has been preserved in numerous recordings.

Metternich’s success was largely due to the fact that he possessed the vocal timbre and verismo (realism) style of the Italian Fach (voice category). The major baritone roles of Verdi, Richard Strauss, and Wagner were among Metternich’s key repertoire. After retiring from the stage, Metternich turned to teaching and taught at the Cologne Conservatory of Music in Germany for twenty-five years. He had a number of famous pupils and was one of Europe’s most prominent vocal pedagogues.

This document will survey Metternich’s operatic career after WW II and his subsequent career as a master teacher of singing. By researching and translating numerous recorded German interviews, articles, performance reviews, and recordings, this document will examine the history of his life and career, his bel canto style of singing and his teaching. The author has obtained selected recordings of Metternich’s vocal instruction from his pupil, Kammersängerin Carol Malone. These recordings, as well as recordings of the author’s own voice lessons with Professor Metternich in Cologne, Germany, have facilitated the presentation of a first-hand analysis of Josef Metternich’s vocal pedagogy.