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 quickly sang leading parts at large theaters such as La Scala, Teatro Colón, Opéra de Paris, Teatro 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 has been singing as
such until now (2013)!
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.
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 the 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. Some pictures of Donati are to be found