Walter Donati

1936 Postdam -

Picture of Walter Donati as Erik Picture of Walter Donati
Walter Donati, born 1938 in Postdam (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.

His most 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 here.

Walter Donati singsNorma: Oh di qual sei tu vittima with Michčle Lagrange and Martine Dupuy
I wish to thank Robert Schlesinger for the recordings and notes.
Donati as Baritone

Back to Index