• Michael Albert

Interview with Baritone Thomas Weinhappel


Thomas Weinhappel, baritone, was born near Vienna and at the age of seven was accepted into the Vienna Boys Choir, leading to international travel as an alto soloist. Mr. Weinhappel later attended the Opera School of the Vienna Conservatory, completing his Master’s at the University of Music and performing Arts Vienna before studying Lied and oratorio with Eva Blahova, Kurt Moll, Walter Berry and Gundula Janowitz.


What do you get out of doing a concert series like Salute to Vienna?


The North American audience gives me an enormous amount of strength and energy. Performing the mellifluous music of my home country of Austria, and receiving the wonderful applause of the audience, brings me to the point where my happiness no longer knows any boundaries. The special warm-hearted cheers from my North American spectators get under my skin. Their affectionate enthusiasm enthrals me completely!


How do you spend your time when you aren’t working?


My father, who encouraged me to join the famous Vienna Boys Choir when I was seven years old, took me on long strolls through the native forest in Lower Austria. Since then, I have always loved to spend my free time in the woods.

When I am fascinated by the beauty of something I literally want to get to the bottom of it and that's why I started deep-sea diving.

Nature has blessed me with a voice that permits me appearances on the stages of many honorable opera houses. I try to use my gift with respect and to give back, which is why I became an ambassador for the coral reefs of our oceans in 2016. I lobby for their protection and preservation as often as I can.


What’s your favorite city to work in?


To be honest, I really can’t give you a favorite city! But I can put it this way: I feel at home in every city where a spotlight illuminates a stage! To be more precise, the stage is my favorite place whenever and wherever.


What’s next in your career?


Currently, I’m engaged at the National Opera House of Ostrava in the Czech Republic, where I’m blessed to sing Hamlet. This role is more to me than a title role of an unbelievable story because I have discovered similarities between my private life and that of the Prince of Denmark. When I stand on stage during the very first scene of Hamlet, mourning the sarcophagus of the late king, memories of my own father’s funeral start running through my head. Just as the prince lost this precious person when he was young, so did I. It may be due to this loss that I am able to perform the role the way I do.


I’m looking forward to singing my favorite role, Mozart's Don Giovanni, at the Estates Theatre at Prague, where, 230 years ago, the world premiere took place. Don Giovanni is a role I hope to reprise at the State Opera of Prague sometime in the future.


Who is your favorite person to travel with? Why?


My favorite person to travel with is my beloved girlfriend, who is also a gifted photographer, Ms. Ekaterina Kokhanova. She accompanies me whenever possible and takes impressive and breathtaking photos and catches unbelievable impressions of our travels.


Favorite musical composition?


West Side Story.


Languages?


English, Italian, and German.


Best journey?


Niagara Falls.


What are you reading?


Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (J. Alexander Mahan) due to her 300th birthday in 2017.


Favorite thing to eat?


Spareribs!


Dogs or cats?


Both!

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