German bass Kurt Moll has died at the age of 78.
It was Moll's voice that most entranced me when, many years ago, I bought my first opera recording, Mozart's The Magic Flute. The sound of his deep and resonant voice as the fatherly and wise Sarastro impressed me so much. It made me realize that it isn't all about just the tenor and the soprano.
I had already been listening to classical music, mostly instrumental and orchestral, for several years before I really gave opera a chance. I knew that the Queen of the Night's two high-flying arias were prominent showpieces in Mozart's great fairy-tale opera, so I was a little surprised by the big impact the bass part of the high priest Sarastro had on me. Human voices are, of course, unique, and Moll's velvety yet powerful and deep tones made me want to learn a little more about this genre of music.
Here is Moll in one of his signature roles as Sarastro:
One of the first Richard Wagner opera recordings I listened to was Parsifal with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. I picked up the highlights recording mostly for the orchestral music, but again it was Moll as Gurnemanz, the eldest knight of the Grail, that really moved me. That led me to listen to the complete recording, and I was beginning to become more of an opera fan:
Moll was also known for his superbly enjoyable performance as Baron Ochs in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, with Karajan:
I admit I'm not as much of an opera aficionado as a couple of other folks I know around here. But I do know what I like when I hear it, so I'm thankful to have encountered the wonderful voice of Moll when I did. His presence and fine singing added a (literally deeper) dimension that helped open up the world of opera to me.