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Ernst Haefliger, 87; Swiss tenor known for opera, lieder

March 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND — Ernst Haefliger, the Swiss opera singer renowned for his oratorio and lieder performances, has died, a Lucerne Festival spokeswoman announced. He was 87.

Haefliger died Saturday of acute heart failure in the southeastern Switzerland town of Davos, said Barbara Higgs, spokeswoman for the annual Lucerne Festival.

Between 1952 and 1972, Haefliger was the leading lyric tenor with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, singing the tenor roles in Mozart's operas and performing as Hans in Bedrich Smetana's "The Bartered Bride."

Working with Columbia and Deutsche Grammophon, Haefliger recorded Mozart's operas and Beethoven's "Fidelio," winning several awards.

He was a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, the Glyndebourne Festival in Britain and the Lucerne Festival.

Haefliger earned particular praise for singing the part of the evangelist in Bach's settings of the biblical Passion with the Bach Choir of Munich, Germany, directed by Karl Richter, according to the Lucerne Festival.

Haefliger was born July 6, 1919, in Davos. He studied singing and violin in Zurich before becoming an opera singer with the Zurich Opera House, where he gained international attention as Tiresias in the world premiere of Carl Orff's "Oedipus."

He first performed in North America at Canada's 1959 Vancouver Festival and made numerous New York appearances during his career, including concerts at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Carnegie Hall.

He also taught for many years at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich.

He is survived by a wife and three children, one of whom is the pianist Andreas Haefliger.

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