Herbert Alsen

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Herbert Alsen (sometimes Ahlsen) (1906–1978) was a German operatic bass of formidable volume and stature.[1]


Alsen debuted as Rocco in Fidelio in Westfalen. In 1936, he performed as the Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni under Bruno Walter, and as Pogner the goldsmith in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg under Arturo Toscanini. Basing his career in Vienna, he went on to play all the great Wagner bass roles, including Gurnemanz, Hunding, Fafner, King Marke and Hagen, and more than forty roles by other composers. He sang at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1938-9 season. He retired in 1958.

Recordings are available of his Hunding, Pogner, and Fafner; also Rocco, Banco, Commendatore (opposite Ezio Pinza), Sarastro, and Osmin (opposite Elisabeth Schwarzkopf). An anthology CD is also available. There are no published recordings of his Hagen.

Notes and references

  1. Kurt Moses, American Record Guide, Sept./Oct., 2004 quoted on Norbeck, Peters & Ford