Photo: © Stefanie Starz

Vienna, 15 November 2012. Polish tenor Piotr Beczala today signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon at the historic opera house considered the “second home” of one of his all-time musical heroes, Richard Tauber.

Sporting a distinct Tauber-style monocle – once the characteristic accessory of the famous Austrian tenor – Beczala sealed his multi-album contract in the sumptuous surroundings of the Teesalon of the Vienna State Opera House, whilst at the same time announcing his first project for Deutsche Grammophon – a moving, personal tribute to Tauber, who died 65 years ago.

Vienna’s glorious venue provided the setting for countless Tauber operetta triumphs in the first half of the 20th century, and Beczala himself will appear on the same stage throughout December, starring as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohčme.

His new album, a tribute to Richard Tauber’s unforgettable melodies, is set for global release in May 2013, as the Yellow Label announces “150 Years of Operetta”, and a host of activities and projects aimed to breathe new life into this most popular of art forms.

It was Tauber’s many wonderful recordings and touching, charismatic voice that made Piotr Beczala fall in love with singing. His own early passion for opera and operetta grew throughout his student days and as a company member of the opera house in Linz (Richard Tauber’s birthplace), so it is only natural that he should turn to operetta alongside some of Tauber’s most famous songs for his first DG solo album.

“I believe this music to be truly magical”, Beczala explains. “The melodies are timeless and heartfelt, as well as vocally demanding – a real challenge, and a real pleasure.”

The repertoire connects directly with the operettas and songs of Lehár, Kálmán, Stolz, Erwin and others, including works that once drew packed audiences to the theatres all over Europe, including Beczala’s homeland. Apart from offering a beautiful, passionate rendition of “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” (Tauber’s signature tune), Beczala is joined by special guests Anna Netrebko, Avi Avital and the Berlin Comedian Harmonists. The album also presents a unique version of “Du bist die Welt für mich”, where, using exclusive 21st-century recording technology, Beczala sings in perfect harmony with Tauber.

On signing the contract, Piotr Beczala noted: “It is an honour for me to follow in the footsteps of so many artists, past and present, and join the Yellow Label. Taking this music to a wider audience is one of my dreams, as I hope to do justice to the wonderful memory of one of the greatest voices of all time.”

Mark Wilkinson, President of Deutsche Grammophon, commented: “Just as his hero, Richard Tauber, was known to a generation as ‘the gentleman tenor’, so Piotr can rightly claim that title for himself in the 21st century. The magnificent combination of his charm, charisma and musical intelligence are without equal, and his peerless interpretations on this special album will mark him out as the operetta pin-up of our times.”