Biography

Born in Vienna, tenor Norbert Ernst is in demand all over the world as a performer of German repertoire, especially operas by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.

With his successful interpretation of Loge in Rheingold in 2014, he celebrated his tenth anniversary as a soloist at the Bayreuth Festival, where he embodied Lohengrin in the Bayreuth Festival’s opera for children. The following September he expanded his Wagner repertoire with his convincing debut as Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer at the Wiener Staatsoper.

The highlights of 2015 include the premiere of the new production of Richard Strauss’ Elektra at the Wiener Staatsoper, where Ernst performed as Aegisth.
With Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra he embodied Leukippos in Strauss’ Daphne both in Cleveland and at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York. Shortly afterwards he celebrated his opera debut at the Salzburg Festival as Jaquino in Fidelio. In fall 2015 he made his debut at the ROH Covent Garden in London with the Dancing Master in Strauss‘ Ariadne auf Naxos. Apart from his commitments at the Wiener Staatsoper, in 2015/2016 he sang concerts with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester. Moreover he slipped into the role of Merkur in Danae at the Salzburger Festspiele and into the role of David in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Budapest Festival.
In the 2016/2017 season Norbert Ernst will sing the title role in Wagner’s Lohengrin in Montpellier, the Dvorak Requiem with the MDR Leipzig, Loge in Das Rheingold at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and furthermore numerous roles at the Wiener Staatsoper.

Norbert Ernst started his vocal studies with Gerd Fussi at the Josef-Matthias Hauer Conservatory in Wiener Neustadt and later studied „Lied und Oratorium“ with Robert Holl and Charles Spencer at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He went deeper into his studies by attending master classes held by Walter Berry and Kurt Equiluz.
His first engagement was from 2002 to 2005 at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf, where he was able to work on the major roles of his repertoire. Many guest appearances followed, for instance as David (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg), Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore), Steuermann (The Flying Dutchman), Narraboth (Salome), the Dancing Master (Ariadne auf Naxos), Pedrillo (The Abduction from the Seraglio) at major European opera houses such as the Bavarian State Opera, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Grand Théâtre de Geneve, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, the Opéra national de Paris, the Opéra de Monte Carlo and the Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, with conductors such as Franz Welser-Möst, Christian Thielemann, Kirill Petrenko, Peter Schneider, Sebastian Weigle, Bertrand de Billy, Simone Young, Ingo Metzmacher, Ulf Schirmer, Pierre Boulez, Adam Fischer, Pinchas Steinberg and Ivor Bolton.

Since the 2010/2011 season Norbert Ernst is a member of the Wiener Staatsoper, where he has established himself in the German repertoire and can be seen in roles like Loge (Rheingold), Aegist (Elektra), David (Mastersingers of Nuremberg), Alfred (The bat), Erik (The Flying Dutchman), Narraboth (Salome), Dancing Master (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Tamino (The Magic Flute). For Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday celebration at the Wiener Staatsoper he performed Loge in Rheingold. His performance was celebrated as a brilliant success by both the public and the press.

Norbert Ernst has been a guest performer at prestigious international festivals, such as the Cincinnati Opera, Ohio, the Opera Festival Savonlinna, Finland and the Salzburg Festival. From 2004 to 2011 Norbert Ernst was a permanent guest soloist at the Bayreuth Festival. Some of his many roles included Steuermann (directed by Claus Guth /conducted by Marc Albrecht), David (Katharina Wagner/Sebastian Weigle) as well as Siegmund and Siegfried in Der Ring des Nibelungen – for children. At the 2013 Bayreuth Festival anniversary he embodied Loge in Rheingold, conducted by Kirill Petrenko and directed by Frank Castorf.

As recital and concert singer, Norbert Ernst has performed at the Vienna Musikverein, Brucknerhaus Linz, Vienna Konzerthaus, Philharmonie am Gasteig Munich, at the Berlin Philharmonic, at Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Tonhalle Dusseldorf with works of the entire large oratorio literature from Bach’s Passions to Mahler’s Song of the Earth. After his successful recital debut in 2013 at the Vienna Musikverein, and the release of his highly acclaimed first song recording Wohl fühl ich wie das Leben rinnt on the Viennese label Gramola, in January 2015 Ernst and his accompanist Kristin Okerlund were invited for a recital at the Opéra National de Paris with songs of Hugo Wolf to texts by Eduard Mörike. As a “Lieder-singer”, Ernst’s artistic focus lies in his intense occupation with “Lieder” by Hugo Wolf, Wilhelm Kienzl and Franz Schubert.
In summer 2016 he celebrated the release of his new CD “Lebt kein Gott” with excerpts of Wagner operas (Decca).