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Theodor Wachtel, German opera tenor. In role of "Chapelou" the lead part
in Adolphe Adam's opera, "Le Coachman of Lonjumeau."
Carte de visite
Private collection of T. Max Hochstetler
© Klaus Niermann - studioniermann.de/html/bieber.html
Theodor Wachtel (1823-1893), German tenor
Theodor Wachtel was born in Hamburg on 10 March 1823. He was the son of a stable keeper and as a young man drove horse cabs. He was to excel as the leading tenor in Europe. He gained his first operatic engagements in 1854 singing in several German cities. His first London appearance was in 1862 where he sang the part of Edgardo in "Lucia." His high C was his chief attribute and it is said that he produced it with tremendous volume. Wachtel also toured America for several seasons. His wife was named Johanette.
In the role of Chapelou from Adolphe Adam's opera "Le Postillon de Chapelou" ("The Coachman of Lonjumeau"), a part he performed more than one thousand times, it is reported that he developed skills for rhythmic whip cracking to further entertain his audiences. He dedicated most of his performances while in Germany to Kaiser Friedrich William III.
Wachtel's primary career was made at the Hamburg Opera, although he had appearances at Hanover, Cassel, Schwerin, Dresden, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and London. A noted opera writer praised Wachtel saying, " he was one of the first vocal artists whose voice was superbly trained and preserved to the end of his life. I have had to pay tribute to Wachtel, the tribute of the most complete admiration and recognition in contrast to many others who thought themselves greater than he, and yet were not worthy to unloose the latchet of his shoes."
Wachtel's tour of the United States took him from New York to San Francisco and his voice continued to hold its strength until he retired from the stage. He died in Berlin on 14 November 1893.
(Kindly contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, June 2007)