Nissen, Hans Hermann

German bass-baritone, 1893 - 1980

Biographical notes:

He was born in Danzig and initially started a business career. In 1916 he received vocal tuition by the famous oratorio and lieder singer Joachim Raatz-Brockmann in Berlin. He made his stage debut in 1924 at the Berlin Volksoper. In 1925 he was engaged at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich where he remained a member of the ensemble for four decades! Especially during the Clemens Krauss era he was acclaimed in performances that have become part of operatic legend. Nissen was not only a leading Wagner singer but also appeared with great success in Verdi roles such as  Philip (!), Cardinal Borromeo (Palestrina) and Barak. His Mozart roles included Almaviva and Don Alfonso. He was particularly admired in the characterisation of royal and cavalier roles. He sang in numerous guest performances at Covent Garden (Wotan and Hans Sachs), Stockholm, Brussels, Antwerp and the Paris Grand Opéra. He also appeared at La Scala. His most famous role was Hans Sachs, a role he sang in 1936 in Salzburg under Toscanini and in 1943 at the Bayreuth Festival. After World War II he continued to appear in various German cities. Nissen was an acclaimed lieder and oratorio singer. He was a favorite singer with the Munich Opera until his retirement in 1967.


As the Dutchman



Tchaikovsky - The Queen of Spades (Rother 1947/Schock, Grümmer, Prohaska, Klose, Müller)


Wagner - Der fliegende Holländer (Leonhardt 1936/Teschemacher, Ralf, Weber)


Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Toscanini live 1937/Reining, Noort, Wiedermann, Alsen, Thorborg)


Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Böhm 1938/Teschemacher, Schellenberg, Nilsson, Kremer)


Recital (Arias and lieder by Marschner, Gounod, Meyerbeer, Wagner, Loewe, Schumann, Wolf, Pfitzner)

Preiser - LV

Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 3


Munich’s Opera History

Preiser - LV

Unforgettable Voices of the Vienna State Opera

Preiser - LV

The Prinzregenten Theatre Munich

Preiser - LV


As a poetic Hans Sachs


Hans Hermann Nissen (Hans Sachs) and Günther Treptow (Stolzing)


He is the only bass-baritone comparable to Friedrich Schorr. Why did the recording companies almost neglect him? There might be two reasons - the first being that the singer himself valued a stage career more than a reputation as a recording artist (?) and secondly the important fact that at the time there were a lot of German baritones and the recording companies had already engaged their popular favorites. Contemporaries were Wilhelm Rode, Rudolf Bockelmann, Josef Herrmann, Hans Hotter, Paul Schöffler and Ferdinand Frantz! This is a proud gallery but Nissen and Schorr outshined them all.

His is a warm voice of great beauty, superb musical phrasing and he sings with a perfect legato. His recordings are irreplaceable documents of an exemplary refined style in Wagner’s music. In my opinion, he is unsurpassed in Amfortas’ lament. He is a superb but underrated singer today...

My favorite recordings:

 Wehe! Wehe mir der Qual! (Amfortas in Parsifal / Wagner /Homocord 1927)

- Leb’ wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind (Wotan in Die Walküre / Wagner / Homocord 1927)

- Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn! (Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Wagner / Homocord 1927)

- Die Frist ist um (Title role in The Flying Dutchman/ Wagner / Homocord 1928)

- Was duftet doch der Flieder (Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Wagner / Homocord 1929)

- Odins Meeresritt (Loewe / Electrola 1939)

- Der Gärtner (Pfitzner / Electrola 1939)