wrote the Amsterdam newspaper “Opera Gazet” after the world premier of “Styx”, a commissioned work of the Karlsruhe Haendel Festival in 2001 by the composer Franz Hummel. Styx was the 10th world premiere of an opera since 1991 in which Johannes M. Kösters starred as the protagonist. By now he has reached his 15th world premiere, his last part having been the Johann Faustus in an opera with the same title by Friedrich Schenker, that was staged in the national theatre of Kassel in 2004.
The 2005/6 season marks the 25th anniversary of the singer’s career, whose first experience was with the National Theatre in Mannheim in 1981, and where he stayed through 1987. From 1987-1991 Kösters was a member of the ensemble of the Musical theatre in the Revier in Gelsenkirchen, where, for the most part, he sang French and Italian repertoire.
In 1991 Johannes M. Kösters began to sing independently as a singer in the German premiere of the opera “Vincent” by the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara at the Kiel Opera. It was a smashing success. The newspaper “Frankfurter Rundschau” reported:
For Kösters, the 1987 production of “Hamletmaschine” was the first great challenge of contemporary vocal literature. Ever since then the works of this important German composer have been one of the focal points of Mr. Köster’s career, which becomes further apparent when one looks at the world premieres and premieres that followed in operas, concerts and Lieder.
In one dedication to the baritone, Mr. Rihm expresses his admiration for the singer, stating:
In 1993 Kösters first worked with Claudio Abbado with the Berlin Philharmonics. The production staged Rihms “Hölderlin Fragments”, which are also available as a CD (Sony).
Further productions with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra followed, among these a Lieder recital which included five world premieres based on Büchner texts, several commissioned works by Abbado for the Berlin Festival in 1996, as well as a production in which Kösters starred as the lead in Rhim’s opera “Jakob Lenz” , a coproduction of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Grand Opera of Lyon in 1997. In 1999 Koesters was invited to sing at the Easter Festival in Salzburg as Melot in “Tristan and Isolde”.
The great successes with both the press and the audience in contemporary musical theatre of the early nineties have apparently contributed to Johannes M. Kösters’s continuous interpretation of important historical characters, who in turn have inspired many composers. Among these character roles one could mention Vincent Van Gogh, Heinrich Heine, Jacob Lenz, Hamlet, Ödipus, Einstein, Martin Luther, Johann Faust, etc. Since 1991 the baritone has starred in nearly forty productions in thirty theatres throughout Germany (Kiel, Frankfurt, Krefeld, Stralsund, Bielefeld, Karlsruhe, Darmstadt among others), Austria (Innsbruck, Vienna Festival), Switzerland (Basel, Luzern), France (Strasbourg, Nancy, Lyon), Italy (Venice) and the USA (Los Angeles) as the lead protagonist in each of the above productions.
Johannes M. Koesters received his professional training at the Musikhochschule Frankfurt am Main, where he worked with Martin Gründler from 1975 to 1980. A scholarship from the DAAD allowed him to study at the opera school in Bloomington, Indiana, USA, where he worked with Margret Harshaw on interpretation in 1981. He later studied with Rolf Sartorius in Wiesbaden. In 1978 and 1981, the young baritone was a prize winner at the international voice competitions in Geneva and San Luis Potosi, Mexiko.
Since 1986 Mr. Kösters has been teaching voice at the “Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Mannheim”. Some of his students, like the bass-baritone Jürgen Linn and the soprano Annette Postel, have become remarkable, well-known singers.
The foundations for Kösters’s musicality, noted by so many conductors and colleagues, were laid at a very young age when as a child he sang for many years in the Regensburg boy chorus.
Translated by Sonya Isaak
Johannes M. Kösters