Hrólfur Sæmundsson, baritone

Biography

Hrólfur Sædmundsson initially studied singing at the Reykjavik Vocal Academy before completing his MA in Music at the New England Conservatory in Boston, 2002.

His recent and future engagements include Germont in La Traviata, Wozzeck, Michele in Il Tabarro, title role in Macbeth, Alberich in Rheingold and Siegfried, Tomski in The Queen of Spades and Don Carlo in Ernani. In 2021 Hrolur sang the leading role in neo-romantic opera Der Alpenkönig und Menschenfeind by Leo Blech in a recording made by German Radio Deutschlandfunk.

He has performed extensively in operas and on the concert platform in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Luxemburg, the UK, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the US, as well as in his native country Iceland.

His most important roles are Macbeth, Don Carlo (La forza del destino), Germont (La traviata), Miller (Luisa Miller), Rodrigo (Don Carlo), Ford (Falstaff), Escamillo (Carmen), Alberich (Der Ring) Telramund (Lohengrin), Wolfram (Tannhäuser), Kurwenal (Tristan und Isolde), Beckmesser (Die Meistersinger), Lord Ruthven (Der Vampyr), the Father (Hansel und Gretel), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), Schaunard and Marcello (La boheme), Onegin (Eegene Onegin), Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Don Pizaro (Fidelio), Ori in the acclaimed new opera Au Monde by Philippe Boesmans, Il Conte (Le nozze di Figaro), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte) Don Giovanni and Papageno (Die Zauberflöte).

He has made CD recordings, most notably with the music of Sir John Tavener to much acclaim, as well as Mahler’s 8th symphony and two albums of Icelandic songs. He has performed on radio and on television, both in Iceland and the UK.

Critics have called Mr. Saemundsson “fantastic”, “superb”, “favorite of the public”, as well as “spectacular”. His singing they have described as “having a beautiful timbre”, “huge range”, “dramatic power”, as well as being “beautiful and effortless”.

Hrólfur was the Icelandic Wagner society’s singer of the year and has been nominated for both the Icelandic Music Prize and the Icelandic Theater Prize.

Calendar
Repertoire
Opera roles

Ludwig van Beethoven

FIDELIO/ Don Pizaro

Georges Bizet

CARMEN/Escamillo

Philippe Boesmans

AU MONDE/ Ori

Claude Debussy

PELLEAS ET MELISANDE/Pelléas

Philip Glass

LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE/ La Bête

Engelbert Humperdinck

HÄNSEL UND GRETEL/ Father

Heinrich August Marschner

DER VAMPYR/ Ruthven

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

COSI FAN TUTTE/Don Alfonso
DON GIOVANNI/Don Giovanni
DON GIOVANNI/Leporello
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO/The Count
DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE/Papageno
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO/Figaro

Giacomo Puccini

LA BOHEME/Schaunard
MADAMA BUTTERFLY/Sharpless

Gioacchino Rossini

LA CENERENTOLA/Dandini

Johann Strauss

DIE FLEDERMAUS/Eisenstein
DIE FLEDERMAUS/Dr. Falke

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

EUGENE ONEGIN/Eugene Onegin
THE QUEEN OF SPADES/ Tomsky

Giuseppe Verdi

DON CARLO / Marquis of Posa (Rodrigo)
FALSTAFF/Ford
LA FORZA DEL DESTINO/ Don Carlo
LUISA MILLER/ Miller
MACBETH/Macbeth
LA TRAVIATA /Germont

Richard Wagner

GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG/ Alberich
LOHENGRIN/ Telramund
DIE MEISTERSINGER/ Beckmesser
DAS RHEINGOLD/ Alberich
TANNHÄUSER/Wolfram
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE/ Kurwenal

Carl Maria von Weber

DER FREISCHÜTZ/Kaspar
DER FREISCHÜTZ/Ottokar
Review
Operamagazine (The Netherlands)
In the title role Theater Aachen had cast the Icelandic baritone Hrólfur Saemundsson,a member of the Aachen ensemble. This characterizes the quality of this company, because he was fantastic. Saemundsson has a huge range, a beautiful timbre and an impressive stage presence.
opernnetz.de
The acoustic brought out the best in baritone Hrolfur Saemundsson, already having performed an outstanding Pelleas is seen here at the top of his game. He immersed himself in the role body and soul, reflecting the contrasting facets of the character, and seems vocally completely at ease. It wasn't just his last aria that sounded superb.
Opera Magazine
Hrólfur Sæmundsson surpassed himself in the title role with singing of dramatic power and bel canto cultivation and acting worthy of a matter of life and death.
Theater Pur
As Macbeth the artist surpassed himself entirely. Such dramatic, yet belcantoesque, and saturated eruptive tones I haven't heard from him before. Also in his acting, he plays the character as if life and death were at stake. I stand in awe and admiration. Great admiration.
Derry journal
Sæmundsson brought gravitas and authoritative masculinity to the role of Germont which served to heighten the drama. Perfectly articulated, his powerful baritone voice sounded beautiful and effortless.
Irish examiner
Icelander Hrolfur Saemundsson was spectacular in the title role, his superb voice given full effect by the highly dramatic acting demanded by this opera.
Inserttitle.ie
From the moment he is first brought back to un-life Hrólfur Sæmundsson as Lord Ruthven was mesmerising. He may only be playing a vampire but you certainly fall under the spell of his performance. With flowing blond locks, a wonderfully powerful voice and a playful swagger he perfectly captured the essence of Byron whose exploits gave birth to the opera’s story.
The Munster Express
Hrolfur Saemundsson, the Icelandic baritone was gloriously impressive as Der Vampyr, and he was passionate and manipulative in his blood lust, and yet managed a Romantic, tragic persona as well.
Opera Now
Wolfram too was a powerful presence, and didn´t sound as if he was giving a Lieder Masterclass, which Walthers (sic) can do.
Arts Journal
Minnesingers were truly splendid, well directed and in beautiful voice, with Hrólfur Saemundsson’s Wolfram von Eschenbach outstanding.
North West Telegraph
It was baritone Hrolfur Saemundsson as Giorgio Germont however who turned in the most complex performance, transitioning from a patronizing and even bullying Father figure into a guilt-ridden remorseful shell.
behindthearras.com
Icelander Hrólfur Sæmundsson’s Wolfram von Eschenbach (the Fischer-Dieskau role), desperate to divert the errant Tannhäuser from returning to his old ways and restore his Christian sense of duty, brought such passion and also elegance to his arias he proved one of the highlights of the entire evening.
Seen and heard international
Hrólfur Sæmundsson was an honourable and introspective Wolfram who is deeply in love with Elisabeth. His plaintive ‘O du, mein holder Abendstern’ lacked nothing in comparison with Christian Gerhaher who nearly stopped the show recently when singing it at Covent Garden.
Classical source
The excellent Icelandic baritone Hrölfur Sæmundsson acted Wolfram fluently and sang with a range of colour, feeling and sensitivity that made the role seem much bigger than it is, and ensuring that his ‘O du mein holder Abendstern’ hung like a veil over the last Act.
Rheinische Post
Very touching and intriguing rendition of the song to the Evenstar by baritone Hrolfur Saemundsson as Wolfram.
Aachener Zeitung
Hrolfur Saemundsson is fascinating as the increasingly depressed Ori.
Aachener Zeitung
Outstanding, Hrolfur Saemundsson as Figaro is bursting with comedic talent... Sæmundsson's baritone fits Figaro like a glove.
Operagazet (Belgium)
We want to especially mention Hrolfur Saemundsson as Ori, a smooth bass-baritone with a free flowing higher register.
Klenkes
Posa is wonderfully sung and acted by Hrolfur Saemundsson. Posa (wunderbar gesungen und gespielt von Hról-fur Saemundsson).
Klenkes
Hrolfur Saemundsson was a wonderful Figaro, and proves once again his class, also as an actor, as the slightly effeminate Barber.
Das Opernglas
A perfect Onegin with a beautifully sounding baritone timbre.
Movie magazin
Der leidende und hasserfüllte Don Carlo, Leonoras Bruder, war in Hrólfur Saemundssons Kehle bestens aufgehoben.
Deropernfreund.de
In der Titelpartie überzeugte Hrólfur Saemundsson schauspielerisch und sängerisch ungemein. Sein wunderbar geschmeidiger, dabei durchaus viriler Bassbariton wird nicht nur den dramatischen, sondern gerade auch den lyrischen Passagen der Partie voll Gerecht.
Deropernfreund.de
Publikumsliebling Hrólfur Saemundsson als Vater Germont steigerte sich nach eher verhaltenem Beginn zu gewohntem Bariton-Balsam und versetzte das Publikum bei seiner Auseinandersetzung mit Alfredo darüber hinaus mit einem veritablen Sturz auf den Rücken in Aufregung: da konnte man schon um die Bandscheiben des Isländers Angst haben!
Der Opernfreund
In der Titelpartie gab der Hausbariton und erklärte Liebling des Aachener Opernpublikums, Hrólfur Saemundsson, ein musikalisch mehr als überzeugendes Debüt. Er bleibt der Partie an Stimmodulation, Attacke, balsamischer Klangschönheit etwa in seiner großen Romanze „Pietà, rispetto, amore“ oder aber in den großen Ausbrüchen während des Banketts im 2. Akt, die ihn verwirrt und voller Gewissensqualen zeigen, nichts schuldig. Das Publikum feierte ihn dafür zu Recht mit standing ovations.
Press Service

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