born in 1995 in Hinterstoder, began his career as a St. Florian Choir Boy in 2005.
Alois Mühlbacher, born in 1995 in Hinterstoder, created excitement and garnered widespread attention even as a child soloist in the St. Florian Boys’ Choir with his spectacular CD recordings (including Queen of the Night, Zerbinetta, Lieder by Gustav Mahler). Franz Welser-Möst (“Never in my life have I heard such a boy’s voice”) and Joan Holender engaged the fifteen-year-old for the Vienna Staatsoper (as the Young Shepherd in “Tannhäuser”), and later he sang the part of Oberto there in “Alcina” under the direction of Marc Minkowski, of which a live DVD was released by Arthouse. In the“Magic Flute” recording under Rene Jacobs, he sings the role of the “First Boy”. With the Boys’ Choir, to which he still feels bound today, he made concert tours around the world, and as soprano soloist he celebrated great triumphs on the stages of international concert halls (among others, he sang the soprano solo in Mahler’s 4th Symphony in the Salzburg Festspielhaus, and in Tokyo, the role of Yniold in “Pelleas et Melisande”). He was a soloist in “Christmas in Vienna”, and a 30-minute documentary about him was broadcast on ORF and ARTE. Almost without interruption, his career continued as a countertenor: he sang at the Grand Opening gala for the new Vladivostok Opera House, at the New Years’ Eve Concert by the Mozarteum Orchestra in the Grosse Festspielhaus, in operas (Orlofsky in “Die Fledermaus”, Apollo in “Apollo et Hyacinthus”) and oratorios (Daniel in “Susanna” under Martin Haselböck in the Grosse Musikvereinssaal). In December 2016 he was the alto soloist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Munich, Herkulessaal) and in the B minor Mass (Grosse Musikvereinssaal). As a result of years of working with the Ensemble Ars Antiqua Austria (Gunar Letzbor), his solo voice is documented from Choir Boy age up to the present on numerous CD recordings of, primarily, Austrian baroque music. In addition, four solo CDs have been released to date of Alois with Franz Farnberger on piano (arias from operas and operettas, Lieder, duets). His special passion, though, is singing lieder. Together with his partner, the pianist Franz Farnberger, he has already given numerous “Liederabend” concerts (among others, in the Kristallsaal in Waidhofen, at the Bruckner Days in St. Florian, and at the Bruckner House in Linz). In that tradition, his unmistakable, supple and versatile vocal timbre enables his repertoire, which is unusual and broad for a countertenor; it spans the gamut from Schubert to Richard Strauss. Parallel to his work as a singer, he took a degree in acting in Linz.
As a choirboy
“Never in my life have I heard such a boy’s voice” (Franz Welser-Möst)
“Never in my life have I heard such a boy’s voice” (Franz Welser-Möst) “I have listened to this CD and it is downright phenomenal. It is absolutely extraordinary” (Ioan Holender on “ALOIS UNERHÖRT”) Soon after he joined the St. Florian Boys’ Choir in 1995, his great acting talent was discovered in a nativity play – his musical talent had already been obvious – and in a short time, he had become the foremost soloist of the choir. As part of its concert program repertoire, the Boys’ Choir regularly presents short versions of well-known operas and operettas (“The Magic Flute” and “Die Fledermaus” in something of an XXS format), in which all parts are sung by the boys. Alois worked his way up through various roles, from the First Boy to the First Lady to Pamina and finally all the way to the Queen of the Night. In short order, he was the absolute audience favorite. In the role of “Rosalinde” (Fledermaus) in particular, everyone was enraptured with his dramatic ability. His special gift for imitating female opera singers, and the pleasure he took in regularly learning new and more difficult opera arias (even Zerbinetta) was celebrated by his Choir Director and piano accompanist Franz Farnberger through the production of the CD “ALOIS UNERHÖRT” (“The Incredible Alois”). The sound production was also documented on film, and for a time the CD was the number-one-selling classical recording in the Linz region. Alois was, however, not interested only in spectacular literature. He expressed a desire to record duets with other members of the Boys’ Choir, and the result was the CD “ALOIS UND CHRISTOPH, FLORIAN, KARSTEN”, which features works by Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. With the CD “ALOIS UM MITTERNACHT” (“Alois at Midnight“) the singer moved once again to musical terrain which is normally out of the question for a boy’s voice: songs by Gustav Mahler and the “Four Last Songs” of Richard Strauss – for critics, a risky move which invited criticism, but on the other hand, demonstrated unique capabilities. Of course, Alois also sang the standard choir boy solos, from every imaginable “Ave Maria” to “Panis Angelicus” to “Pie Jesu”. On many major opera stages, he was the First Boy in “The Magic Flute” (and also on the CD recording featuring Rene Jacobs), in Tokyo he sang the part of Yniold (“Pelleas et Melisande”), in the Vienna Staatsoper, the Shepherd Boy (“Tannhäuser”) under Franz Welser-Möst, and the part of Oberto (“Alcina”) under Marc Minkowski (Austria-1 TV live broadcast and live DVD recording). All in all, the “Boys’ Choir family” in St. Florian has left a deep and lasting mark on his artistic life. He was not only the star and poster boy, but for many years also a reliable and loyal member of the venerable historic choir, with which he made concert tours around the world. Fortunately, since plenty of documentary film material was available, the young artist’s extraordinary life has been encapsulated in a film portrait (Director: Manfred Corrine), which was broadcast on the Austrian television channel ORF and the German channel 3-Sat.
As a singer
The lieder recordings of the Choir Boy Alois Mühlbacher were received and reviewed with excitement and great enthusiasm by experts and critics.
“When Alois Mühlbacher sings the three lieder from Wolf’s Spanish Lieder book, I find his expressive simplicity – delivered in a completely natural timbre – almost exemplary. When these lieder are sung so perfectly, one experiences the revelation of their very essence.” (Christian Gerhaher on ALOIS – VON HIRTEN UND ENGELN (“Of Shepherds and Angels”) “From Professor Fischer-Dieskau, I learned of the existence of your “Boy Prodigy”....... in the case of Alois I believe that, at an early age, a spiritual quality grew in this boy which, in an unusual manner, put him in a position to interpret – in particular – the Mahler lieder in a way that one cannot expect from such a young person.” (Peter Schreier, in a letter to Franz Farnberger about the CD “ALOIS – UM MITTERNACHT”, Alois at Midnight) “... Just as obvious too, though, is the artist’s surprising technical precocity: his flawless articulation (every word can be understood), the moving purity and power of the falsetto range, the wonderful crescendo of his tone, the enchanting piano, the beguiling glissando in “Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden”, the astounding balance between lyricism and legato, the mature interpretation, and intuitive sense of drama, suspense, stories.” (Boris Kehrmann in OPERNWELT Feb./2011 on “ALOIS UM MITTERNACHT”) “...on the whole I cannot remember, since Svjatoslav Richter’s “Winter Journey”, hearing such piano accompaniment.” (Boris Kehrmann in OPERNWELT Feb./2011 on Franz Farnberger in “ALOIS – UM MITTERNACHT“) The lieder recordings of the Choir Boy Alois Mühlbacher were greeted by experts and critics with amazement and great admiration. Now grown, Alois proves with his still unusually flexible and nuanced voice that, as a countertenor, he continues to be able to interpret not only Early Music, but also lieder absolutely convincingly. With his former Choir Director and mentor Franz Farnberger as piano accompanist, he has already developed an extensive repertoire and has presented it at numerous “Liederabend” concerts, including those at the Kristallsaal in Waidhofen, in the Marmorsaal of the St. Florian Monastery (as part of the Bruckner Days 2015) and in the Bruckner House (December 2016). Headlines from the press say: “The foundation has been laid for a great career” (Upper Austrian News) “Powerful and richly nuanced” (Volksblatt) “Phenomenon of the vocal world” (Kronenzeitung)
Highlights of his work in Early Music included his cooperation with Rene Jacobs, Marc Minkowski, Pierre Pitzl, Gunar Lezbor and Martin Haselböck.
A cooperative relationship of many years’ standing links the St. Florian Boys’ Choir with the renowned baroque ensemble “Ars Antiqua Austria” under the direction of Gunar Letzbor. More than 20 years ago, the joint concert series “Fiori Musicali” was organized, and since then there have been annual joint concerts at the St. Florian Monastery. After the initial euphoria that accompanied the rediscovery of the “historical performance practice“ of Early Music in the 1960s and 1970s – highlighted by the legendary recordings of the Bach Passions under Gillesberger/Harnoncourt – today, solo boys’ voices are once again rarely brought in for concerts and CD recordings, since professional women’s vocals (which today can also – similar to a boy’s voice – be sung with very little vibrato) involve less effort in the musical production process and, normally, achieve greater perfection. The special appeal of a boy’s voice and the “original sound” are sacrificed to the desire for safety. Ars Antiqua Austria and the St. Florian Boys’ Choir represent one of the last “bastions” willing to take on the difficulties, the effort and the risk necessary to produce not only concerts, but also CD recordings with exclusively male singers. In this spirit and tradition, Alois experienced at the early age of 11 the “historically informed” performance practice including original instruments. Because Gunar Letzbor is interested, above all, in the rediscovery of outstanding but largely forgotten Austrian baroque music, a whole series of very special and, in some cases, award-winning CDs has resulted, in which Alois played an important part during his entire tenure as a Choir Boy (which continues today as a countertenor). Thus he can be heard as a soloist in masses and oratorios by Muffat, Weichlein, Hochreither, Aufschnaiter, Biber, Werner and Fux. In addition to the annual concerts in St. Florian, there have been concerts in Linz, Wien, Gurk, Brüssel, Brügge, and Utrecht. Other high points in his encounters with Early Music included his work with Rene Jacobs in “Magic Flute” productions and his appearances as “Oberto” in the Vienna Staatsoper (together with the “Musiciens du Louvre” under Marc Minkowski). As an adult countertenor, Alois Mühlbacher performed in 2015 in the Kristallsaal in Waidhofen together with the Gamben Consort “Chest of Viols” under Pierre Pitzl (“Time Stands Still”). In December 2015 his work with Martin Haselböck and his “Wiener Akademie” began with a concert in the Grosse Musikvereinssaal. The program included Händel’s “Susanna”, in which Alois sang the part of “Daniel”. In 2016 this was followed by Bach’s B minor Mass (also in the Grosse Musikvereinssaal) and the Christmas Oratorio (Munich, Herkulessaal). Further projects are being planned.
In the opera
In 2010, Ioan Holender brought him to the Vienna Staatsoper, where he sang the role of the “Young Shepherd” in Wagner's “Tannhäuser”, and later “Oberto” in Handel's “Alcina” with great success.
Alois gathered his first formative operatic experience as a Choir Boy, not only by filling numerous leading roles in minor opera scenes which were often on the concert program, but on the “big” opera stage as well:
- He played the “First Boy” in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in Luxemburg, at the Theater an der Wien, in Salzburg, and in Aix en Provence (Conductor: Rene Jacobs, under whom he also recorded a CD and performed in concerts in Berlin, Salzburg and Paris).
- He sang the part of “Yniold” in Debussy’s “Pelleas et Melisande” in Tokyo under the direction of Christian Arming.
- In 2010 he was brought by Ioan Holender to the Vienna Staatsoper, where he sang the part of the “Young Shepherd” in Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” under Franz Welser-Möst (Johan Botha was the production’s “Tannhäuser”, Christian Gerhaher played “Wolfram”).
- Also at the Vienna Staatsoper, in 2011 and 2012, he sang the part of “Oberto” in Händel‘s “Alcina” under Marc Minkowski (Arthouse has released a live video recording on DVD).
- He was the “Shepherd” in Puccini’s “Tosca” at the Concertgebow Amsterdam and
- at the same location, he sang the part of one of the boys in Wolfgang Riehm’s “Jacob Lenz” (as also at the Vienna Festwochen).
- As an adult, Alois Mühlbacher celebrated one of his first major successes when he was invited to make a musical contribution to the grand opening of the Primorsky Opera House in Vladivostok. At the Musikfestival in Steyr he sang the role of “Orlofsky” in “Die Fledermaus”, and in Mozart’s “Apollo et Hyacinthus” he sang “Apollo”.
As a member of the St. Florian Choir Boys, Alois was accustomed even as a child to appearing as a soloist in major international concert halls.
As a child, Alois was already accustomed to concert tours with the St. Florian Boys’ Choir, in which he performed as a soloist in major international concert halls (among other highlights, he captivated the audience in 2008 in China’s largest concert halls with the arias of the “Queen of the Night”). Whether as a featured artist in Boys’ Choir concerts or on his own – he has always been a “Poster Boy” for the St. Florian Boys’ Choir. He made special appearances as a soloist, among others,
- in Bernstein‘s “Mass“ in Salzburg (Conductor: Elisabeth Fuchs)
- in Bernstein‘s “Chichester Psalms“) in Linz and Dresden
- at the Festival 4020 at the Bruckner House in Linz (the World Premiere of a composition by Rudolf Jungwirth)
- at the Kinderklangwolke in Linz in 2009 with Konstantin Wecker
- as a guest artist in a concert by Konstantin Wecker in the Bruckner House
- in a production of Schubert’s E flat Major Mass under Franz Welser-Möst
- in the 4th Symphony of Gustav Mahler with the Mozarteum Orchestra in the Grosse Festspielhaus in Salzburg (2011)
- in “Christmas in Vienna” at the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2010 and 2011
- in the New Years’ Eve Concert 2015 by the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg at the Grosses Festspielhaus (Conductor: Ivor Bolton).