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Benno Paul Kusche (30 January 1916 â€“ 14 May 2010) was a German operatic baritone, who was praised as one of the best Mozart and Wagner singers, especially in character roles and opera buffa.
Born in Freiburg im Breisgau, Kusche was the son of the painter Paul Kusche. From 1935 to 1937 he attended the theatre academy of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. There he discovered his talent as a singer. He made his debut at the Heidelberg Opera Festival in 1938. Kusche received his first engagement in 1938 at the Theater Koblenz. He joined the Theater Augsburg in 1939. Here he was active until his conscription for military service in 1941 and, after being wounded and discharged, returned to the Augsburg company from 1943 until the theatre was bombed in 1944.
Soon after the collapse of the Nazi dictatorship he played in operettas in the Kurhaus GÃ¶ggingen , then at Augsburg. From 1946 Kusche belonged to the Bavarian State Opera as a bass baritone known beyond Germany and was a member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein from 1958.
In the summer of 1951 he sang Beckmesser in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von NÃ¼rnberg staged by Heinz Tietjen at the Royal Opera House in London under the musical direction of Sir Thomas Beecham. The singer gave guest performances in the role in Vienna, Berlin and Stuttgart, at La Scala in Milan, in London, Florence, Zurich, Buenos Aires, Bregenz and Brussels, among others. In the 1971/72 season, he sang it at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.