|Year of Birth:||1942|
Ortrun Wenkel (born 25 October 1942) is a German operatic contralto. She notably portrayed the role of Erda in the Bayreuth Jahrhundertring (Centenary Ring) in 1976 and was awarded a Grammy Award as a Principal Soloist in 1983.
Wenkel was born in Buttstädt, Thuringia. She started her studies at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, Weimar. Following her emigration from East Germany to West Germany, she continued at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts with Paul Lohmann (masterclass) and then with Elsa Cavelti.
She began her career in 1964 as concert and oratorio soloist when she was still a student. She dedicated herself to Baroque music, and appeared at major international festivals (English Bach Festival, Festival du Marais, Flandern Festival, Holland Festival) and for concerts at the Salle Pleyel (Paris), the Royal Festival Hall (London), Tonhalle (Zürich) and the Wiener Musikvereinssaal. However, she decided then also to turn to a stage career. In 1971, she made her stage debut at the municipal theatre of Heidelberg in the title role of Orpheus by Gluck. In 1975, she became a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper where she caught the attention of Wolfgang Wagner who immediately engaged her for Erda in Richard Wagners Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festival 1976 Jahrhundertring (Centenary Ring) in 1976, celebrating the centenary of both the festival and the first performance of the complete cycle, conducted by Pierre Boulez and staged by Patrice Chéreau, recorded and filmed in 1979 and 1980. For her performance of Erda (Rheingold, Siegfried) and First Norn (Götterdämmerung) in this production she was awarded 1982 a Grammy as "a Principal Soloist".