Seiichiro Sato graduated from the Department of Vocal Music (major in bass), Faculty of Music and completed the Master of Arts Program (in opera) of the Graduate School of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts. While in school, he received the Ataka Prize and made his opera debut as Fafner in the first performance in Japan of Wagner’s Das Rheingold and his concert debut in a bass solo performance in Symphony No. 9 in the 132nd regular performance of Tokyo University of the Arts Orchestra.
In 1971 Mr. Sato went to Germany, where a successful audition led to an exclusive contract with the Cologne Opera (GMD I. Kertesz) and performances across Europe. In 1973 he joined Freiburg Opera (GMD M. Janowski) under exclusive contract as erste seriöse bass, appearing in operas, concerts, and recorded broadcasts in Germany, Switzerland, and France and gaining invaluable performance experience while sharing the stage with many singers, conductors, and directors. After returning to Japan in 1980, he won accolades for his stage performances, winning awards including the National Arts Festival (Agency for Cultural Affairs) Outstanding Performance Award, the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts for New Artists, and the Kawasaki City Culture Award.
Mr. Sato’s major opera performances include signature roles as Rocco in Fidelio, which received great critical acclaim, Pogner, Daland, Wotan, and Hundig in Wagnerian operas, and Osmin, Bartolo, Leporello, Don Alfonzo, and Sarastro in Mozartian operas, a particular forte. He also has an extensive repertoire of tragic and comic roles, including Basilio, Gianni Schicchi, Fastaff, Kaspar (Der Freisschütz), Philipp II (Don Carlos), Arkel (Pelléas et Mélisande), Kezal (Die verkaufte Braut), Don Pasquale, Dulcamare (L’Elisir d’amore), and Uberto (Intermezzo). In addition, his operetta performances as Frank (Die Fledermaus) and Zeta (The Merry Widow) are particularly notable.
Mr. Sato’s vocal achievements go beyond opera to include thirty consecutive years of solo vocal recitals that trace the history of German song arranged by era and composer (1981 to 2010) accompanied by twenty-one famous pianists including D. Baldwin, R. Hoffmann, K. Richter, W. Rieger, I. Nodaira, A. Eguchi, and A. Takahashi. He simultaneously collaborated with colleagues on the Carl Loewe Complete Works Concerts (1985-2008) of Loewe’s numbered works. He has appeared in the NHK New-Year Opera Concert ten times. He has been involved in numerous public lecture programs, including planning, producing, and appearing in the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Music Lectures (1985-1992). Mr. Sato has edited and published scores such as a German song collection (Ontomo), Japan’s first complete collection of the works of Wagner, including incomplete works (Zen-on), and the world’s most complete collection of the works of Loewe, published in two volumes (Zen-on).
Mr. Sato’s CDs include the two-disc Carl Loewe: Balladen & Lieder (2010, Camerata CDT 1082-3), the first of its kind produced in Asia, followed by a limited pressing of Carl Loewe: Ausgewählte Balladen & Lieder (2011, Nami Records LN-3701) for use as instructional material for graduate school lectures. Following Macbeth (1992), a commissioned solo opera in which he sings all the parts, Mr. Sato is now preparing King Lear and Jean Valjean. His live opera performances include The Merry Widow (1989, DENON). The fantasia Fugaku Sanjuroku Kei is a recording of a cooperative performance at the National Arts Festival (1996, Agency for Cultural Affairs).
Mr. Sato has served as a judge at the Music Competition of Japan and the Student Music Concours of Japan. In addition to annual recitals, he has been commissioned to produce the Kurashiki Ohara Museum of Art gallery concerts and has independently produced numerous special concerts of the works of Shakespeare, Goethe, Heine, Loewe, Schubert, Wolf, Schoenberg, and other composers. He has also translated TV program subtitles of the works of Wagner, written the liner notes for CDs, and authored numerous newspaper and magazine articles on lieder-related topics, such as “The Appeal of Wagner’s Works,” “Singing German Songs,” “Loewe: the Founder of the Ballad,” and “The Songs and Poems of Goethe.”
After studying under K. Haino, Y. Yamada, T. Kurimoto, M. Shibata, and T. Nakayama, Mr. Sato finally became a pupil of Hans Hotter in Germany. Upon Hotter’s death in 2003, he was commissioned to write a eulogy for publication in a magazine. He founded the Kawasaki Citizen’s Opera with the aim of promoting music in Kawasaki City. He is currently chairman of the Japanische Carl-Loewe-Gesselschaft (JCLG) and a director of the International Carl-Loewe-Gesselschaft (ICLG). He is head of the Kawasaki Art Club, a volunteer group that promotes the dissemination of musical art and culture, and serves as a cultural envoy of Kawasaki (2002 to present). He presides over the Seiichiro Sato Muse Salon and is a professor emeritus at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music. He is a member of Japanisch-Deutsche Gesellschaft Sendai and Nikikai Opera Foundation.