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István Rácz was born in Debrecen in 1963 and graduated from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in 1990. His teachers included Lamberto Gardelli, Rico Sacchani, Zoltán Peskó, Pier Giorgio Morandi, János Ács, András Mikó, Ádám Medveczky, János Kovács, James Conlon, Emil Petrovics, Miklós Szinetár, Balázs Potyók, Edit Fábry, Zsolt Bende, Dezső Ligeti, Yevgeny Nesterenko, Hanne-Lore Kuhse, Eszter Réthy and Mircea Briazu. He also attended master classes led by the latter four.
He has been recognised with numerous several awards over the course of his career, including the Bartók-Pásztory Award, the Juventus Award, the Miklós Bence Award, the Ferenc Liszt Award and the Vilmos Rubányi Award. He took second place at the Second Pavarotti Singing Competition in Modena and has been a member of the Hungarian State Opera since 1990. He also joined Oper der Stadt Köln for the 1992/93 season, where he got the chance to sing roles like Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), the Bosun (Billy Budd, directed by Willy Decker) and Simone (Mozart: La finta semplice).
He has made numerous appearances abroad, including as a Nazarene (Salome) and Philip II (Don Carlos) at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, as Ramfis (Aida) in Taormina, as Zuniga (Carmen) in Stuttgart and Bellinzona, as Angelotti (Tosca) and the Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly) in Japan and Timur (Turandot) in Klagenfurt. He has sung the parts in Mozart's and Verdi's Requiems several times, and has also portrayed Bluebeard (in Bluebeard's Castle) in several cities, including Freiburg, Kuala Lumpur, Rome, Ostrava and Miskolc.
Along with popular bass roles from Mozart (Sarastro, Osman, the Commendatore), Verdi (Philip II, Zaccaria, Sparafucile, Banco, Fiesco, Ramfis) and Puccini (Colline, Simone, Angelotti, Talpa, Timur), his repertoire also embraces works by Mussorgsky, Britten, Janáček, Tchaikovsky and Wagner. His oratorical repertoire includes Rossini's Stabat Mater, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Ninth Symphony, Haydn's four great masses and Kodály's Te Deum of Buda Castle. In 2022 he earned the Zoltán Závodszky Award, in 2023 he received the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary.
István Rácz