Werner Güra is a tenor whose rise to fame began in the 1990s, singing major roles in Mozart and Rossini operas. He has developed a reputation as one of the finest lieder singers of his time, as well, having given critically acclaimed recitals of lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Wolf, both in concert and on recordings. Güra possesses a high tenor voice that can easily adapt, a voice some have compared with that of the iconic Fritz Wunderlich. Güra has also built a reputation for his work in oratorios and other choral compositions, particularly several by Bach and Mendelssohn. He has appeared as a regular member of the Semperoper in Dresden since 1995 and has sung at many of the world's major operatic venues and festivals. Güra has made more than 40 recordings, and while some date to the 1990s, the vast majority were made in the new century and have been issued on a variety of labels, including Teldec, Harmonia Mundi, Sony, EuroArts, and TDK.
Werner Güra was born in Munich, Germany, in 1964. He studied music at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Later on he studied with an impressive roster of teachers, including Swiss baritone Kurt Widmer, Dutch soprano Margreet Honig, and German bass-baritone Theo Adam.
In the early '90s Güra freelanced and regularly sang at the opera houses in Frankfurt and Basel. His first major recording appeared in 1992 when Harmonia Mundi released the René Jacobs-led CD of Schütz's Story of the Resurrection. After becoming a member of the Semperoper in 1995, Güra attracted greater attention and appeared on several major recordings, including the 1997 Richard Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten on Teldec, and the 1999 Jacobs-led Così fan tutte on Harmonia Mundi.
In the 1998-1999 season, Güra toured Japan with conductor Philippe Herreweghe performing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Although Güra always attempted to maintain a balance between opera and lieder, it was not until the new century that he achieved full recognition for his work as a recitalist.
His 2005 CD Hugo Wolf: Mörike-Lieder on Harmonia Mundi and his pair of 2007 Schubert lieder discs, Die schöne Müllerin and Schwanengesang, helped him establish his reputation as one of the foremost lieder singers of his generation. Another disc from the same year, of Mendelssohn's Paulus issued on the Carus label, further bolstered the busy Güra's credentials in the realm of the oratorio.