He gave his final public performance last Thursday (November 30, with a repeat for a private audience two nights later) at the Semperoper in Dresden, his lifelong home. Adam sang the role of the Hermit in Weber's Der Freisch‹tz, which he first performed in the very same house in 1949, the year of his operatic debut.
With a repertoire of more than 100 roles, Adam appeared with companies all over the world, from the Vienna State Opera to the Metropolitan Opera and from San Francisco and Chicago to Salzburg and Bayreuth (where he sang for 28 seasons). While he was known especially for his Strauss and Wagner — in particular for his portrayal of Hans Sachs in Der Meistersinger — he sang Verdi, Mozart and even Berio as well.
Alongside his opera career, Adam regularly performed in lieder recitals and choral and orchestral concerts; he was the bass soloist for many of the Bach recordings made in the 1960s and '70s by conductor Karl Richter and the Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra.
In 1972 Adam began another operatic career — as a director, staging works by Wagner, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Strauss at the Semperoper, the Berlin Staatsoper and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.