Peter Hofmann: A Once in a Century Voice for the Ages

Singer, artist agent, friend, and colleague, Wolfgang  A. Palm Remembers Peter Hofmann

In the summer of 1978 during the course of their opera festival days, a then young man experienced a thought provoking performance of Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre at the Bavarian State Opera. On the podium was Wolfgang Sawallisch; Theo Adam sang Wotan, Ingrid Bjoner was Brünnhilde; Kurt Moll was Hunding, and Leonie Rysanek was Sieglinde. These names were known to the young man from recordings, but the name of the singer who played Siegmund was not familiar. This would change after that night in 1978 when the young man experienced such a powerful performance by Heldentenor Peter Hofmann. The reader can guess that the 18 year-old operagoer was I, so this little reminiscence comes from an autobiographical context. After that performance the tenor Peter Hofmann would play a very special role in my artistic life because shortly after this time I began to study singing at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN ENGLISH AND IN GERMAN HERE.

 

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Peter Hofmann Changed the Face of Opera

As this calendar from 1989 attests, Peter Hofmann was not only a magnificent singer, but he was also a charismatic presence on stage.  Named THE operatic heartthrob of the year in 1989, Peter not only cut a dashing presence in his roles, but he also brought cinematic acting skills to his parts. His Siegmund in the Bayreuth Centennial RING remains the gold standard for the role to this day!

BR4 Klassik Remembers Peter Hofmann on His Birthday

Peter Hofmann: Opera Singer & Rock Musician

August 22, 2017 BR4 Klassik

Here is the link to the BR4 Klassik article and web site with audio and video clips in tribute to Peter Hofmann on what would have been his 73rd birthday, August 22, 2017.

https://www.br-klassik.de/themen/klassik-entdecken/peter-hofmann-geboren-was-heute-geschah-1944-100.html

Not only classical music fans know him. So do rock and popmusic, music and opera lovers. Peter Hofmann was multi-talented like no other singer. He was world famous as a former decathlon champion and parachute trooper; as Siegmund in the Bayreuth Centennial Ring before he made headlines as the Phantom of the opera.

No wonder Sieglinde took such an athlete and hero to heart. Peter Hofmann played Siegmund, the son of the Wälsungs, more as an athlete than a boyish creature of nature. With his radiant presence and charisma, his moving singing and intelligent handling of the text, the blonde singer fascinated especially the ladies in the audiences of the Bayreuth Festival from 1976- 1989.

An Ideal Wagner Interpreter: Blond Hair, Athletic Stature, Charisma

After his debut as Siegmund in the Centennial Ring directed by Patrice Chéreau, there followed performances as Lohengrin and Parsifal in productions by Götz friedrich. Leonard Bernstein chose the tenor for his Tristan recording with the Bavarian radio Symphony Orchestra. After engagements in Wuppertal and Stuttgart, Peter Hofmann quickly came to grace the major opera stages of the world from London to Vienna, Paris, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

I am always transported by music, especially when someone is singing.

Between Classical and Popular Music

But he also remained an adventurer. In huge concert halls, Peter Hofmann undertook to perform “U-music” (popular, entertaining music); he sang international rock hits, German language songs, and Elvis Presley titles. Similarly, he achieved a huge success in the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, playing more than 300 performances. No one could speak of him as a one-sided performer; Peter Hofmann thought and sang   outside the box!

What’s Happening Today

Our program, What’s Happening Today, which is devoted to noteworthy musical achievements in music history, can be heard at 8:30 and 2:40 on BR Klassik Radio or by podcast subscription.

Remembering Peter Hofmann on his 72th Birthday

bayreuth1Peter Hofmann would have been 72 years old on August 22, 2016.  To remember this remarkable artist, we have added several new photographs as well as Midou Grossman’s appreciation. READ here.

To be sure, Peter Hofmann is not forgotten, especially at Bayreuth. On August 6, 2016, Friedon Rosen in Der Neue Merker wrote of the opening of Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival:

We have Schager! Perhaps the best Parsifal since Peter Hofmann. . .

At Bayreuth the Austrian Heldentenor Andreas Schager substituted for Klaus Florian Vogt. It was a debut filled with potential….    He recalled the days f the 70s and 80s with the legendary Waltraud Meier as Kundry and Peter Hofmann as Parsifal.

 

The Hofmanns on Tenerife in the 1980’s

Fritz Hofmann shared this Hörzu article about the family’s vacation to Tenerife in the 1980’s:

When I Sing, I Must Be in Top Shape!

Star tenor takes a holiday with wife Deborah Sasson on Tenerife, Hörzu’s Chief reporter Karin von Faber visits with him.

Mar Y Sol - Kopie

I meet Peter Hofmann at the swimming pool where a fountain splashes. He gently shakes the splash of warm water from his jeans. At 43, Hofmann says “This is the best time for a Wagner singer.”

Between two Meistersinger performances, he is taking a little holiday in Tenerife at the fitness center, Mar y Sol, deep in the south of the island where the dry air is like no where else and is perfect medicine for the bronchial tubes. Brother Fritz, his manager, and wife Deborah Sasson (33), dancer and singer from Boston, are with him. READ MORE in PRESS.

 

Peter Hofmann at the Met

Peter METWhen I received this wonderfully evocative photo from Fritz Hofmann, it took me back thirty years to the time I was covering the Metropolitan Opera for several international opera magazines, and among some of the most exciting evenings I experienced were with Peter Hofmann on stage – as Siegmund and as Lohengrin. (An excerpt from my Opéra International from November 5, 1986, review is filed in PRESS.) In that decade, he virtually owned those roles, along with that of Parsifal and Stolzing, and he sang them often in New York, in Washington, D.C., at Bayreuth, and in all the world’s great opera houses. Sadly, so few of these performances have been preserved on video, because Peter was truly a cinematic presence as a singing-actor. The three that remain (the Chéreau Walküre, the Bayreuth Lohengrin, and the Met Lohengrin) still stir the heart in watching and listening to them!

Remembering Peter Hofmann at Bayreuth

as Siegmund in Chéreau Walküre, Bayreuth

as Siegmund in Chéreau Walküre, Bayreuth

This month the Bayreuth Festival will open with Tristan und Isolde, followed by Lohengrin. The lovely tribute received recently from a French admirer of Peter Hofmann’s art reminded me of the power of a presence like Peter’s to inspire the admiration and awe that great art always does. It has been twenty-five years since Peter filmed the Chéreau Walküre in 1980, twenty-nine since his debut as Siegmund. He went on to become the Lohengrin, Parsifal, Stolzing, Tristan, and , of course, Siegmund of the next dozen years on the Green Hill.  If régisseurs like Hans Neuenfels are shaking the foundations of Wagner’s Festspilehaus today, one must remember how revolutionary Patrice Chéreau’s Ring was and how transformative Peter’s (and his colleagues like Jeannine Altmeyer, Gwyneth Jones, Donald McIntyre and all that Ring cast) performance was! In looking back at my own visits to Bayreuth, I treasure a little memory of a morning my husband and I visited Wahnfried, Wagner’s home. We were able to sit in the great music salon and request the playing of a recording of the Meister’s music.  We chose Peter’s Grail Narration and settled back in the seats to listen. From the first mystical tones to the last proud declaration, his reading sent shivers through us. There in that magical instant the music was transcendent, joining the present to the past and, as Wagner would surely have wished, reaching into the future.

Photo Collage and a Reminiscence

 

phcollageFritz Hofmann is delighted to share this wonderful photo collage of Peter Hofmann.

We’d also like to call your attention to a recent article in Scene 4 Magazine, entitled Four Tenors (and a Baritone): Falling in Love with Opera by Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold. The piece reminisces about the magic of the tenor voice and four special singers who made the author a life-long opera lover.  The third of these voices is Peter Hofmann’s and that section of the article is reproduced here on the site. Read More.

Jeannine Altmeyer Remembers a Magical Time

Peter Hofmann and Jeannine Altmeyer Visiting Bayreuth Festival in 2000

Peter Hofmann and Jeannine Altmeyer Visiting Bayreuth Festival in 2000

We are fortunate and very grateful  that legendary soprano, Jeannine Altmeyer, was able to speak to Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold for this exclusive remembrance of her friend and colleague, Peter Hofmann.

In the summer of 2000 Peter Hofmann and Jeannine Altmeyer visited the Bayreuth Festival together for the first time since they had last performed there in Tristan und Isolde in 1986. They were mobbed by fans and colleagues, delighted to see their idols once more on the Grünen Hügel. It was the last time Altmeyer would see her good friend in person, and the visit brought back a flood of wonderful memories. The Wagner “dream pair,” as they were often called, had made history together in the Chéreau Ring as Siegmund and Sieglinde and had performed together in the world’s great opera houses throughout the late 70s and 80s. Now retired and living in Southern California, Altmeyer graciously consented to talk about the special place Peter Hofmann held in her artistic life and her memories of a magical time. READ MORE HERE.