This page features a selection of articles and reviews about Peter Hofmann.
Peter Hofmann in the title role did not bring to the part the usual magical, otherworldly aura, but rather that of a virile Archangel Michael, who, after having been dazzled by Elsa, is not only prepared to do battle for her, but also to love her and join his life to hers—a striking dramatic concept. In the lyrical as well as the dramatic moments the singer had at his disposal a voice of poetic yet powerful substance, supported by a secure technique, as well as a persuasive histrionic skill.
With Peter Hofmann singing the role of Parsifal here for the first time, the Metropolitan Opera has a sexy, athletic young tenor for the “absolutely pure” one. He looks like tennis star Bjorn Borg, and he adds a charisma that stands the test of analysis. As excellent singer and actor, Hofmann will encourage the operatic cult to forget the reasons and just sum up that “he’s fantastic.”
Rock Classics, April 1984, Frankfurt Press
Star Tenor Is Acclaimed as a Rock Singer in the Alten Oper
All of Frankfurt is prostrate at the feet of the star tenor Peter Hofmann! Tall, blond and blue-eyed, here unusually attired in black leather trousers and sneakers, he has been performing for the Frankfurt public from last Sunday until yesterday evening on the stage of the Alten Oper. The box office posted the same thing every evening: SOLD OUT! But Hofmann, who is acclaimed on all the world’s biggest opera houses, thrilled his Frankfurt audiences not with Wagner classics, but rather by singing Elvis songs. And how he sang ! Rock Classics is the title of his tour, and his rock notes could really be heard!
A small comfort for those who were not able to get tickets for one of the performances at the Frankfurt Alten Oper: next week two additional concerts have been added for November 25 and 26, for which there will be, according to the presenter, a small number of tickets available.
Peter Hofmann presents . . . .a rebellious young Stolzing, who even contradicts Sachs, and whose path to master singer is a process of character development. In his lessons with Sachs, Hofmann’s knight grows in insight and lets go of any animosities. And then above all, there was this beautiful tenor radiance. He sang the Morgentraum with perfect lyricism and legato.
There is no question that the role of Siegmund belongs to Mr. Hofmann. The vocal and dramatic power and stature with which he inhabits the character, make him among the best interpreters of this part on any stage. It was a pleasure for New York to be able to experience his legendary Siegmund. Dramatically, he gives us a young, sensitive, brave, often melancholy, but always passionate rebel. He dominated the first act with shattering intensity, and he endowed the second act death scene with tragic humanity. Among the moments of searing dramatic truth, a few examples: the moment when he pulled the sword from the tree with a victorious smile, and waves of joyous emotion rippled to the highest balcony; or in the Act II death scene where his face is a changing mirror of Siegmund’s despair; or as he is dying and he touches Wotan’s face in a gesture of painful recognition and forgiveness. Vocally, he demonstrated his mastery of the role, delivering a secure, powerful, ringing tone with a broad palette of colors and nuances underscored by a lyrical musicality. Text and expression are inextricably linked, and Hofmann gives us a Siegmund who is compelling, forceful and moving.
Die Walküre, Vienna Staatsoper, January 24, 1987, Opernglas, Michael Lehnert
…Peter Hofmann is without peer in the role of Siegmund. One delights in the artist’s fresh interpretation and could find no fault at all with his melodious, nuanced, and yet powerful singing. Hofmann made it once more clear that today he has almost no competition.
A Rousing Success for Hofmann
Performing everything from German songs to the sing along number “Na na nana, na, na,”the blond Bayreuth Heldentenor Peter Hofmann began his Rock Classics 2 tour in East Berlin’s Friedrichstadt Palace, whose nearly 2000 seats proved too small a venue. The East Berlin public, who had cued up with backpacks and air matresses to purchase the small number of seats available for the touring Rock singer, appearing for the first time in the DDR, it was a hard sell. He had to “thaw” not only the audience – that happened almost immediately – but also others in the Thuringen capital city where Hofmann and his band presented – almost like an Off-Broadway preview – a kind of dress rehearsal for his tour. “It was crazy there, a huge experience,” Hofmann recounted.
That the tickets in East Berlin were apportioned, one-third to businesses, another third to the Free German Youth” (FDJ), and yet another third on open sale, was cause for discussion even before his appearance. Then the concert evening began with chatter in the foyer, where “the evening’s reviews are discussed: “This is the famous Wagner tenor from the 50s and 60s (he was born in 1944 and debuted in 1972!) who is going to sing Rock and pop music tonight. Who knows what he will sing, but if he only sings pop music, I don’t know if I can last the entire evening.”
Everyone did stay, however and ultimately, it was a rousing success for Hofmann in the capital city of the DDR with standing ovations and waves of applause
Fantastic Peter Hofmann in Wolfsburg’s Congresspark
Up front: The concert was fantastic. Peter Hofmann’s magnificent, powerful voice got under the audience’s skin, inspiring huge enthusiasm. For two and a half hours on Saturday evening, the famous tenor enthralled the audience at Congresspark.
In thick stage fog the eight musicians made their entrance on stage illuminated by colorful lighting effects. Then the star entered the spotlight in black leather trousers and a black silk shirt. With his very first love song he won the ladies’ hearts. He sang the big hits of the 60s and 70s, accompanied by a perfect band who made an ideal backup for his foreceful singing. The blond tenor’s phrasing was fascinating; nothing can rob him of his long legato line. When he sings music was my first love, everyone believes him. Even tearjerkers become a real treat in his expressive voice. In quick succession he moved from Elvis songs or Buddy Holly Rock to gospel, country rhythms and blues songs.
Not only did his gestures indicate that here was a Wagner tenor using his vocal technique for rousing or sentimental songs, but Peter Hofmann also was a master of every musical nuance. When he sang a duet with his backup vocalists Freida Williams and Milli Whiteside, the crowd was no longer to be contained. The applause almost drowned out the melody, and the foot stamping rocked the house.
The show comes alive in its well-scripted dramaturgy. Little scenes and jokes animate the program and make it impossible for anyone to doubt Hofmann’s charm. Even when the spotlight catches the perspiration on his face, the passionate expressive Rock Classics sparkle with power and proficiency. Hofmann’s energy is inexhaustible; he dances, tells stories and acts without diminishing his stunning aura.
The concert public demanded two encores and wanted still more; they did not want to let Hofmann go. He looked radiant as he sang his last song, a romantic ballad, and promised to return. His powerful voice lingered long afterwards in the hall, in our heads and our hearts.
Peter Hofmann as :Lohengrin, whom we experienced here in top form, is still THE Wagner singer, whose extraordinarily natural stage presence co tinues to be unchallenged. The Italian press spoke enthusiastically of the “great tenor Peter Hofmann.”
…As the Phantom, Peter Hofmann mesmerized his audience with a performance of great pain and great beauty. He incarnated a man trapped in a monster’s body – a deeply human, lonely, and sensitive creature, less angry, more tormented, more capable of love than revenge – a far more nuanced performance than previous ones. Respectful of the style of Webber’s work, he, nonetheless, brought to the score the considerable resources of his powerful tenor; conscious of the dynamic markings, he commanded an expressive range from the most dramatic pianissimo (one sung precariously perched atop the proscenium) to the most thrilling forte. That he could sing rings aroun d his predecessors in the role, few must have doubted, but that he could so skillfully shed his heroic image and identify so completely with the agonized, tragic Phantom may have surprised some. Not an eye was dry after the final scene; one felt palpably the thrilling tension and goose bumps which accompanied his unmasking and transformation through Christine’s kiss. Hofmann, with Hal Prince’s concurrence, has brought his own vision to the role. He has mastered a wide emotional palette: the anger, the dangerousness, the eroticism, and the pathos of the Angel of Music, and he dominates the stage in silent and spoken moments as well as in sung ones with a presence that is, quite simply, gigantic.
One cannot say enough about such a dramatic/stage worthy interpretation of the Munich Ring. The symbolic, attractive but not emblemized décor of Jan Brazdas, whom Rennert some time ago had let design his then rather problematic production, lets the singers move as freely as they are able. The dramatic lighting works well, and everyone knows their blocking. But compared with the intensity of Ponnelle’s King Lear production which seemed to electrify the stage, this Walküre seems a little improvised.
Nevertheless, the applause with which the public reacted to each act was justified. Because the musical quality of this Wagner performance could not be bettered by any large opera house today. In the beginning Sawallisch urged and pushed the orchestra in a somewhat unfocused and strained manner, as if his life depended on it. And if the cast with one exception was “nothing special,” that was not his fault but rather that of the norm in Munich. Ingrid Bjoner was at first a rather cool, reticent Brünnhilde until the last scene when she was exceptionally present; Theo Adam, at the beginning of this vocally demanding summer festival was still in command of his amazing vocal power as Wotan; Ruza Baldani’s Fricka brings nothing exceptionally stirring to the part, but rather a combination of nobility and expression; Kurt Moll made an imposing Hunding – if only everyone here could be similarly praised. Leonie Rysanek portrayed Sieglinde once again; she may not have the melting lyricism she once had, but the more dramatic the situation became, the more shimmering her luxurious voice became. Who today can sing as she does in the last act, after Siegfried’s birth is foretold, “Hehrste Wunder”?
The sensation of the evening, however, was the Siegmund: no routine tenor who is made up to look young and indicate passion, but rather a truly young man, tall, athletic, good looking, who races in from the storm and the battle like a thousand-track star and finds himself suddenly plunged into a fatal love story. These days Peter Hofmann possesses a powerful, well supported voice that he never forces. Perhaps there have been singers who have sung this role with more refinement and sharper sophistication, and this youthful force of nature has yet to master the tragic shading. But for Bayreuth, as well as Munich, his Siegmund is something to celebrate.
The other Walküres on their rock looked rather comical, but they sang much less so. It must be noted that a day earlier at Rheingold the three Rhine maidens were indisposed and only mimed their roles. This is hard to imagine that in such a large and prestigious ensemble that there is no understudy ready to go on in these relatively small and less demanding roles like Woglinde.
The Great Hero Has Steel in His Voice
This is a necessary, but rather ungallant request. And in a similar way, we must be ungallant in our criticism. Among the soloists the men considerably outstripped the women. The stars were Franz Ferdinand Nentwig as Telramund and Peter Hofmann, a Lohengrin with Heldentenor steel in his voice. Celestina Casapietra as Elsa and Daniza Mastilovic as Ortrud hardly measured up.
The chorus sang beautifully. The Philharmonic did not play for Maestro Prick as they did for Böhm, but they made up for it with a majestic prelude to the third act. – sr.
Farewell Concert by Peter Hofmann From Der Neuer Tag 1993
Der Neuer Tag Presents the star tenor at the end of his “Love Me Tender Tour: the Mehrzweckhalle in Weiden 1993
On September 27th of last year, Peter Hofmann began his “Love Me Tender Tour” at the City Hall in Kemnath. About five months later he again returns with his tour to the Oberpfalz. The newspaper, Der Neuer Tag, presents Peter Hofmann on April 2 at 8:00 p.m. in the Weiden Mehrzweckhalle. Ticket sales for all possible tickets has begun.
That Peter Hofmann’s “Love Me Tender Tour” has been greeted enthusiastically by critics, who so often in the past has been critical about similar tours, has fulfilled a dream for the singer. Hofmann has sung Elvis songs before; on his last tour five years ago he performed an Elvis medley which thrilled the public.
“As long as I can remember, Elvis was for me the archetype of a freewheeling rebel, and his music really changed everything. Rock and roll at that time was taking the world by storm,” Hofmann enthuses.
The success of his Elvis tour (sold out houses) accompanied by the excellent press reception, assures that the tenor has again struck gold by going on tour with these Elvis covers. Whoever hopes to experience the crowning night of this tour in Weiden’s Mehrzweckhalle will have to hurry to get these tickets. The concert will surely attract a huge crowd, as the box office in Windeseile sold out in seconds!
Peter Hofmann: A Homecoming of a Special Kind : Der Neue Tag presents the star in Weiden to an enthusiastic crowd
Inge Roegner Der Neue Tag, Weiden, April 1993: Peter Hofmann as Siegmund in Bayreuth 1976. 1991 as Phantom of the Opera in Hamburg and now on Friday, April 2 in the Weiden Mehrzweckhalle as a leading rock star. Such a far-reaching career arc! And for some fans of classical opera the path of the world famous tenor may be hard to comprehend. Nevertheless,in the virtually sold out house the enthusiastic Western rider, who has occupied many a different saddle, has proved his point. The star and darling of the ladies (the audience was primarily female) ensured, together with a super band and dazzling technical effects, acoustic, and lighting, a fabulous visual and acoustic experience, presented by Der Neue Tag.
After a wild start in September 1992 in Kemnath, this appearance was Peter Hofmann’s last on his “Love Me Tender Tour” of sixty concerts. This additional, unscheduled extra performance thrilled the public. “He sang a half hour longer in Weiden than he did in Nürnberg,” declared an obviously pleased female admirer from the Frankish city. Peter Hofmann’s most committed fans even travelled from Hamburg and Frankfurt to hear him. They surprised the star tenor with a black leather jacket and with a giant basket full of chocolate Easter rabbits which they set on the apron of the stage during the half hour interval.
Dressed in jeans with a royal blue print shirt, Peter Hofmann opened his almost two-hour show with nine musicians and singers. “ We have yet to have a Weiden rehearsal,” said the laid-back singer, “but our sixty concerts have been very successful.” And then Peter Hofmann, tall and slim as ever, launched into the beat for the song People Get Ready. The star of the evening was definitely ready, willing, and able. The radiant blonde Siegmund and champion athlete has always kept himself in great shape. This compliment must be paid to him, especially since on August 22, he will be fifty years old, something which, according to him, presents no problems for a rock singer. One accepts his enthusiasm for rock music like these Elvis songs. From the beginning the public spared nothing in the way of applause and approval.
Would the audience like to hear some expressive titles? Peter Hofmann posed this question and then sang Music of the Night from Phantom. The applause was especially loud and long. Just as the ballad In the Ghetto, where the tenor could show the entire range of his large, expansive voice, the enthusiasm of the spectators was palpable.
All in black with leather trousers and a silk shirt, Peter Hofmann came back for the second half of the show, which was devoted entirely to Elvis songs. He spanned the repertoire from Let’s Twist Again to sentimental songs like Falling in Love with You or Love Me Tender. This song, sung softly and gently, made hearts beat faster, even with the older ladies, who were likely remembering their own first loves.
Peter Hofmann’s band is a wonderful ensemble which performs with great feeling and ability as well as humor. In Nikki Gregoroff the tenor had a sensitive partner, especially in the Phantom songs. Singer Jennifer Weatherly was equally good.
Let’s Rock was the first of the encores, followed by an a capella Darling, I Love You, Pretty Woman, and One for the Road. No wonder the applause at the close of the concert did not want to stop.
Peter Hofmann concluded: “The concert is Weiden was really worth it.” Our assessment: “What began so gloriously and hopefully in Kemnath in the fall has come to a hugely acclaimed end in Weiden. The star can count “Love Me Tender Tour ‘93” as a major success. His public – of this we are certain – is looking forward to his next home appearance. Peter Hofmann has intimated that his performance in the Oberpfalz in no way had to do with the benefit of a “home game.” On the contrary, he appeared here purposely because he has a special love for the place. The fans knew and appreciate that .
Peter Hofmann in Africa Unattributed news clipping 1993
While Peter Hofmann lives in the Kemnath area town of Schönreuth, he is at the moment filming in Africa. For the series Happy Voyages on the satellite channel 7, the rock and classical singer plays the role of the wildlife conservationist Lance Lorenson, who is shown here in a scene from the film when he has found a three-month-old leopard whose mother has been shot. Since February Hofmann and his band of New York musicians will again rehearse as guests of the house in Kulmain. Because of his huge success of his “Love Me Tender Tour”, he extended the run. In an NT interview Hofmann had already suggested that this acting offer was tempting, but he had, at the moment, quite enough offers, and the right role had not come along. However, the character of Lance Lorenson seems to have been written for the blond star, who in his private life is a great animal lover. He has at his home in Schönreuth many horses and dogs. The Hofmann appearance will be televised in the second season of Happy Voyages.
Excerpted from Remembering the Great Heldentenors, Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold in Scene4 Magazine, November 2014
The éclat that Peter Hofmann occasioned when he burst upon the Heldentenor scene in the Patrice Chéreau Centennial Ring at Bayreuth in 1976 was nothing short of cataclysmic. The production with its bold, sweeping staging, brought Wagnerian music-drama into the living present, and it introduced a whole new generation of singers who transformed opera into communicative speech-song, replacing grand theatre with cinematic reality. Of these none made a greater impression than Peter Hofmann as Siegmund. His voice which possessed true heroic proportions and uniquely beautiful coloration, coupled with the white heat of his acting did for the Heldentenor tradition what Maria Callas did for bel canto. As his early biographer, Marieluise Müller wrote, “Wagner must have had the image of Peter Hofmann in mind when he created his heroes” (in Singien ist wie Fliegen).
Thoroughout the late 70s and 80s Hofmann was the reigning tenor at Bayreuth singing Siegmund, Parsifal, Tristan, Stolzing, Lohengrin, while elsewhere he also performed Erik, Florestan, Loge, and a number of Strauss and Mozart roles to great acclaim. However, the tenor’s tastes in music were catholic, and he firmly believed in erasing the barriers between classical and popular music, so from the first, he performed rock and pop, as well as show music, passionately arguing his case for being a “crossover” artist. In the 1990s he made a splash in the title role of The Phantom of the Opera in Hamburg, while throughout his career his pop albums went platinum and his rock concerts were packed with fans of all ages. That this course was not popular with most critics seemed to be self-evident, and when the tenor began to experience some vocal problems, his rock singing was seen as the culprit, (though it was more likely the onset of Parkinson’s at that time not yet disclosed).
In any event, in his prime Peter Hofmann possessed a remarkable, radiant instrument, capable of dynamic subtlety, sculptural legato, and heroic ping. He had begun as a baritone, but studied under Emmy Seiberlich to become a tenor, so the voice had the requisite darkness to be an ideal Siegmund or Tristan. Perhaps what was most exciting was his ability to harness sensual sound to elegant musicianship, to combine an Italianità and flexible ornamentation (when needed) with a cool German heroic line, and to probe the dramatic essence of a character with forceful fire.
Yet, for all these vocal gifts, Peter Hofmann will likely be remembered most as a Bühnenmensch – a man most at home on the stage. He possessed an iconically ideal physical presence – blond, tall, strapping, athletic – and he brought to his Wagnerian roles an eroticism that had simply never been felt before. Moreover, he was a natural and subtle actor who helped usher in a new era of cinematic realism in operatic performance. To watch the video of the Chéreau Walküre even today is to be struck by how ground-breaking Hofmann’s Siegmund was! As Barry Millington wrote in The Guardian’s obituary (2010), “It was a performance that changed the face of operatic history. Well-upholstered sopranos and tenors might continue to stalk the operatic stage, but with the filming of performances becoming increasingly popular, it was the likes of Hofmann and Altmeyer (his Sieglinde) that were now in demand.”
More than any other Heldentenor before him, Peter Hofmann destroyed the stereotype of the heroic singer and recast 19th century heroes in modern terms – adding a touch of independence and unconventionality to his interpretations. He was influential in transforming audience expectations about the realism, accessibility, and communicativeness of Wagnerian opera. In Hofmann’s art the Gesamtkunstwerk became a vision of a completely shared music-drama experience.
From Hörzu, 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.
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.
Swimming, massages, jogging, bodybuilding are part of the program. Hofmann says: “When I sing, I have to be in top shape. The strength it requires to be on stage is like no other. In this they have very little competition today.
A Wagner singer who likes to be called a biker
One must note that he was a decathalon champion and several times the Hessian Youth Champion. It’s a sport which teaches you to overcome your inner misgivings. Pain is a constant; exertion is a constant. About bikers, he says, “There is a middle-class misperception of motorcyclists. You have to accept that – it’s a very common experience – the notion that there are a great many misfits with motorcycles and leather clothing and long hair.”
Once the police detained the bel canto rock star for six hours at the Paris airport because his suitcase was filled with newly minted French gold. “This is a problem for most singers because very few houses pay by check.” In Italy he once stuffed his earnings, bundles of Lire, into his trousers and vest, and he passed through customs this time, mistaken for an over weight German man.
Someone like Hofmann earns a minimum of 30,000. The question of whether opera stars are overpaid annoys him: “That’s up to the opera houses. Conductors travel from Leningrad to San Francisco for great voices. And when that voice can no longer sing? We all live with the realization that eventually that will come to pass.”
Perhaps then he will write scripts. At home at Schloss Schönreuth, ten kilometers from the Wagner Valhalla of Bayreuth, there are already several sketches developing. An even more exciting role had been offered him, “that of the wheelchair bound commissioner that Peter Maffay played in the film, The Joker.” He says he could also compose, modern things, of course. He grew up in the Elvis generation, bought himself his first guitar at fourteen and later appeared in American clubs in Germany. The GIs loved when young Peter crooned “Love Me Tender.”
At that time, the new rebellious spirit of the youth had absorbed him. “We would come into the house and say right to our father, “You can’t make me. And when he ordered me to change my jeans before going to school, I would put them back on after leaving the house and change along the way.”
Hofmann a Testy Rocker with Rage in His Gut
These were rebellions within limits. Peter was an introvert who rarely expressed his feelings and when he did, it was like an explosion. A testy rocker with rage in his gut who seemed to be against everything and against nothing. His authoritarian father, a merchant by profession, had long relocated away from the family.
“When my father listened to Wagner recordings, he loved to listen attentively. There I was with the football under my arm, and I couldn’t leave until the first act of Tristan had ended.”
Hofmann a Tenor with a Rock and Pop Agenda
It didn’t hurt him after all. “Naturally opera is a special art form which has to be preserved. I doubt the music of Michael Jackson will last for as long a time.”
The tenor with the rock and pop agenda has earned mixed reviews, but his public fill the halls. “It’s a wonderful feeling to have 10,000 people who love music come to a concert to see me, ready to enjoy what I sing.”
And that’s the connection Peter Hofmann finds with his character, the knight Stolzing from Meistersinger. “The old masters did not want to accept him because he broke the rules. Only Hans Sachs recognized his talent.”
He is still waiting for his Hans Sachs.