I wish to thank James Hanrahan for the broadside.Hofmann, born into the German minority in Bohemia (which had, with very few exceptions, to leave the country after WWII), grew up in Darmstadt and began singing and playing the guitar in rock bands. He was, in his teens, also a gifted track and field athlete, winning several regional championships.
He began vocal studies during his military service, and made his debut in 1972 as Tamino in Lübeck. 1974–76, he was a member of the Wuppertal opera house, where he sang his first Wagner roles. The year 1976 saw his breakthrough as Siegmund, which he sang that year in Wuppertal, Stuttgart, Hamburg, and eventually at the Bayreuth Festival under the baton of Pierre Boulez. This resulted in a five-year-contract for Hofmann with the Stuttgart opera.
After Stuttgart, he made an international career: Paris Opéra, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera... primarily in Wagner (Tristan, Lohengrin, Parsifal, Stolzing, Siegmund). At the same time, he always pursued his rock and pop career, publishing several LPs in those genres.
Hofmann was an early example of what has now become ubiquitous: opera as a beauty contest. If he couldn't sing Wagner's heroes, he did no doubt look them.
His career was short; in 1989, it was more or less over, and he ventured into musical; his last operatic appearance came in 1992, although he continued as a rock singer for a few years, before he had to retire because of Parkinson's disease, which ran a particularly grave course and eventually bound him to a wheelchair, and made it almost impossible for him to speak.
Peter Hofmann, torturing Puccini and Verdi in a rare apotheosis of, at the same time, bad taste AND bad singing. I heard Hofmann three times on stage, as Lohengrin, Siegmund and Max, and my memories are very ambivalent. While it was constantly obvious that he had little idea about voice production, phrasing and style, he was – somewhat surprisingly, as compared to his records – quite a stage personality and an interesting interpreter, and in an odd way, he delivered good portrayals of the two Wagnerian characters, above all Lohengrin. His Freischütz, the latest of the three performances, though, with the voice a total wreck already, was even more terrible than one might assume from his records.
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recording (Lohengrin).
Peter Hofmann was never an heldentenor, and this caused early degradation of his voice. Like him included in the list of pretending to be heldentenors were Jerusalem, Kollo, Versalle among others. Kaufmann in more recent days.