Wednesday, December 1, 2010

PETER HOFFMAN 1944 - 2010

If you, like me, spent hours riveted in front of the TV in the early 1980s, stunned by the Centenary Patrice Chéreau / Pierre Boulez Bayreuth Ring (first staged 1976, filmed 1980) running week after week as the complete cycle went to air, then there's no forgetting the German tenor Peter Hoffman. He was the beautifully cast handsome, sexy, curly haired Siegmund, Volsung twin to Jeannine Altmeyer's Sieglinde, with more than enough heroic tenor and good looks for any sister, and any Wagnerite, to be left swooning. It was a defining moment in my Ring addiction.

He died aged 66 on the 29th November, apparently from pneumonia complicating Parkinson's Disease, another dreadful disease trapping a mind in a crippling body. It's been reported that it was the early onset of Parkinson's that was responsible for his premature move in the 80s away from opera into rock and finally ~ Phantom of the Opera ~ in Germany. He spent a lot of time dealing with the disease and helping its sufferers.

So much to hear and see here - just the way he lifts her up and leads, escorts, delivers her to the light, so upright, so masculine, so sensitive, so right ...

Listen for the collapsing gasp from Sieglinde as Notung finds its intended... in his hands...wouldn't you!

Pneumonia is considered a peaceful way to go, 'old man's friend' we call it. I find it a struggle now to look at Siegmund's death at the hands of Matti Salminen's brutal Hunding.

December 8 -
The Independent's obituary is quite detailed about his operatic, essentially Wagnerian, career. Read it here.

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