Born: January 19, 1909 - Offenbach am Main, Germany
Died: December 8, 2003 - Grünwald, Germany
The greatly esteemed German bass-baritone, Hans Hotter, studied with Matthäus Roemer in Munich, working as an organist and choirmaster before making his opera début at Troppau in 1930.
Hans Hotter performed standard baritone roles in Breslau (1931), Prague (1932-34), and Hamburg (1934-1945). His sang his first Wotan--a role with which the rest of his singing career would be associated--in 1937 in Munich, where he remained a member of the company until 1972. In Munich and elsewhere, Hotter gained renown as an interpreter of Richard Strauss, creating the roles of the Commandant in Friedenstag (1938), Olivier in Capriccio (1942), and Jupiter in Liebe der Danae at its unofficial Salzburg première (1944).
Hans Hotter was unable to pursue an international career because of the war, but after his début at Covent Garden as Mozart's Almaviva and Don Giovanni with the visiting Vienna State Opera in 1947, he was soon in demand at all of the great opera houses and festivals. He sang his first Hans Sachs, in English, in 1948, and made his Metropolitan Opera début in 1950 as the Dutchman. In four seasons at the Met, Hotter sang 35 performances of 13 roles, only three of which were non-Wagnerian. In 1952, Hotter began his 12-year association with Bayreuth, and for the the rest of the 1950's and 1960's, he was generally regarded as the world's leading Wagnerian bass-baritone. His interpretations of the roles of Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger and Wotan in Der Ring des Nibelungen were especially esteemed for their nobility and grandeur. Hotter's finely-wrought Wotan was captured during his prime at the 1953 Bayreuth Festival under the baton of Clemens Krauss. A complete recording of this Der Ring des Nibelungen, widely available under different labels, is indispensible for any "perfect Wagnerite."
In addition to performance, Hans Hotter also directed complete Der Ring des Nibelungen at Covent Garden in 1961-1964. Late in his career, Hotter was also lauded for his interpretation of Moses in Arnold Schoenberg's opera Moses und Aaron. He officially retired from the stage in Vienna in 1972, singing the role of the Grand Inquisitor in Verdi's Don Carlos. After his retirement, Hotter occasionally appeared in small parts, although his performance of Schigolch in Alban Berg's Lulu at San Francisco in 1989 and again in Paris in 1991 was critically acclaimed.