The German mezzo-soprano, Doris Soffel, concentrated her musical talents initially on the violin. She began to play the violin at the age of nine, won prizes in the competition ‘Jugend musiziert’ when she was 12 and 15, and continued he studies with Professor Endres in Munich. In 1969 she decided to study singing with Professor Marianne Schech, and concluded her studies with distinction.
Doris Soffel was introduced to the works of Richard Wagner at a very early stage in her career. After a leading role in Wagner’s Libersverbot at the Bayreuth Youth Festival, Windgassen engaged the highly talented mezzo-soprano for the Württemberg State Theatre. She gave a stunning Fricka under Sir Georg Solti on the Bayreuth Festival stage as early as 1983. She launched her international career in the mid 1980’s, after spending several years as a member of the ensemble of the Stuttgart Opera. Her artistic versatility and extraordinary stage personality allowed her to create with absolute credibility such contrasting figures as Octavian and Dorabella, Massenet’s Charlotte and Georges Bizet’s Carmen. She drew particular attention in coloratura parts by Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. Indeed, she was the only German-language singer to celebrate triumphs in this demanding repertoire at prestigious houses in Germany and abroad. Doris Soffel’s vocal and interpretative intensity has repeatedly inspired distinguished contemporary composers to write for her. Her Cassandra in Reimann’s Troades in 1986 and Mother Ubu in Penderecki’s Ubu Rex at the Bavarian State Opera in 1991 are lead roles conceived expressly for her in two high-profile world premieres.
Doris Soffel took her decisive step in the dramatic repertoire with Judith in Béla Bartók's Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1994. This was followed by acclaimed performances of Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlo and Amneris in Aida. At the 1996 Salzburg Festival, she drew raves as a youthful Clytemnestra in Richard Strauss’s Elektra, where she mesmerized her audiences with her extraordinary musical interpretation and powerful acting.
The charismatic mezzo-soprano Doris Soffel is a truly exceptional phenomenon in today’s opera world. After successfully devoting herself to bel canto singing for several years, she undertook an unparalleled change to the dramatic repertoire, in which she now enthralls her audiences with a great variety of roles. In March 1999, for instance, she gave her first Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin under Fabio Luisi in Berlin and Leipzig, which the press called "breathtaking". She drew raves from press and public alike in Cincinnati with the same role in January 2000, this time under Jesús López-Cobos. In April 2000 the Deutsche Oper Berlin was the scene of her triumphal debut as Kundry in Parsifal under the musical direction of Christian Thielemann, a portrayal that inspired such attributes as "intense, passionate, erotic" and "simply sensational" among the critics, who also compared her to the great names of the "golden era" of Wagner singing. In December 2000 Doris Soffel interpreted Fricka in Rheingold, part of a new Der Ring des Nibelungen production under Jeffrey Tate at the Cologne Opera. Here, too, she was celebrated by the press as the "incarnation of the god’s wife" and "an event in herself". Her participation in this Der Ring des Nibelungen will continue until 2003 with Fricka in Die Walküre and Waltraute in Götterdämmerung. She performed another role debut in June 2001 when she interpreted the title role in Othmar Schoeck’s Penthesilea under conductor Gerd Albrecht at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Doris Soffel has recently been admired as Gräfin Geschwitz in Alban Berg’s Lulu at the historical Teatro Massimo in Palermo, as Fricka in Rheingold in Zürich, as Waltraute in Stuttgart and, once again, as Kundry in a concert performance at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus.
Doris Soffel has been not only steadfastly cultivating her stage career, but also consolidating her reputation as a concert singer. Today she is particularly noted throughout the world as one of the leading Gustav Mahler singers. Her repertoire comprises all the major symphonic works of the Classical and Romantic eras, as well as a number of rarities and a broad palette of songs from all periods. In her song repertoire, she places particular emphasis on the works of Schubert, Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Strauss and Debussy. For many years now, Doris Soffel has been a regular guest at the great international opera houses and the most famous concert halls of Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Zürich, Geneva, Milan, Rome, Palermo, London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Prague, Budapest and Athens, as well as of New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. Other major international venues include the festivals of Bayreuth and Salzburg.
Doris Soffel has worked with artists such as Sergiu Celibidache, Carlo Maria Giulini, Sir Georg Solti and Herbert von Karajan. Today she regularly works such reputable conductors as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Christian Thielemann, Ingo Metzmacher and Fabio Luisi.
Among Doris Soffel’s forthcoming projects are many concert performances in Berlin, Dresden, Munich and Paris. Of special importance, however, is her continuation of the Cologne Der Ring des Nibelungen with the premiere of Die Walküre in December 2001, and her role debut as Venus in Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the Hamburg State Opera at Easter 2002. In 2004 there will also follow Fricka (Rheingold and Walküre) in a new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen under Edo de Waart in Amsterdam.
Doris Soffel’s vocal beauty and expressive power are documented on a large number of CD's, videos and TV programs. Her more than 50 CD recordings comprise both the leading opera and Lieder repertoire as well as many works by G. Mahler.