Wagner Biographies

Hans Hotter (1909–2003)


Hans Hotter (1909–2003), German bass-baritone, especially successful in the Wagner role Wotan / Der Wanderer (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre and Siegfried).

Hans Hotter sings Wotan (Die Walküre and Siegfried) on the famous recording of the Ring conducted by Georg Solti.

Hans Hotter was born in Offenbach am Main. His first operatic engagements were at the Troppau Opera. Breslau Opera, Prague Opera and Hamburg Staatsoper.

Hotter studied with Matthäus Roemer in Munich. In later years Hotter had many students. In 1964 he was became Honorary Professor of Music in Vienna.

Hotter’s Covent Garden debut came in 1947, his Metropolitan debut (as the Dutchman) in 1950 and in 1952 he made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival, singing Kurwenal and Wotan.

In 1968 and 1969 Hotter was in charge of Wieland Wagner's Ring production.

Hans Hotter's Bayreuth Festival career

Hans Hotter: “My stage partners have always been important for my own performances. There are two ways of making a success. Some artists seem to prefer to stand out alone. But for me the colleagues mattered a great deal, and I do not say this from any particular modesty. I knew that with the right partners I could sing and act better. I needed the response, understanding, a human liking. With a lifeless or unsympathetic partner the performance became a chore. Much of the success of those Bayreuth Ring cycles came from a real understanding between colleagues.” (In Penelope Turing: Hans Hotter. Man and Artist)

1952 Wotan Das Rheingold
1952 Wotan Die Walküre
1952 Der Wanderer Siegfried
1952 Kurwenal Tristan und Isolde
1953 Wotan Das Rheingold
1953 Wotan Die Walküre
1953 Amfortas Parsifal
1953 Der Wanderer Siegfried
1954 Wotan Das Rheingold
1954 Wotan Die Walküre
1954 Amfortas Parsifal
1954 Der Wanderer Siegfried
1955 Wotan Das Rheingold
1955 Der Holländer Der fliegende Holländer
1955 Wotan Die Walküre
1955 Gunther Götterdämmerung
1955 Amfortas Parsifal
1955 Der Wanderer Siegfried
1956 Wotan Das Rheingold
1956 Hans Sachs Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
1956 Wotan Die Walküre
1956 Titurel Parsifal
1956 Der Wanderer Siegfried
1957 Wotan Das Rheingold
1957 Wotan Die Walküre
1957 Der Wanderer Siegfried
1957 Kurwenal Tristan und Isolde
1958 Wotan Das Rheingold
1958 Veit Pogner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
1958 Wotan Die Walküre
1958 Der Wanderer Siegfried
1960 Veit Pogner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
1960 Gurnemanz Parsifal
1961 Gurnemanz Parsifal
1962 Gurnemanz Parsifal
1963 Wotan Die Walküre
1963 Gurnemanz Parsifal
1963 König Marke Tristan und Isolde
1964 Gurnemanz Parsifal
1964 König Marke Tristan und Isolde
1965 Der Holländer Der fliegende Holländer
1965 Gurnemanz Parsifal
1966 Wotan Das Rheingold
1966 Wotan Die Walküre
1966 Gurnemanz Parsifal
1966 Der Wanderer Siegfried


Hans Hotter's roles at the Bayreuth Festival

Amfortas (Parsifal)
Der Holländer (Der fliegende Holländer)
Der Wanderer (Siegfried)
Gunther (Götterdämmerung)
Gurnemanz (Parsifal)
Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
Kurwenal (Tristan und Isolde)
König Marke (Tristan und Isolde)
Titurel (Parsifal)
Veit Pogner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
Wotan (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre)


“For the 1968 and 1969 Bayreuth Festival Wolfgang Wagner invited Hotter to take over the production of his brother's Ring cycles. Wieland Wagner's second Ring production was first staged in 1965. By then his artistic development had passed from the stark simplicity of the early '50's to a dramatic symbolism which often did violence to his grandfather's instructions, initiating a fashion for changing the balance of the characters, and down-grading the gods; this has been carried to extremes by later producers in more recent years.

After Wieland's death his Ring was supervised by Peter Lehmann in 1967. Wolfgang had plans for a new Ring of his own which was given at Bayreuth in 1970, but for the two intervening festivals he handed over the direction to Hans Hotter.

This can have been no easy task. Wieland's work was the most talked of aspect of Bayreuth, and there were passionate feelings both for and against his innovations among the regular public. It was not a case of taking over former sets and creating a new dramatic vision within them; Hans had known Wieland well for many years, valued his help and inspiration and admired much though not all of his work.

In these Ring productions he adhered scrupulously to Wieland's overall conception, his decor, symbolism, and most of his stage directions. Hotter added to, rather than changed the whole. For he brought to it his own gifts of enhancing the characters, of helping each individual artist to create a living being.

The result was a very definite enrichment of the meaning of the great saga. Where Wieland's later work had tended to make the characters puppet-like in the development of the story, symbols rather than people, Hotter's hand reinstated them as people, mortal or immortal, and thereby released in the artists concerned and the audience the personal meaning and poignancy of Richard Wagner's music. There was a marked difference in the Wieland Wagner – Hotter Rings, but it was a psychological one, not superficially apparent.” (Penelope Turing: Hans Hotter. Man and Artist, p. 185f)



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