Born: September 10, 1939
Hans Sotin made a powerful impression in several venues in Europe well before he had reached the age of 30. His instrument had both a cutting edge and considerable velvet about the edges. His fluency in the upper register led him to the role of Wotan in Wagner's Ring der Nibelungen. There, he supplied a near ideal balance between declamatory vigor and a long-lined flow of beautiful tone. Only an interpretive shortfall kept him from being definitive in the daunting assignment. Over the years, some diminution in sheer size was noted, but the voice retained most of its handsome quality of sound. After studies at the Dortmund Hochschule für Musik, Sotin made his stage debut at Essen in 1962 as the Police Commissioner in Der Rosenkavalier. Two years later, he was engaged by the Hamburg Staatsoper, where he took part in the premieres of operas by Krzysztof Penderecki, Boris Blacher, and Gottfried von Einem in addition to singing increasingly more important roles in the standard repertory. In 1970, he appeared at the Glyndebourne Festival singing an impressive Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte. A year later, he appeared at Bayreuth for the first time as the Landgraf in Tannhäuser. In America, Chicago heard him before he appeared at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1971, making an auspicious debut with Chicago Lyric Opera, he faced down the large-voiced Filippo of Nicolai Ghiaurov with a stentorian Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo and proved a menacing Rheingold Fafner versus the softer-voiced Fasolt of Bengt Rundgren. Not even the mighty Alberich of Gustav Neidlinger outvoiced Sotin in the Lyric production. In 1972, Sotin made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera singing Sarastro, the first of many roles he presented to New York audiences. Debuts followed in other important centers as well: the Wiener Staatsoper (1973), Covent Garden (1974), and La Scala (1976). In addition to his stage appearances, Sotin has been heard in oratorio, particularly in cantatas by Bach, Haydn's The Seasons (a worthy recording of this was made with Dorati), the Missa Solemnis and Symphony No. 9 of Beethoven, and Mahler's Symphony No. 8. Recordings of Tannhäuser and Lohengrin represent him at close to his best. A live Parsifal from Bayreuth casts his fluent Gurnemanz against the unsteady, leathery Parsifal of Peter Hofmann.