Obituary: Remembering Tony Award Nominee And Opera Librettist William M. Hoffman

By Francisco Salazar

Librettist and playwright, William M. Hoffman has passed away.

The distinguished writer and professor at Lehman College, who wrote the libretto for John Corigliano’s opera “The Ghosts of Versailles,” died at the age of 78.

Hoffman’s libretto for the opera was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 1980 but the work itself was not staged at the company until 1991. The cast included Teresa Stratas, Graham Clarke, Gino Quilico, Renée Fleming and Marilyn Horne. It was later televised and Hoffman was nominated for an Emmy Award.

The opera was later showed in Chicago, St Louis, Los Angeles and Wolf Trap. The Met has not revived the opera since 1995.

Hoffman was also a recognized Broadway playwright who was nominated for the Tony Awards for his play “As Is” about the AIDs epidemic in New York and for being the first play to focus on the topic.  He was also recognized for promoting the works of Lanford Wilson, Tom Eyen, and Joe Orton, among others, by including their plays in his New American Plays series and his anthology, “Gay Plays: A First Collection.” He had a total of 16 plays published.