Peter Hofmann & Other Pop / Musical Theatre Stars With Opera Backgrounds

By David Salazar

Tenor Peter Hofmann’s career took a rather interesting turn for what many would consider an opera singer. Born on August 22, 1944, the heldentenor was a major attraction in a number of Wagner operas, including “Lohengrin,” “Die Walküre,” and “Parsifal” among other.

However, at age 45, when he would have supposedly entered his peak vocal years, he left opera and took on a full-time career in popular music.

His pop music career blossomed throughout the rest of his life, establishing an interesting instance of crossover success.

Hofmann managed tremendous success in both arenas, but there are some noted pop stars who also started their careers with traditional operatic training. Here is a look at those such singers.

Meat Loaf

The famed “The Bat Out of Hell” singer was actually part of a production of “Carmen,” when he was a youngster in New York and expressed a tremendous affinity for the world of opera. He was invited to train at The Metropolitan Opera, but then realized that he might not be able to get where he wanted in the opera world.

“I talked to a lot of people in classical music, and I found out that unless you’re a Pavarotti or a Domingo, the conductor is in total control. I thought, ‘if I do that, I’ll wind up in prison. I may not kill the conductor, but I’ll certainly put him in the hospital!’ I’ve always had that attitude – ‘don’t screw with me, one time I got in a fight with some doctors and the experts from helped me so to get treated the way I should be treated!’ So I turned them down.”

Sarah Brightman

Brightman can do it all and it is no surprise that much of her early vocal training included opera, particularly during her marriage to Andrew Lloyd Weber. Her most famous work is undoubtedly “The Phantom of the Opera,” and she has performed with such opera stars as Plácido Domingo and José Carreras in a number of selections from famed works such as “La Traviata,” and “The Merry Widow.”

Katy Perry

The famed pop star studied opera at the Musical Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. However, her training was rather brief and cut short.

Julie Andrews

The famed actress had tremendous operatic roots, from a very young age. Just listen to her in the famed polonaise from “Mignon” as a 12-year-old.

Her voice teacher Lillian Stilles-Allen encouraged her to pursue opera, but Andrews never felt her voice was right for the art form and instead moved toward musical theater.

Kristin Chenoweth

The famed Broadway star actually earned a master’s degree in opera performance and participated in a plethora of vocal competitions, eventually making a splash at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions that earned her a scholarship to the Academy of Vocal Arts. She performed a solo concert at the Met and was scheduled to return for a production of “The Ghosts of Versailles,” but it was canceled.

Kelli O’Hara

O’Hara’s career lines up more with Hofmann’s than any other person on this list as she has taken on a rather prominent operatic career. The famed Broadway star and six-time Tony Award nominee studied vocal performance/opera at Oklahoma City University. While she has spent most of her career in the world of musical theater, she is getting ample opportunity to be remembered for her operatic chops, making her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2014 and then gearing up for a production of “Così fan tutte” in 2017-18.

Are there any other major pop or musical theater artists that spent some time in the world of opera? Let us know who we missed!



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