Hans Hotter sat on a wall and had a great . . .

Hans Hotter as Wotan

. . . fall.   

But it wasn’t exactly a wall from which Hans Hotter, the German bass-baritone renowned for singing Wotan, fell. It was an artificial mountaintop, and it occurred at the end of an ROH production of Die Walküre in 1961.  

As Wotan struck the rock with his spear, flashbulbs exploded to start the “magic fire.”  So far so good–until everyone in the house was temporarily blinded as a result of the explosion. This caused Hotter, who had turned to leave the stage, to miss his footing and plummet off the mountain, landing with a clatter. Because he wore stage armor, the mishap reportedly sounded something like, “a bomb hitting a corrugated iron factory.”  

Hotter didn’t want anyone unfamiliar with Die Walküre  to think that Wotan committed suicide at the end of the opera, à la Tosca, so he climbed back up the stage mountain, into position, his head suddenly appearing from the chasm into which it had disappeared, only to be followed by the rest of him.  

An Operatoonity microtale adapted from Great Operatic Disasters, 1979, St. Martin’s Griffin


Filed under Opera and humor

3 Responses to Hans Hotter sat on a wall and had a great . . .

  1. Tom Dengler

    Hotter was a great artist. I don’t finish his memoirs. He was a smoker. Very provincial.
    Gurrelieder is scary. He’s dying there.

  2. It seems like there was a lot less prowess regarding set and scene changes than there is now–lots of “Spiderman” type incidents in the past. That book opera disasters is full of them. Very entertaining book. Thanks for stopping by, Heidi.

  3. Too funny! Good thing he wasn’t hurt.