Hofstetter’s music making hallmarked by profound insight and intensity, has attracted keen critical interest and audience acclaim. As General Music Director in Giessen, he has raised the profile of the town’s Stadttheater and reinforced its position as one of Germany’s most creative and compelling opera venues. Hofstetter has also achieved distinction as Chief Conductor of ‘recreation’ – Grosses Orchester Graz and recreationBarock, and of the Austrian city’s recently founded Styriarte Festival Orchestra. Many of his performances have been released on CD and DVD by labels such as Oehms Classics, CPO, Deutsche Grammophon and Naxos, creating a discography that spans everything from rarities by Gluck, Hasse and Salieri to Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Mendelssohn’s symphonies for strings and Verdi’s Oberto.
Hofstetter’s artistry is informed by his innate feeling for the human voice and its relationship to the natural flow and subtle nuances of musical phrasing. His interpretations draw on a broad knowledge of historically informed performance practices and the cultural milieus in which composers created their works. While studying organ, piano and conducting at the Munich Conservatory, he fell in love with opera while working with a touring theatre company. Hofstetter launched his professional conducting career at the opera house in Passau. He held the post of Music Director at Wiesbaden Opera from 1991 to 1996 and subsequently relocated to Giessen for his first term as General Music Director, Germany’s youngest at the time. From 2001 until 2007 Michael Hofstetter has been chief conductor of L’orchestre de chambre de Genève.
Following his appointment as Chief Conductor in 2005, Hofstetter transformed the Ludwigsburg Festival with performances of rarely heard works by Salieri, Gluck, Cimarosa and Hasse and the world premiere of E.T.A. Hofmann’s
Liebe and Eifersucht. He also served as Chief Conductor of Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra from 2006 to 2013.
In 2012 he returned to Giessen as General Music Director, enhancing the Stadttheater’s reputation since with pioneering productions and a determined commitment to fine singing. Hofstetter has twice been nominated by Opernwelt as Conductor of the Year, while his Giessen theatre has also been nominated for the esteemed magazine’s Opera House of the Year award.
During his career’s early years, Hofstetter received generous advice and encouragement from Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He also gained from the experience of working closely over many years with the opera director and designer Herbert Wernicke at Theater Basel. The Munich - born conductor’s strong progress since is clearly reflected in his record of work as a guest conductor. Names and places on his path as an operatic and concert conductor include Concerto Köln, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Orchestre national d’Île de France, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Staatsoper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatsoper Hamburg, Oper Stuttgart, Komische Oper Berlin, Salzburg Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen, Den Norske Opera, Oslo and the Canadian Opera Company.
Hofstetter’s many awards and honours include the Robert-Stolz-Medaille for his contribution to operetta and the Horst Stein Prize for his achievements at the Ludwigsburg Festival. His album Rossini – Arias and Overtures was awarded the Orphée du meilleur inteprète by L’Académie du Disque Lyrique in France, while Hasse Reloaded received a prestigious Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2012.