- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BERLIN (AP) - German tenor Peter Hofmann, who became famous for his performances of Richard Wagner operas, died Tuesday. He was 66.

The Rheinische Post newspaper quoted his brother Fritz Hofmann saying he died at a hospital in Wunsiedel in Bavaria. The mass-circulation newspaper Bild also reported Hofmann’s death after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Peter Hofmann, unlike few others, bridged the gap between entertainment and serious music,” Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said in a statement. “His accomplishments as rock singer in the Phantom of the Opera, but even more his exceptionally gifted interpretations of Wagner, are unforgettable.”

Hofmann made his name performing at the annual Bayreuth festival celebrating the music of Richard Wagner. He toured stages across the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and performed as the main character of the Phantom of the Opera musical in Hamburg.

His international breakthrough came in 1976, when he played Siegmund in Wagner’s “Ring” cycle at Bayreuth.

Starting in 1990, he starred 300 times in the German version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Phantom of the Opera, performed in Hamburg. He also hosted a TV show in Germany and performed Elvis Presley songs on a tour across Europe.

Hofmann had Parkinson’s for several years and stopped performing in 1999. He is survived by his wife and three children.

(This version CORRECTS year Hofmann stopped performing.)