Michael Gniffke was born in Nuremberg and grew up in a bilingual musical household, the son of a German opera singer, Rudulf A. Hartman, and an Italian piano teacher. He studied Business Administration and worked successfully as director of an international consulting firm. Parallel to that career, he studied voice with his father at the Conservatorio and the University in Zurich, and later with Alfredd Muff and Robert Schunk.
In recent seasons, Michael Gniffke has developed into a specialist of the German and French Fach. Highlights of his career inculde the Swiss premiere of Detlev Glanert’s Drei Wasserspiele with the Contemporary Opera Zurich, the role of The Man with the Donkey in Carl Orff’s Die Kluge at the Förnbacher Theater in Basel, Hauptmann in Berg’s Wozzeck at the Teatro della Brera in Milano, the title role in the Good Friday Scene of Wagner’s Parsifal at the Goetheaneum Dornach (togeher with Alfred Muff), Tamino with the Theaterverein Vaduz, Max in Der Freischütz at the Open Air Festival “Klassik im Isartal”(2011), with the Bad Reichenhaller Philharmonie (2013) and also with the Opernverein Vaduz (2014), the title role in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with the Sommeroper Selzach (2012), Don José in Carmen at the Theater Friedrichshafen (2013), Witch in Hänsel und Gretel at the Theater Lübeck (2013/14/15) and the title role in Gounod’s Faust, again with the Sommeroper Selzach (2014).
In 2015/16 he made important house debuts at the Opéra de Dijon as Hauptmann in Wozzeck and at the Theater Magdeburg as Aegisth in Elektra. He also sang Herman in The Queen of Spades with the summer festival Opernbühne Bad Aibling. Future engagements will bring him to the Theater Ulm, as Alwa in Alban Berg’s Lulu (2017), and to Opéra de Lyon, as Adolf Hitler in the world premiere of Alexander Raskatov’s opera Germania (2018).
Guest appearances in operetta include Graf Zedlau in Wiener Blut at the Theater Arth in Switzerland, where he returned to sing Adam and Stanislaus in Carl Zeller’s Der Vogelhändler, Conte Erminio in Carl Millöcker’s Gasparone and the Brasilian in La vie parisienne by Jacques Offenbach in subsequent seasons.
Further appearances were as Alfred in Die Fledermaus at the Theater Rheinfelden as well as Mr. X in Emmerich Kálmán’s Die Zirkusprinzessin and again Conte Erminio, both with Stadttheater Sursee.
Michael Gniffke also has amassed experience on concert stages throughout Europe, where his repertoire ranges from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Requiem to Le Laudi by Herman Suter.