The American baritone continues to successfully promote his country’s classical heritage, as he opens in a star-studded Royal Opera production tonight.
American baritone Thomas Hampson opens in the Royal Opera‘s classic Verdi’s La Traviata tonight. Read it and weep, La Scala and the Met: Calleja – Fleming – Hampson. Not bad for a lineup for Alfredo, Violetta, (everyone’s favourite “doomed courtesan”, as the Royal Opera House’s website has it, with the sort of euphemistic literary flourish you only find in opera synopses – she’s a prostitute), and Germont.
It’s easy to think of opera stars like Joseph Calleja, Renée Fleming, and Hampson as globe-trotting megastars, more interested in which brand of hotel-lobby luxury jewellery or watch they’re going to sponsor, than delving into the psychological depths of operatic characterisation.
But that’s unfair. I met Hampson for this week’s Music Matters, and discovered that he’s one of music’s genuine enthusiasts, and a cyber-philanthropist to boot. Have a look at hampsong.com (clever!), maybe the single most impressive classical singer’s site out there, a bespoke production that gives you access to some of his recordings to stream, links to his appearances on YouTube, photos of Thomas with Alec Baldwin and musical slebs, and the promise of his personal iPhone photos coming soon.
More impressive than all that, though, is Hampson’s Song of America project. He’ll shortly be touring the States with a programme celebrating 250 years of art-song in America (the first was composed in 1759 by Francis Hopkinson, one of the undersigned of the Declaration of Independence), and he told me he plans a free online archive, in association with the Library of Congress, of scores, performances, and scholarly material. When he gets it finished, this could be one of the internet’s great musical resources.
No one has done more to promote American song, from Foster to Barber, from Burleigh to Rorem, than Hampson. They’re lucky to have him as an advocate. Have a listen to this, and see what I mean.
Thomas Hampson is the baritone soloist on a new recording, featuring Richard Danielpour’s Songs of Solitude and War Songs, along with the orchestral work Toward the Splendid City. War Songs, a song cycle with texts by Walt Whitman, was commissioned by the Nashville Symphony in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
“… baritone Thomas Hampson — a model of dignity, vocal presence, and deep investment in the texts that Brahms so lovingly chose and set.”
David Weininger – The Boston Globe
Thomas Hampson is the baritone soloist in Brahms’ A German Requiem on October 6, 7 & 8 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus, under the direction of Music Director Andris Nelsons. Soprano Camilla Tilling joins for this concert series, which also features Widmann’s Trauermarsch for piano and orchestra, featuring pianist Yefim Bronfman.
“Thomas Hampson, rock solid in the parts of Priest and Angel of the Agony … This is where true artistry shows …” (Financial Times)
After yesterday’s Manon, it was a nice to return to the same venue with such an enlightening concert. Just before his encores, Thomas Hampson addressed the audience saying that it was also special for him to come back to Geneva after so many years …
The Schumann song cycle was presented not as Dichterliebe but as songs from the Lyrischen Intermezzo Buch der Lieder’ after Heine, Hampson specifying that it was closer to Schumann’s original text … the overall characterisation and care for the words were marvels. The long standing partnership between both artists meant that they could find expressive freedom while being attuned to each other …
Er ist ein weltweit gefragter Opernstar und zugleich einer der profiliertesten Lied-Baritone: Der Amerikaner Thomas Hampson. Ein echter Star im Klassik-Betrieb, den er jedoch durchaus kritisch sieht. Anfang der nächsten Woche ist Thomas Hampson in Berlin zu erleben, mit der Staatskapelle Berlin unter Daniel Barenboim: In dem Oratorium “The Dream of Gerontius” von Edgar Elgar.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.