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.
Sean Rafferty with a lively mix of music, chat and arts news. His guests include baritone Thomas Hampson and pianist Alice Sara Ott. Plus actress Vanessa Redgrave comes in with composer Laura Rossi to tell us about their Battle of the Somme tribute. Listen to the broadcast via the following link.
“Thomas Hampson was gleefully baleful as the quartet of bad guys, always with a glint in his eye and an implicit wink at the audience …”
Mark Valencia – What’s On Stage
“Thomas Hampson is gleefully sepulchral as all four villains …”
David Gillard – Daily Mail
Following a thrilling debut as The Four Villains at The Metropolitan Opera in 2015, Thomas Hampson returns to the role this season London’s Royal Opera House. His “peerless” and “imposing” (Latin Post) portrayal in New York City was cast alongside tenor Vittorio Grigòlo as Hoffmann. The two reunite in London for these performances, which take place November 7, 11, 15, 18, 21, 24 & 28 and December 3. The production is also part of the ROH Live in Cinema season, and receives a theatrical broadcast on November 15. Find a screening near you via the following link.
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.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.