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.
Richard Danielpour composed Songs of Solitude (2002), on poems by Yeats, in the weeks following the September 11 attacks; War Songs (2008), on poems by Whitman, was inspired by photographs published in the New York Times of soldiers killed in the Iraq War … Both of these cycles were written for Thomas Hampson, who sings them magnificently. At 60, his voice sounds as fresh as ever, and the baritone’s musical intelligence and literary sensitivity make even the less successful of these songs worthy of study. Hampson’s achievement is even more impressive given that the recordings were made in concert.
Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone Magazine
On January 18, 21 & 23, Thomas Hampson reprises the role of Roald Amundsen in Srnka’s South Pole at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper. Mr. Hampson won tremendous international acclaim for his creation of the role in the world premiere:
“The star is Thomas Hampson, the veteran baritone is vocally and theatrically convincing in the role of Amundsen.” (TZ.de)
Top 10 Performances of 2016 Addition / Mahler of the Year: If the above list were expanded, it would be filled out with all of the excellent orchestral performances of Mahler during the year … the Philharmonic’s magnificent Mahler Ninth under Bernard Haitink and a glowing Das Lied von der Erde, under Alan Gilbert—sung by tenor Stefan Vinke and baritone Thomas Hampson … (New York Classical Review)
Maria Mazzaro, Opera News: Thomas Hampson has a busy Jan. On the fifth, he is in Turkey performing with Luca Pisaroni and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra. Hampson then travels to Germany—first to Munich for Bayerische Staatsoper performances of Srnka’s South Pole, then to Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonic for a concert with The Philharmonics. At the end of the month, he sings Scarpia in Wiener Staatsoper performances of Tosca, conducted by Plácido Domingo.
Normalerweise werden die Lieder von Schubert, Brahms und Wolf am Klavier begleitet. Der Bariton Thomas Hampson hat einige davon nun in einer neuen Fassung mit Kammerorchester aufgenommen – gemeinsam mit den jungen Musikern der Amsterdam Sinfonietta.
Thomas Hampson reunites with his son-in-law, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, for two performances of their acclaimed “No Tenors Allowed” programme in concert. The duo performs with pianist Christian Koch on December 21 at Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Música/Grande Auditório, and then travels to Istanbul for a New Year’s concert with the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, hosted at the İstanbul Lütfi Kırdar on January 5.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.