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.
Che tra i due ci fosse un legame speciale, con molti segreti e bugie, è risaputo. Ma che Leporello fosse il genero di Don Giovanni è un colpo di teatro da far vacillare persino due impudenti quali Mozart e Da Ponte. La sorprendente agnizione si manifesterà sabato sera alla Scala, quando nei due ruoli maschili chiave del titolo mozartiano, che torna con la direzione di Paavo Järvi e nell’edizione ideata da Robert Carsen per il 7 dicembre 2011, troveremo Thomas Hampson e Luca Pisaroni, baritoni di salda fama internazionale, nella vita uniti da Catherine, la bionda figlia di Thomas, che Luca conobbe nel 2003 a Salisburgo.
When did you start singing?
In the crib. Apparently, I was a very vocal baby 😉 … no seriously, I already sang as a child.
Why did you start singing?
I loved tunes and music always made sense to me.
Grande fermento a Milano per il Don Giovanni di Mozart, nella ripresa dell’allestimento di Robert Carsen che aprì la stagione scaligera 2010/2011. A pochi giorni dalla prima del 6 maggio, incontriamo il protagonista Thomas Hampson, artista di fama internazionale, che a coronamento di una lunga e duratura carriera, è al suo debutto operistico alla Scala. Il baritono statunitense ci parla del suo Don Giovanni, di come si diventa un cantante d’opera cosmopolita e del ruolo della musica e dell’arte in questo momento così difficile della storia contemporanea.
Heidelberg. In der Ausgabe vom 27. März forderten wir die Leser auf, auch Fragen an den Bariton und Künstlerischen Leiter der Lied Akademie, Thomas Hampson, zu richten. Aufgrund der vielen Verpflichtungen des Sängers, kam er erst jetzt dazu, sie zu beantworten. Weitergereicht hat sie unser Redakteur Matthias Roth, der auch die Auswahl der Fragen vornahm.
Thomas Hampson returned last night to La Scala, where he has been a regular presence in recital for almost three decades. Extraordinarily, he has never sung an opera in Milan, but next month he will finally make his operatic debut as Don Giovanni. Last night, however, a full theatre was eager to hear him once again in a repertoire that he owns: German song.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.