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.
The recital platform has always been an equal partner with the opera stage for Hampson, and his gift for this genre is rare. He knows each Lied intimately, speaks the language fluently, and has an impeccable vocal technique and musicality – the magical combination of the greats.
He began with Schumann’s 20 Lieder und Gesänge; 16 of these songs would later be known as Dichterliebe. The often-long codas to these Lieder have singers closing their eyes in contemplation; looking up to the gods, awestruck; watching the accompanist; or, heaven help us, turning the page. Hampson acts out every note with simple elegance.
A fine example was in Mein Wagen rollet langsam, where the closing piano part is almost as long as the sung section. During it, Hampson took the audience on a mini-journey and, as the last notes of the piano faded, he looked as though he was on the verge of saying something… which was exactly what he did as he began Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet which begins with only the voice, without piano accompaniment. A captivating moment.
Mein Wagen rollet langsam is not part of Dichterliebe, so this juxtaposition is not usually heard. It showed Hampson’s ability to convey a series of Lieder as a coherent whole and demonstrates exactly why you shouldn’t applaud until the very last note of a song cycle has died away. Ich grolle nicht did set a few clappers off: it’s probably part of a Schumann’s Greatest Hits album and, well, he did sing it winningly.
Hampson’s acting ability is fascinating to watch, though it is something that is surely easier to pull off when you have such a sensitive pianist at your side: Wolfram Rieger played with loving sensitivity throughout …
Thomas Hampson is a featured contributor to the newly launched platform MUSAIC, from the New World Symphony and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr. Hampson and other acclaimed artists, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, are featured in various site content including master classes, interviews, and more. Watch and learn today at musaic.nws.edu!
On July 8, Thomas Hampson is a featured artist in an Opera Gala concert, hosted at the Opernhaus Düsseldorf. This special annual event, presented by the Friends of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, includes the talents of the Duisburger Philharmoniker and Deutsche Oper am Rhein chorus, led by Axel Kober. Other soloists for the evening are Lavinia Dames, Luiza Fatyol, and Maria Kataeva, on a programme that includes operatic highlights by Rossini, Mozart, Verdi, and more. A limited number of seats remain for this extraordinary summer concert – purchase your tickets at the following link!
Mr. Hampson sings a recital as part of the Munich Festspiel on June 28. Accompanied by pianist Wolfram Rieger, the Mahler cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn will be performed in its entirety. Composed at the turn of the century, Mahler set this collection of anonymous German folk poems to music, originally written for either soprano or baritone. Mr. Hampson and Mr. Rieger are well-known for their interpretation of this cycle, and have performed it numerous times together in premiere international venues. For example, the pair interpreted the cycle in 2002 in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet, which can be viewed via YouTube. A few years later, Mr. Hampson discussed the importance of the cycle as an Artist-in-Residence with the New York Philharmonic in this discussion.
Hampson and Rieger’s upcoming performance will be held at the Nationaltheater, in the heart of Munich.
On June 16, 17 & 18, Thomas Hampson is the featured soloist with the Orquesta Nacional de España, under the direction of David Afkham. The concert programme is titled “The Origin of the Future” and highlights selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn as well as Schoenberg’s Pelleas et Melisande, Op. 5. Tickets: ocne.mcu.es/programacion/el-origen-del-futuro
This summer, Thomas Hampson and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni reunite for their acclaimed “No Tenors Allowed” programme. They perform with the Gewandhausorchester at the Open Air-Bühne im Rosental on June 23 & 24 under the baton of Alexander Shelley. The programme includes selections by Rossini, Mozart, Massenet, Gounod, and more.
Sony Classical will release a DVD/blu-ray recording of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, starring Thomas Hampson as the Four Villains. Recorded last autumn at London’s Royal Opera House, Mr. Hampson is joined by Vittorio Grigòlo in the title role, Sonya Yoncheva is Antonia, Kate Lindsey sings Nicklausse, Christine Rice is Giulietta, and Sofia Fomina is Olympia, with Maestro Evelino Pidò leading from the pit. The production by John Schlesinger premiered to enthusiastic reviews in 1980, and is revered for its rich and enduring portrayal of Offenbach’s opera.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.