Thomas Hampson is “every inch a Boccanegra” in current production of Verdi’s potboiler at the Metropolitan Opera

Some critical reactions to the opening-night performance:

“Hampson is a natural Verdi singer, and this fine Boccanegra proved thoughtful, gaining in authority and telling vocal expressiveness as the evening went on, which for that matter was also true of Gheorghiu’s sweet-voiced Amelia.”

“It is…a pleasure to spend an evening in the company of such a thinking singer, one who never belts without reason and who knows how to sling a long, noble phrase so that it doesn’t clatter prematurely to the stage. ”

“The title role was taken by Thomas Hampson, the baritone from Spokane, Washington. This is one of the great baritone roles extant, and Mr. Hampson seems to relish it. He is now 51, and every inch a Boccanegra … He was a very strong dramatic presence. This character is called on to be a swaggering hotshot, a wise leader, and a tender father (plus other things). Mr. Hampson expressed all of this. And he did this with his singing, not least. His cry of ‘M’odi’ — ‘Hear me’ — was rightly terrible. When he spoke of a man ‘pale with fear,’ you could hear that: a paleness from fear. Toward the end of this story, Boccanegra is poisoned, and Mr. Hampson gave us pathos, but not melodrama — commendable.”

“The baritone Thomas Hampson as Boccanegra was in very good voice… projecting also a fine dramatic command of whispered emotions.”

Thomas Hampson on the character Simon Boccanegra:

“The dilemma Boccanegra faces is typical of Verdi’s operas. He’s elected doge, his public life is a success, but his personal happiness is being destroyed. The opera’s about the inner evolution of the hero, more than in other Verdi operas. Boccanegra – his life and his feelings – were near to Verdi’s heart with the death of a beloved woman and the loss of a child.”