Thomas Hampson returned to the Metropolitan Opera this season for his first major Verdi role in the house, the title part in Simon Boccanegra. New York Newsday reported, “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,” while the New York Times observed, “The baritone Thomas Hampson as Boccanegra was in very good voice on Monday, projecting also a fine dramatic command of whispered emotions.”
Mr. Hampson sang the tragic role previously at the Vienna State Opera, and returns now to reprise it there, beginning on April 7 (with additional performances on April 10, 14, 17, and 20). Conductor Nicola Luisotti and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto (Fiesco) will also take part in the Vienna performances. Tamar Iveri and Giuseppe Sabbatini will sing the roles of Amelia and Gabriele respectively.
Thomas Hampson is known as well for his recital work as his opera performances, and wears a third hat as a probing researcher and scholar, specializing in American songs and the works of Gustav Mahler, whose songs he has edited and published. He will sing four favorite Mahler Lieder with the San Francisco Symphony in concerts on May 10-13, and on tour with the orchestra and its music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, who shares the baritone’s love of Mahler. “Lied des Verfolgten im Turm,” “Der Tamboursg’sell”, “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen”, “Revelge”, and “Urlicht” – from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn collection – are on the program with Copland’s “Short Symphony” and Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra. The program will be repeated in Carnegie Hall on May 18, in Vienna’s Konzerthaus on May 22, and in Prague’s famous Jugendstil Municipal House on May 25 as part of the annual “Prague Spring.”
Mr. Hampson’s Mahler scholarship was first documented in his Teldec recording, made with the late Geoffrey Parsons, of Wunderhorn songs in original piano settings that have since been subsumed by later editors’ versions.
According to one critic:
The quality of the performances themselves will be the main consideration and about these there need be no equivocation. Hampson here justifies fully his reputation as one of the leading baritones of our day. His voice is a wonderfully flexible instrument, heard in prime condition. Time and again I marveled at the length of the line he spins, at the dynamic and tonal range that are at his command, seemingly without effort, and at the wondrously even production of the voice throughout its compass. There are several occasions on this disc where Mahler takes his singer up into a taxingly high tessitura. For Hampson such excursions to the heights seem to pose no difficulties at all; his use of head voice is a consistent delight.
– MusicWeb International
In addition to the Simon Boccanegra, Mr. Hampson recently reprised his Mandryka in Richard Strauss’s Arabella at the Vienna State Opera. The Wiener Zeitung described Mr. Hampson and his Arabella, Adrienne Pieczonka, as a “dream pair.” While in Vienna, Mr. Hampson will also sing a “dream pair” of concert performances of Massenet’s Thaïs with Renée Fleming, with whom he has already recorded the opera. Michel Plasson conducts (April 25 and 27).
Further information about Thomas Hampson’s spring and summer engagements will be announced shortly.