2007/2008 U.S. Performance Highlights

After garnering spectacular critical acclaim for his appearances at the U.S. summer festivals this summer, Thomas Hampson looks forward to what promises to be an exciting year, largely focused on America. His season begins in late September with performances and a recording with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, with whom also he began the summer, then performing and recording Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn. In July, Hampson returned to the U.S. to perform at the Tanglewood Festival for the first time in many years. About his performance of Mahler’s Songs of the Wayfarer with the Boston Symphony, the Boston Globe wrote, “Hampson sang beautifully, with a resonant, burnished baritone, and a striking suppleness of expression that reflected his many years of immersion in this repertoire.” He also performed his own arrangement of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder in recital with the Boston Symphony Chamber players, along with Schumann’s Dichterliebe. The Globe wrote of this performance: “The singularly beautiful, dark timbre still peals forth, and the artistry and commitment are unparalleled; he remains a fearless singer, the voice always at the service of a penetrating mind. This Dichterliebe was extraordinary and unforgettable, emotionally wrenching and exhilarating.”

At the Ravinia Festival, Hampson performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. The Chicago Tribune responded:

Hampson is singing at the very peak of his vocal form and artistry, and I can’t remember when I’ve heard anything finer from him. His exceptional range of color and dynamics, his vocal ease and evenness over a wide range, his flexibility of phrasing, his acute sense of detail — all bespoke a singing actor of the utmost expressive intensity and musical understanding.

The last stop on Hampson’s American summer tour was with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, where he sang Copland’s Old American Songs to a cheering crowd of nearly 12,000 people. Then, in August, he performed a recital in Salzburg about which the New York Sun wrote, “The ovation from the Salzburg audience was very long and very loud. It went on and on, not diminishing at all in volume… There is probably no better exponent of this literature today.” After Salzburg, Hampson toured South America with Philip Jordan and the Mahler Youth Orchestra before returning to Europe for performances of Simon Boccanegra at the Vienna State Opera.

Hampson returns to California for two fall engagements: first, in September, performances and a recording of Mahler’s Song of the Earth with the San Francisco Symphony and Tilson Thomas; then, opening in San Francisco on November 14, his first U.S. performance in the title role of Macbeth, in a production from the Zurich Opera directed by David Pountney. Hampson’s performance as Macbeth in this production is also available on DVD.

Lyric Opera of Chicago, alongside Renée Fleming as Violetta. Then from January 31 through February 2 he will perform Mahler songs with the National Symphony and Leonard Slatkin, before heading to New York for his role debut as Don Carlo in Verdi’s Ernani.

European performance highlights include a Brahms Requiem performance and recording with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Vienna Philharmonic, appearances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, and recitals in London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Zurich. Operas include Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlo at the Vienna State Opera and La Traviata in Zurich.

In addition to his performance activities this fall, Hampson will join the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in the newly created position of “Visiting Distinguished Artist for Vocal Studies and Distance Learning”. His first duties at MSM will include a masterclass, to be conducted simultaneously at the Manhattan School of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music through Internet 2, or I2, on October 9th. On October 10th, Hampson will perform in recital with the American Quartet, in a program that will include Barber’s Dover Beach as well as American songs.