The December holiday period will be a busy one for Thomas Hampson. Following a recital at London’s Wigmore Hall last week – his first in five years – and recitals in Germany this week, on Christmas Day Mr. Hampson will perform Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Mariss Jansons. This special Christmas concert will be broadcast live on television and radio throughout the Netherlands, and recorded by Arte for television broadcast on December 29 in Germany and France. After the Amsterdam performance, Mr. Hampson will travel to his hometown of Spokane, Washington, to perform a special holiday concert at the newly renovated Fox Theater on December 29. Mr. Hampson has been actively involved in the renovation and reopening of this historic Art Deco theater.

Mr. Hampson’s next operatic performance in the U.S. will be at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he will sing the role of Germont, opposite Renée Fleming, in Verdi’s La traviata. Performances in Chicago are on January 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, and 26, 2008. Following a November cover story in Opera News, which focused on his Verdi roles, on January 24, 2008 Mr. Hampson will be honored with an Opera News Award for Distinguished Achievement, to be presented to him by Deborah Voigt. According to the January 2008 issue of Opera News, “In Hampson, the best of all worlds collide: he is the perfect thinking-man’s baritone, intellectual to the core, yet with the matinee-idol good looks to satisfy our visually-oriented age, as well as a warm, golden, luxurious sound that soothes and seduces the senses, even as his thoughtful, detailed approach to text and character engages the mind.”

After his Chicago performances, Mr. Hampson will sing Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder with the National Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin, on January 31, February 1, and February 2, 2008 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

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Earlier this fall, Thomas Hampson performed the title role in Macbeth at the San Francisco Opera. Critical response to his U.S. debut in the role was extraordinary:

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman wrote:

Just when there seemed to be no way for Thomas Hampson’s performance in the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth to get any more majestic or wrenching, it did. It happened during the final scene of Wednesday’s opening performance at the San Francisco Opera, in which the great American bass-baritone had already commanded the stage all night long with a combination of vocal grandeur and dramatic intensity. But now, as the forces of retribution closed in on the doomed usurper…[,] Hampson found his way toward an even more potent depiction of Macbeth’s plight. Singing in the slow, harmonically nuanced phrases of one of Verdi’s most probing solo scenes, he conjured up rage, pity, despair, and defiance – in turn and sometimes all at once. And when the aria concluded, the audience in the War Memorial Opera House could only sit in stunned and appreciative silence.

The Los Angeles Times also named Mr. Hampson’s Macbeth performance as one of the highlights of 2007:

Someone, somewhere, may have given a more nuanced, better-sung, more illuminating opera performance than Thomas Hampson did as the title character in Verdi’s Macbeth this month for San Francisco Opera. But that would be hard to believe.

Mr. Hampson’s performance as Macbeth now is available on DVD, recorded live by the Zurich Opera in the same production, directed by David Pountney, as was mounted in San Francisco. The Zurich Opera has also just released a DVD of Busoni’s Doktor Faust with Mr. Hampson in the title role. The DVD is currently available in Europe and will shortly be made available in the U.S.

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In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.

Thomas Hampson