Thomas Hampson debuts as Scarpia in Zurich Opera’s Tosca

Rounding out more than six months of performances in the US on Sunday, March 15, Thomas Hampson will appear as Amfortas in the final scene of Parsifal opposite Plácido Domingo, in the Metropolitan Opera’s 125th Anniversary Gala. Since performing on the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera’s season this past September, the great baritone has starred in two leading roles at the Met – Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Massenet’s Athanael (in Thaïs) – both to great acclaim. At the end of March, Hampson returns to Zurich, Switzerland for an important role debut. He will play the part of perhaps the most infamous villain in the operatic world when he sings Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca. The opera will be staged in a new production by Robert Carsen, with Emily Magee in the title role and Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi, conducted by Paolo Carignani.

Hampson has looked forward to singing Scarpia for a long time, since the core Italian repertoire, especially Verdi and Puccini, has become increasingly important to him in recent years. He comments:

“I am truly looking forward to the challenge of being Scarpia. He’s one of the darkest personalities I have ever tried to interpret; yet there are dimensions to his convoluted personality that I hope to be able to reveal as I perceive them. The subtleties Puccini and his librettist invested in this amazing character are sometimes entrapped in theatrical clichés I’ll do my best to avoid. And it will be great to be back at the Zurich Opera House, which I have had a very long and fruitful relationship with and consider to be one of my musical homes.”

At the outset of this season, Hampson gave four Zurich performances of one of his favorite Verdi roles, Rodrigo in Don Carlo. Last season, he added two Verdi roles to his large Met repertoire, with the title character in Simon Boccanegra and his role debut as Don Carlo in Ernani, both to enthusiastic reviews. He also had a resounding success last season at the San Francisco Opera with his first American performances of Verdi’s Macbeth.

After his Zurich Scarpia performances, Thomas Hampson returns to another of his favorite roles – that of recitalist, performing with frequent piano partner Wolfram Rieger in Germany and Portugal. He will also sing orchestrated Hugo Wolf songs on texts by Goethe and Mörike with the NDR Symphony Orchestra under Dohnányi, in Hamburg and at the Prague Spring Festival. On May 13, Hampson returns to New York for his second Carnegie Hall appearance of the season, when he performs Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin. Then, on May 19, Hampson will appear as the only soloist in a gala evening at Dusseldorf’s elegant Deutsche Oper am Rhein. June finds him back in London opposite frequent stage-partner Renée Fleming in Verdi’s La traviata at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with the Opera’s chief conductor, Antonio Pappano, in the pit.