String of Springtime Performances and Special Appearances, March 29 – April 24; Highlights Include Return to Metropolitan Opera, Recital at Alice Tully Hall, and World-Premiere of New Work by Matthias Pintscher Commissioned by New York Philharmonic
Eminent American baritone Thomas Hampson returns to New York City this month for a remarkable string of performances and special appearances, beginning on March 29 when he encores the role of Germont in Verdi’s La traviata at the Metropolitan Opera (eight performances through April 24). Those Met performances complement a series of events that are part of his yearlong appointment as the first Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic:
his recital at Avery Fisher Hall on April 11, co-presented by the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Song” series, will feature Schumann’s great song cycle Dichterliebe and songs by Samuel Barber; and on April 16, at Symphony Space, he will give the world-premiere of Matthias Pintscher’s songs from Solomon’s garden, commissioned by the orchestra and written expressly for Hampson (a second performance follows on April 17 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with both performances conducted by Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert). Hampson’s third and final Insights Series event for the Philharmonic this season, “Listening to Thought: A Guide to German Romanticism”, will take place on April 5 at Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse, and will explore the iconography, metaphor, and imagery of this epochal period for European art song. Continuing his commitment to the Manhattan School of Music and its distance learning initiatives, on March 30 at 2pm Hampson will give select small ensembles an MSM Global Conservatory master class on Gustav Mahler’s song cycles, which will be streamed live at dl.msmnyc.edu/live
Despite this jam-packed schedule, Hampson will also take time to pay a tribute in song to Frederica von Stade, who is being honored this year at the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s 75th annual luncheon on April 20 at the Waldorf=Astoria.
Hampson’s passionate advocacy for American song has been widely documented, most notably in his ongoing “Song of America” project with the Library of Congress, so it comes as little surprise that half of his Alice Tully Hall recital on April 11 will focus on the songs of Samuel Barber. This is Barber’s centenary season (he was born on March 9, 1910 and died on January 23, 1981) and he is indisputably one of the country’s foremost vocal composers. Hampson will sing, among others, the Three Songs, Op. 10 and Three Songs, Op. 45, which he recorded to great acclaim as part of a complete set of the Barber songs for Deutsche Grammophon. Hampson recently recorded Letters from Lincoln for baritone and orchestra, an important new song cycle by another American composer, Michael Daugherty; the album was released by Koch in January. Earlier this season Hampson issued Wondrous Free – Song of America II on his own label, THM. This survey of 200 years of American song, named after Francis Hopkinson’s “My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free,” the first published art song in American history, was described by Gramophone as “a broad sweep of American art song by one of its great interpreters.” Reviewer Andrew Farach-Colton summarized the album’s appeal this way: “This recital is both entertaining and enlightening, and belongs in any serious collection of American art song.”
Hampson is extremely excited to be performing the new Pintscher work, part of the inaugural season of the Philharmonic’s new-music series CONTACT!, not least because of the language of the text he will be singing: Hebrew. Songs from Solomon’s garden is a setting by Pintscher from the Shir ha-Shirim, the Song of Solomon. As Hampson explains in a video interview at the New York Philharmonic’s website, he sang Bloch’s Sacred Service last summer in Israel and fell in love with the language, calling it “gorgeous and extremely singable.” When Pintscher asked Hampson if he would agree to sing a text set in Hebrew, Hampson was thrilled to oblige. Pintscher, who has known Hampson for a long time, had wanted from the start to write his Philharmonic commission for baritone and chamber orchestra, and considers Hampson “the perfect match.” He calls the Song of Solomon “the most beautiful love poetry ever written – if I may speak in superlatives,” noting, “In the Hebrew language, everything seems so condensed; every individual word is so meaningful and so radiant, and that inspired me to create a sound-world to surround these words.
As the New York Philharmonic’s first Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, Hampson is taking part in a variety of activities (16 events in all) that showcase his wide-ranging talents as performer, music enthusiast, and scholar. He recently toured Europe with Alan Gilbert and the orchestra performing John Adams’s setting of Whitman’s The Wound-Dresser. On New Year’s Eve, Hampson sang a program of Copland songs and selections from Broadway musicals in a concert that was televised nationally on Public Television. In November, he was a soloist with the orchestra in Zemlinsky’s opulent Lyric Symphony. Hampson is also the orchestra’s Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence this season.
Thomas Hampson will fill in as a guest host for Terrance McKnight on WQXR this Thursday, November 5, beginning at 7 pm ET. During this hour, Thomas will celebrate the song repertoire, featuring works by Schubert, Mahler, Ives, and many others. Tune in and learn more about Hampson’s guest host hour via WQXR.
PENTATONE continues its American Opera Series with Houston Grand Opera’s world premiere recording of Tarik O’Regan’s The Phoenix (2019), an opera on the life of Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart’s favorite librettist. Da Ponte (1749-1838) was an adventurer, who not only travelled the world, but in a way also through time, living across what seem to be impossible moments of history that never should have aligned in somebody’s life.
The documentary by C Major Entertainment “The Animated Story of Jenny Lind”, in which Thomas Hampson is the narrator, has won this year’s Golden Prague Fesitval’s Performing Arts Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious and acclaimed Performing Arts festival for TV and film, with opera, dance, concerts and documentaries from all over the world. It is also on the Shortlist of potential winners of the Prix Italia.
Thomas Hampson makes his Global Concert Hall debut next month, performing with the Orchester Wiener Akademie under the baton of its founder and musical director Martin Haselböck. The concert, filmed at the Brucknerhouse Linz in August 2020, will be streamed on IDAGIO’s Global Concert Hall on Thursday, October 15, beginning at 8 pm Berlin / 2 pm New York. The concert will be available to stream through October 22.
Thomas Hampson returns to the stage this month, with a concert at the Stiftskirche Millstatt, and two performances at the Salzkammergut Classic Festival. Beginning on August 2 in Millstatt, Hampson will perform lieder by Gustav Mahler and Johannes Brahms with pianist Christian Koch, and the Carinthia Chor Millstatt will sing Carinthian songs under the direction of Bernhard Zlanabitnig.
For the first time ever, audiences around the world will have a special opportunity to watch the Canadian Opera Company’s 2018 world premiere production of Hadrian, in full, online. On Monday, August 10 at 6:30 p.m. ET, in partnership with Montréal Pride Festival, the COC is hosting a free, one-night-only digital stream of the modern grand opera. The Hadrian Watch Party helps kick off one week of virtual Pride events and will feature a live Q&A session with both the composer and celebrated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright and librettist Daniel MacIvor, a giant in Canadian theatre.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.