Thomas Hampson launches 2011-12 season with world premiere

Thomas Hampson Launches 2011-12 Season by Starring in World Premiere of Heart of a Soldier, Opening at San Francisco Opera on September 10

Thomas Hampson begins his 2011-12 season at San Francisco Opera, where he will create the role of Rick Rescorla in the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’s Heart of a Soldier (seven performances, Sept 10–30). Based on the 2002 book by James B. Stewart, the new opera, featuring a libretto by Donna DiNovelli and directed by Francesca Zambello, commemorates the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Heart of a Soldier marks the beginning of an extraordinary new season for Hampson that includes two role debuts at Zurich Opera – Iago in Verdi’s Otello (Oct 20 – Nov 27) and the title role in Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler (June 16 – July 5) – and an important company role debut, as Verdi’s Macbeth, at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (March 15 – April 9); performances with major orchestras in Europe and the U.S., including Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel (Jan 13–15); and several recitals on both continents, including a “Song of America” program at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Jan 22). October will see the debut of “Song of America,” a 13-week radio series, which reveals American classic song – poetry set to music by American composers – as a vibrant diary of the American experience. The series, conceived and developed by Hampson, is co-produced by the Hampsong Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network of Chicago and will be syndicated by the network to public radio stations across the country.

Highlights of Hampson’s concert appearances this season also include the National Symphony Orchestra’s opening-night gala concert with Christoph Eschenbach, marking the orchestra’s 80th and the Kennedy Center’s 40th anniversaries (Sept 25); Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Munich Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta (Nov 17–21); plus Brahms’s A German Requiem and Dvorák’s Biblical Songs with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honeck (Feb 3–5). Throughout the season Hampson will give recitals in the U.S., Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, including additional “Song of America” programs in Claremont, CA (Sept 16) and in Cologne, Germany.

Hampson’s 2010-11 season was dominated by performances celebrating the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s birth and commemorating the 100th anniversary of his death. Recognized as today’s leading interpreter of the Austrian composer’s songs, the baritone began the worldwide celebrations on July 7, 2010 – Mahler’s 150th birthday – in Kaliste, Czech Republic, with a recital from the composer’s birth house, streamed live on, as well as an internationally televised orchestral concert, available on DVD. Throughout the season he performed Mahler with prominent conductors and leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. His new recording of Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Wiener Virtuosen – a conductorless ensemble comprising principal players of the Vienna Philharmonic – was widely acclaimed, bringing Hampson his third ECHO Klassik prize, generally recognized as the German equivalent of the Grammy Award. In spring 2011 Hampson received the Concertgebouw Prize for his outstanding contribution to the arts.

Hampson has written an essay for the UK’s Guardian, available here, about the significance of Heart of a Soldier and his creation of its central character, Rick Rescorla.

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