Thomas Hampson’s First Iago and Critical Acclaim for “Heart of a Soldier“

Zurich Opera’s new production of Verdi’s Otello, which opens today and is directed by Graham Vick, will feature Thomas Hampson in his role debut as the scheming and sinister Iago. It is one of Verdi’s most demanding roles, both vocally and dramatically, and Hampson is thrilled for the opportunity to add this disturbing and complex character to his repertoire: “I have been excited for some time to sing my first Iago, and am thrilled to be doing it at one of my favorite opera houses in the world, the Zurich Opera. I cherish deeply the depth, complexity and inherent musicality of everything Giuseppe Verdi wrote. It is always such an honor to perform anything by this master.”

Shakespeare was one of Verdi’s greatest inspirations, and later this season Hampson will also play the title role in the composer’s Macbeth at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (March 15 – April 9). The Met production will mark the first time Hampson has performed this, one of his signature roles, for the company.

Hampson began his 2011-12 season at San Francisco Opera, where he created the role of Rick Rescorla in the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’s Heart of a Soldier to great critical acclaim:

“The cast was headed by baritone Thomas Hampson, who made Rick [Rescorla] a larger-than-life figure of easy physicality, agile phrasing and characteristically warm, expansive tone.”
– Opera News 9.10.11  [Georgia Rowe]

“But in just a few minutes of impassioned musical oratory, superbly delivered at Saturday’s world premiere by baritone Thomas Hampson, it captures everything – the heroism, the moral fervor, the staunch and committed love for one’s fellow humans…The cast was first-rate throughout – particularly Hampson, whose raffish charm and resplendent tonal gifts have rarely been put to such apt use. In his portrayal, you could hear and see a man able to lead soldiers into battle or brokers into a smoke-filled stairwell.”
– San Francisco Chronicle, 9.12.11 [Joshua Kosman]

“Thomas Hampson sang him with a style that captured the brash overconfidence of his youth and the more weary perspective of his maturity.”
–, 9.11.11 [Stephen Smoliar]

“Hampson chewed the scenery and sang magnificently… At the curtain call a few moments later, many still had tears in their eyes. The great baritone Thomas Hampson, a larger-than-life Rick Rescorla, won our hearts.”
– Los Angeles Times, 9.11.11 [Mark Swed]

“The casting for this production could hardly have been better, with baritone Thomas Hampson achieving a late-career triumph that was an unadulterated pleasure to experience. With enormous personal charisma, the singer imbues the role of Rescorla with heart, strength, charm and humor. It surely ranks among the most fully rounded portrayals on the operatic stage in recent memory. Vocally, too, Hampson rises to the occasion, singing with clear, robust tone and no sense of strain whatever.”
–, 9.12.11 [David Mermelstein]

“Revered American baritone Thomas Hampson is in remarkable form to handle the complexities of “Rick Escorla” whose story begins as a brazen young paratrooper in Cyprus and ends in middle age…”
–, 9.12.11 [Sean Martinfield]