When Thomas Hampson made his American role debut as Verdi’s Macbeth in 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle pronounced his portrayal an “unqualified triumph,” marveling: “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.” Now for the first time the baritone brings this signature role to the Metropolitan Opera, giving the first of six performances on March 15, when the company revives Adrian Noble’s “stylistically eclectic, grimly effective and, at times, intriguingly playful production” (New York Times).
Noble’s innovative staging, which sets Macbeth’s action in the years after the Second World War, is complemented by Mark Thompson’s set and costume design, with acclaimed Italian maestro Gianandrea Noseda on the podium. Joining Hampson on stage is German soprano Nadja Michael as Lady Macbeth, who sang the same role opposite him at Chicago’s Lyric Opera; the New York Review of Books confessed to never having seen a “better performed version than this, with the thunder-voiced Hampson and the sexy Michael at the top of their game.” Austrian bass Günther Groissböck sings Banquo, and tenor Dimitri Pittas reprises Macduff, the role in which he impressed the New York Times with his “melting sound and dramatic urgency” at the production’s opening run.
Of Verdi’s depiction of Shakespeare’s conflicted protagonist, Hampson says:
“I don’t know of anyone who writes better human expression in music than Verdi. It’s quite exhilarating. How you can hear in music a personality: that just fascinates me. He does everything to convey the psychological state of his characters. That is his genius. And Verdi is so adept at depicting the duality of Macbeth. He’s a very ambiguous character; you like him, you hate him. It’s not just black and white.”
Having starred in multiple Macbeth productions around the world, the baritone brings a wealth of experience to his interpretation of the title role. He explains:
“Since I know it well, I think I can go further with this part. The biggest advantage is that you gain a three-dimensional confidence…so that you can actually physically do something or project something that is ironic or contradictory to what the music and words are. It takes a lot of practice to do that. Also, just vocally, you grow into it. To sing opera is a complex endeavor.”
There will be an opportunity to hear the singer expound further when the Metropolitan Opera Guild honors Thomas Hampson with the third installment in its prestigious “Mastersingers” series. On March 22 at New York’s Hunter College, “Met Mastersingers: Thomas Hampson” presents the great baritone in an informal conversation with Paul Gruber, the Guild’s executive director of program development. The program will include video excerpts of Hampson’s most celebrated performances, a new video biography created for the occasion, and a performance by the baritone of some of his favorite songs. Gruber observes:
“I have enormous admiration and respect for Thomas Hampson, and am delighted that the Guild will celebrate him as this year’s ‘Met Mastersinger.’ In addition to having perhaps the most beautiful baritone voice of his generation, he has never rested in his quest to expand his musical horizons, as well as those of his audience. Thomas Hampson is the very definition of a mastersinger.”
Additional information about Thomas Hampson is available at www.thomashampson.com, and a list of his upcoming U.S. engagements follows.
Thomas Hampson: upcoming U.S. engagements
New York, NY
Vocal master class at the Manhattan School of Music
Miller Recital Hall and online at http://www.dl.msmnyc.edu
New York, NY
Borden Auditorium, Manhattan School of Music
Danielpour: Come up from the Fields, Father
MSM Chamber Sinfonia / Manahan
New York, NY
“Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS” Michael Palm Series
Opera program with baritone Luca Pisaroni and pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson
March 15, 20, & 24; April 2, 5, & 9
New York, NY
Verdi: Macbeth (title role)
Company role debut
Metropolitan Opera / Noseda
Parlance Chamber Concert Series
Chamber music program with colleagues from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
New York, NY
“Adventures in Italian Opera”
A conversation with Fred Plotkin at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò/NYU
(24 West 12th St, between 5th and 6th Aves; 212 998-8739)
New York, NY
“Met Mastersingers: Thomas Hampson”
The Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Paul Gruber joins Thomas Hampson to discuss his work, watch video excerpts of his performances, and hear him sing some favorite songs.
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College (68th St, between Park and Lexington Aves)
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.