Thomas Hampson’s blockbuster October at Lyric and Carnegie

This Month, Thomas Hampson Sings Boccanegra in Chicago and Joins Israel Philharmonic at Carnegie for Sheriff Premiere and Schoenberg

“Hampson is every inch a Boccanegra. … A very strong dramatic presence.” New York Sun 

Baritone Thomas Hampson – fresh from induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences – looks forward to a blockbuster October in the US. He will step into one of his favorite roles, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, for a Lyric Opera of Chicago production led by Sir Andrew Davis (Oct 15–Nov 9). Reviewing one of Hampson’s performances of Boccanegra at the Metropolitan Opera, a critic for the New York Post said: “Hampson is a natural Verdi singer, and his fine Boccanegra proved thoughtful, gaining in authority and telling vocal expressiveness as the evening went on.” Also this month, on October 18 Hampson will give one of his acclaimed “Song of America” recitals in Akron, Ohio, with longtime colleague Kevin Murphy. The singer joins the Collegiate Chorale and the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta at Carnegie Hall on October 25, for a concert featuring Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre and the New York premiere of Noam Sheriff’s Mechaye hametim – a program that was greeted rapturously when Hampson performed it with the same forces at the Salzburg Festival this summer.

Thomas Hampson in the title role of Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Hampson’s season brims with Verdi. In March, at the Metropolitan Opera, the baritone will make his second consecutive company role debut in a Verdi opera in as many seasons, portraying the treacherous Iago in Verdi’s Otello (last season, he sang the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth). And he will reprise his title role in Simon Boccanegra at Vienna’s Konzerthaus in April with conductor Nicola Luisotti and at London’s Royal Opera House in July under Antonio Pappano. About this month’s Boccanegra in Chicago, Hampson says:

“I have sung Boccanegra a lot in Europe. I haven’t sung it in a while, so I’m excited to be taking it up again. The cast in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production is perfect. It’s the same cast that we had for the last time that I did a run of it in Vienna, with Ferruccio Furlanetto as Fiesco and Krassimira Stoyanova as Amelia, but Frank Lopardo as Adorno will be a new partner for me. This is going to be a great Verdi opera for Sir Andrew Davis to do. If I were standing against a wall before a firing squad being forced to name my favorite opera, Simon Boccanegra would be one of the operas I would think of naming. Boccanegra is even more fundamentally a part of my musical and theatrical soul than Macbeth. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to do this at such a great theater as Lyric Opera of Chicago.”

A high point of last season for Hampson was the debut of the “Song of America” radio series, co-produced by the Hampsong Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network. Hosted by Hampson, this series of 13 one-hour programs explores the history of American culture through song, and it has aired in more than 200 US markets. He says about the project: “I get tremendous energy from it – and it gives me a sense of overwhelming artistic joy.” In Akron, Ohio, on October 18, Hampson and Kevin Murphy will give their “Song of America” recital at the E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. The program will range far and wide across the American songbook, from Copland, Barber, and Ives to Hopkinson, Bowles, and Farwell.

On October 25, Hampson headlines the annual gala of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, presenting the New York premiere of Noam Sheriff‘s Mechaye hametim (Revival of the Dead) and Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre with the Collegiate Chorale and the Israel Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. It was with this same program that Hampson and the team caused a significant stir at this summer’s Salzburg Festival. In a front page New York Times review, critic James Oestreich reported,

“Abetted by Mr. Hampson’s tour de force, in which he also served as narrator in the Schoenberg and spoke and sang in the Sheriff, the evening’s performances were everywhere excellent… . The concert was greeted warmly, even clamorously.”

Hampson launched his 2012-13 season in Europe, performing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Neeme Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande before returning stateside to sing Strauss orchestral songs with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette captured listeners’ lack of surprise at the excellence of Hampson’s Strauss performances: “You knew this artistic titan and his mahogany tone would be enrapturing.” The singer next looks forward to reprising Strauss’s songs in the New Year with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic (Jan 19).