November sees Thomas Hampson – a recent inductee into the Gramophone Hall of Fame – return to Lyric Opera of Chicago to help celebrate the Wagner bicentennial, singing Amfortas in the company’s new production of Parsifal (Nov 9–29). Wagner’s conflicted ruler is one of the baritone’s signature roles, and earlier this month he joined Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony for a concert rendition of the opera’s final act. The results, according to the Washington Times, were a “revelation.” Awarding the concert full marks, the review singled out Hampson’s performance as “genuinely electrifying, yet moving at the same time.” Similarly, while impressed by the concert as a whole, the Washington Post nonetheless felt that “it was Thomas Hampson’s Amfortas who showed everyone how it is done.He effectively carried the end of the evening.” The Washington Times spoke for many in concluding: “We can confidently assure Lyric Opera patrons that their Amfortas will not disappoint.”

As the New York Times noted when the baritone sang the role at the Met, “Hampson has made something of a specialty of the agonized, desperate Amfortas.” Explaining his conception of the complex role, Hampson says:

 “The core of Amfortas’s despair is that he has betrayed himself, his own soul, his own heart, his own existence. He must find a way to make himself whole again. In some ways it’s a wound that can be closed only by [Parsifal], who understands and forgives him as he forgives himself—that is the essence of compassion.”

Lyric’s new production comes courtesy of two-time Tony Award-winner John Caird and designer Johan Engels. Hampson will be joined by Richard Tucker Award-winning tenor Paul Groves and mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, making their respective role debuts as Parsifal and Kundry, with bass Kwangchul Youn as Gurnemanz, and Sir Andrew Davis on the podium.

For more information about the new production and to purchase tickets go to: www.lyricopera.org

 

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In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.

Thomas Hampson