Thomas Hampson Sings Title Role in Berg’s Wozzeck for First Time in Career at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (March 6–22)

“A searching interpreter, aware of the meaning and possible ambiguities of every phrase he sings.” – BBC Music magazine

Following an extensive European tour with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Thomas Hampson returns to the U.S. to make his role debut as the eponymous antihero of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, opening March 6 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. In adding this new and emotionally wrenching role to his repertory, Hampson once again displays the “ceaseless curiosity” (New York Times) and “probing mind” (Financial Times) that have made him one of the most respected singers on the opera stage today. Hampson is joined in the new adventure by soprano Deborah Voigt, also making her role debut as Marie in Mark Lamos’s “arrestingly abstract” (New York Times) staging, and Met music director James Levine – one of the work’s most passionate advocates – on the podium. The production marks Hampson’s third Met role debut in as many seasons, following performances last year of Iago in Verdi’s Otello and in the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth the previous season. The fifth and final performance of Wozzeck this season will be broadcast live on Saturday, March 22 in the Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast series on WQXR 105.9 FM and online at

A recent feature by Michael Cooper in the New York Times sets the work in the context of its origins in World War I, and gives a grim preview of the psychological world that the lead character inhabits:

“Although it is based on a 19th-century play by Georg Büchner, Wozzeck was informed by Berg’s own experiences during the war, and its bleak violence and sense of alienation, isolation and dehumanization had a special resonance for postwar audiences. Mr. Watkins, in his book [Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War], quotes a letter that Berg – whose health gave out soon after he joined the army and who wound up with an office job in the War Ministry – wrote in 1918 identifying with the character of Wozzeck, a soldier plagued by visions who is victimized by a doctor, who ultimately kills the mother of his child and then drowns. ‘There is a bit of me in this character,’ Berg’s letter reads, ‘since I have been spending these war years just as dependent on people I hate, have been in chains, sick, captive, resigned, in fact humiliated.’”

Hampson discusses the role’s manifold challenges – musical and otherwise – in a lengthy interview with Marilyn Horne for WQXR’s Operavore program, which will air on Saturday, March 22 at 12:30pm (EST), half an hour before the matinee performance will be broadcast live on the station. In that interview, Hampson discusses the work’s connection to the music of Gustav Mahler, a composer closely identified with Hampson and an inspiration to Berg, who dedicated Wozzeck to Mahler’s widow Alma. Hampson enjoys close ties with Marilyn Horne through their shared love and championship of the art of the song recital. Horne was herself one of the great interpreters of the role of Marie in Berg’s uncompromising masterpiece.

Hampson’s opera performances this season have thus far included the title role in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at the Vienna State Opera, Giorgio Germont in Verdi’s La traviata at the Bavarian State Opera, and Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal, both at Lyric Opera of Chicago and in a concert performance of the opera’s third act with the National Symphony in Washington, DC.

In October, Decca released a recording of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, with Hampson in the title role, which was recently named a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice.” The magazine praised the album – captured live at Vienna’s famed Konzerthaus – for “performances that don’t just measure up to the recorded history but shine different kinds of light on the opera,” noting, “[Hampson] can emit a true Doge roar. … His Lieder-like sense of detail reveals the role in three dimensions with great concision and no excessive fussing with the vocal line.” The Guardian observes, “[Hampson] brings his sharp intellectual focus to bear on the contrast between the private man and the public figure,” while BBC Music calls Hampson “a searching interpreter, aware of the meaning and possible ambiguities of every phrase he sings.”

Later this spring, Hampson sings Mandryka in a new production of Richard Strauss’s Arabella at the Salzburg Easter Festival, opposite Renée Fleming in the title role, with Christian Thielemann conducting (April 12 & 21).

A list of Hampson’s upcoming engagements follows, high-resolution photographs are available here, and additional information is available at


Thomas Hampson: upcoming 2014 engagements

Jan 25–Feb 9
Amsterdam Sinfonietta
European tour

Brahms, Schubert, Wolf, and Barber

Jan 25: Ludwigsburg, Germany (Forum am Schlosspark)
Jan 26: Munich, Germany (Prinzregententheater)
Jan 28: Amsterdam, Netherlands (Concertgebouw)
Jan 29: Dublin, Ireland (National Concert Hall)
Jan 31: Zug, Switzerland (Church of St. Oswald)
Feb 1: Gstaad, Switzerland (St. Mauritius Church of Saanen)
Feb 2: Friedrichshafen, Germany (Graf-Zeppelin-Haus)
Feb 4: Hamburg, Germany (Laeiszhalle)
Feb 5: Bilbao, Spain (Sociedad Filarmónica)
Feb 6: Madrid, Spain (Teatro Real)
Feb 8: Oviedo, Spain (Auditorio Príncipe Felipe)
Feb 9: Lisbon, Portugal (Cultural Center of Belém)

Feb 23
New York, NY
Manhattan School of Music
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

March 6, 10, 13, 17& 22
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera / James Levine
Berg: Wozzeck (title role; role debut)

April 12 & 21
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Easter Festival / Christian Thielemann
Strauss: Arabella (Mandryka)

April 27
Brussels, Belgium
Palais des Beaux-Arts
Strauss recital

May 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 27 & 30
London, England
Royal Opera House / Teodor Currentzis
Puccini: Tosca (Scarpia)

May 29
Dresden, Germany
Matinee concert with The Philharmonics

June 5
Paris, France
Théâtre du Châtelet
With Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone and Christian Koch, piano
Duo recital

June 11
Baden-Baden, Germany
Baden-Badener Philharmonie / Pavel Baleff
With Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone
Duo concert

June 14
Essen, Germany
Baden-Badener Philharmonie / Pavel Baleff
With Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone
Duo concert

June 18
Vienna, Austria
Orchestre de l’Opera de Paris / Philippe Jordan

June 23 & 27
Vienna, Austria
Vienna Staatsoper / Franz Welser-Möst
Puccini: Tosca (Scarpia)

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