(Continued from Part 1)
EM: Let’s now transition into opera. I of course remember with great fondness and was deeply impressed with your debut at the Met, which I was able to see from the pit. Since then opera has been, to me, as large an identification with your persona as anything else. I’d love to talk about how you love to sing Strauss and Verdi. Do you lean toward Verdi, or do you feel equally passionate about Strauss?
TH: I’m not sure I really prefer one or the other composer but for several years I can say that I’ve enjoyed the ability to only sing operas that passionately engage me. I can only give my body and mind and voice to characters in which I find my connection. They don’t have to be nice people, they have to be important people. Don Giovanni is a deeply disturbing person, but he’s very important, because we all have Giovanni inside of us. I’m not very good with my favorite this or that, but the musical languages of Verdi, Wagner, Mahler and Strauss are so demonstrably different from one another, that is both the challenge and, quite frankly, the excitement for me. It keeps you on your toes, it keeps you on your edge, you’re always rethinking things. Singing Boccanegra and singing Mandryka (Arabella) couldn’t be any more different a challenge than you could want as a singer. And to some extent, going back to classical music’s own worst enemy, this whole fach mentality, this idea what kind of voice should sing this or that, we get ourselves caught up in the unnecessary. So pertaining to that system, that I would sing both Boccanegra and Mandryka is a curious juxtaposition. I love that challenge. That’s just where I live. I love assuming those two different personas, trying to understand and meet the challenges of those two great composing masters. I also loved singing Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride and I’m equally passionate about contemporary opera.
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.