Thomas Hampson returned last night to La Scala, where he has been a regular presence in recital for almost three decades. Extraordinarily, he has never sung an opera in Milan, but next month he will finally make his operatic debut as Don Giovanni. Last night, however, a full theatre was eager to hear him once again in a repertoire that he owns: German song.
The recital platform has always been an equal partner with the opera stage for Hampson, and his gift for this genre is rare. He knows each Lied intimately, speaks the language fluently, and has an impeccable vocal technique and musicality – the magical combination of the greats.
He began with Schumann’s 20 Lieder und Gesänge; 16 of these songs would later be known as Dichterliebe. The often-long codas to these Lieder have singers closing their eyes in contemplation; looking up to the gods, awestruck; watching the accompanist; or, heaven help us, turning the page. Hampson acts out every note with simple elegance.
A fine example was in Mein Wagen rollet langsam, where the closing piano part is almost as long as the sung section. During it, Hampson took the audience on a mini-journey and, as the last notes of the piano faded, he looked as though he was on the verge of saying something… which was exactly what he did as he began Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet which begins with only the voice, without piano accompaniment. A captivating moment.
Mein Wagen rollet langsam is not part of Dichterliebe, so this juxtaposition is not usually heard. It showed Hampson’s ability to convey a series of Lieder as a coherent whole and demonstrates exactly why you shouldn’t applaud until the very last note of a song cycle has died away. Ich grolle nicht did set a few clappers off: it’s probably part of a Schumann’s Greatest Hits album and, well, he did sing it winningly.
Hampson’s acting ability is fascinating to watch, though it is something that is surely easier to pull off when you have such a sensitive pianist at your side: Wolfram Rieger played with loving sensitivity throughout …
With “Serenade,” his first album exclusively dedicated to French song, Mr. Hampson brings his passion for works by French opera composers to the Pentatone label. Curated with the French Literature scholar Sylvain Fort and in a first collaboration with the Polish pianist Maciej Pikulski, the track listing includes romantic and introspective as well as humorous selections by Bizet, Chabrier, Chausson, Gounod, Magnard, Massenet, and Saint-Saëns, featuring texts written by some of France’s most revered writers including Victor Hugo, Paul Verlaine, Rosemonde Gérard, and others.
For more information about this CD, visit Mr. Hampson’s discography.
This recording is available exclusively from Pentatone’s website.
Thomas Hampson continues his summer season in Europe this month, as the featured soloist in two Gala Concerts in Germany. Mr. Hampson travels to Bremen to sing with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and conductor David Marlow at Knoops Park on August 11, part of the annual “Summer in Lesmona” Festival at the park. He follows this engagement with another Gala Festival Concert, this time with the Staatsorchester Hannover at the Staatsoper Hannover Opernhaus. The performance, hosted on August 19, features both Ivan Repušić and Mark Rohde leading from the podium, with a roster of more than 15 soloists from the company. Klaus Angermann hosts the evening, with proceeds benefitting the Staatsoper Hannover Foundation and its education programs. Works featured will preview the company’s upcoming 2017/18 season in arias, ensembles, and solo orchestral selections.
The critically lauded Deutsche Grammophon release of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, starring Thomas Hampson in a “wondrous” and “moving” (Online-Merker) portrayal of Count Almaviva, has been honored as the 2017 ECHO Klassik Award-winner in the “Best Opera Recording” (works up to or through the 17th/18th century) category. The album features a phenomenal roster of talent, including Mr. Hampson’s son-in-law Luca Pisaroni in the title role and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, all conducted by Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin. The ECHO Klassik Awards Gala takes place on October 29 at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg; tickets and more info can be found at ECHOKlassik.de.
Naxos has released a DVD recording of Verdi’s La Traviata, with an all-star cast featuring Marina Rebeka as Violetta Valéry, Francesco Demuro as Alfredo Germont and Thomas Hampson as his father, Giorgio Germont. Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson is at the podium, leading the NDR Radiophilharmonie.
Thomas Hampson returns to the Verbier Festival this month as a Verbier Academy Faculty member, presenting a series of Masterclasses. Focused on specific topics in singing, these Masterclasses will take place on July 21 & 22 (Opera) and July 23 & 24 (Lied/Art Song). The classes are open to the public – visit VerbierFestival.com for detailed programme information.
Thomas Hampson is a featured contributor to the newly launched platform MUSAIC, from the New World Symphony and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr. Hampson and other acclaimed artists, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, are featured in various site content including master classes, interviews, and more. Watch and learn today at musaic.nws.edu!
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.