OPERA / Tall, dark and Hampson

Thomas Hampson is the thinking man’s baritone, equally at ease in everything from Mahler to American musicals. But, asks Edward Seckerson, isn’t he just a bit too good to be true?

When they start genetically engineering singers, the romantic baritone will be cloned from Thomas Hampson. As operatic heroes go, this one was made to measure: a gentle giant of a Marcello, a dashing, streetwise Figaro, a swaggering Don Giovanni, a debonair Count Danilow. And if Hollywood were still making musicals like they used to, then Howard Keel would be looking over his shoulder to see how many brides Hampson could hitch under one arm. Central Casting should be so lucky. And the voice: a healthy, pliant, wide-ranging baritone with the uplift of a tenor – all friendly persuasion and disarming ease.

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