Critical acclaim for Rufus Wainright’s Hadrian (World Premiere)

“In the title role, Thomas Hampson is stellar. His strong body, handsome face, and kind smile is suited perfectly to the beloved Emperor. He plays his Hadrian as proper, reserved, and polite yet with this undercurrent of charisma roiling beneath the surface. The singing is outstanding. Often skirting the line between operatic and musical theatre production (similar to Wainwright’s score), Hampson takes us on a viable emotional journey in an accessible and visceral way; his aria in Act II reveals layer after layer of a man torn between honoring his true self and the conquering, ever-masculine Roman Emperor at the time of Jesus’s rise to prominence.”


“Thomas Hampson is magnificent as Hadrian, bringing expressive depth and broken regality to the ailing emperor, caught between Turbo and Plotina’s counsel and a paralyzing grief over Antinous. He makes excellent use of the range given to his character: at the opera’s outset, Hadrian remains collapsed on the floor, singing only his lover’s name in a melancholic, exhausted voice (Act I sees Hampson singing for lengthy periods of time while seated, an affecting and demanding choice from director Peter Hinton). His grief—though often present—is never one-note, but layered. When he goes back in time to the night he first met Antinous, he is a man transformed, his voice rich and full of vigour.”

Opera Canada

“There was honest chemistry between Thomas Hampson (Hadrian) and Isaiah Bell (Antinous); Hampson is an endearing mix of vigorous and weathered, and Bell has a gorgeous arc from young caution to mature confidence. And perhaps this is the first time I’ve thought this in an opera, but the sex scene – much hyped and beautifully done, I thought – helped us connect with the two men.”

The Globe and the Mail

“Hadrian is a huge sing, and Thomas Hampson at age 63 did an amazing job… he sang strongly and indefatigably, commanding the stage with a mix of regal dignity and vulnerability.”

Ludvig van

“A courageous performance”

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

“Toronto playwright Daniel MacIvor provides us with a simple plot: the early-second-century Roman emperor (excellently sung by American baritone Thomas Hampson)…”

The Star

“Renowned American baritone Thomas Hampson makes his COC debut in the title role. He delivered solid singing throughout…”

My Scena

“Hampson is solid as a rock in his portrayal, and for the most part the one we’re watching throughout.”