Thomas Hampson Makes Met Role Debut as Verdi’s Iago, Premieres New Commissions from Hersch and Adamo, and More

This spring, Thomas Hampson’s U.S. engagements take him from opera house to concert and recital hall, and from Verdi and Mahler to the latest in contemporary American composition. The baritone makes his company role debut as Iago in Otello at the Metropolitan Opera (March 11) and premieres new chamber works by Michael Hersch (Feb 26) and Mark Adamo (April 24), before touring the latter to the Boston Celebrity Series (April 26) and New York’s Lincoln Center (April 28). Besides singing songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Indianapolis Symphony (Feb 22–23), his orchestral collaborations also take him back to Europe to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a star-studded gala benefit (April 10) and reprise the title role of Simon Boccanegra with the Vienna Symphony, in a concert performance that will be recorded for future album release (April 13 & 17).

In the opera house: first Iago at the Met

Hampson’s upcoming appearances in Otellomark his second Verdian Met role debut in as many seasons; last March he sang his first Macbeth for the company, impressing Opera Brittanica with his “energetic, fiercely committed performance,” while the Financial Times observed: “Hampson knows how to project incisive power on his own estimable terms, and he focuses the tragedy with abiding intelligence.”

It was also last season that the baritone made his role debut as Iago at Zurich Opera. As Opera News reported:

“[The] molding of the principal characters was so masterful that they emerged as our contemporaries. This was especially true of Thomas Hampson’s Iago, presented as an intellectual of the caliber of Henry Kissinger. Hampson declaimed his lines as if he had just passed the final exam of some rhetoric course, enjoying to the full every nuance of Verdi’s melodic prose, his voice projecting the text’s insinuations with the accuracy of a guided missile.”

Now Hampson resumes his portrayal of the Machiavellian Iago in the Met’s revival of Elijah Moshinsky’s “imposing 1994 production” (New York Times). Argentinean tenor José Cura co-stars in his signature role as Otello, with Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova as Desdemona, and Alain Altinoglu on the podium.

In recital, including world premieres of two new commissions

No stranger to new music, it was Hampson who created the starring role of Rick Rescorla in the world premiere production of Christopher Theofanidis’s Heart of a Soldier, which was written to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; the Los Angeles Times describes how “the great baritone Thomas Hampson, a larger-than-life Rick Rescorla, won our hearts.”

It is in recital, however, that the baritone – a passionate advocate of the art of song – debuts two new commissions from American composers this spring. The first of these is Domicilium by Michael Hersch (b.1971), “one of the most fertile musical minds to emerge in the U.S. over the past generation” (Financial Times). Set to poems by Thomas Hardy, Domicilium is a song cycle in four parts that marks the composer’s first vocal writing in over a decade. Hersch explains what drew him to the poet’s work: “At its best, Hardy’s writing exhibits a remarkable power and immediacy; an ability, at least for me, to cut to the bone of whatever subject he engages with.” Hampson gives the song cycle’s world premiere in recital with pianist Wolfram Rieger at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, on a program with Schumann’s beloved Liederkreis and selected songs by Samuel Barber (Feb 26).

Two months later, the baritone teams up with the Jupiter String Quartet to give the first performances of a second new commission, by Mark Adamo (b.1962), whose first opera, Little Women, was pronounced “a masterpiece” by the New York Times. A lyrical song cycle titled That Year, the new chamber work places vocal settings of four contemporary poems at the center of a surreal, modern, and intensely personal response to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” Coupled with selected lieder for baritone and string quartet by Hugo Wolf, That Year will receive its world premiere at UC Davis on April 24, followed by its East Coast premiere at Boston’s New England Conservatory on April 26, and its New York premiere in Alice Tully Hall two days later.

A high point for Hampson last season was the debut of the “Song of America” radio series, which explores the history of American culture through song. On March 3, the baritone will be joined by pianist Craig Rutenberg for a “Song of America” recital at the Tuesday Musical Association in Akron, OH, where their program will rangefar and wide across the American songbook, from Copland, Barber, and Ives to Hopkinson, Bowles, and Farwell. As the New York Times comments,

“Hampson conveys the idea of an oral tradition that it is his mission to pass on, with the closed-eyed intensity of a blind poet when he is singing, and the zeal of an evangelist when he is addressing the audience about its cultural heritage.”

Hosted by the singer and co-produced by his Hampsong Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network, the “Song of America” radio series has proven to be extremely popular, having aired on 311 radio stations and in nine out of the top ten markets in the U.S. According to data gathered by the WFMT Radio Network, the series reached approximately 5.3 million listeners in the U.S. and was one of the WFMT Radio Network’s most successful series.  Song of America was also made available by the European Broadcasting Union to its 48 member stations in 2012, and it reached another 3.1 million listeners abroad. Stations outside of the United States that aired the series included Raidió Teilifís Éireann (Ireland’s national public service broadcaster), New Zealand Public Radio (NZPR), and public radio stations in Croatia, Romania, Denmark, Latvia, Serbia, the Czech Republic, and Germany.

In the concert hall in Indianapolis, Amsterdam, Vienna, and more

Mahler is arguably the composer with whom Hampson is most closely associated. Internationally recognized as “one of the composer’s leading interpreters” (Guardian, UK), the baritone’s 2010 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Mahler’s orchestral song settings from Des Knaben Wunderhorn was welcomed by Fanfare magazine as “one to treasure for years to come.” Similarly, London’s Daily Telegraph declared:

Mahler’s whole world is here rendered in a fabulously piercing and tender performance. … [Hampson is] on superb form, catching the music’s emotional complication as well as its folk-like simplicity.

The Indiana-born baritone returns to Des Knaben Wunderhorn for his two upcoming dates with the Indianapolis Symphony and Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro, at the orchestra’s home on February 22 and the following day at DePauw University in Greencastle, where he also gives one of his famed master classes (Feb 24).

It is again with Mahler that Hampson tours Europe this month, singing his orchestral song cycle Kindertotenlieder alongside Dvorák’s Zigeunermelodien with the conductorless chamber orchestra Wiener Virtuosen, in Merano, Italy (Feb 11), Bern (Feb 12), Zurich (Feb 13), Innsbruck (Feb 15), and Vienna (Feb 17).

Selections from Mahler’s song cycles are on the program once more when the baritone joins Amsterdam’s Royal Concertbouw Orchestra, chief conductor Mariss Jansons and fellow special guests Lang Lang and Janine Jansen for a gala benefit to celebrate the venerable orchestra’s 125th anniversary on April 10.

Three days later, Hampson heads to the Vienna Symphony, where Massimo Zanetti will lead a concert performance of Simon Boccanegra that will be recorded for future CD release. The baritone will reprise his portrayal of the title character, which has become something of a signature role; when he last embodied Verdi’s Doge at Lyric Opera of Chicago, veteran critic John von Rhein concluded that “at a time when true Verdi baritones are a rare commodity, he gave an impressive and deeply considered performance in this touchstone Verdi role” (Chicago Tribune). In Vienna, Hampson will head a strong cast that also features Joseph Calleja and Luca Pisaroni.

A list of the baritone’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information is available at www.thomashampson.com.

Thomas Hampson: spring engagements

Feb 11
Merano, Italy
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
Dvorák: “Zigeunermelodien”
Wiener Virtuosen

Feb 12
Bern, Switzerland
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
Dvorák: “Zigeunermelodien”
Wiener Virtuosen

Feb 13
Zurich, Switzerland
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
Dvorák: “Zigeunermelodien”
Wiener Virtuosen

Feb 15
Innsbruck, Austria
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
Dvorák: “Zigeunermelodien”
Wiener Virtuosen

Feb 17
Vienna, Austria
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
Dvorák: “Zigeunermelodien”
Wiener Virtuosen

Feb 22
Indianapolis, IN
Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra / Joana Carneiro

Feb 23
Greencastle, IN
DePauw University
Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra / Joana Carneiro

Feb 24
Greencastle, IN
DePauw University
Master class

Feb 26
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Performances
Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 39; Barber: song selections; Hersch: Domicilium (world premiere)
Recital with Wolfram Rieger

March 3
Akron, OH
Tuesday Musical Association
Master Class

March 3
Akron, OH
Tuesday Musical Association
“Song of America” recital with Craig Rutenberg, piano

March 11, 15, 20, 23 & 30
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera / Alain Altinoglu
Verdi: Otello (Iago)

April 4–7
Heidelberg, Germany
Frühling – Stadthalle
Lied Academy Masterclasses

April 10
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
125th Anniversary Benefit Gala
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Mariss Jansons
With Lang Lang and Janine Jansen

April 13 & 17
Vienna, Austria
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra in concert (title role)
Wiener Symphoniker / Massimo Zanetti

April 24
Davis, CA
Mondavi Center
Mark Adamo: That Year for baritone and string quartet (2012, world premiere)
Wolf: Selected Lieder for baritone and string quartet
Chamber concert with Jupiter String Quartet

April 26
Boston, MA
Celebrity Series
Mark Adamo: That Year for baritone and string quartet (2012, East Coast premiere)
Wolf: Selected Lieder for baritone and string quartet
Chamber concert with Jupiter String Quartet

April 27
Boston, MA
New England Conservatory
Master Class

April 28
New York, NY
Chamber Music Society
Mark Adamo: That Year for baritone and string quartet (2012, NY premiere)
Wolf: Selected Lieder for baritone and string quartet
Chamber concert with Jupiter String Quartet

 

 

February 11th, 2013   |  Permalink  |  Filed under: News

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