Beginning March 11, Thomas Hampson gives his company role debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera as the treacherous Iago in Verdi’s Otello (five performances through March 30). Hampson first sang the role at Zurich Opera in fall 2011, and it joins other key Verdi roles – including Simon Boccanegra and, last season, Macbeth – that Hampson has sung in recent seasons at the Met. Hampson joins Argentinian tenor José Cura (Otello) and Krassimira Stoyanova (Desdemona) for this, Verdi’s penultimate opera, which received its triumphant world premiere (20 curtain calls for the composer!) at Milan’s La Scala in February 1887. Hampson discusses his first Met Iago in the commentary that follows:
I am tremendously excited to be returning to the Met again this season. Last year, we celebrated 25 years since my debut with the company, and I was deeply moved by their show of affection for me and for their years of generous support. To sing in a Met Otello is a milestone in any singer’s career, and I’ve waited for quite some time to sing Iago because I think you need a lot of experience with other Verdi roles to begin to understand it. I’ve come to really love this role, which I was very afraid of at first. But it really fits my vocal and theatrical abilities, perhaps even better than some of the other bigger Italian repertoire that I’ve done at the Met. José Cura and I have done these roles together often, including last season in Zurich. He’s a very dynamic, unpredictable, and exciting performer on stage, and one of the nicest colleagues you can work with. Krassimira Stoyanova is an old friend and one of my closest colleagues in the business. We’ve worked together frequently in Europe and she is one of the most beautiful and classy singers in the business today. If you really want to learn about singing, just listen to what she can do. Our conductor is Alain Altinoglu, a shooting star if there ever was one – he is very energetic and extremely capable. I’ve seen this classic Met production many times, and look forward to what promises to be an extremely gratifying experience for both the performers and audience alike.