On the heels of a summer season that took him from Prague and Salzburg to Tel Aviv, Santa Fe, Germany, and Croatia, Thomas Hampson heads into the 2012-13 season with a portfolio of exciting destinations and repertoire to match. The great American baritone performs at such storied opera houses as the Vienna State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, London’s Royal Opera House, and Zurich Opera – as well as the Metropolitan Opera, where he will make his second consecutive company role debut in as many seasons, portraying the treacherous Iago in Verdi’s Otello. Equally busy on the concert stage, he will sing with the world’s great orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Hailed as the ambassador of American song, Hampson will also present recitals in major music capitals both at home and abroad – from Vienna, Munich, and Basel to San Francisco, Boston, and New York – and will give audiences in several of those cities the opportunity to hear new works commissioned for him by composers Michael Hersch and Mark Adamo.
Hampson’s 2012-13 opera season commences in October with his return to Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he sings the title role in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra under Andrew Davis, a role he will reprise at Vienna’s Konzerthaus in April with conductor Nicola Luisotti and at London’s Royal Opera House in July under Antonio Pappano. The baritone takes the stage at Zurich Opera in December and January, performing Scarpia in Tosca (with conductor Marco Armiliato) and Wolfram in Wagner’s Tannhäuser (under Marc Albrecht), and in May he appears as Giorgio Germont in Verdi’s La traviata at the Vienna State Opera (led by Marco Armiliato). His Metropolitan Opera company role debut as Iago in Verdi’s Otello takes place in March, under the direction of Alain Altinoglu.
Hampson also has a busy and peripatetic 2012-13 concert season, beginning this week with performances of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Neeme Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Sept 13-14); in February, he will present songs from the composer’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra led by Joana Carneiro (Feb 22-23). The baritone also performs orchestral songs by Strauss, in concerts this month with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony (Sept 21-23) and again in January with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic (Jan 19). In October he headlines the annual gala of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, presenting the New York premiere of Noam Sheriff‘s Mechaye Hametim (The Revival of the Dead), together with Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre with the Collegiate Chorale and the Israel Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta. Hampson and these same forces caused a significant stir at this summer’s Salzburg Festival with this same program. In a front page New York Times review, critic James Oestreich reported, “Abetted by Mr. Hampson’s tour de force, in which he also served as narrator in the Schoenberg and spoke and sang in the Sheriff, the evening’s performances were everywhere excellent. … The concert was greeted warmly, even clamorously.”
Also this season, Hampson will take part in the New Year’s Gala with Rolando Villazón and Olga Peretyatko at Baden-Baden’s Festspielhaus; and in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s 125th anniversary gala in Amsterdam, together with Lang Lang, Janine Jansen, and Mariss Jansons (April). In February, he makes a European tour with the conductorless chamber orchestra Wiener Virtuosen, performing Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder.
A passionate advocate of the art of song, Hampson debuts two new commissions by American composers in recitals this season: Domicilium, a song cycle on poems of Thomas Hardy by Michael Hersch, which will have its world premiere in San Francisco (Herbst Theater, February 26); and a new work by Mark Adamo for baritone and string quartet, which will be premiered by Hampson and the Jupiter String Quartet at the Mondavi Center in Davis, CA (April) – with subsequent performances in New York and Boston.
Hampson also returns to the Heidelberger Frühling’s Lied Academy – of which he is the artistic director – for master classes, and performs recitals with long-time collaborators Craig Rutenberg and Wolfram Rieger at the Grafenegg Festival and in Munich, Basel, San Francisco, and other cities.
Hampson began last season at San Francisco Opera, where he created the role of Rick Rescorla in the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’s Heart of a Soldier, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Reviewing the opening night performance, the Los Angeles Times reported: “Hampson chewed the scenery and sang magnificently. … At the curtain call a few moments later, many still had tears in their eyes. The great baritone Thomas Hampson, a larger-than-life Rick Rescorla, won our hearts.” Hampson’s operatic engagements last season also encompassed role debuts as Iago in Verdi’s Otello and the title role in Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, both at Zurich Opera, and his house debut as Verdi’s Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera.
Among other previous season highlights were concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach, the Munich Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta, the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel, and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck. Hampson also gave recitals in the U.S., Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, including an engagement at the Salzburg Festival. He was also featured in the inaugural season of CNN’s “Fusion Journeys” series, which took him to South Africa for a musical exchange with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. A high point of the 2011-12 season was the debut of the “Song of America” radio series, co-produced by the Hampsong Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network. Hosted by Hampson, this series of 13 one-hour programs explores the history of American culture through song, and has aired in more than 200 U.S. markets.