Singers on Singing: Thomas Hampson
Thomas Hampson has the rare distinction of being an acclaimed master performer and also an esteemed scholar and pedagogue in the fields of both opera and song. The eclectic range of his repertoire in both genres is exceptionally wide, comprising over 80 roles in Italian, German, French, English, American, Russian and Polish operas, and some thousands of American and English songs, French chansons and German lieder. In the opera house he has made an equally strong impression as a dramatic stage actor and also a lyrical and dramatic singer in a very remarkable compass of repertoire extending from the 17th Century right up to the present day. He is especially one of the most highly extolled exponents of our time in both Verdi and Wagner roles, to which he brings a striking variety and command of contrasting stylistic and vocal characteristics.
An artist who has, as do all the greatest singers, a meticulously detailed finesse in expressive word inflection, his unusually broad-ranging linguistic and musical mastery arises from his deep preoccupation with the meanings and feelings in written and spoken texts of musical works, and this is one element he discusses in particular detail in the interview he recorded for this profile on his life and career in 2010.
He also traces the development of his life in singing right back to his early days growing up in Spokane, Washington, where his first major teacher was Sister Marietta Coyle, a pupil of Lotte Lehmann, and one of a number of outstandingly distinguished voice teachers he studied with, as he recounts. He also discusses his passionate commitment to the future of music through his panoramic educational operations, and of course he talks about the music that he performs in the profile, the details of which follow below.
Listen to the documentary immediately below (in two parts)
Musical excerpts included in this feature:
- “Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht” from Lieder eines fahrenden gesellen (Mahler), with conductor Leonard Bernstein
- “Fin ch’han dal vino” from Don Giovanni (Mozart)
- “Hai gia vinta la causa!……Vedro mentr’lo sospiro” from Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
- “Vada in flamme” from Macbeth (Verdi)
- Excerpt from Act 2 Scene II from La Traviata (Verdi), with Anna Netrebko
- Ford’s Monologue from Falstaff (Verdi)
- “Être ou ne pas être” from Hamlet (Thomas)
- Act 3 Final Scene from Hamlet (Thomas), with soprano June Anderson, mezzo soprano Denyce Graves, and bass baritone Jean-Philippe Courtis
- “Pietà, rispetto, amore” from Macbeth (Verdi)
- “Herr Oluf” from Drei Balladen, Op. 2 (Loewe), with pianist Geoffrey Parsons
- “Gute Nacht,” “Die Wetterfahne,” “Gefror’ne Tränen,” “Erstarrung,” “Der Lindenbaum,” and “Wasserflut” from Winterreise (Schubert), with Wolfgang Sawallisch
- “Maitanz in Grünen” (Mahler), with pianist David Lutz
- “Urlicht” from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Mahler), with Geoffrey Parsons
- “Der Tambourg’sell” from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Mahler), with Geoffrey Parsons
- “Der Tambourg’sell” from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Mahler), with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas
- “Beautiful Dreamer” (Foster), with Jay Ungar
- “Der Abschied” from Das Lied von der Erde (Mahler), with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas