Baritone Thomas Hampson is one of the most intellectually-inspiring artists in the opera world.
Born on June 28, 1955, the baritone is one of the most thoughtful and insightful people in the business. Just listen to an interview (see below).
The Indiana native sang as a child and studied at the Eastern Washington State College, majoring in political science and government. Then he went to Fort Wright College to earn a BFA in Voice Performance before studying at the Music Academy of the West, where he was a winner of the Lotte Lehmann Award. Then he continued his studies at the University of California. He then appeared at the Merola Opera Program and was one of the winners of the 1981 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
He earned a contract at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in the early 1980s, where he studied with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, who he had met at Merola. He slowly built up his career by singing smaller roles and gradually taking bigger assignments at smaller companies. In 1984, he appeared with the Zurich Opera and his career only grew from there.
Since then he has appeared with all the major opera companies around the world, under the greatest conductors. He has won a plethora of awards, including honorary doctors, the International Classical Music Award for Male Singer of the Year, Cannes Classical Music Award for Singer of the Year, EMI’s Artist of the Year, and a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. He has taken up time as a teacher and made a plethora of major recordings.
Thomas Hampson has done it all onstage. He’s a great interpreter of many of the famed Verdi roles and was also a renowned Mozart artist. In recent years, Strauss has become a fixture in his repertoire as well.
But his work in the recital hall is peerless. His work as a Mahlerian is among his best. And of course, Hampson is one of the true champions of American Song. His “Song of America” project collaboration with the Library of Congress, has earned him the unofficial title of “ambassador” of American Song. He has made a number of recordings to support his passion of American song.
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Watch and Listen
Here is a recital of Mahler.
And here are some American songs.
And for good measure, here he is in “Macbeth,” where you can appreciate not only his vocal intelligence, but his immersion as an actor.
And check out this interview.