Obituary: Legendary Director Michael Hampe Dies at 87

By Francisco Salazar

The Deutsche Oper am Rhein has announced the death of Dr. Michael Hampe who passed away on Nov. 18, 2022 at the age of 87.

Born in Heidelberg on June 3, 1935, Hampe was the son of the architect Hermann Hampe and Annemarie née Ebler. Hampe attended the humanist Gymnasium in Heidelberg and spent a year in the United States, where he studied chamber music as a cellist at Syracuse University, New York with Louis Krasner After graduating, he studied acting at the Otto-Falckenberg-Schule in Munich and also studied dramatics and musicology at the Heidelberg University and in Munich.

Following his studies, he started working as an actor and stage director in German and Swiss theatres followed.

In 1972, he became the director of the Nationaltheater Mannheim and in 1975 he took the position of General Director at the Cologne Opera where he stayed for 20 years. At the Cologne Opera he brought memorable productions of Richard Wagner and Gioachino Rossini’s works made the Cologne Opera a fixture in the world of opera. He also brought world premieres, television recordings and film adaptations, as well as international guest performances.

He left his position in 1995 and from 1983 to 1990, Hampe became a member of the board of directors of the Salzburg Festival. During his time in Salzburg staged productions, often in collaboration with the scenic designer Mauro Pagano.

Hampe also served as a guest director at major opera houses and festivals including the Royal Opera, La Scala in Milan, as well as in Paris, Munich, Athens, Stockholm, Helsinki, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Sydney and Tokyo, and at festivals in Florence, Pesaro, Ravenna, Drottningholm, Edinburgh and Lucerne Festival.

In 1993, he became the artistic director of the Dresden Music Festival which he held until 2000.

For his commitment to the arts, Hampe received numerous prizes including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Goldenes Ehrenzeichen des Landes Salzburg, and was named Commendatore of the Italian Republic. He was an honorary member of numerous organizations and federations.