Thomas Hampson's 60th birthday celebrated with 'Autograph' series boxed set
In June 2015, Thomas Hampson celebrates his 60th birthday. The American baritone’s international career was launched in 1981, when he joined the Deutsche Opera am Rhein in Düsseldorf, and he is renowned for the beauty and intelligence of his singing in opera and concert, and for his scholarly exploration of song – not least through his Hampsong Foundation, which propagates the art form.
His new Autograph anthology, released in March, affirms his particular reputation for Austro-German and American song. Not only does he perform these genres superbly, but he has funded the publication of a new critical edition of Mahler songs and launched the US Library of Congress’s ‘Song of America’ project in cooperation with his foundation.
In opera, as the box set demonstrates, he has progressed from the dashing Kavalierbariton roles of Mozart, through roles such as Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet and Britten’s Billy Budd to the larger-scale challenges of Verdi and Wagner. He also makes forays into oratorio and operetta and onto Broadway.
Drawing on the EMI, Erato and Teldec catalogues, each Autograph box focuses on a single artist, providing a biographical panorama of his or her career through a series of thematically programmed CDs and fascinating documentation. Each collection - which tracklisting is personally curated by the artist - is devised in collaboration with the artist in question, who also features in a specially-recorded exclusive interview. Illustrated with musical extracts to illuminate the artist’s life and work, the interviews are conducted by the distinguished journalist and broadcaster Jon Tolansky.
The Autograph series includes boxed sets dedicated to José van Dam and Angela Gheorghiu. See more here.
16 February 2015
Introducing the Autograph series: José van Dam, Thomas Hampson, Angela Gheorghiu
Warner Classics this month launches its Autograph Series: biographical overviews of acclaimed artists’ careers in themed compilations, created in close collaboration with the artists themselves, and featuring exclusive new recordings of them discussing their lives in music. This new initiative commences with boxed sets celebrating anniversaries in the lives of three of the most highly distinguished and best-loved opera singers of the last several decades: the 75th birthday of bass-baritone José van Dam, the 25th anniversary of the stage debut of soprano Angela Gheorghiu, and the 60th birthday of the baritone Thomas Hampson.
Drawn from the EMI, Erato and Teldec catalogues, each boxed set explores several themes – José van Dam’s ‘Devils’ from Mephistopheles in Faust to The Tales of Hoffmann, Angela Gheorghiu’s ‘Femmes Fatales’ (Carmen, Manon, Dalilah), Thomas Hampson’s ‘Fathers and Fanatics’ (Monfort, Germont, Boccanegra) and more.
Additionally, each box features an 80-minute Interview Portrait bonus CD in which the artists recall their lives and careers and discuss many of the operatic roles and concert melodies, lieder and arias included in the collections. These in-depth conversations have been recorded exclusively for the new Warner Classics Autograph Series with opera specialist Jon Tolansky. Furthermore, the Angela Gheorghiu box includes a DVD with performance extracts and a never-before-released interview with film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli.
The curator of the Autograph Series and the producer of the Interview Portrait bonus CDs is Jon Tolansky, who says: “The thematic programming also brings a revealing added dimension to the interview CDs, where we hear such uniquely telling insights from these great artists, and this enlightenment is further enhanced when Franco Zeffirelli illustrates Angela Gheorghiu’s especial qualities in the context of his invaluable comments about opera production.”
'Autograph' Release dates: José van Dam (10CD) – 16th February Thomas Hampson (12CD) – 2nd March Angela Gheorghiu (8CD + DVD)– 6th April
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