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Thomas Hampson premieres Mark Adamo’s “Aristotle” at UC Davis on Wed, April 24

America’s foremost baritone,” according to the International Herald Tribune, “Thomas Hampson might well be called the ambassador of the American song to the world.” The singer now looks forward to giving the world premiere performance of a new song commission from one of America’s principal younger composers, Mark Adamo. Scored for baritone and string quartet, Adamo’s Aristotle (2013) was written for Hampson to sing with the Jupiter String Quartet. After giving its world premiere performance together at UC Davis on Wednesday, April 24, they will tour the new work to Boston’s Celebrity Series (Fri, April 26) and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, where they will present its New York premiere on Sunday, April 28.
Italian-American composer Mark Adamo (b. 1962) is best known for his operas Little Women and Lysistrata; the New Yorker’s Alex Ross calls him “one of the best opera composers of the moment.” Yet Adamo’s exceptional ear for vocal writing also lends itself to other lyric forms, as already evidenced by his settings of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, his song cycle The Racer’s Widow, and his cantata, Late Victorians. For Hampson, “[Adamo’s] ability to write lyric music” makes for “some of the most extraordinary music being written today.”
Adamo’s new chamber work, Aristotle, is the setting of a poem of the same name by former national Poet Laureate Billy Collins, which explores the nature of beginnings (where “almost anything can happen”), middles (“the sticky part where the plot congeals”), and the ends that are, “according to Aristotle, what we have all been waiting for.” Shedding light on the poem’s appeal to him as a composer, Adamo explains:
“If you’re awarded the privilege of making music for a singing actor the caliber of Thomas Hampson, and for young musicians of the caliber of the Jupiters, one wants to compose a piece that is both a substantial monologue and a structurally rewarding string quartet at the same time. Billy Collins’s pellucid Aristotle made that possible. The range of Collins’s images nudged the string writing into new (for me) colors and registers while demanding each movement retain its own character.”
For Hampson’s upcoming appearances at the Mondavi Center in Davis, Boston’s Jordan Hall, and New York’s Alice Tully Hall, he will be joined by the Jupiter String Quartet, which recently impressed the Washington Post with its combination of “freewheeling excitement and precise ensemble playing.” Besides giving the first performances of Aristotle together, Hampson and the quartet will also team up at all three venues for selected Lieder by Hugo Wolf.
The new commission marks the baritone’s second world premiere of 2012-13, which is the fourth consecutive season in which he will have presented world or North American premieres. As Hampson confides, he considers himself “so blessed to have the kind of career where I can do so much of the great standard repertoire with the world’s best conductors but also get to work with so many important composers of our own time.”
Hampson was most recently seen at the Vienna Symphony, giving concert performances in the title role of Simon Boccanegra that were recorded for future release on the Decca label (April 13 & 17). Verdi’s Doge has become something of a signature role; at Lyric Opera Chicago, John von Rhein concluded that “at a time when true Verdi baritones are a rare commodity, [Hampson] gave an impressive and deeply considered performance in this touchstone Verdi role” (Chicago Tribune). The baritone next looks forward to reprising his portrayal at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he will headline a production of Simon Boccanegra by Elijah Moshinsky, with Antonio Pappano on the podium (June 27–July 16).
A list of Hampson’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information is available at
Thomas Hampson: upcoming engagements
April 24
Davis, CA
Mondavi Center
Chamber concert with Jupiter String Quartet
Mark Adamo: Aristotle for baritone and string quartet (2013, world premiere)
Wolf: Selected Lieder for baritone and string quartet
April 26
Boston, MA
Celebrity Series
Jordan Hall
Chamber concert with Jupiter String Quartet
Mark Adamo: Aristotle for baritone and string quartet (2013, East coast premiere)
Wolf: Selected Lieder for baritone and string quartet
April 28
New York, NY
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Alice Tully Hall
Chamber concert with Jupiter String Quartet
Mark Adamo: Aristotle for baritone and string quartet (2013, New York premiere)
Wolf: Selected Lieder for baritone and string quartet
May 8, 11, 14 & 17
Vienna, Austria
Wiener Staatsoper
Verdi: La traviata (Giorgio Germont)
May 23
Istanbul, Turkey
Lutfi Kirdar ICEC
Mahler Songs & Opera Arias
Borusan Philharmonic / Sascha Goetzel
May 25
Samsun, Turkey
Gala Concert
Songs by Porter, Massenet, Kalman
Samsun Opera Orchestra / Lorenzo Castriota Skanderbeg
June 27; July 1, 3, 10, 13 & 16
London, UK
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra (title role)
Royal Opera House/ Antonio Pappano
July 6
Munich, Germany
Verdi Concert
Rolando Villazón / Yannick Nézet-Séguin
July 7
Birmingham, UK
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra in concert (title role)
Royal Opera House / Antonio Pappano
July 31
Munich, Germany
Wagner: Parsifal (Amfortas)
Bayerische Staatsoper / Kent Nagano
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© 21C Media Group, April 2013

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