Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Heaping Helping of Thomas Hampson (With a Side of Mahler)

One of the more awesome things about the Internet is the opportunity to see and hear many great (and not so great) singers in performance. So many events that in the past were only available to a few people are now available to pretty much anyone who's interested enough to check it out.

Another awesome thing is we are able to observe master singers coaching younger singers. The latest awesomeness is that the Distance Learning program of the Manhattan School of Music now has six years of Thomas Hampson's Master Class videos archived online. 

These master classes are an opportunity to hear some potential new opera stars, so we can say we knew them before they were famous. This is not usually an opportunity to hear the master sing, but to gain wisdom and insight from the advice and coaching they offer the student. If you are a singer, or actor, you can learn a lot just from observing. Even if you're not a singer, but an opera-goer and opera-lover, there's much to learn.

Not only do we learn what the young singer should do to enhance their performance, but we gain further knowledge of the master singer as well. Watching Joyce DiDonato coaching singers in a role she has sung (Handel's Sesto), or in a role she would like to sing (Rossini's Figaro) is a look into her own methods of entering a character. Her discussion of moving (or not moving) on stage has made me more observant when watching other performances: Why did that tenor raise his arm? Was it a character movement or a singer movement? How's he going discretely get it back down? He seems to be projecting singing technique instead of a character.

Anyway, back to Thomas Hampson, here is the link to the archived video for six years of his master classes for the Manhattan School of Music. I've not actually watched any of it yet, but I plan to very soon. Kathy commented on my blog that she thought he did a good job in this year's classes. And Bela shared her favorable impressions at her blog, Unexpected Song.

And since we're talking about him, here is a clip of Mr. Hampson singing Mahler:


  1. Rob, I have now watched all of the Hampson master classes. This archive is a real treasure. It was especially fascinating to watch the instrumental one. I expect Hampson to know something about singing, but his work with the instrumentalists was also very interesting. I hope they keep this project going, and perhaps add other singers working with students in the future.

    1. Kathy, thanks for the update. I didn't realize he coached instrumentalists, too. But it makes perfect sense!


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