Thomas Hammons sadly left us yesterday.
My wife, Kimberly and I became friends with Tom and his wife, Veronique sometime after we moved to Cincinnati. We shared many good times together.
I reviewed Tom on my blog three times, both in performances with the Dayton Opera and with the Cincinnati Opera. In all cases I was impressed by his terrific acting chops and his excellent vocalism in roles that often go to comprimarios with little or no voice left.
Tom had an excellent bass-baritone voice that allowed him to sing roles that would never go to a buffo singer. He was a peerless Benoit/Alcindoro in La Bohème and a touching and amusingly grumpy Mr. Kofner in Menotti’s The Consul. And in the Cincinnati Opera’s Ariadne auf Naxos he stole every scene he was in, as the boss’s officious manservant.
Tom created important roles in John Adams’ Nixon in China and in The Death of Klinghoffer which he went on to perform in Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, Lyons, Vienna, and throughout Canada and the United States. He made his début at the Metropolitan Opera as the Sacristan in Tosca during the 1996–1997 season, and then returned every season thereafter in performances of Andrea Chénier, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Billy Budd, La Bohème, Dialogues des Carmélites, Die Fledermaus, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, The Merry Widow and Le Nozze di Figaro.
The old cliché goes ”There are no small parts… only small actors” and I could not think of anyone who better exemplifies this bit of theatrical philosophy than my dear friend, Tom Hammons: a huge talent in any of the scores of roles – large or small – he played with the same amount of detail and humanity.
Rafael de Acha