Thomas Hammons

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

One thought on “Thomas Hammons

  1. Rafael,

    I met Tom in 1984, I believe, at Chautauqua. It was just an introduction at a social event, but his persona stuck with me.

    Shortly thereafter, we would begin working together off and on through the years, right through the production of The Consul in Dayton you mention in your memorial here.

    Tom was truly a Renaissance man, on stage and off – a protégé of Italo Tajo (in fact, the true keeper of the Tajo flame), an officianado of modern art, and an extraordinarily intelligent wit! Most recently, he had begun teaching role characterization to aspiring young artists.

    I would venture that anyone who met him, loved him. I certainly did.

    Grieving with the entire opera world,


    Kenneth Shaw Professor of Voice, CCM University of Cincinnati

    “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe


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