05/03/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT
The voice mesmerizes. But the mind wanders...to that hair, those piercing eyes, that grin. It's impossible to stay focused on a baritone—even one as full-bodied as Thomas Hampson's—when it emanates from a body so full of visual distractions. Opera buffs call him Thomas Handsome, and critics laud the Grammy nominee's looks as much as his lieder: "He combines the stature of an Arnold Schwarzenegger and the debonair charm of a Cary Grant." As mezzo-soprano Marilyn Home says, "He's got brains, good looks, dedication and presence. Nothing's missing."
He sounds good too. Widely regarded as one of the great operatic talents of his generation ("He is indecently gifted," says the Los Angeles Times), the 37-year-old divorced father of a daughter has a repertoire that ranges from Don Giovanni to Kiss Me Kate. Raised in Spokane, Wash., he has settled in music-rich Vienna, where he resides with fiancée Countess Andrea Heber-stein and her three children. "We live as if we are married," he says, "and I assume we will be one day."
If, that is, there's time for a wedding between performing and recording (his album of Stephen Foster songs is a top seller): Last year, Hampson spent just 30 days in Vienna. He says he's sustained by yoga, a vegetarian diet and vitamins. But the secret of the sound-and-sight spectacle that Hampson turns into onstage is beyond beta-carotene. "I am young," he says. "It is an exciting life, and I am passionately interested in what I am doing."