Sunday, August 12, 2018

Marco Vassalli returns to reprise acclaimed American debut program

Marco Vassalli's Barihunk photo shoot in France
German barihunk Marco Vassalli will be back in the United States to reprise his stunning U.S. debut with Musica Marin two years ago. In 2016, he premiered two works by composer-in-residence Clint Borzoni based on German poetry.

The first song is based on Hermann Hesse's Stufen and the second text Margere Kost is by the contemporary poet Hilde Domin. These are the first German language texts set by Borzoni. The premiere was so popular two years ago that a second performance had to be added. Demand has been so high that Vassalli has agreed to repeat the performance along with Samuel Barber's Dover Beach, which he also performed in his U.S. debut.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen" with over 16k views on YouTube!

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Magere Kost" with over 8k views on YouTube!

This year, Musica Marin is presenting their first festival setting and it will kick off on September 21st with Vassalli performing on a yacht on San Francisco Bay with food and wine prepared by “Best of the Bay” Chef Mark Furr. On the following day, Vassalli will repeat his performance of the Barber and Borzoni piece, all of which are set for string quartet and baritone, along with Johannes Brahms' String Sextet No. 2 in G Major Op. 36.

The Musica Marin International Chamber Music Festival performs masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire in various settings in the San Francisco Bay Area along with gourmet food and wines from Napa and Sonoma counties.

Tickets and additional information is available online. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sexy photos of Hadleigh Adams in Quartett; Opening today at West Edge Opera

Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
Bass-barihunk Hadleigh Adams is headling this year's West Edge Opera Summer Festival in Luca Francesconi’s Quartett, directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer. The enigmatic and controversial opera is based on the 1982 play by the [East] German playwright Heiner Muller (itself based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liasions dangereuses), which emphasized the author's abiding concerns, including the inherent cruelty of human existence, the way all relationships ultimately come down to struggles for possession and defeat of "the other."

Elkhanah Pulitzer is directing three performances, which opens tonight and has additional performances on August 16 and 19 at the Craneway Conference Center in Richmond, California, which is a former Ford assembly plant on the  San Francisco Bay designed by the legendary industrial architect Albert Kahn. West Edge Opera has become renowned for their choice of unusual and interesting locations to stage their operas.

Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
Hadleigh Adams will perform the role of the Vicomte de Valmont, joined by soprano Heather Buck as the Marquise de Merteuil. The Marquise de Merteuil and the Viscount de Valmont are trapped in a salon having renounced all sense of love and play seductive mind games taking on the roles of the lovers Tourvel and Volanges. Hence, the title Quartett.

Composer Luca Francesconi described the piece as a challenge to our ideas of opera, of society, of the dominance of Western thinking: “Don’t dare to come if you can't accept that you need to analyze what you do and who you are. This piece is violent, it’s sex, it’s blasphemy, it’s the absence of mercy.”
Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
The opera was originally commissioned by La Scala and has since been performed at the Royal Opera in London, Vienna, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Rouen, and at the Spoleto Festival. The score features two orchestras: a live chamber orchestra with electronics, and a recorded full orchestra and chorus created for the La Scala Premiere.

The remainder of West Edge Opera's season includes Claude Debussy’s lone opera Pélleas and Mélisande, with tenor David Blalock and Kendra Broom in the title roles, along with Efrain Solis as Golaud, contralto Malin Fritz as Geneviéve, and bass-baritone Philip Skinner singing the role of King Arkel. Remaining performances are on August 12 and17
Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
The final offering is Matt Marks and Paul Peers’ Mata Hari, which originally premiered at the New York’s Prototype Festival in January of 2017. The cast includes mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney as Sister Leonide,  tenor Samuel Faustine as Vadime, and Daniel Cilli, Nikolas Nackley and Jason Sarten as the military men that become Mata Hari’s lovers and targets. There is one remaining performance on August 18.

Tickets for all three shows are available online.

After Quartett, Hadleigh Adams returns to his home base at the San Francisco Opera to sing Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca this Fall with Carmen Giannattasio in the title role and tenor Brian Jagde as her lover. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Watch Erwin Schrott as Offenbach's four villains from DNO

Erwin Schrott as 2 of 4 Offenbach villains (Images: Dutch National Opera)
Conductor Carlo Rizzi and German director Tobias Kratzer have created a revised version of Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, which may upset some purists. Using a variety of versions of the opera, the duo reduced some of the spoken dialogue and left out some popular numbers, including the villain’s aria “Scintille, diamant” and the septet.

This means that you won't get to hear barihunk Erwin Schrott sing the famous aria in his Dutch National Opera debut, as well his first staged performance of the four villains.

You can watch the complete broadcast HERE. And so you don't miss out on hearing Schrott sing Dapertutto's famous aria, here is the version from his album.

Schrott can currently be seen as Escamillo at the Arena di Verona in Bizet's Carmen from August 9-25. He then takes the torreador to the Vienna State Opera, where he'll perform the role from Septemeber 6-12.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

ENO presents its first-ever production of Britten's "Paul Bunyan"

Paul Bunyan by Rick Meyerowitz and Matthew Durkan (photo: Pablo Strong)

The English National Opera (ENO) will mount their first-ever performance of Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall in East London as part of their Studio Live series, which presents opera in more intimate environments.

Paul Bunyan, with its libretto by one of England’s greatest poets W.H. Auden, is a retelling of the great American folk tale featuring the titular giant. It is one of Britten’s most eclectic scores, with blues, folk and hymns incorporated into a story of civilization's destructive relationship to the ecology around it, and the dangers of the American Dream.

Matthew Durkan talks about his time at ENO:

Barihunk Matthew Durkan, a Harewood Young Artist at ENO, will sing the antagonistic foreman Hal Helson, while. Olivier Award-winning actor Simon Russell Beale will provide the offstage voice of Paul Bunyan. The rest of the cast includes tenor Elgan Llŷr Thomas as the bookkeeper Johnny Inkslinger, soprano Rowan Pierce as Tiny and tenor William Morgan sings Hot Biscuit Slim. 

Durkan, a recent graduate of the National Opera Studio, was a winner of the 2014 Stuart Burrows International Voice Award and a finalist in the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Competition. His roles at ENO have also included Ormonte Partenope, Malcolm Fleet Marnie, Marullo Rigoletto, Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fiorello The Barber of Seville and Yamadori Madam Butterfly. 

Performances are on September 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8. Tickets and additional cast information is available online

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Pietro Di Bianco sings Mercadante rarity in Innsbruck

Pietro Di Bianco
Italian barihunk Pietro Di Bianco will sing Osmida in Saverio Mercadante's rarely performed "Didone abbandonata" at the Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik.

Encouraged by Rossini, the composer had a number of successful operas early in his career, including Violenza e Constanza, Maria Stuarda: Regina di Scozia and Elisa e Claudio. Rossini invited him to Paris in 1836, where he composed I Briganti for four of the best-known singers of the time, Giulia Grisi, Giovanni Battista Rubini, Antonio Tamburini and Luigi Lablache. While in Paris, he was influenced by the operas of Meyerbeer and Halévy and began to stress greater drama in opera.

Mercandante became part of the "Reform Movement" after the publication of Giuseppe Mazzini's Filosofia della musica. During this time, he composed his greatest works, including Il giuramento, Elena da Feltre and Francesco Florimo. These works made him one of the most popular composers of the time, before being eclipsed by Giovanni Pacini and the early works of Giuseppe Verdi. After his death in 1870, his operas began to fade in popularity, unlike his contemporaries Donizetti and Bellini.

Ettore Bastianini sings Mercadante's Sogno:

Didone abbandonata is part of his early period and is based on a classical libretto by the great poet Metastasio. The opera contains many of the trademarks of early 19th century operas, including scenes with cantabile and cabaletta for all the main characters, rousing ensembles, thrilling duets and grand finales. The suicide of the Carthaginian Queen Dido, abandoned by Aeneas and betrayed by Jarba, is composed as great death scene.

There will be performances on August 8, 12 and 14 at the Tiroler Landestheater. The cast also includes Viktorija Miškūnaité as Didone, Katrin Wundsam as Enea, Carlo Allemano as Jarba, Diego Godoy as Araspe and Emilie Renard as Selene. Tickets are available online.

In October, the Wexford Festival Opera will perform the composer's Il bravo.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Reader Submission: German bass-barihunk Georg Festl

Georg Festl
German bass-barihunk Georg Festl, who is part of the ensemble at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, was suggested to us by one of our readers.

This season he has performed the lead role in Messiaen‘s Saint François d’Assise, Papageno/Speaker in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Tom in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Pietro in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra and Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. On November 15th, he will begin a run as Frank in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus, which runs through December 9th.

From 2015-2017, he sang at the Theater Augsburg, where he performed in Zemlinsky's Der König Kandaules, Verdi's Macbeth, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Die Csárdásfürstin, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Tosca and the children's opera Ritter Odilo und der strenge Herr Winter by Mareike Zimmermann.

Georg Festl was born in Nuremberg, Germany and studied English and American studies at the University of Music Würzburg. After graduating, he was cast as Artie Green in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard at the Mainfrankentheater Würzburg.

He is a recipient of the Richard-Wagner Society scholarship and the Da-Ponte Society scholarship.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke to reprise "As One"

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke (Photo: Brooklyn Academy of Music)

The real-life married couple of mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and barihunk Kelly Markgraf have made Laura Kaminsky's opera "As One" a bit of a calling card since premiering the work at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2014. The couple will perform the work for one night only on August 7th at the Chautauqua Opera. They will be joined by the Fry String Quartet, who premiered the work with them.

Markgraf has performed the work with Opera Colorado and the San Diego Opera, while Sasha Cooke performed it at the Hawaii Opera Theater. 

Kaminsky was inspired to write the opera after reading an article in the New York Times in 2008 about a New Jersey marriage in which one of the parties transitioned from male to female, transforming the couple from heterosexual to homosexual.

As One provides insights into both the personal and philosophical questions at the core of how personhood is defined, as well as into the compromised civil and humans rights of transgender individuals in the broader societal framework.

The opera can also be seen at the Cincinnati Opera with Matthew Worth and Amber Fasquelle on July 30th.