Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Introducing Bastian Thomas Kohl & Étude Arts

Soloman Howard, Bastian Thomas Kohl and Sean Michael Plumb (L-R)
We'd like to introduce readers to the German bass-barihunk Bastian Thomas Kohl, as well as his management agency, Étude Arts.

The latter might seem unusual, but it's not often that we see a new agency, especially one that has two barihunks who we've featured, Soloman Howard and Sean Michael Plumb, and one that we somehow missed, Bastian Thomas Kohl. The agency was founded by IMG Artists Senior Vice President Bill Palant. He seems well-suited for the job, having worked in the business for 19 years after a career with the Metropolitan Opera’s Rehearsal Department and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood.  Most importantly, he has a degree in psychology from Oberlin College which will serve his well in this endeavor!

Bastian Thomas Kohl, began his musical career at the age of four and received his formal training at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipzig and in Vienna at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst.

His international career commenced at the age of nineteen as a member of the Opernchor Leipzig appearing frequently with Gewandhausorchester under the direction of Riccardo Chailly.  He joined the Opernhaus Zürich in the 2014-15 season as a member of the International Opera Studio and has been heard in productions of Lohengrin, Robin Hood, Fidelio and Fälle,  Upcoming performances in Zürich include roles in Iris Ter Schiphorst's children's opera Die Gänsemagd, Richard Strauss' Elektra, Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, and Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame.

Upcoming performances for Soloman Howard include Banco in Verdi's Macbeth at Kentucky Opera, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. in Philip Glass' Appomattox at Washington National Opera, Prince Gremin in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at North Carolina Opera and Fafner in Wagner's Das Rheingold at Washington National Opera.

Upcoming performances for Sean Michael Plumb include Marcello in Puccini's La bohème at Curtis Opera Theater, Olav Bjaaland in Miroslav Srnka's South Pole with fellow barihunk Thomas Hampson at the Bavarian State Opera and Der Graf in Richard Strauss' Capriccio at Opera Philadelphia.

Jason Hardy: From barihunk to impressario

Jason Hardy

American barihunk Jason Hardy has created quite the buzz on barihunks at least two times. Once when he appeared shirtless in the New York City Opera's sexy production of Don Giovanni (featuring fellow barihunks Kelly Markgraf and Daniel Okulitch) and again when he proposed to his now wife Carrie onstage after a performance of Le nozze di Figaro at Opera Birmingham.  

After creating a name for himself onstage, he's now moving backstage to be the new Managing Director of OperaDelaware, where he's served as Director of Development and Community Engagement since 2013. In his new and expanded role, Hardy will continue to oversee the company's fundraising efforts while taking on new responsibilities in the day-to-day operations of OperaDelaware including administrative and artistic functions.

Over his 18-year career as a singer, Hardy performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and The Kennedy Center. He has sung with the New York City Opera, Opéra de Montréal, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Hardy holds a bachelor's degree from Emory University in Atlanta. He also earned a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.

OperaDelaware's spring 2016 festival will feature performances of two fully staged productions at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, including the East Coast Premiere of Franco Faccio's Hamlet and Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff. Both are adapted by librettist Arrigo Boito, from William Shakespeare's plays.

Randal Turner in world premiere of operatic Bonfire of the Vanities

Randal Turner
Randal Turner, who recently had a successful run as Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes at the Theatre Koblenz, is now jumping into a completely different different English-language opera. He will portray Wall Street trader Sherman McCoy from Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, in a new operatic adaptation from composer Stefania de Kenessey and librettist Michael Bergmann.

The story takes on the universal socioeconomic tensions in 1980s New York City that is home to both Wall Street and Harlem. Turner's character is a successul bonds trader whose popularity propels him to the top of the financial world. But just as he meets the peak of his success, he collides with a scandal that brings all of New York City crashing down upon him. His former admirers and current problems include a ferocious Harlem reverend, played by fellow barihunk Keith Miller; a wealthy and sexually predatory femme fatale, sung by Yingzie Zhou; Sherman's cossetted housewife, sung by Anne-Carolyn Bird; and, an idealistic lawyer who demands better for her city, performed by Adrienne Danrich. 
Expect to see the gym-toned Turner show a little skin, because in Act 3 his character Sherman McCoy is in prison and the other prisoners know he is the one responsible for the hit and run that has put the young African-American kid Henry Lamb in a coma even though his mistress Maria Ruskin was driving and is thus far taking the rap for it. The prisoners strip him of his clothes and then Sherman sings his aria "Masters of the Universe."

The world premiere will be on October 9 and 10 at the El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio in New York City. Tickets are available online.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Björn Bürger's really, really sexy Don Giovanni

Björn Bürger as Don Giovanni at Den Norske Opera (photos: Jörg Wiesner)
Björn Bürger, who has previously sung Masetto, is now making his debut in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni. His performance, with open shirt and sporting white boxers, has been turning a few heads with his macho and sexual portrayal of the lascivious seducer. The cast includes Marcell Bakonyi as Leporello, Ann-Helen Moen as Donna Anna, Magnus Staveland as Don Ottavio and Marita Sølberg as Donna Elvira. Performances run through September 16 and tickets are available online.

Björn Bürger as Don Giovanni and Marita Sølberg as Donna Elvira. (Foto: Jörg Wiesner)
Bürger, who is making his debut with Den Norske Opera, is a member of the Frankfurt Opera where he has sung Bengtson in Reimann's Die Gespenstersonate, Astolfo in Vivaldi's Orlando Furioso, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Marcello in Puccini's La boheme. He returns to Frankfurt this season to sing Frank and Fritz in Korngold's Die tote Stadt, Don Bucefalo in Valentino Fioravanti's La cantatrici villane and Curio in Handel's Giulio Cesare

Fans in the U.K. will be interested to know that he will make debut as Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2016.

Vittorio Prato sporting Barihunk t-shirt on website

Vittorio Prato
We love that Vittorio Prato is proudly sporting his Barihunk t-shirt on his website's photo gallery. Few singers look better than the hunky Italian in or out of a t-shirt! Fans will be thrilled to know that he'll be back again this year in our annual charity calendar.

On September 2nd and 6th, he'll be appearing as Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia at Opera di Firenze. The cast includes Laura Verrecchia as Rosina, Alessio Verna as Don Basilio and Filippo Adami as Almaviva. You can listen to his Largo al factotum on his YouTube page. Tickets are available online

Vittorio Prato backstage and at the gym
In November, he heads to the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich to sing Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola, which will be directed by the great mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender. The cast includes Arthur Espiritu as Don Ramiro,  Jasmina Sakr as Clorinda,  Dorothea Spilger as Tisbe and  Diana Haller as Angelina.

In December, he returns to Italy where he'll sing Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna with Fabrizio Paesano singing Nemorino. Tickets are available online.

Reader Submission: Tyler Fitzgerald

Tyler Fitgerald and the Cantilon Chamber Choir
Our latest Reader Submission is Canadian barihunk Tyler Fitzgerald, who just sang the Toreador's Song with the Cantilon Chamber Choir [pictured above] and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Symphony for their Under the Sky concert in Hawrelak Park.

Originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, he just completed his second year of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Program. In 2011, he received a bachelor’s degree in music from Wilfrid Laurier University. In 2012, Tyler was the recipient of the Gladys Whitehead Scholarship for Voice, and in 2011 was the winner of the Lois Marshall Competition.

Recent concert and operatic performances with the Calgary Opera include Marchese d’Obigny in Verdi's La Traviata, Don Inigo Gomez in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnol, and Count Gill in Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Segreto di Susanna, Bonze/Prince Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Tarquinius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, and The Father in Humperdinks' Hansel and Gretel.

He has also performed in the Celtic Mass for the Sea by Canadian composer Scott MacMillian with the Festival Chorus of Calgary and in Orff's Carmina Burana and Handel’s Messiah with The Peterborough Singers.

Other roles include Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera NUOVA, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with Opera Laurier, Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff with Opera Nuova, Jimmy in Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel  with Saltwater Productions, Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, King Melchoir in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Le Marquis in Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Aaron O'Hare wins Northern Ireland Festival of Voice Competition

Aaron O'Hare
Aaron O'Hare from Warrenpoint in County Down kept the baritone winning streak alive at the Northern Ireland Festival of Voice Competition, winning a year after Seán Boylan took top honors.  The competition returned to the historic village of Glenarm for the fifth year and included a recital from Boylan on Friday night.

O'Hare was one of five singers in the finals, which included mezzo-soprano Katie Hainbach from Dublin, sopranos Maria McGrann from Moira and Aoife O’Connell from Greystones, and fellow baritone Cormac Lawlor from Tralee.

Aaron O’Hare completed his Bachelor's Degree in Music with honors at the University of Ulster in 2011. He is now in his second year of A Masters in Music Degree at the Royal Northern College of Music after being awarded the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Entrance Scholarship. O'Hare has worked with leading companies in Ireland, including NI Opera, North West Opera, and Wide Open Opera as well as Nevill Holt Opera in England. In 2012-13 he was a member of the Northern Ireland Opera’s Young Artist Scheme and appeared at the Oxford Lieder Festival, representing the Royal Northern College of Music.

Recent performances include: Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Bogdanovitch in Lehar’s The Merry Widow with the Royal Northern College of Music.