Monday, March 9, 2020

Barihunk turned pop singer to represent Macedonia in Eurovision Song Contest

Vasil Garvanliev in the 2014 Barihunks calendar
Macedonian barihunk, turned hunkentenor, turned pop singer Vasil Garvanliev is representing his native country in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam. Readers may remember him as one of our models in the 2014 Barihunks Calendar!

Garvanliev and his family moved to the United States when he was a child where he sang in the Chicago’s Children Choir. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music. He was a member of Calgary’s Opera Emerging Young Artist Program, Glimmerglass Young Artists Program and a member of Opera Atelier, as well as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival & Academy. He was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – Illinois District in 2014-15.


He performed over 50 operatic roles before switching to a pop career. As a pop singer, he has released the singles Gjerdan, Patuvam and Mojata Ulica.

In the Eurovision competition he'll be singing You, composed by his friend Nevena Neskoska, a Macedonian born composer who studied songwriting at the Berklee College of Music.

Tickets will go on sale March 26 for performances which run from May 11-16.

Macedoonia has participated in the Eurovision competition times, but has never placed higher than 7th place when Tamara Todevska performed Proud last year.

Barihunk trio in telecast of Don Giovanni

Alessio Arduini and Björn Bürger in Don Giovanni
OperaVision will broadcast Mozart's Don Giovanni live from La Monnaie on March 24th featuring the barihunk trio of Björn Bürger in the title role, Alessio Arduini as Leporello and Iurii Samoilov as Masetto. The rest of the cast includes Simona Saturová as Donna Anna, Sophia Burgos as Zerlina, Lenneke Ruiten as Donna Elvira, Juan Francisco Gatell as Don Ottavio, Alexander Roslavets as Il Commendatore.


The livestream starts at 7:30 p.m. Central European Standard Time (2:30 p.m. EST/11:30 a.m. PST). The broadcast will be available on OperaVision until September 21, 2020. 

Live performances at La Monnaie are on March 12, 15, 24 and 28. The opera is part of their Da Ponte trilogy of Mozart operas, with Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte running simultaneously. Tickets are available online. Iurii Samoilov sings Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Björn Bürger and Alessio Arduini sing the Count and Figaro respectively in Le nozze di Figaro.


Saturday, March 7, 2020

Barihunk Edward Nelson wins Glyndebourne Opera Cup

Edward Nelson (photo courtesy of Glyndebourne)
American barihunk Edward Nelson won the Glyndebourne Opera Cup today, taking home the top prize of £15,000 and the guarantee of a professional role at a top international opera house. He is the second consecutive American to win the prize, following mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey's win in 2018.

Nelson sang "La fatigue alourdit mes pes… Comme une pâle fleur" and "Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse" from Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet during the first half and followed it up with Rossini's crowd pleasing "Largo al factotum" from Il barbiere di Siviglia. Nelson just wrapped up an acclaimed run as the Barber with the Vancouver Opera on February 23.

He recently made his European debut at the Norwegian National Opera as Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, a role he later sang with Ópera de Oviedo and covered at the Glyndebourne Festival. He is graduate of the Adler Fellowship at the San Francisco Opera, where he has made seventy main stage appearances, including as Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Bosun in Britten's Billy Budd, Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Morales in Bizet's Carmen.

From May 30 to June 28, he can be heard as Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus at the Opera Theatre of St Louis .

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Blake Denson takes top prize at Metropolitan Opera Auditions

Blake Denson and the Met Auditions winners
Barihunk Blake Denson was named one of the five winners of the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions held today in New York City. He joins mezzo-soprano Gabrielle Beteag, sopranos Denis Vélez and Alexandria Shiner, and tenor Jonah Hoskins as winners of the top cash prize of $15,000 and career-changing exposure.

Denson advanced to the semifinals out of the Midwest Region held in St. Louis, Missouri. A 2018 vocal performance graduate of the University of Kentucky he was a participant in the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Vocal Academy and is finishing his master's degree at Rice University. This summer he will rejoin the Wolf Trap Opera Studio Artist Program.

Blake Denson sings "Questo amor vergogna mia" from Puccini's Edgar:

This year’s semifinalists were chosen from more than 1,000 singers who participated in auditions held in 40 districts throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and who then competed in the 12 regional finals. Each finalist sang two arias on the Metropolitan Opera stage in front of a panel of judges from the top opera companies in the world.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Barihunk duo in Fort Worth's Pops at the Pavilion

Efrain Solis and Donovan Singletary
The Fort Worth Opera has announced that the barihunk duo of Efrain Solis and Donovan Singletary will perform in the first of two spring concerts on Sunday, March 29th. They'll be joined by fellow cast members from Puccini's La bohème, soprano Talise Trevigne, tenor Giordano Lucà and soprano Tracy Cantin. The performance will be at the Kimbell Art Museum's Renzo Piano Pavilion as part of the company's Pops at the Pavilion.

Efrain Solis sings Sondheim's Johanna:

A second concert on Wednesday, April 22th will feature soprano Talise Trevigne at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Tickets can be purchased online.

Efrain Solis will be singing Schaunard and Donovan Singletary will take on Colline in La bohème in both performances, which are on April 17 and 19. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Blake Denson and Xiaomeng Zhang advance to Met Finals

Blake Denson and Xiaomeng Zhang
Two baritones have reached the finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Blake Denson and Xiaomeng Zhang will join mezzo-sopranos Gabrielle Beteag and Lindsay Kate Brown; sopranos Chasiti Lashay, Jana McIntyre, Alexandria Shiner, and Denis Vélez; as well as tenor Jonah Hoskins.

The final round of the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions will take place on the Met stage on March 1, 2020. 

This year’s semifinalists were chosen from more than 1,000 singers who participated in auditions held in 40 districts throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and who then competed in the 12 regional finals.

The finalist will have a week of training with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the Grand Finals Concert. Each finalist will sing two arias on the Metropolitan Opera stage. Tenor Javier Camarena will perform for the audience while the judges deliberate. Following the performance, the winners will be announced, each of whom will receive a cash prize of $15,000 and career-making exposure.


Blake Denson began his musical life as a percussionist in the Paducah Tilghman High School band. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with his Bachelor of Music in Voice before heading to Rice University to attain his Masters degree in vocal performance.


Chinese baritone Xiaomeng Zhang completed his Artist Diploma at Juilliard and was a participant in San Francisco’s 2018 Merola Opera Program. He was also a national semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2018.