Friday, March 23, 2018

Luca Pisaroni named Brand Ambassador for Via Luca

Luca Pisaroni (photo:Catherine Pisaroni)
Italian bass-barihunk Luca Pisaroni has been named the Brand Ambassador for Via Luca, a leading distributor of high-end authentic Italian men's fashion.

The company's website states, "The partnership between Via Luca and Luca Pisaroni could not be a better fit, considering not only the same name “LUCA” but more importantly the origin of both being proud of having an Italian heritage."

Under the terms of the deal, Luca Pisaroni will wear garments exclusively from the brands sold on Via Luca wear custom Italian textile suits during his performances. He will also help promote the Made in Italy initiative and the family traditions of many of the company's brands, which include the knitwear brand Alessandro Simoni, Bruli sportswear, Equipage trousers, Marfin grooming products, Laboratorio Del Carmine shirts, and Zamparini shoes.

Pisaroni can next be seen on March 25th at Carnegie Hall, where he will sing Argante in Handel's Rinaldo. The English Concert under Harry Bicket will lead an all-star cast that also includes Iestyn Davies as Rinaldo, Jane Archibald as Armida, Joélle Harvey as Almirena, Sasha Cooke as Goffredo and the amazing countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński as Eustazio. Tickets are available online.

Stunningly beautiful Gianluca Margheri in Alceste

Gianluca Margheri as the High Priest of Apollo
Italian barihunk Gianluca Margheri just opened in the dual roles of the High Priest of Apollo and Apollo at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Gluck's Alceste. He has three remaining performances, which run through March 30th. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Christoph Willibald Gluck, who was largely self-taught as a composer, became known as one of opera's most historically signifigant reformers. His three "reform operas" were Orfeo ed Euridice, Alceste and Paride ed Elena, which eliminated many of the standard practices of the day, which Gluck felt impeded the drama.

''When I undertook to write the music for Alceste,'' Gluck wrote, ''I resolved to divest it entirely of all those abuses, introduced into it either by the mistaken vanity of singers or by the too great complaisance of composers, which have so long disfigured Italian opera and made of the most splendid and most beautiful of spectacles the most ridiculous and wearisome. I have striven to restrict music to its true office of serving poetry by means of expression and by following the situations of the story, without interrupting the action or stifling it with useless superfluity of ornaments ...Simplicity, truth and naturalness are the great principles of beauty in all artistic manifestations.''
Gianluca Margheri as Apollo
Alceste exists in two principal versions: the Italian original written for Vienna in 1767 and the French revision prepared for the Paris performances of 1776. The Teatro del Maggio Musicale is using the Italian version.

In Greek legend Alcestis, daughter of Pelias, was the wife of Athnetus, King of Pherae in Thessaly. She was the only person willing to die in place of her husband, but was brought back from the Underworld by Hercules. Gluck's opera is based on the play by Euripides, with Alcestis saved by the god Apollo. 

Gianluca Margheri backstage as Apollo
The story appears in varied forms, from Chaucer to Rilke and T. S. Eliot. Among the operatic versions of the legend are the tragedie en musique by Lully and Quinault, Alceste, ou Le triomphe d'Alcide (Alcestis, or The Triumph of Hercules) and the treatment of the myth by Wieland with the composer Anton Schweitzer, staged in Weimar in 1773. Alcestis herself is generally taken as the type of female virtue and conjugal love.

Margheri can next be heard as Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari in June and July. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Barihunk-fest at Minnesota Opera concert

Christian Zaremba, Rudy Nieto and Kelly Markgraf
The Minnesota Opera's upcoming Mixtape Concert will feature a veritable feast of barihunks (and hunkentenors) performing selections from opera, musical theater, jazz and pop. The concert is highlighting past and current members of the company's Resident Artist Program and will be held on April 8 at 2 p.m. at the Ordway Concert Hall.

The featured baritones and basses include Kelly Markgraf, Rudy Nieto, Christian Thurston, Matt Boehler, Benjamin Sieverding, Wm. Clay Thompson and Christian Zaremba. The tenor lineup is pretty impressive as well, featuring Andres Acosta, Chris Colmenero, Daniel Montenegro, James Valenti and David Walton!

The concert pays tribute to the 20th season of Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist Program and is “pay what you want” with a suggested donation of $20 per ticket. Tickets can be reserved online.

The unique, eclectic program includes  and features selections from Les Miserables, Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath, as well as music from Wagner, Puccini, Rossini and Richard Strauss. 

The Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist Program offers a full season of employment for talented artists beginning their professional careers. From late August through April, Resident Artists gain valuable experience in assignments ranging from ensemble, understudy, comprimario to leading roles in main stage performances.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Barihunk duo in AVA's French recital program

Ethan Simpson (left) and Brent Michael Smith (right)
The final recital in the Academy of Vocal Arts Recital Series will include barihunks Ethan Simpson and Brent Michael Smith in a program of French repertoire.  They'll be joined by Gabriela Flores, Hannah Ludwig, Matthew White and Timothy Renner, with AVA vocal coach Audrey Saint-Gil accompanying them on piano.

Ethan Simpson will be singing Nadia Boulanger's "J'ai frappe" and "Chanson," as well as Henri Duparc's Testament.

Brent Michael Smith will be performing Stravinsky's "Un sommeil noir" and the Act 1 bass aria from Paul Dukas' Ariane et Le Barbe Bleu.

Performances are on April 3 and April 5 and tickets are available online

Cody Quattlebaum to make U.K. debut in St John Passion

Cody Quattlebaum and his mane of Biblical proportions
After competing in the Glyndebourne Cup this month, Cody Quattlebaum will make his official U.K. debut with the Academy of Ancient Music as Christus and the Bass Soloist in Bach's Johannespassion (St John Passsion) at the Barbican Centre on March 30th.

Quattlebaum is one of seven of the 24 singers selected for the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup on March 22. The field will be narrowed to 10 finalist for the March 24th competition, which will be broadcast on Sky Arts.

The St John Passsion will also feature James Gilchrist as the Evangelist, countertenor Iestyn Davies, soprano Lydia Teuscher and the rising tenor sensation Ilker Arcayurek, all under the baton of  Riccardo Minasi. Tickets are available online

The St John Passion was written during Bach's first year as director of church music in Leipzig and was first performed on April 7, 1724 at Good Friday Vespers. The anonymous libretto draws on existing works and is compiled from recitatives and choruses narrating the Passion of Christ as told in the Gospel of John, ariosos and arias reflecting on the action, and chorales using hymn tunes and texts familiar to a congregation of Bach's contemporaries.

Quattlebaum, who has already gained a following in the U.S., will also be making his German debut this year. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Barihunks star in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Rising Stars" Concert

Patrick Guetti, Emmett O'Hanlon and Takaoki Onishi
The Lyric Opera of Chicago will showcase their amazing young artists on Saturday, April 7th at the Lyric Opera House in their annual "Rising Stars" concert. Featured in the concert is a trio of singers who have been featured on Barihunks, including baritones Emmett O'Hanlon and Takaoki Onishi, along with bass Patrick Guetti. The three singers are also concluding their tenure with the company's Ryan Opera Center, a training program for young artists.

After leaving the program, Guetti has performances with Wolf Trap Opera as Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto and Bernstein's Songfest; Takaoki Onishi will perform Tchaikovsky's Iolanta with the Russian National Orchestra at Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and, Emmett O'Hanlon will wrap up a run as Wagner in Gounod's Faust at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Lyric tenor star of the future, Josh Lovell
The concert will feature music by Tchaikovsky, Offenbach, Massenet, Mozart, Verdi, Handel, Bernstein, Puccini and Rossini. Other artists include the gifted young lyric tenor Josh Lovell (keep your eyes and ears on this one!); sopranos Whitney Morrison, Diana Newman and Ann Toomey; mezzo-soprano Lindsay Metzger; contralto Lauren Decker; tenors Alec Carlson and Mario Rojas; and, bass-baritone Alan Higgs.

The concert will also be recorded for broadcast on 98.7WFMT the following day, Sunday, April 8, at 6 PM CST.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Asheville Opera lands world premiere of highly anticipated Borzoni premiere; Second performance in Chicago

Joshua Jeremiah and Trevor Martin
We've always maintained that the smaller houses and festivals are where the best new operas are being performed. So kudos to the Asheville Lyric Opera for landing the highly anticipated world premiere of composer Clint Borzoni and librettist John de los Santos' "When Adonis Calls" on May 11th. Asheville is also the home of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, whose poetry was refashioned into the libretto.

The opera, which was work-shopped at the Fort Worth Opera Festival's Frontiers series of new works in 2015, chronicles the tumultuous correspondence between an established writer and an eager young admirer.

"Two Nooses" from the Fort Worth Opera Festival

The piece is scored for two baritones, string quartet, percussionist and two dancers (and comes with an adult content warning). When Adonis Calls features a low and high baritone, and Asheville Lyric Opera will feature two amazing performers in Trevor Martin and Joshua Jeremiah, as well as two local dancers. The opera will have additional performances on March 12 and 13 and is expected to sell out in the 110 seat Masonic Temple. Tickets are available online.

Composers and opera administrators will tell you that a second performance of a work is often more difficult than the premiere. Remarkably,  Adonis already has a second performance scheduled in Chicago with the Thompson Street Opera Company this Fall. Details are forthcoming. Our site has also learned that discussions are underway for a West Coast premiere.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's beautiful "Stufen" with Musica Marin:

Borzoni, along with Jake Heggie, has become particularly associated for writing major roles and works for low male voices. He has written a song cycle for bass-baritone Tim Hill, several songs for bass-baritone Randal Turner, penned two pieces for String Quartet and baritone for Marco Vassalli, and is currently working on a commission for bass Malte Roesner to be premiered at Musica Marin this year. Turner’s songs appear on his CD, “Living American Composers” and were performed at the 9/11 tribute at the U.S. embassy in Switzerland. He also wrote a two act opera titled “Antinous and Hadrian,” which features a baritone lead. His opera The Copper Queen, also to a libretto by John de los Santos, won Arizona Opera's Sparks Competition for new works in a runaway. The opera is based on a true story about the alleged ghost of a prostitute haunting a historic hotel in Bisbee, Arizona.