Saturday, March 25, 2017

Barihunk trio in Mohammed Fairouz's The New Prince

Joshua Hopkins in The New Prince
Last night, the Dutch National Opera premiered Mohammed Fairouz's The New Prince, which celebrates the 500th anniversary of the book in 2032. The piece is set in both the past and in the future and features the barihunk trio of Joshua Hopkins as Niccolò Machiavelli, Paulo Szot as Alexander Hamilton, Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney (three very different characters!), and Dominic Kraemer as Prince Saud al-Faisal.

Paulo Szot as Bill Clinton
Besides Machiavelli, it features well-known people of our day, including Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Osama bin Laden, as well as a fantasy world ruler Wu Virtu. Machiavelli’s lover is Fortuna, who is also his publisher. There is even a scene where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fight over a blow-up globe of the world.

Niccoló Machiavelli’s famous book The Prince describes the means that can be used by a dictator in strengthening his position. He can even permit himself lies and deceit, providing he ensures that they do not come to light. The politician/diplomat/writer was way ahead of his time. 

Dominic Kraemer and a scene from The New Prince
The relevance of Machiavelli’s writing to today inspired composer Mohammed Fairouz to write his second opera. The opera's ultimate message of the piece is delivered by Wu Virtu, which is "the end of war is war" and that aggression met with aggression is a only zero-sum game.

There are three remaining performances on March 26, 28 and 29.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Teddy Tahu Rhodes returns as Scarpia; Paull-Anthony Keightley as Sciarrone

Teddy Tahu Rhodes & Paull-Anthony Keightley
Teddy Tahu Rhodes will return to the Western Australia Opera as Scarpia six years after making his role debut in Puccini's "shabby little shocker."  In 2011, conservative Aussie critics didn't respond warmly to Christopher Alden’s dark and modern production, so they've returned to their previous production with set designs by Jan Ubels and costumes by Elizabeth Whiting.

Joining Tahu Rhodes will be soloists soprano Antoinette Halloran as Tosca and tenor Paul O’Neill as Cavaradossi, as well as fellow barihunk Paull-Anthony Keightley as Sciarrone. 

Tosca is on at His Majesty’s Theatre on March 28, 30, April 1, 4, 6, 8. Tickets are available online.

In May, Tahu Rhodes will appear in the U.S. as Daland in Richard Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra along with Marjorie Owens as Senta and Alan Held in the title role. Performances are on May 4 and 6.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Before Night Falls" gets revival in Miami

Wes Mason as Reinaldo Arenas (left) and Elliot Madore (right)
Jorge Martín's opera Before Night Falls will get its first revival since the summer of 2010, when it premiered at the Fort Worth Opera. The Florida Grand Opera will perform the opera from March 18-25 at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House in Miami.

Barihunk Elliot Madore will take over the role of Reinaldo Arenas, which was sung by barihunk Wes Mason in Fort Worth. The only cast member returning from the original production is tenor Javier Abreu, who is reprising the role of Pepe.

Based on the famous memoir of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls follows Arenas’ life from childhood poverty in the Cuban countryside to his emigration to the United States in the 1980 Mariel boatlift, and his last decade in New York City. Disillusioned by the Cuban Revolution and persecuted by the Castro regime as a dissident writer and gay man, the opera follows his trials and tribulations as a political prisoner forced to smuggle his manuscripts abroad for publication.

Wes Mason as Reinaldo Arenas at the Fort Worth Opera
In 2000, Before Night Falls was made into an award-winning feature film directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp.

Reinaldo Arenas led a life full of tragedy and didn't live to make any real money off his writing. While dying of AIDS in 1990, he committed suicide in his New York apartment because he did not want return to a hospital.

Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Tristan Hambleton in Haydn's Theresienmesse in London

Tristan Hambleton
Barihunk calendar model Tristan Hambleton will be performing Hayden's Theresienmesse at Cadogan Hall in London on March 23rd. He'll be joined by the City of London Choir, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and soprano Grace Davidson, mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby and tenor Nicholas Pritchard.

The concert is part of an ongoing series at Cadogan Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra pairing the great masses of Haydn with Mozart’s late concertos. The program will include Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24, K491 and Tantum Ergo in B flat, K142.

The Theresienmesse is named after Maria Theresa of the Two Sicilies, empress consort of Francis II. The empress herself was the soprano soloist at private performances of both The Creation and The Seasons in May 1801 at the Viennese Court.

The scoring of the mass is a little unusual. Due to a shortage of wind players at Einsenstadt, Austria in 1798 and 1799, the wind section comprises just two clarinets, a bassoon and two trumpets. Haydn skilfully uses this relatively small group to great effect. The mass is a work of marked musical contrasts. Slow, quiet passages, such as the very opening of the Kyrie, are set against vigorous, loud sections like the final pages of the Credo.

Tickets are available online.

The Wall opens in Montreal, heads to Cincinnati and possibly the US/Mexican border?

Étienne Dupuis
Julien Bilodeau's new opera The Wall, which is currently playing at Opéra de Montréal through March 24th, will receive it's U.S. premiere at the Cincinnati Opera next season. The work is written for 10 soloists, 48 ​​singers and 70 musicians.

Founding Pink Floyd singer/bassist Roger Waters revisited the band's classic 1979 concept album The Wall for a massive world tour that ran from 2010 to 2013, and he worked with Bilodeau on the opera to mark Montreal's 375th anniversary. Waters, who has frequently infused politics into his concerts, has hinted at performing The Wall on the U.S./Mexican border to protest Trump's plan to build a wall to stem immigration.

The opera stars Québecois barihunk Étienne Dupuis as Pink, the fallen rock star, who is overprotected by his mother after his father dies in war. Pink goes on to a failed marriage, a rock career and a dabbling in totalitarianism as he becomes consumed with guilt.

The Cincinnati Opera's production is slated for July 2018 in celebration of the $135 million restoration of Cincinnati Music Hall.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Randal Turner premieres "My America, My America"

Composer and violinist Sandra Goldberg, who performs with the Zürich Kammer Orchestra, has composed a piece entitled "My America, My America" as both an act of love of country and an act of frustration at what is happening in the United States. 

Barihunk Randal Turner has recorded the piece along with Robert Hairgrove on piano and the composer on violin.  

Goldberg and Turner go back to 2009, when she hired the Swiss-based American singer to premiere her children's Hanukkah musical "Judah Judah."

Monday, March 13, 2017

Barihunk quartet in Reisoper's Don Giovanni

George Humphreys, Aleš Jenis, Matthias Hoffmann & Lukas Jakobski
The Netherland's innovative Reisoper is presenting Mozart's Don Giovanni with the barihunk quartet of George Humphreys as Leporello, Aleš Jenis as Don Giovanni, Matthias Hoffmann as Masetto & Lukas Jakobski as the Commedatore.

Their new production is seen through the eyes of women who wonder how men got so influenced by this lothario and why other men don't stop him from rape and murder. The concept is the idea of director Jo Davies and the opera will be conducted by Julia Jones. The production is update to the 1970s with bell bottom trousers and colorful wide-lapelled jackets.

 Aleš Jenis sings Don Giovanni's serenade:

Remaining performances are spread around across the country, including March 14th in Maastricht, March 16th and 18th in Zwolle, March 21st in Apeldorn, March 23 in Groningen, March 25th in Arnhem, March 28th in Utrecht, March 30th in Leeuwarden, April 1 in Rotterdam, April 4th in 'S-Hertogenbosch, April 6th in Amstelveen and April 8th in Den Haag. 

Tickets are available online.