Monday, July 16, 2018

Santa Fe Opera's "Doctor Atomic" is first John Adams opera at company

Ryan McKinny and Daniel Okulitch (Photo: Ken Howard, Santa Fe Opera, 2018)
The Santa Fe Opera is presenting its first John Adams opera ever, which is surprising considering their historic dedication to both new opera and those by American composers. The all-star cast includes barihunks Ryan McKinny as Robert Oppenheimer, Andrew Harris as Edward Teller and Daniel Okulitch as General Groves, as well as Julia Bullock as Kitty Oppenheimer, Ben Bliss as Robert Wilson, Meredith Arwady as Pasqualita and Tim Mix as Jack Hubbard.

Much of the opera actually takes place just 33 miles from Santa Fe in Los Alamos and Alamogordo, where the detonation of the first atomic bomb took place.

Andrew Harris and Ryan McKinny (Photo: Ken Howard, Santa Fe Opera, 2018)
First performed in 2005 at the San Francisco Opera, Doctor Atomic reunited composer John Adams with librettist and stage director Peter Sellars, whose earlier collaborations included Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer. The European premiere took place at De Nederlandse Opera in 2007 and The Metropolitan Opera broadcast the work nationally in 2008.

Much of the text from the opera was adapted from declassified U.S. government documents and communications among scientists, government officials, and military personnel who were involved in the project. Other borrowed texts include poetry by Charles Baudelaire and Muriel Rukeyser, the Holy Sonnets of John Donne, quotes from the Bhagavad Gita, and a traditional Tewa Indian song.

Gerald Finley sings "Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God"

Perhaps the most famous piece from the opera is the baritone aria "Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God" with text by the poet John Donne. The poem actually inspired Oppenheimer to name his test site for the atomic bomb “Trinity.”

Additional performances at the Santa Fe Opera are on July 27, and August 2, 7 and 16. Tickets are available online.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Andrew Potter's shirtless Fafner at Pittsburgh Festival Opera

Andrew Potter as Fafner (Images: Pittsburgh Festival Opera)
The Pittsburgh Opera Festival is kicked off their English language version of Wagner's Ring Cycle on July 13th with the sexy and shirtless Fafner of Andrew Potter in The Rhinegold (Das Rheingold).

The Pittsburgh Ring is based on a version by composer Jonathan Dove, John McMurray, and Graham Vick, which slightly condenses the orchestration and length of the works (none last longer than three hours) while retaining the authenticity of the original. The Rhinegold runs approximately two hours.

Andrew Potter's Fafner, who has already being turned by the power of the Ring, comes out in the final fanfare and begins shirtlessly attacking the walls of Valhalla as the gods aloofly celebrate in their beautiful tower.

There are remaining performances on July 15 and 17, and tickets and additional cast information is available online. The Ring Cycle continues over the next three years.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Watch Mariusz Kwiecien in complete Don Giovanni from London

Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni (Image: Royal Opera House)
You can watch barihunks Mariusz Kwiecien and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo in a complete broadcast of Don Giovanni from the Royal Opera House in London until August 11, 2018 by clicking HERE.

Marc Minkowski conducts Kasper Holten's 2014 production, which features ink blot splatter across a set by award-winning designer Es Devlin with video designs by Luke Halls.

The cast also includes Rachel Willis-Sørensen, Pavol Breslik and Hrachuhi Bassenz.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Joa Helgessen goes mad while suspended from hooks

Joa Helgessen as the Mad King
Barihunk Joa Helgessen just performed "Eight Songs for a Mad King - A Man Hanged" at the Halland Opera & Vocal Festival. The piece is based on Peter Maxwell Davies' monodrama based on the words of George III.

The fiendishly difficult piece is a disturbing and poignant portrayal of madness, which requires the singer to vocalize oddly as he bemoans his fate and tries to teach his instrumentalist-birds to sing. Helgessen and his creative team made the task even more difficult by suspending the singer on hooks attached to his skin.

The inclusion of body suspension in the piece is intended to show George in all his humanity and reflect on his vulnerability and the actual treatment that he endured. The performance ends with a showcase of the actual sounds made by a body under immense pressure, as microphones are attached to Helgesson’s body taking up the sounds of his muscles contracting during the suspension. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Glimmerglass Festival to present "Silent Night"

Michael Hewitt
Barihunk and fitness guru Michael Hewitt will portray Lt Horstmayer in the Glimmerglass Festival's production of Kevin Puts' Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night. The cast also includes Conor McDonald as Ponhel, Jonathan Bryan as Lt Gordon, Wm. Clay Thompson as Father Palmer, Brian Wallin as the German General, Michael Miller as Lt Audebert, Mary Hangley as Anna Sørensen, Arnold Livingston Geis as Nikolaus Sprink, Christian Sanders as Jonathan Dale, Kayla Siembieda as Madeleine Audebert, Tim Bruno as General Audebert  and Dale Travis as the British Major. Nicole Paiement will conduct.  

Performances run from July 15 – August 23 and tickets are available online

Silent Night at Glimmerglass (Image: Glimmerglass Festival)
The opera is based on the screenplay Joyeux Noël by Christian Carion and recounts a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history. On WWI’s western front, Scottish, French and German officers defy their superiors and negotiate a Christmas Eve truce. Enemies become brothers as they share Christmas and bury their dead.

The Minnesota Opera presented the world premiere of Silent Night in November 2011 with a cast that included barihunks Craig Irvin as Lieutenant Horstmayer, Gabriel Preisser as Lieutenant Gordon,  Mike Nyby as William Dale, Liam Bonner as Lieutenant Audebert, Troy Cook as Father Palmer, Joseph Beutel as the British Major, Ben Wager as the General and Andrew Wilkowske as Ponchel.

The opera has also been performed at the Washington National Opera, Opera North, Austin Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Fort Worth Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Calgary Opera, Atlanta Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Piedmont Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Opera de Montreal. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Nicolas Simeha in world premiere of "Seven Stones"

Nicolas Simeha in Seven Stones (Photo: Festival d'Aix-en-Provence)
French barihunk Nicolas Simeha will be one of four singers in the  world premiere of Ondřej Adámek's "Seven Stones." The a capella piece is written for four solo singers and twelve choristers. Including today, the work will have five performances through July 14 at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence's Jeu de Paume Theatre.

Ondřej Adámek is considered one of the leading representatives of the European new wave of composers. He based the libretto on a work by Icelandic poet Sjón, who is a frequent collaborator with Björk.

The opera’s seven tableaux evoke seven stones, seven scenes that connect the Biblical era to modern times. The condensed, interdisciplinary work proposes a new performance canvas in which the singers are invited to double up as instrumentalists, dancers and actors.

The opera's website description of the story is as follows:
"A mineralogist-collector who has got lost down a snowy lane remembers: many years earlier, he had gone in search of the first stone – the one that was almost used to stone to death the adulterous woman who was saved by Christ. During this seven-year long journey that takes him from Buenos Aires to Paris and from Japan to Iceland, the collector discovered many other stones... And the end of his journey leads to the conclusion of his quest – and to tragedy."
Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Nicolas Simeha is perfectly suited to this work, as he is a member of the multidisciplinary company Elastic Theatre with whom he premiered Baroque Box and Julius. He collaborated with the Dancer Darren Ellis, appeared as the first bad robber in Judith Weir’s Vanishing Bridegroom,, sang with a computer for Oded Ben Tal, premiered Kate Whitley’s opera In Flagrante, embodied Gurdjieff’s thoughts sculpted by Giorgi Janiashvili, and even modeled for photographer Romain Leblanc.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hadleigh Adams in sexy, controverial Quartett at West Edge Opera

Hadleigh Adams and Heather Buck (photo: Cory Weaver)
Bass-barihunk Hadleigh Adams will headline 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 play by the [East] German playwright Heiner Muller, 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 will direct three performances of the opera on August 11, 16 and 19 at the Craneway Pavilion 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.

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.

The Seduction Scene from Quartett at La scala:

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.”

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 the 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. Performances are on August 4, 12 and17

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. Performances are on August 5, 10 and 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.