Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shirtless video of Dominik Köninger singing and dancing in Orpheus

Dominik Köninger
We've been huge fans of German barihunk Dominik Köninger ever since he wowed the judges at the 2011 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. We always knew that he could sing, but now with this new video of him as Orpheus in Komische Oper's controversial Monterverdi Trilogy, we've learned he can dance, too! Check him out singing and dancing in Act 2 and then giving a tour de force shirtless performance in Act 5.

Dominik Köninger
The production is by Barrie Kosky, who took the world by storm with his innovative production of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Komische Oper, which was recently performed at the Los Angeles Opera and is now headed to the Minnesota Opera. There has seldom been a production where a singer was asked to sing, dance and perform this much and Köninger pulls it off brilliantly. It's evident from these videos why in the last few years he's become one of the most talked about and heralded young singers in the business.

Köninger starred in the marathon musical interpretation of Monteverdi's trilogy by the Uzbek composer Elena Kats-Chernin which was performed in a single day, running from 11a.m. until 11p.m. The trilogy included Orpheus, Odysseus and Poppea and feautured 200 artists on stage. The production definitely wasn't for purists as Kat-Chermin integrated jazz, klezmer, tango, and ragtime into the score.

Dominik Köninger sings a riveting rendition of "Machtvolle Gottheit" from Orpheus:

Köninger can currently be seen at the Komische Opera as Pantalone in Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, which runs through February 19th. He then returns to his popular potrayal of Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, which he's alternating with Tom Erik Lie through May 4.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Brokeback Mountain" to be broadcast February 7th

Daniel Okulitch in Brokeback Mountain
In response to our most asked question of the last few week, we're are thrilled to announce that Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain will be broadcast live from Madrid’s Teatro Real on Friday, February 7 at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST.

You can tune in to Medici.TV to watch the production.

Barihunk couple featured in Valentine's Day concert

Barihunks Zach Altman and Dan Kempson appeared together in our very first Barihunks Charity Calendar sporting their Barihunk tee shirts and creating a sensation with readers. Kempson is known for his stunningly beautiful voice and musicianship, while Altman has forged a reputation as a captivating all-around performer.

Their 2011 wedding made the New York Times wedding announcements and now the duo gets to perform together as a couple. They will be teaming up with two other operatic couples for "Something Sweet..." as part of West Edge Opera's continuously adventurous and innovative programming. The concert will be on Valentine's Day at the Piedmont Center for the Arts (near Oakland and San Francisco). We're thrilled that the company, which used to be known as Berkeley Opera, is using the picture of the couple in their Barihunk tee shirts in promotional materials.

Joining them on Valentine's Day will be soprano Buffy Baggott and tenor Pedro Rodelas, and tenor Adam Flowers and mezzo-soprano Nicole Takesono. We haven't been able to confirm the program for Kempson and Altman except for "Lily's Eyes" from Secret Garden. There is a campy production of the two singing the number on YouTube.

We recently wrote about Dan Kempson sharing the stage with another barihunk, Matthew Morris, in an upcoming production of Puccini's La bohème with the Savannah Symphony. Altman's next stage appearance is as Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with Opera San Jose from February 15 - March 2.

David Adam Moore shirtless as Silvio; Debuting Dead Man Walking this summer

David Adam Moore as Silvio and Adina Nitescu as Nedda
The long-awaited production of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci has opened at the San Diego Opera and there are still three performances left to catch barihunk David Adam Moore heat up the stage as Silvio. This production is being directed by Australian stage director Andrew Sinclair, who thankfully has the popular Barihunks calendar model shirtless. Moore is returing to the company after his heralded 2010 swashbuckling company debut as Mercutio in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet.

The role of Silvio is not new to the American singer, as he's performed it with the New Orleans Opera. Music critic George Dansker praised those performances in Opera News: "Moore offered a gorgeously sung Silvio, and his acting, particularly his harrowing reactions to what was happening during the commedia, was top notch."

Remaining performances are tonight, Friday January 31 and Sunday February 2 and tickets are available online

 Interview with David Adam Moore:

Moore will be taking on what is arguably the sexiest barihunk role this summer, when he debuts as death row inmate Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at the Des Moines Metro Opera. Performances will run from June 28-July 6 and tickets are currently only on sale to subscribers. We'll keep you posted about individual tickets sales.

Next on his agenda is a return to Israel, where he will sing Dr. Malatesta in Donizettis comedy Don Pasquale at the Israeli Opera from February 18 - March 1. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

First "Brokeback Mountain" video released; Daniel Okulitch's doppelgänger

The first preview of Charles Wuorinen's Brokeback Mountain with video has finally been released by the Teatro Real in Madrid. You read more about the opera in our last post.

While we were looking at the video, it dawned on us that barihunk Daniel Okulitch reminded us of someone else who has been in the news, Super Bowl-bound quarterback Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.

Peyton Manning and Daniel Okulitch

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Paul Robeson's nude modeling history

Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson was a great singer, actor, athlete, political activist and human rights activist in the first half of the 20th century. He excelled at everything he did, earning a scholarship to Rutgers University in 1915 at age 17, being elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, being selected a member of the Rutgers Cap and Skull society and then moving on to a distinguished career in the theater, opera, radio and the movies.

He also did some nude modeling for photographer Nickolas Muray, who later went to photograph President Eisenhower, painter Freda Kahlo, actresses Colleen Moore and Greta Garbo, and the Lucky Strike girls.

Paul Robeson
According to the book "The Undiscovered Paul Robeson," which was written from material obtained from his diaries, "Paul was unabashed in posing nude...He was the first African-American celebrity to do so. In contrast to the conservatism that was a hallmark of the African-American cultural tradition, he felt he was participating in a worthy artistic venture."

Robeson also posed nude for Italian-American sculptor Antonio Salemme. In 1924, the sculptor  saw a performance of Eugene O'Neill's drama ''The Emperor Jones'' starring Robeson that affected him for the rest of his life. Salemme invited Robeson to pose for him, and out of these sessions came not only a friendship, but also a full-figure nude portrait of the actor in bronze-colored plaster, ''Negro Spiritual.''

Paul Robeson "Negro Spiritual"
The piece was exhibited at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco before spending the summer of 1930 on display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. That same summer the Philadelphia Art Alliance asked Salemme to send the Robeson sculpture for an exhibition, then declined to exhibit it. Later that year, New York City's Union League Club planned to display the piece as part of its yearly homage to the arts, but quickly reversed their decision when members complained. Salemme applied a plaster fig leaf over Robeson's genitals, but it didn't appease the League and the sculpture was removed from the exhibit eliciting a series of anti-censorship editorials.

In the early 1930s, Salemme took the piece to Paris under a Guggenheim Grant for display until shipping it to a foundry to be cast, thinking he had a buyer. The sale fell through, Salemme's money ran out, and World War II loomed. He returned to the United States without it, its fate never known.

Salemme also created a number of bronze busts of Robeson. One is on display at Rutgers University, one is at the Paul Robeson Foundation, and others are in private hands. After the sculptor's death, his wife Martha donated her last copy to the Allentown Art Museum, which owns a number of his works.

Paul Robeson in Show Boat:

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, on April 9, 1898, Robeson made his singing recital and his film debut in 1925. The movie Body and Soul, was a rather murky melodrama that nevertheless was ahead of its time in its depictions of black characters. Although Robeson played a scurrilous, corrupt clergyman who takes advantage of his own people, his dynamic personality managed to shine through.

Radio and recordings helped spread his name across foreign waters. His resonant bass was a major highlight in the London production of "Show Boat" particularly with his powerful rendition of "Ol' Man River." He remained in London to play the role of Shakespeare's "Othello" in 1930 (at the time no U.S. company would hire him), and was again significant in a highly controversial production. Paul caused a slight stir by co-starring opposite a white actress, Peggy Ashcroft, who played Desdemona.

Paul Robeson as Othello:

His last movie would be the Hollywood production Tales of Manhattan (1942), which he critiqued for its demeaning portrayal of African-Americans.

A beloved international figure, Robeson regularly spoke out against racial injustice and was involved in world politics. He supported Pan-Africanism, sang for Loyalist soldiers during Spain's civil war, took part in anti-Nazi demonstrations and performed for Allied forces during WWII. He also visited the Soviet Union several times during the mid-1930s, taken by much of its culture and ideas.

Robeson was labeled a communist, and was barred by the State Department from renewing his passport in 1950 to travel abroad for engagements. Despite his immense popularity, he was blacklisted from domestic concert venues, recording labels and film studios.

Robeson published his biography, Here I Stand, in 1958, the same year that he won the right to have his passport reinstated. Robeson published his biography, Here I Stand, in 1958, the same year that he won the right to have his passport reinstated. Robeson died from a stroke on January 23, 1976, at the age of 77, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Matthew Worth debuts new website: Moby-Dick on the horizon

As we mentioned in a previous post, barihunk Matthew Worth will be making his debut with the Washington National Opera as Starbuck in Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick. Worth will take on the role that fellow barihunk Morgan Smith performed in the premiere and which is featured on DVD. That performance was named "Best Opera on DVD" in our "Best of 2013" feature last month.

Matthew Worth
We can't wait to hear the sublimely gifted Worth take on the critical role of Captain Ahab's first mate Starbuck, the family man who tries desperately to dissuade Ahab from his single-minded, suicidal pursuit of Moby-Dick. The role includes more beautiful baritone music from Jake Heggie in the aria "Captain Ahab? I must Speak with you."

Matthew Worth performs Schumann's Dichterliebe (complete):

In anticipation of this major debut, the Connecticut native has launched a new website, which features a generous supply of photos and two videos. You can check out the site HERE.

In addition to two upcoming recitals, he will return to the Pittsburgh Opera in April as title character in Philip Glass' Orphée, a role that he received critical acclaim performing at the Virginia Opera last year. He was joined in that production by fellow barihunk Christopher Temporelli and one of our Barihunks Calendar grantees for 2013, tenor Jonathan Blalock.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Barihunks Samuel Johnson & Yuriy Yurchuk selected as Jette Parker Young Artists

Samuel Johnson
Barihunk Samuel Johnson, who we introduced to readers last summer, and Ukrainian bass-barihunk Yuriy Yurchuk, who is new to the site, are two of the five singers who will join the Royal Opera's Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in September 2014. They'll be joined by Australian soprano Lauren Fagan, British bass James Platt, and Australian tenor Samuel Sakker.

The audition process for the selection of the Jette Parker Young Artists began last September. 66 artists were selected to sing in the first of three rounds with 25 progressing to the second round involving a one-to-one coaching session with David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Programme, plus a panel audition for John Fulljames, Associate Director of Opera, Peter Katona, Director of Casting and David Syrus, Head of Music for The Royal Opera, as well as English counter-tenor Andrew Watts and David Gowland.

Yuriy Yurchuk
A final shortlist of 12 singers auditioned on the main stage in front of a panel comprising Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, Kasper Holten, Director of Opera, Peter Katona, David Syrus, Andrew Watts, David Gowland and Siri Fischer Hansen, Administrator of the Programme.
The five new Young Artists will join the six who continue in the program into their second year next season: sopranos Anush Hovhannisyan and Kiandra Howarth, mezzo-sopranos Nadezhda Karyazina and Rachel Kelly, tenor Luis Gomes and stage director Greg Eldridge.

Yuriy Yurchuk sings Aleko's cavatina by Rachmaninov:

The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme supports the artistic development of young professional singers, conductors, directors and répétiteurs. The Young Artists are an international group of outstanding professionals at the start of their careers who have undertaken formal training and have already worked with professional companies. They are not students, but contracted, salaried employees of the Royal Opera House, who work for the company full-time over two years. The Young Artists work on productions for The Royal Opera, singing small roles, covering larger roles or joining the music or directing staff.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Craig Verm to premiere mountain climbing opera in Dallas

Craig Verm
Barihunk Craig Verm will star in British composer Joby Talbot first opera, Everest, which will premiere at the Dallas Opera during the 2014/15 season. Verm is been a popular model in our Barihunks Charity Calendar whose career has been on a steady ascent the last few years. This role appears to be a major breakthrough for the Texas native, who has been a regular with the Pittsburgh Opera.

It's the fifth opera that the Dallas Opera has commissioned in recent years, which also includes  Tobias Picker's Thérèse Raquin, Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick, Jake Heggie's A Question of Light and Jake Heggie's Great Scott, which is scheduled to premiere in October 2015. (We're particularly excited about Great Scott, due to Jake Heggie's propensity to write baritone leading roles).

 Craig Verm and Sean Pannikar sing the Pearl Fishers duet:

Based on a harrowing 1996 expedition to summit the world’s tallest mountain peak.  Everest will blend documented facts and contemporary recollections of the transformative journey experienced by Everest survivors, with flights of the imagination designed to keep audience members transfixed in this harshly beautiful place at the top of the world. The story has been the subject of two films and at least five books to date. 

This project will mark composer Joby Talbot’s first foray into opera, after establishing himself as a significant composer of original works for the recording studio, stage and screen.  Among his best-known composition are the rapturously received ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2011) commissioned by the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden and the National Ballet of Canada, and original film and British television scores including The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, based on the iconic science fiction of the late Douglas Adams, who also contributed the screenplay for the 2005 release.

"This assignment is extremely exciting for me- it is the merging of two great passions of mine: opera and mountaineering. I would never have guessed they would ever intersect on stage! I've sung arias on top of quite a few mountaintops in Colorado to many unsuspecting climbers and various marmots & chipmunks. Never thought I'd get to bring my own crampons and ice axe to an opera rehearsal!! Also the source material for the opera, Into thin Air, by Jon Krakauer, is one of my favorite books. I read it as soon as it came out in the late 90's, and it inspired me to become a backpacking and rock climbing guide during my college summers. "

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dan Kempson & Matthew Morris together in La bohème

Dan Kempson & Matthew Morris from previous Barihunks calendars
Two of the most popular guys to ever appear in our annual Barihunks Charity Calendar will be appearing together on stage together. Dan Kempson and Matthew Morris will be performing scenes from Puccini's La bohème with the Savannah Symphony at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts on January 31st.

Kempson will perform Marcello and Morris will take on Schaunard. The duo will be joined by Meechot Marrero as Mimi, Amy Shoremount-Obra as Musetta, Cooper Nolan as Rodolfo and Scott Russell as Colline. Tickets range from $16 to $70 and are available online.

Dan Kempson in Sweeney Todd
Upcoming performances for Kempson include a reprisal of his critically acclaimed performance in Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox with the Skylight Music Theater from March 14-30. He then takes on the role of Lieutenant Gordon in Kevin Puts' Silent Night at the Fort Worth Opera Festival. The cast also includes fellow barihunks Morgan Smith and Craig Irvin. Performances are on May 4 and 10 and tickets are available online.

We also suggest you check out Kempson's sound files on his website, which includes one of the most beautiful performances of Johanna from Sondheim's Sweeney Todd that we've ever heard.

Matthew Morris performing in Santa Fe (Photo by Barihunks)
Upcoming performances for Matthew Morris include Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem from February 19-23 with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. On April 10 and 12 he sings the complete role of Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème with the El Paso Opera. Tickets are available online.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All-star "Three Barihunks" concert coming to Edmonton

Philippe Sly, Elliot Madore & Gordon Bintner (L-R)
We can't begin to tell you how often we're contacted because someone wants to put on a "Three Barihunks" concert, yet they never seem to come to fruition. It looks like the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Edmonton Opera are going to beat everyone to the punch and they're appropriating the name "No Tenors Allowed" from the 1999 concerts and recording by Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey. [The funniest barihunk concert proposal we heard about was going to be called "No Shirts Allowed" and it was supposed to be an AIDS fundraiser in New York].

The Edmonton team has managed to bring in three of the hottest and most vocally gifted baritones singing in the world today and they all happen to be Canadians. Gordon Bintner, Elliot Madore, and Philippe Sly will join forces with conductor Bill Eddins for a program of from music from Bizet's Carmen, Verdi's Macbeth, Rossini's Barber of Seville, and Wagner's Tannhäuser.

The concert will be on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 7:30 PM at Enmax Hall in the Winspear Centre in Edmonton. For lovers of barihunks, we have to think that this is the hottest ticket of 2014! We've heard all three singers live and we can pretty much guarantee a night of visual and aural bliss. You can listen to six audio selections from Elliot Madore on his website.

Phillipe Sly sings Gustav Mahler's "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen":

 Gordon Binter performs at FestiVoix:

This season, Elliot Madore continues as a member of the ensemble at Opernhaus Zürich where he made his role debut as Valentin in Jan Philipp Gloger’s new production of Gounod's Faust. The title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni will serve as

Promo video released for Edwin Crossley-Mercer's NY debut

Edwin Crossley-Mercer finally makes NY debut

It's no secret that like much of the opera world has been eagerly anticipating Edwin Crossley-Mercer's long-awaited New York debut on March 3, 2014 at the Weill Concert Hall. He will be performing Carmina Catulli, a 17-movement song cycle by Michael Linton based on the poems of Catullus, the Latin poet of the late Roman Republic. The song cycle comes with the warning, "Because the poems of Catullus deal with issues of sex in a frank manner, some members of the public might find them objectionable. "

We've certainly been curious about the music for his Big Apple debut and now the following promo video is available for the recital. Let's just say that it's not exactly Schubert's Winterreise. Michael Linton’s music is notorious for its emotional ferocity and extraordinary technical difficulty. The rest of the program will include Linton's Seven Franchetti Songs, settings of poetry by the Italian-American polymath Cody Franchetti. They will be performed by tenor H. Stephen Smith. The accompanist for the concert is Jason Paul Peterson.

Tickets are on sale now at the Carnegie Hall website, but we recommend buying now as the theater only holds 268 people. If you can't make it to the show, the songs were recently recorded in Nashville, Tennessee for release around the time of the recital. We will keep you posted. 

If you're in Europe, you can catch Crossley-Mercer as Jupiter in Rameau's Platée at the Theater an der Wien from February 17-28 and again at the Opéra Comique from March 20-30. His next European recital is April 10th at the Auditorium du Musée d’Orsay.

Friday, January 17, 2014

First Rehearsal Pictures from Wuorinen's "Brokeback Mountain"

Tom Randle & Daniel Okulitch
Tom Randle & Daniel Okulitch
Tom Randle & Daniel Okulitch
One of the most anticipated opera premieres of 2014 is undoubtedly Charles Wuorinen's Brokeback Mountain, which premieres January 28 at Madrid's Teatro Real. We've certainly received numerous request about rehearsal photos or clips, which we're thrilled to announce have finally become available. Canadian bass-barihunk Daniel Okulitch stars as Ennis Del Mar and the American tenor Tom Randle portrays Jack Twist (played in the film version by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal).

The composer worked closely with Annie Proulx, the author of the original story. Wuorinen points out that the opera will be much different than the film, particularly making the Wyoming setting more ominous.

Listen to Charles Wuorinen discuss the opera:

The opera was originally commissioned by Gerard Mortier for the New York City Opera in 2008 and he brought it to Teatro Real before his recent departure.

The English language opera is in two acts and lasts just over two hours. It is scheduled to run at the until February 11.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kasey Yeargain: Another inspirational BariChunk to BariHunk story

Kasey Yeargain
We've featured some amazing stories about singers getting in shape, something that we've dubbed "BariChunk to BariHunk" for the lower voiced men in opera. Perhaps none was as dramatic as Michael Mayes' losing 50 pounds to perform Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which we featured almost two years ago. That story generated an unbelievable amount of traffic to the site and continues to get frequent hits to this day. It also generated a basket full of emails from singers who were inspired by Mayes' story, including one from an Eastern Europe soprano who claims that it saved her life and gave her new found hope.
Chris Carr toned up. He looks and sounds better than ever!

Michael Mayes became a much ballyhooed operatic sex symbol after his weight loss
Now we've come across the story of another emerging young singer, whose story touched us and we felt needed to be shared with the world. Meet Oklahoma native Kasey Yeargain, who was an apprentice artist at the Des Moines Metro Opera where he performed scenes from Moby Dick, Silent Night, Cosi fan Tutte, and Billy Budd and performed in the mainstage performances of Peter Grimes, Elektra, and Romeo and Juilette. Des Moines Metro Opera seems to be where a lot of singers get in shape. It's no coincidence that Michael Mayes regularly performs there and drags unwitting singers to the gym willingly or by force!  
On May 2nd, Yeargain will make his professional debut as Zuniga in Carmen with Tulsa Opera.
Here's his story of personal transformation in his own words:

"So, in March of 2013 I had just broken up with my girlfriend, I had an absolutely horrible audition season, and the reality of the struggles of being a professional opera singer were really hitting me hard. At this point in my life I was anywhere between 270 to 300lbs, very overweight, depressed, and so insecure about every aspect of my life that it was starting to effect my personal relationships. So, one day, I woke up and said "I'm tired of being a schmuck." That's when I began the change. I did as much bro-science/Youtube research that I could and decided to start cutting my calories and begin Intermittent Fasting. I combined this with weight lifting and hour long walks. The weight practically fell off. I was losing between 3-5lbs a week. At this point I would fill my calories with whatever, but trying to stay clean.
Mezzo Mary Beth Nelson and Kasey Yeargain looking good!
My greatest obstacle: One of the only good things that came from my auditions last year was earning a position as an apprentice artist at Des Moines Metro Opera. But, I knew that summer programs tend to do two things: increase your daily drinking and make you gain weight. I was determined to drink very little and LOSE weight. I was tempted by scotch and snacks EVERY night. That combined with after show parties, group dinners, and the never ending treats, I was constantly tested! My secret: Epic cheat days. Every Saturday I ate anything and everything I wanted. My fellow apprentice artists called it Faturday. It satiated my taste for junk food and gave me something to look forward to. I ran and lifted weights every day, and I was constantly looking for pick up games of basketball to play with the other apprentice artists. (I kept them in shape!!!!)

My weight loss continued throughout the program and after I left. However, I was an idiot and let my calories get cut down to 1600. That combined with the amount of exercise I was doing, I was in full blown starvation mode. My weight loss stalled completely. I did some more research and began reverse dieting "Slowly adding in calories," still indulging in my cheat days. My weight loss picked up again. I got down to 203lbs and began focusing hard on increasing the weight on my big lifts. Bench, dead lift, squat, pull ups and dips. I also began to track my macros, making sure I got efficient amounts of protein. I bulked back up to 211lbs and began a small cut to get the lean, scrappy look I wanted for Frank Maurrant in Street Scene. I stopped looking at the scale and focused on the mirror. I got lean enough where I even had a (brief) shirtless scene.

After completing Street Scene and my recital, I finally weighed myself again. I weighed 196lbs. I had lost anything between 80-100lbs. I went from a 40inch waist to a 34. AND, I got stronger. But, more than anything, I now have a sense of confidence that I've never had before. I know that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. If anybody has any questions, please feel free to hit me up."

Andrew Garland in recital of Jewish Composers

Andrew Garland as photographed by Matt Madison-Clark
Andrew Garland will be performing a recital of "Jewish Composers of the 19th & 20th Century" on Sunday, January 19 at 3pm. The recital is part of the Molly Blank Jewish Concert Series at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta which celebrates the Jewish contribution to music. The concert series is a partnership with the Atlanta Opera.

Garland's recital will include music from the German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn, late-Romantic Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, and American composer Leonard Bernstein. Garland will be accompanied by a string quartet made up of members of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra.

You also may want to check out the review of Andrew Garland's CD "American Portraits" from the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Journal, which is one of the best reviews we've ever read. You may recall that we named his CD one of our "Barihunks Best of 2013."

Accompanied by Donna Loewy on piano, Garland sings four song cycles, Stephen Paulus' "A Heartland Portrait,"  Tom Cipullo's "America1968" (dedicated to Garland and Loewy), Lori Laitmen's "Men with Small Heads" and Jake Heggie's  and "The Moon is a Mirror." You can order a copy at GPR Records.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Timothy McDevitt to reprise successful Les Mamelles de Tirésias performance

Tim McDevitt in Les Mamelles de Tirésias
Barihunk calendar model Timothy McDevitt will be performing the role of Le Mari in
Francis Poulenc’s first opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias at La Monnaie in Brussels. He'll be sharing performances with Jean-Jacques L'Anthoën. The production runs from January 16-19.

Les Mamelles de Tirésias, was composed during the Second World War and was based on a surrealist play of the same name by Guillaume Apollinaire. This production revives the arrangement for two pianos Benjamin Britten wrote in close collaboration with Poulenc, a version of the score that has not been played ever since its creation in 1958. By mixing dance and singing, the director Ted Huffman, together with young singers, reveals the poetic madness of this work.

You can check out this short film that was done for the European Network of Opera Academies and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence by Claudia Lee.

We contacted La Monnaie to see if Les Mamelles de Tirésias would be broadcast like their other operas, which you can view for three weeks after the performance. Unfortunately, they said that at this time there are no plans to broadcast the performance. We seriously hope that they reconsider.  Being able to watch their recent production of Thomas' Hamlet with Stephane Degout was a beautiful gift to the world of opera.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek & Matthew Anchel star in "Grease" parody

"Summer Nights" leads Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta and Matthew Anchel & Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek
A video resurfaced last week of a bunch of students at the 2013 Music Academy of the West (MAW) in Santa Barbara, California performing a parody of "Summer Loving" from Grease. The video was created and produced by one of the funniest people in all of opera, bass Matthew Anchel. He plays the Olivia Newton-John role of Sandy Olsson, while barihunk Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek cranks up the hotness knob on John Travolta in the Danny Zuko role. The video is actually part of a 24-minute video called "Real Housewives of MAW."

The Music Academy of the West is a well-respected summer music festival for young artists, which has been under the direction of the legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne since 1997.

 Watch the MAW and original version of "Summer Nights":

You can also catch Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek onstage as Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème with the Townsend Opera in Modesto, California. The production, which is directed by Mark Streshinsky, will be performed on January 30 and February 1. Also in the cast is barihunk Eric Downs as Colline. Visit their website for ticket and performance information. He recently performed Schaunard with the Kentucky Opera.

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek
In July, Smith-Kotlarek will be returning to Music Academy of the West to sing Dancaïre in Bizet's Carmen. The performance is in honor of Marilyn Horne's 80th birthday.

You should also check out his personal trainer website.

Watch the entire video "Real Housewives of MAW":

Also appearing in the video are barihunk John Brancy, Diana Newman, Claire DeSevigny, Ashley Dannewitz, Julie Adams, Quinto Ott, Mingjie Lei, David Leigh, Emily Siar, John Churchwell, Jonathan MacArthur, Keith Colclough, J. Warren Mitchell, Alex Raszkazoff, Emma McNairy, Sara Couden, John Kapusta, Christina Giuca and Helen Becqué

Bass-Barihunk Colin Ramsey to make Seattle Opera debut

Colin Ramsey in L'incoronazione de Poppea at Opera NEO
We introduced bass-barihunk Colin Ramsey last summer as one of the guys on the Operaticus fitness site on Facebook. He just finished a run yesterday as Collatinus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia with Vespertine Opera in Seattle. We didn't have any pictures from the production, which is a shame, as it's one of our favorite operas to showcase barihunk talent. If some emerge, we promise to post them.

However, we did find a few amazing pictures of Colin Ramsey as Seneca in L’incoronazione di Poppea with Opera NEO, the summer opera festival and young artist workshop in San Diego, California.

Colin Ramsey & Alyssa Packard in L’incoronazione di Poppea:

If you missed this emerging barihunk, you'll have another shot when Ramsey makes his debut with the Seattle Opera as Mr. Kofner in Gian Carlo Menotti's The Consul. The opera runs from February 22-March 7. If you attend operas based on the Barihunk Quotient, then The Consul is a "must see" production, as it features barihunks Michael Todd Simpson as John Sorel, Steven LaBrie as the Secret Police Agent and Joseph Lattanzi as Assan.

Ramsey will reprise the role of Mr. Kofner in a different production of The Consul with Opera Santa Barbara on March 25 and 27.  That production will feature barihunk Joshua Jeremiah as John Sorel. In May, he moves back a few centuries to portray Somnus and Cadmus in the Pacific Musicworks's production of Handel's Semele in cooperation with the University of Washington.

Colin Ramsey in The Marriage Tango (L) and
L'incoronazione de Poppea (R)
Ramsey graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in 2011, where he received the Hugh Ross Award, awarded to singers with "unusual promise." An award winner with the Pasadena Opera Guild, he went on to become a studio artist at Opera Santa Barbara and the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program.

He made his debut with Opera Santa Barbara singing the Doganiere in La Boheme. At Wolf Trap Opera he was featured as Hermann in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, Jonas Fogg in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and as Figaro and Alidoro in a program of scenes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Barihunk trio featured in Lenya Competition Documentary

Zachary James, Justin Hopkins and Doug Carpenter (L-R)
Three brilliant, talented and sexy barihunks are featured in the new mini-documentary about the Lotte Lenya Competition: Justin Hopkins, Doug Carpenter and Zachary James. 

The 18-minute film offers a close-up view of the Lotte Lenya Competition, tracing the journey of the 2013 Competition through the semi-finals, finals, announcement of the winners, and a 15th anniversary celebration concert at New York's Symphony Space. Through live footage and interviews, "Singing the Story: The Lotte Lenya Competition" reveals the rigorous and unique nature of the Lenya Competition, which challenges singers to go beyond the usual "stand and sing" approach of vocal competitions by requiring them to present fully acted performances of wide-ranging theater repertoire, from opera to Broadway—to "sing the story."

You can watch the entire documentary below:

Watch Doug Carpenter's winning set from the 2013 competition below:

Steven LaBrie to perform in "Operetta and the Silver Screen"

Steven LaBrie appearing with Light Opera of New York
Barihunk and part-time MAC model Steven LaBrie is going to be part of Light Opera of New York's concert "Operetta and the Silver Screen" on Wednesday, January 15th.  He'll be joined by soprano Brittany Robinson, soprano Lauren Jelenkovich, tenor Matthew Mane and Gerald Martin Moore at the piano.

The concert will be at The Players, the club founded by Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth in 1847 and designed by noted architect Stanford White. Tickets are $50 and are available online.

You can catch LaBrie onstage this year in Menotti's The Consul at the Seattle Opera from February 22-March 7 and in Rossini's Le Comte Ory at the Des Moines Metro Opera from July 5-18.

Introducing a barihunk duo performing in Chicago: Carl Frank & Brian von Rueden

Carl Frank (L) and Brian von Rueden (R)
We saw Oliver Camacho, part of the OperaNow! podcast team, post a picture of Carl Frank on Facebook with the comment, "Future barihunk." We checked him out and figured, "Why wait?" While we were were checking out the program that they are both performing, we noticed yet another barihunk in the cast.

Meet Carl Frank and Brian von Rueden, who will both be performing in "Cantate Domino," a program of German and Danish cantatas from the 17th century. There will be two Chicago perfomances, the first on Thursday, January 9th at Ebenezer Lutheran Church and the second on Monday, January 13 at the Chicago Temple. Tickets are available online.

Carl Frank regularly performsin both opera and oratorio.  He is a recent member of the Florentine Opera Studio, where he performed El Dancairo in Bizet's Carmen, Sid in Britten's Albert Herring, and Antonio Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. He has also performed Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with the Arbor Opera Theater Training Workshop.  Other roles include Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, John Brooke in Adamo's Little Women, Der Tod in Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Dr. Falke in Strauss' Die Fledermaus and Ford in Verdi's Falstaff.

Frank holds degrees in both Political Science and Vocal Performance from DePauw University and received his Master of Music from the University of Michigan.

 Brian von Rueden sings Mozart's "Abendempfindung"  with VOX 3

A native of Wausau, Wisconsin, baritone Brian von Rueden has been active in multiple areas of classical music in the Chicago area for over a decade. He has performed in oratorios, recitals and operas, as well as programmed recitals, commissioned new works, and composed music.

Von Rueden has served as Artistic Director for VOX 3 Collective since it was founded in 2006.  In this role, he has programmed and appeared on over 40 recitals in the company’s six seasons to date, each with a different cultural or thematic focus.  As a singer, Von Rueden has appeared in various operas, including Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Britten's  Rape of Lucretia, Krasa’s Brundibar, and Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges.

He has also often appeared in concert repertoire, having sung the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, bass solos in Handel’s Messiah, Saint-Saëns' Christmas Oratorio, and several cantatas and masses of Johann Sebastian Bach, most notably with Ars Musica Chicago and the Chicago Bach Ensemble. Von Rueden can be heard on VOX 3 Collective’s recordings “New Song” and “Spirit Within,” singing Eric Reda’s Iconic Waltzes and Frank Ferko’s Merton Songs.

Von Rueden earned his Master of Business Administration from National Louis University, his Master of Music from Roosevelt University and his Bachelor of Music from Valparaiso University.

Also, make sure to check out the always erudite Oliver Camacho on the OperaNow! podcast, which is available on iTunes or online. He is generally joined by the prematurely retired barihunk Michael Rice, mezzo Jennifer Rice and the hyper-entertaining Doug Dodson.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

An overview of barihunks advancing in the Met Competition

We thought that we'd take a look at some of the baritones and basses who advanced in the Metropolitan Opera Regional Audtions. These singers will compete in the next round. This is list is not all-inclusive, but they are the singers who we've been following.

Edward Hanlon

Edward Hanlon, who we've featured before, was the winner of the Chicago District Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition held on October 12th at Northwestern University. He ended up taking 3rd place in the Metropolitan Opera Central Region. He's racked up a number of top prizes at other vocal competitions, as well. You can catch him as Frank in Strauss' Die Fledermaus with the Edmonton Opera from January 31- February 6.

Luis Alejandro Orozco

Mexican-American barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco has appeared on this site before. He was a winner of the District Council's competition in Indiana. Orozco is as graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and he has performed with the Lake George Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera,  El Paso Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Lexington Philharmonic, Florida Grand Opera and Opera Theater of St Louis. You can catch him reprise his sexy performance as El Payador in Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires with the Syracuse Opera, from January 31-February 9.

Robert Balonek

Robert Balonek was one of the winners of the Eastern District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He attended SUNY Purchase College and the Mannes School of Music where he performed with the Mannes Baroque Ensemble. In March, you can catch Balonek in a semi-staged performance of Handel's Alceste with the American Classical Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall.

Other low voice coming out of the Eastern District Auditions were Takaoki Onishi, Kyle Oliver, Scott Russell and Brian Vu.

Iain MacNeil
 Iain MacNeil sings Debussy's "Ballade des femmes de Paris:

Iain MacNeil was one of the winners at the Great Lakes Region auditions. He was born and raised in Brockville, Ontario and was introduced to opera during his first year at Dalhousie University. MacNeil is currently at the University of Toronto, where he is currently completing an opera diploma. In 2013, he participated in the Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival.

Andrew Bogard
We introduced Mid-Atlantic Region winner a little over a year ago. Bogard received his undergraduate degree in vocal performance from the Julliard School, where he performed the roles of Peter Quince in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cousin Brandon in Hindemith’s Long Christmas Dinner. Bogard won first place in the 2014 Mario Lanza Scholarship Competition.  Upcoming performances include the Maestro in Golijov''s Ainadamar at Opera Philadelphia and Alidoro in La Cenerentola at Curtis Institute of Music.

Jarrett Ott
Also advancing from the Mid-Atlantic Region is Jarrett Ott. He is finishing up his Master’s degree at the Curtis Institute of Music where he has performed  Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo, Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Gregor Mittenhoffer in Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers, Valentin in Gounod’s Faust, Harašta in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, and Le Mari in Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias. This season he will also perform Ned Rorem’s Evidence of Things Not Seen with Mikael Eliasen at various venues, as well as perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony with the Riverside Symphonia. At Curtis he will sing roles in Poulenc's Dialogues des carmélites and Rossini's La Cenerentola. You can listen to some sound clip HERE.

Samuel James Dewese

Samuel James Dewese advanced in the Midwest Region. Dewese is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he performed Mercurio in Cavalli's La Calisto, Anselmo in Man of La Mancha, and Mr. Gedge in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring. In July of 2011,  Dewese originated the role of Jackson the Slave in 1787: We the People with Creative Dramatics Workshop. He was named the Joann Damman Memorial Scholarship winner by the Bel Canto Foundation of Chicago in April 2010 and April 2011, as well as the recipient of the Golden Lyre Foundation Award from the University of Illinois School of Music in May 2011.

Steven Eddy
Indiana University graduate Steven Eddy advanced in Northwest Region Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions. Eddy attended one of our Barihunks lunches while performing in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos at the Fort Worth Opera Festival (which is where he got that great shirt!). He returns to the Festival this year singing the role of Ponchel in Kevin Puts’ Pulitzer-Prize winning opera Silent Night.

Andrew Craig Brown

Andrew Craig Brown advanced in the Western Regionals in Los Angeles. He graduated from the Yale School of Music where he performed in productions of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Stravinsky's Le Rossignol, Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Cosi fan Tutte. He has recorded the role of Il Duca Ramiro in Donizetti's Maria Padilla with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Patrick Murray
Patrick Murray also advanced at the Western Regionals in Los Angeles. Murray graduated from the University of Southern California before being a granted a Fulbright Scholarship, which allowed him to study in Vienna, Austria. He recently spent the winter as a Studio Artist with the Sarasota Opera and is being mentored by fellow barihunk Luca Pisaroni. You can listen to him sing HERE.

Jeff Williams

Pennsylvania native Jeffrey Williams, was one of our reader submissions last year, and he just advanced in the Nashville Auditions. Following a summer at the Russian Opera Workshop at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia he sworked with fellow barihunk Tom Krause at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and in Sachrang, Germany. Williams has portrayed Lord Ruthven in Marschner’s Der Vampyr, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Prince Yeletsky in Pique Dame, the title role in Rachmaninoff’s Aleko, the title role in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Rabonnier (La rondine), Le Commissaire (Orphée), Jack Point (Yeomen of the Guard), Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring), Strephon (Iolanthe) and Marchese d’Obigny (La Traviata), as well as opera chorus work with the Washington National Opera, the Baltimore Opera, and Florida Grand Opera.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock & Bass-Barihunk Aaron Sorensen receive latest Barihunks Calendar Grant

Aaron Sorensen and Jonathan Blalock
Our latest grantees from the proceeds of our 2014 Barihunks Charity Calendar may be a surprise to some people. We had a lot of interesting requests for the second grant, but none struck us as original as a concert featuring a tenor and a bass! That's what hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock and bass-barihunk Aaron Sorensen suggested and we loved the idea immediately.

We can't think of many times that we've ever seen that combination in a concert hall and we wanted to help make it happen. Although a place and time has not been set of this date, the discussion around the program is quite intriguing. We also believe that the recital will be paired with some other big announcements related to the two singers. Both singers are clearly on the cusp of major careers and theaters are taking notice.

Blalock as Lazaro in Before Night Falls, Photo by Ellen Appel.
Blalock recently premiered the role of Paul in Greg Spear's critically acclaimed opera Paul's Case with Urban Arias. He is reprising the role from January 8-13 with the Prototype Festival in New York. Barihunk Keith Phares is also reprising the role of Paul's father. The opera is based on the famous short story by Willa Cather. He first caught our eye with two stunning performances at the Fort Worth Opera Festival, appearing shirtless in both Jorge Martin's Before Night Falls and Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox. Last season, he was one of the many gifted young artists at the Santa Fe Opera.

We also first spotted Aaron Sorensen at the Fort Worth Opera where he appeared as Benoit and Alcindoro in La Boheme, as well as a hilarious turn as the Wigmaker in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. Sorensen is a true bass, which is a rarity in opera these days. We have a feeling that we'll be watching this amazing talent grow into a great Verdi/Wagner bass as his career advances.

The Nebraska native honed his craft at Yale Opera Program and has gone on to sing Masetto in
Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Father Trulove in Stravinky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Wolf Trap Opera, Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen and Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, and Britten's A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Tosca, and The
Rake’s Progress with Des Moines Metro Opera.

He'll be returning to the Fort Worth Opera Festival next season as the French General in Kevin Puts' Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night.