Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ludwig Mittelhammer wins Hugo Wolf Song Competition

Ludwig Mittelhammer
Barihunks continue to dominate vocal competitions worldwide, as Ludwig Mittelhammer took first prize in the International Hugo Wolf Song Competition in Stuttgart yesterday. Joined by Jonathan Ware at the piano, the 25-year-old German performed Krenek's Motiv and Auf und Ab, Schubert's Ganymed, An den Mond, Erlkönig, Wolf's An eine Äolsharfe, Der Tambour and Storchenbotschaft

Ludwig Mittelhammer performs Wolf's Fußreise and Benedeit die sel'ge Mutter and Schubert's Auf der Bruck in Round 1:

Ludwig Mittelhammer and Jonathan Ware in the final round of the Wolf Competition:

Mittelhammer was a boy soprano soloist with the famous Tölzer Boys Choir and became a member of the Bavarian Singakademie when his voice changed. He studied with Hartmut Elbert and was twice awarded with the “Bundespreis” at the Jugend-Musiziert Competition in the category ‘Duo-Kunstlied’ in 2007 and the ‘Gesang Solo’ in 2008. 

Since 2009, he has studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich and at the Bayerische Theaterakademie. In 2011, he joined the Extra Choir of the Bavarian Broadcasting Cooperation, as well as taking master classes with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg.

In 2010, he made his debut as Marco in Puccini‘s Gianni Schicchi at the German-French Forum Young Arts in Bayreuth. In 2013, he performed his first Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in Ulm and Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte in Bad Reichenhall. Earlier this year, he performed Demetrios in Oberteithner’s Aphrodite in Munich.

Mittelhammer was awarded the Special Prize for the best interpretation of a Goethe-Lied by Wolfgang Rihm at the 2014 Mendelssohn Competition in Berlin.

In 2013, the baritone made his debuts with Bochumer Symphoniker, at the International Festival Heidelberger Frühling and with Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, Ludwig Mittelhammer will go on tour with Concerto Köln singing Christus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Pictures from Lyric Opera of Chicago's Don Giovanni

Mariusz_Kwiecien & Marina Rebeka
Lyric Opera of Chicago opened their Diamond Anniversary season in style with a new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni directed by Robert Falls and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The cast includes two of the most popular barihunks on this site, Mariusz Kwiecien as the Don and Kyle Ketelsen as his sidekick Leporello. The vocally resplendent cast also includes Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ana María Martínez as Donna Elvira and Andriana Chuchman as Zerlina.

Lyric Opera of Chicago was quite generous in supplying pictures to the press, so we thought we'd share some of the best. The opera runs through October 29th and tickets are available online.

Don't forget to read Mariusz Kwiecien interview on their blog about singing Don Giovanni.

Kyle Ketelsen & Mariusz Kwiecien
Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Edwin Crossley-Mercer poses for Karl Lagerfeld

Edwin Crossley-Mercer in a Dior trenchcoat (Photo: Karl Lagerfeld)
We posted about barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer in Robert Carsen's production of Rameau’s Platée set at 31 Rue Cambon, birthplace of the Chanel fashion empire. Crossley-Mercer's Jupiter was styled as a Karl Lagerfeld lookalike with white ponytail and dark glasses. Juno, the queen of the gods, was decked out as Coco Chanel.

Karl Lagerfeld and Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Lagerfeld, an opera fan in his own right, attended a performance at the Opéra Comique and even greeted the singer backstage. The production also played at the Theater an der Wien and at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Lagerfeld must have been quite impressed with what he saw, because he followed up with a photo shoot of the popular baritone shooting him in a variety of couture.

Beginning on April 17, 2015, Crossley-Mercer will appear in another Robert Carsen production when he sings Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Paris Opera.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Christopher Burchett in new David Lang opera

Christopher Burchett
Christopher Burchett, who has managed to appear on this site in his underwear more than virtually any other barihunk, will be more fully clothed for his next appearance. On Sunday, September 28th, he'll be portraying Andrew in David Lang‘s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field at Roulette in Brooklyn.

The opera is based on an 1888 Ambrose Bierce story of the same name. It's about a slave owner in the pre-civil war American South who walks across his field and disappears, in plain view of his family, his neighbors and his slaves, forever altering the relationships among them. Everyone around him has his or her own view of what that disappearance means, of why it had to happen, and of what will happen now that there is a ‘hole’ where a man used to be.

The Difficulty of Crossing a Field is intended to cross between opera and theater worlds, mixing arias with spoken text, emotional melodies with intense drama. It is written for 5 principals and a small chorus, and the accompaniment is for string quartet on stage, both as the “orchestra” and as part of the set. Ultimately, it is an opera in which the damage done by slavery leaks from the physical to the metaphysical world.

The opera is presented by Beth Morrison Projects and tickets are available online.

Old Maids smitten with a shirtless Benjamin Curtis

Benjamin Curtis (Photo: Lauren Roberts- Wichita Falls Times Record News)
We featured Benjamin Curtis in a post about Lee Hoiby, but it was mostly about the composer and not the singer. After seeing this picture of him in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief with Opera Breve, we realized that we may have had it backwards. In the post, we featured Curtis singing Hoiby's sublime Private First Class Jesse Givens.

Curtis received his master of music from the Eastman School of Music and was a finalist in the Friends of Eastman Opera competition. He was awarded the Jury Honors award from the Eastman School of Music and the Outstanding Vocalist of the Year award from Liberty University. He was also a finalist in the annual Rochester Classical idol Competition held by the Rochester Oratorio Society.

In addition to the scene from The Old Maid and the Thief, he performed Billy in Carousel with Opera Breve. With the Loudoun Lyric Opera he performed the Pirate King in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance and Peter in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. 

Opera Breve is a New York-base company that provides young and emerging artists the opportunity to perform roles in the standard and modern operatic repertoire. You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Barihunk trio in Fantastic Mr. Fox in San Antonio

John Brancy: Fox and foxy
Opera San Antonio rolled out its initial season with Tobias Picker's chamber opera Fantastic Mr. Fox. Of course, what would make more sense than casting your fox with a foxy barihunk?  John Brancy takes on the title role in an impressive cast that also includes mezzo Renee Rapier as Mrs. Fox, tenor Theo Lebow as Mr. Porcupine, countertenor Andrey Nemzer as Agnes the Digger, Jonathan Blalock as Mr. Mole, Tynan Davis as Rita the Rat, soprano Elizabeth Futral as Miss Hedgehog, baritone Andrew Craig Brown as Boggis, tenor Edwin Vega as Bunce and baritone Gabriel Preisser as the gun-happy Bean. Andrew Craig Brown and Gabriel Preisser have both been featured on this site.

For those unfamiliar with story, Brancy's Mr. Fox is virtually moribund after having his tail shot off by money-loving farmers, only to become happy again after outwitting his enemies.

The new company has a hit on their hands, as the entire run at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater is completely sold out. Rumor has it that other companies are already looking at picking up the production.

Five years in the making, Opera San Antonio has produced its first fully staged opera after earlier organizing recitals and partnering with the San Antonio Symphony for a semi-staged production of  Dvorák’s Rusalka. Next up for the company, which is being led by Tobias Picker, is Richard Strauss’ Salome, a far cry from the children's story Fantastic Mr. Fox.

You can listen to an interview with John Brancy on Texas Public Radio by clicking HERE

Gabriel Preisser has a busy schedule coming up. to be a busy couple months. On October 5 and 6, he heads to Philadelphia for a recital with Lyric Fest of German lieder. He then sings Escamillo with Florida Opera Theatre in Orlando on October 17 and 19, and then again in Duluth, Minnesota with the Lyric Opera of the North on November 15. On November 23, he'll sing Orff's Carmina Burana at the new Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Barihunk quartet in Minnesota Opera's Girl of the Golden West

Christian Zaremba as Ashby and Andrew Lovato as Sonora (Photo: Michal Daniel)
Apparently, Don Giovanni isn't the only opera that deliver barihunks in bunches. We recently posted about a barihunk duo in Puccini's La fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West), only to find out that the Minnesota Opera has doubled the eye candy and presented a barihunk quartet in their current production.

Led my the amazing and ageless Greer Grimsley in the critical role of Jack Rance, the opera also features Andrew Lovato as Sonora, Rodolfo Nieto as Castro and Christian Zaremba as Ashby. We recently featured Lovato when he was part of the Santa Fe Apprentice Artist Program. Zaremba and Nieto are new to this site and have both somehow managed to sneak below our radar.

Greer Grimsley as Jack Rance (Photo: Michal Daniel)
Zaremba made his debut this summer at the Glimmerglass Festival as the bass soloist in David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion and appeared as Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. Other credits include Il Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen and Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, as well as Don Basilio in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Long Island Opera and Capitol Heights Opera. This past season, he was the bass soloist in Handel's Messiah with the Annapolis Chorale and Mozart's Requiem with the St. Cloud Orchestra.

He made his debut with Minnesota Opera last season as Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Lamoral in Richard Strauss' Arabella and the Innkeeper in Puccini's Manon Lescaut). He returns to the Minnesota Opera next season as Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen.

Rodolfo Nieto
Rodolfo Nieto has appeared with the Minnesota Opera in various roles including Horatio in Thomas' Hamlet, Johann in Massenet's Werther, Scottish Soldier #1 in the world premier of Puts' Silent Night, Joseph in Wuthering Heights, and Colline in Puccini's La bohème. Other roles include Alidoro in Rossini's La cenerentola with Lakes Area Music Festival, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte with Green Mountain Opera Festival, and Don Alfonso in Mozart's Così fan tutte with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater. 

There are additional performances of La fanciulla del West on September 25, 27 and 28. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Nicholas Nelson
UPDATE: We've just learned that it's actually a quintet of barihunks, but the Minnesota Opera didn't list the complete cast, so we missed Nicholas Nelson as Jim Larkens. (SHAME ON THEM!!!)

VANITY FAIR features Ildar Abdrazakov

Ildar Abdrazakov ( Jason Bell)
It's been a good month for Ildar Abdrazakov, who is getting a lot of great press coverage for being the featured star in the opening of the Metropolitan Opera - an honor usually reserves for sopranos and tenors. He was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and now this segment appeared in Vanity Fair with a stunning photo by Jason Bell:
It could almost be the plot of an opera: a dark, dashing descendant of both Genghis Khan and Tamerlane appears and sweeps all before him. But in the case of Russian-born bass Ildar Abdrazakov—“I’m one-fourth Tatar and three-fourths Bashkirian,” he says with a smile—it happens to be true. A native of Ufa, the capital of the Russian republic of Bashkortostan (also known as Bashkiria), Abdrazakov, 37, has emerged in the past few years as one of the most sought-after young basses in the operatic world. He was pitch-perfect as the brooding prince in the Metropolitan Opera’s production last season of Borodin’s Prince Igor. But what Abdrazakov actually likes best is Italian opera: “I only started singing the Russian roles when I came west,” he says. His supple, burnished bass shines in the lyrical Rossini-to-Verdi canon, along with his comedic flair.

This season he’ll star in a new Met production of Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by Richard Eyre, set in 1920s Seville. Abdrazakov made his debut as Figaro at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1998 and has since sung the part of Mozart’s beloved servant more than a hundred times. “There are many aspects of the role,” he says. “Comedy, drama, some lyric tones.” He keeps it fresh by always “finding something new, a small departure.” Abdrazakov loves working with the Met’s music director, James Levine, who will be conducting Figaro when it opens on September 22. “For him the acting is just as important as the music,” he says. “Even a hand gesture has to connect. It’s very organic—everything all together. He’s a genius.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Introducing Bass-Barihunk Sergey Khalikulov

Sergey Khalikulov
Meet Sergey Khalikulov, who will be singing the title role in the Waffle Opera's upcoming performances of Mozart's at the Creativity Theater in San Francisco. Waffle Opera is a brand new opera company founded by young artists with the purpose of promoting young artists. He'll be performing the role on October 24 and November 1 and alternating with Spencer Dodd, who performs on October 25 and November 2. Tickets are available online.  

Sergey Khalikulov attended the San Francisco School of the Arts in the vocal department
and participated in many of their musical productions. A dean’s honor roll graduate from the UCLA
Herb Alpert School of Music, he received his B.A. in music, studying voice with Vladimir Chernov.

At Opera UCLA he performed Mr. Gobineau in Menotti’s The Medium, Antonio in Mozart’s
Le Nozze Di Figaro, Pallante in Handel’s Agrippina, and Hercules in the West Coast premieres of
Cavalli’s Giasone and the Immigration Officer in the West Coast premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Flight.
Sergey Khalikulov
He recently received his Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying voice with César Ulloa. Past SFCM productions include Betto in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, the Narrator/Mysterious Man  in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Kander and Ebb’s And the World Goes Round, Friedrich Bhaer in Adamo’s Little Women, Ariodate in Handel’s Serse, Man with the Cornet Case in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, and the title role in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.

Recently, Sergey played Lt. Cable in Foothill Music Theater’s production of South Pacific. This year, Sergey is completing a Post Graduate Diploma at SFCM. Upcoming roles include, the title role in Don Giovanni, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, George in Sunday in the Park with George, Dulcamara in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore, and Superintendent Budd in Britten's Albert Herring.

Monday, September 22, 2014

WSJ: "As Met's Fall Season Opens, Booming Basses Take Center Stage"

Ildar Abdrazakov (Julie Platner, The Wall Street Journal)
In opera, tenors are the men falling in love, singing their hearts out and basking in ovations after hitting the high notes.

But operatic basses, with low voices suited to kings, gods and villains, rarely get the girls—or popular attention. Which can lead to some friendly ribbing.

"Tenors always cry like babies," said Ildar Abdrazakov, a bass, who rolls his eyes at all the onstage whining from his artistic frenemies. "Wimps."

On Monday, Mr. Abdrazakov will hit a career milestone: He is the title character in the Metropolitan Opera's season opener, a new production of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro. "

At age 37, the Russian-born Mr. Abdrazakov's relative youth makes his ascent atypical, since the bass voice typically reaches maturity later in life. He has already anchored major productions at the Met, including Verdi's "Attila" and Borodin's "Prince Igor," and he is now marketable enough that he was featured in the Met's advertising for the 2014-15 season.

"Ildar is unusual because he has been singing leading roles for years," said the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb. "With Ildar, you have the new great bass."

There will be plenty of opportunities for comparison, with several other basement-rattling voices featured this season. For the first time since 1984, the Met is presenting a bass in concert: the 50-year-old René Pape, who sings on Sept. 28 in addition to appearing in "Macbeth" and "The Magic Flute." Then in March comes "Don Carlo," which will include two basses: Ferruccio Furlanetto and James Morris, both in their 60s.


Don Giovanni at Perm Opera gets 18+ age rating

Simone Alberghini in Don Giovanni, on stage and in rehearsals

We love it when an opera is listed as appropriate for those 18 and older. That's a pretty sure sign that it's going to be a sexy production and the Don Giovanni at the Perm Opera in Russia is no exception.

This production is the final opera in their Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy and it's being promoted as "a feminine view" of the opera. The role of Don Giovanni will be alternated between two barihunks, Simone Alberghini and Andrè Schuen, who many might remember from his shirtless and sexy performance in Donizetti's Elixir of Love in Graz.

Andrè Schuen as Don Giovanni in Vienna (right)
Argentinean director Valentina Carrasco, who was behind Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in Buenos Aires and Britten’s Turn of the Screw in Lyon, is directing this production. Carrasco plans to stylize the production in Perm in the spirit of film noir and populate the stage with mannequins and ‘surrogate’ people, among whom the only real person to be found is Don Giovanni. The production is the concept of the Catalan troupe “La Fura dels Baus,” which reproduces the "soul of the music in effective scenic images."

We have to raise our number one gripe with opera company websites, which is not listing casts. The Perm Opera list all of the technical staff, but not a single singer. We had to go to Operabase to find the cast. Let's hope that they fix this oversight soon.

Performances are September 21, 22, 24, 25, 27 and 28 and tickets are available at

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Introducing bass-barihunk Andrew Potter

Andrew Potter

We recently posted about barihunk Colin Ramsey singing The Speaker in Mozart's The Magic Flute at Opera NEO. The Sarastro in that production was Andrew Potter who we're featuring for the first time on our site.

Potter received his BA in Vocal Performance from Liberty University where he performed the Pirate King in Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, Poo Bah in The Mikado, and Baron Mirko Zeta in Lehar's The Merry Widow

Since 2012, he's appeared with Opera on the James in Strauss' Die Fledermaus, The Magic Flute, Betto in Gianni Schicchi, Mr. Dashwood in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, and the Big Bad Bully in Stop Bully - an outreach opera performed in schools and community centers.

Since 2013, Potter has been a member of Opera Roanoke’s Young Apprentice Artist Program, where he sang the Sergeant the Pirates of Penzance and Curio in Handel's Julius Caesar. This year he'll sing the Second Armored Man in Die Zauberflöte and covering the role of Sarastro. He performed Ariodate, in Handel’s Serse and Le fauteuil/L’abre in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges with Bel Cantanti Opera in Washington, D.C.

Upcoming roles in the 2014-15 season for Andrew include Simone in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi with Tidewater Opera Initiative, the Frog King in the World Premiere of Lori Laitman's The Three Feathers, Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opera Roanoke, Ramfis with Undercroft Opera in Verdi's Aida, Mephistopheles in Concert Opera Philadelphia’s production of Gounod's Faust, Zoroastro in Handel's Orlando with Boulder Opera Company, Colline in La Bohéme with Connecticut Lyric Opera, and Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni with Bel Cantanti Opera.

Glyndebourne's La finta Giardiniera broadcast on BBC Radio 3

Gyula Orendt
BBC 3 radio will broadcast Mozart's La finta Giardiniera on their initial Opera on 3 offering on Monday, September 22 at 7:15 PM GMT/2:15 PM EST. The performance is from this summer's Glyndebourne Festival and includes barihunk Gyula Orendt as Nardo and hunkentenor Joel Prieto as Count Belfiore with the Age of Enlightenment Orchestra conducted by Robin Ticciati.

Written when he was only eighteen, Mozart comic opera La finta Giardiniera on Goldoni's is based on the play Pamela nubile. The story follows seven characters in search of love, involving disguise, and recognition of both identities and emotions - trying to discover what is real and what is 'finta'.

Gyula Orendt sings Gounod's "Queen of Love":

Martin Handley presents, and during the interval discusses the opera with Mozart specialist Professor Cliff Eisen. You can tune in HERE.

Gyula Orendt, who is of Hungarian-Romanian  descent, studied singing at the Transilvania Music University in Brasov, Romania, and completed his studies at the Academy of Music Franz Liszt in Budapest, where he was also trained as a singing teacher. He won at the Francisco Viñas Competition in Barcelona the Mozart Prize and the prize for oratorio/lieder.

Since 2013, he has been a member of the Berlin State Opera, where his roles since have included Silvano in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Papageno, Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Cesare Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca and Tempo/Consiglio in Cavalieri's Rappresentatione di anima et di corpo. He made his Royal Opera debut in 2012 singing the Gamekeeper in Dvorak's Rusalka. He returns to London this season to sing the title role in Monteverdi's Orfeo at the Roundhouse.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Two Barihunks in Eva Marton Singing Competition Finals; Aghenie Alexandru takes 1st Prize

Aghenie Alexandru

Two barihunks have made it to the final round of the International Eva Marton Singing Competition being held on Saturday, September 20th at the Hungarian State Opera, with one taking 1st Prize.

29-year-old Romanian Aghenie Alexandru who studied voice at the Academy of Music Transylvania in Brașov, took 1st Prize over 10 other singers. In the finals he'll be performed "Avant de quitter ces lieux " from Gounod's Faust and "Il balen del suo sorriso" from Verdi's Il trovatore

In 2012 he appeared on stage in various performances in Italy, including the Teatro Sociale di Stradella, Teatro Lirico di Magenta, Teatro Sociale di Como and Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna. He recently sang  Silvio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci  and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at the Brașov Opera House.  He has won several prizes at singing competitions in Piatra Neamț in Romania, Manfredonia in Italy and Bucharest, Romania.
Danylo Matviienko
24-year-old Ukrainian Danylo Matviienko made it to the final round performing "Per me giunto è il dì supremo… Lo morro, ma lieto in core" from Verdi's Don Carlo and "O du, mein holder Abendstern" from Wagner's Tannhäuser.

Matviienko began his vocal studies in 2005, continuing at the Donetsk Music Academy since 2007. He has performed at the Donetsk National Dramatic Theatre and the Donetsk National Opera House.

Joining Eva Marton on the jury were tenor Vittorio Terranova and mezzo Elena Obraztsova. There will be a grand finals concert on Sunday night with additional prizes being awarded.

Three CASH prizes for Barihunks Calendar

More prizes have been announced for the best Barihunks Charity Calendar submissions.

A reader in the UK has offered additional prize money for photo submissions to our 2015 Barihunks Charity Calendar. In addition to the $500 for the sexiest photo, $250 for the best Italian themed photo, we now have $100 for the "Falstaff Prize" for the funniest/wittiest sexy contribution.

Baritones (and basses) should get their photos in to by Sept. 26. Readers will be voting, so everyone can get in on the action.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Barihunks offering $500 for hottest calendar submission

Each  year, we donate the proceeds from our Barihunks Charity Calendar to benefit young artists or young artist programs. This year we've decided to ensure that part of the profits go directly to a singer. We're offering $500 for the singer who submits the sexiest photo for this year's calendar and $250 for the singer with the best "Viva, Italia!" theme.

Voting will be determined by our readers!

Singers should submit photos to The deadline has been extended to September 26th for submissions, so get those cameras out.

Seattle Gay Scene bemoans missing Mariusz

If you don't think fans of barihunks (small "b") love their singers, then check out the latest issue of the Seattle Gay Scene, which dedicates a whole article to the fact that Mariusz Kwiecien, who appears in the Seattle Opera's marketing materials does not actually appear in the Seattle Opera's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni.

We have to admit that were impressed that writer Michael Strangeways actually knew that Mariusz Kwiecien was one of the inspirations for Barihunks (big "B').  In fact after two of us had seen the "Hot Pole" in separate productions of Don Giovanni (in Seattle and San Francisco), the seeds of this site were planted seven years ago. So, naturally, one would think that we'd be disappointed, too. But we're regulars at the Seattle Opera and have no doubt that they will deliver an amazing performance of Mozart's timeless classic.

Evan Boyer and Erik Anstine (in his BARIHUNK tee shirt)
In fact, they've cast two singers who have been featured on this site, Evan Boyer as Masetto and Erik Anstine as Leporello. Those two should adequately fill the requisite "minimum barihunk requirement" for Don Giovanni. French bass Nicolas Cavallier will sing the title role. Performances will run from October 18 through November 1 and tickets and additional cast information are available online.
Mariusz Kwiecien on the Lyric Opera of Chicago website
If Michael Strangeways, or anyone else, wants to see Mariusz Kwiecien as The Don, then should fly to the Windy City, where he's starring in their production alongside fellow barihunk Kyle Ketelsen's Leporello. The Lyric Opera of Chicago even has a feature online called "Rolling with the Don" where the singer talks about the role (and is referred to as a "barihunk"). Performances run through October 29th and tickets are available online. Oddly, Lyric's website does not list who is singing Masetto.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Huffington Post: "Christian Van Horn -- A Busy Season at San Francisco Opera"

Christian Van Horn (as Oroveso - left)
Christian Van Horn  is part of a cast that is delivering old-fashioned vocal fireworks at the San Francisco Opera.  Joined by Sondra Radvonovsky as Norma, Jamie Barton and Russell Thomas as Pollione, the vocal quartet has already been dubbed The Fantastic Four by the opera staff. It's rare that an Oroveso receives this much attention, but Van Horn delivered a performance that defined the role for this generation. Sean Martinfield ran the following feature in the Huffington Post:

Christian Van Horn is Oroveso in San Francisco Opera's new production of Bellini's Norma. The bel canto gem opened the 2014/15 Season on September 5, making Christian's resounding bass-baritone the first voice to be heard in the company's 92nd season. As Chief of the Druids and father of Norma, the community's High Priestess, Oroveso enters and instructs the soldiers and priests to watch for the light of the silvery new moon. At that moment, the sacred gong will be struck, whereupon Norma will enter and deliver a mandate from their god. In no uncertain volume, Oroveso rouses the mens spirits predicting that the message will be a clear declaration of war against the occupying Roman forces. The clamor of defeat will reverberate even to the streets of Rome. Oroveso is persuasive in his vision of victory and Christian Van Horn is precisely the brand of baritone Bellini had in mind. For die-hard fans of Norma, a season opening is a dream come true. It has been nine years since San Francisco Opera last presented the work - and another seven before that.
"This is not La Bohème, you know," observed Christian. "I think it says a lot about the audience - that the company feels comfortable putting this on. This is a big opening and I think San Francisco is ready for it. Even Wagner has opinions about Norma, being one of his favorites - you have to cast heavy, top-to-bottom. You get vocal theatrics and there's no opportunity for passive performing. You have to be aggressively on top of it to make the opera what it needs to be. It is a privilege to sing this music. My role is a good size role. Bellini left us a document to go by and we have to follow what's in there. But within that - with Maestro Nicola Luisotti at the helm - there are these slight moments to be artistic."

[Read the entire interview HERE]

There are four performances of Norma remaining at the San Francisco Opera between September 19-30 and tickets are available online

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

David Adam Moore in innovative Alcina in NYC

David Adam Moore as Melisso in Alcina (Photo: Philippe Tremblay-Berberi)

David Adam Moore, who is featured in October in our 2014 Barihunks Charity Calendar, is currently appearing in Handel's Alcina in director R. B. Schlather's innovative production at the Whitebox Art Center in New York City. There will be performances on September 20 and 21 at the Whitebox main exhibition space.

Handel’s 1735 opera Alcina is a story of love and illusion that includes some of the composer's most inventive and melodic music. Schlather is staging this work in an untraditional opera venue and is opening up all the musical and staging rehearsals up to September 17, as well as the General Rehearsal on September 19th at 7pm.  These rehearsals are free, except on Thursdays, thanks to an IndieGoGo campaign, which you can still donate to. For the final performances, the opera will be enacted live with an orchestra, in Italian, utilizing new technologies with projected English subtitles.

The opera is set on the island of the enchantress Alcina, and explores themes of identity, illusion, and transformation. This island exists as a beautiful landscape in the middle of the ocean, where Alcina culls her powers to create a paradise, only to lure and seduce the knights that wash up on her shore, one of whom is the heroic Ruggiero. Alcina’s magic causes Ruggiero to fall under her spell and, in doing so, he forsakes his duty as a knight and forgets his fiancée, Bradamante. The opera develops as Bradamante disguises herself as a male warrior her brother “Ricciardo” and sets out on a mission to recover her love.

Accompanied by Alcina’s guardian, Melisso (played by David Adam Moore), the two are shipwrecked on Alcina’s island by fate. Imminent danger awaits Ruggiero, as Alcina possesses the power to transform her foes and lovers of whom she tires into rocks, trees, and wild beasts. The already heavily dramatized plot is further complicated by the integration of different characters who all, in their own right, act on emotions of love and jealousy. In portraying Alcina’s thickened plot, Schlather’s production brings to life a story of enchantment, folding into it classic operatic moments of romance, betrayal, violence, unrequited love, and magic.

Click HERE for tickets.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pallesen and Abdrazakov performing in Richard Tucker Gala

Ildar Abdrazakov and Nicholas Pallesen

Barihunks Nicholas Pallesen and Ildar Abdrazakov will be part of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation's annual gala n Sunday, October 12 at Avery Fisher Hall. Other performers include Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, Marcello Giordani, Zeljko Lucić, and previous Tucker Award laureates Angela Meade, Isabel Leonard, and Stephen Costello. The singers will perform arias and ensembles led by Emmanuel Villaume, Music Director of the Dallas Opera.

Founded in 1975, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great Brooklyn-born tenor by nurturing the careers of talented young American opera singers. It also offers free performances in the New York metropolitan area and supports music education enrichment programs. Each year, the Foundation confers its most prestigious prize, the Richard Tucker Award, on an artist poised at the edge of a major international career. The award comes with a $50,000 cash prize as well as the ongoing support of the Tucker family and Foundation.

Tickets for this year’s event range from $40 to $600 and are on sale to the public through the Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s website. Reservations for the gala dinner can be arranged by contacting the Tucker Foundation offices at (212) 757-2218.

Further information about the 2014 gala and the work of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is available at

Kristin Chenoweth & Paulo Szot in PBS broadcast

Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth will join barihunk Paulo Szot on the PBS broadcast of Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem on Saturday, September 13 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS. (Check local listings.) The concert is part of a weeklong celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem.

The duo will perform Leonard Bernstein's Make Our Garden Grow. The gala concert will also include performances by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves-Montgomery, country group Little Big Town, Pentatonix, R&B legend Smokey Robinson,  country crooner, Train, the U.S. Navy’s official chorus The Navy Band Sea Chanters and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Marin Alsop.

Paulo Szot rehearsing for the Star-Spangled Spectacular
The program will also include ceremonial activities at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, historical highlights and an extraordinary fireworks crescendo.

Two hundred years ago, Francis Scott Key, a Maryland-born attorney, was inspired to write the words to what would become the United States’ national anthem.  In 2012, Star-Spangled 200 and the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission began a multi-year commemoration of this legacy which will culminate with Star-Spangled Spectacular, a weeklong festival taking place on September 10–16, 2014. The festival will include tall ships, Navy gray hulls, a performance by the Blue Angels, landside festivities, and this special television program to honor the national anthem.

Daphne's three barihunks available for free viewing online

We recently posted about Richard Strauss' Daphne at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels featuring three singers who have appeared on this site: Matt Boehler, Justin Hopkins and Kris Belligh.  The opera, which is running through September 30th, features an all-star cast led by Sally Matthews as Daphne, Eric Cutler as Apollo, Peter Lodahl and Leukippos and Iain Paterson as Peneios.

La Monnaie will have the performance available on their website for free from October 1st through the 21st.

Matt Boehler in Don Giovanni
Upcoming roles for Justin Hopkins include the sold out world premiere of Repast: An Oratorio Homage to Booker Wright in Oxford, Mississippi, the role of Publio in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito with Opera in the Heights, and Britten's War Requiem with the Dayton Philharmonic.

Upcoming performance for Matt Boehler include Rocco in Beethoven's Fidelio with the Madison Opera and Bertrand in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta at the Metropolitan Opera.

Pietro di Bianco stars in 20th Century opera buffa

Pietro di Bianco opens on Saturday, September 13th as Beaupertuis in Nino Rota's Il cappello di paglia di Firenze at beautiful Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy. This performance precedes his upcoming performance at the Paris Opera Competition on November 19tth, where he will be in the finals with fellow baritones Xiaohan Zhai of China and Sam Roberts-Smith of Australia.

Il cappello di paglia di Firenze (The Florentine Straw Hat) is based on the classic French farce The Italian Straw Hat by Eugène Labiche and Marc Michel, and the 1955 opera is considered one of the truest opera buffas since the death of Donizetti. 

Watch the opera complete in this 1999 production with Juan Diego Florez: 

The story is about Fadinard, a nervous bridegroom, who takes a ride in the park the morning of his wedding. His horse finds a straw hat and starts to eat it. It belongs to a young married woman named Anaide who is trysting in the park with her military officer lover, Emilio. Fadinard must find a match for the hat–else fight a duel with the officer–all the while fending off the suspicions of his bride’s father.

Di Bianco's character of Beaupertuis is the jealous husband of Anaide. 

(The Florentine Straw Hat) is based on the classic French farce The Italian Straw Hat by Labiche and Michel, and it may be the best pure opera buffa since the death of Donizetti. It has the sparkle of Rossini, the sassiness of Prokofiev, and the wit of Poulenc. (The plot: Fadinard, a nervous bridegroom, takes a ride in the park the morning of the nuptials. His horse finds a straw hat and starts to eat it. It belongs to a young married woman who is trysting in the park with her military officer lover. Fadinard must find a match for the hat–else fight a duel with the officer–all the while fending off the suspicions of his bride’s father.) - See more at:
(The Florentine Straw Hat) is based on the classic French farce The Italian Straw Hat by Labiche and Michel, and it may be the best pure opera buffa since the death of Donizetti. It has the sparkle of Rossini, the sassiness of Prokofiev, and the wit of Poulenc. (The plot: Fadinard, a nervous bridegroom, takes a ride in the park the morning of the nuptials. His horse finds a straw hat and starts to eat it. It belongs to a young married woman who is trysting in the park with her military officer lover. Fadinard must find a match for the hat–else fight a duel with the officer–all the while fending off the suspicions of his bride’s father.) - See more at:
Performances run from September 13-18 and tickets are available online

Morgan Smith featured in Opera News

Morgan Smith (Photo © James Salzano 2014;Grooming Affan Malik)
Morgan Smith has rugged good looks, striking intelligence, charismatic stage presence and a powerful baritone of mingled velvet and steel — yet he considers himself a work in progress. “One of my biggest challenges has been thinking too much,” he says. “People say the best singers are those who are able to turn down the velocity of the wheels in their head — not to say I’m some brilliant mind, but I do have a very analytical, active mind, and I often feel I could be better at turning that off at the appropriate times.” But he notes that a singer has to earn the right to let go. “It’s so important for any artist — in order to be a vessel, in order to have the story speak through them, the technical ducks have to be in a row.”

Smith grew up in White Plains, playing cello, jazz bass and soccer (Columbia recruited him as a goalie), but a high-school production of Into the Woods opened the door to vocal studies, and by the time he had earned his Ivy League B.A., he was ready to pursue his master’s degree at Mannes. “And then what do you do after that?” he says. “You hurry up and wait for your pants to fit.” 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Operas next great Cassandra may be Seth Carico

Seth Carico as Cassandra (photo by Bernd Uhlig)
When we think of Cassandra in opera, we immediately think of the great leading ladies of opera who have portrayed her on the stage, particularly in Berlioz's masterpiece Les Troyens. One thinks of Geraldine Ferrar, Jessye Norman, Deborah Voigt, Anna Caterina Antonacci and Janet Baker, all of whom had career defining moments in the role of King Priam's daughter and prophetess. Well, move over divas, there's a new girl in town...and it's a guy!

Barihunk Seth Carico is currently starring as Kassandra (Cassandra) in Iannis Xenkis' Oresteia at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The production has been mounted on the upper deck of its multi-story parking garage rather than on their mainstage. The premiere of the work was actually performed on a baseball field in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The work is somewhat of a hybrid between dance and opera, with ancient Greek tradition being upheld as the chorus tells much of the story. As in other productions, the bass-baritone is expected to sing in both his natural voice and a falsettto making this an extremely difficult feat for Carico. In this production Cassandra is portrayed as one of two spirits trying to inhabit one body.

Michael Hofmeister as Athena photo by Bernd Uhlig)
The story begins at the close of the Trojan War and touches on Agamemnon’s return with Cassandra and the murder of them both by his wife, Clytemnestra. The core questions posed in the piece relate to guilt, ritual, religion and personal responsibility – or the agreeable system of social organization. The work ends with Athena’s establishment of mortal justice and her conversion of the Furies into the more benign Eumenides.

Seth Carico as Cassandra (photo by Bernd Uhlig)
The staging is by director David Hermann and set designer Christof Hetzer, who teamed up at the Deutsche Oper Berlin for Helmut Lachenmann’s The Little Match Girl. Performances continue from September 12-16 and tickets are available online.

This isn't Seth Carico's first appearance dealing with gender, regular readers will remember this post of him at the Fort Worth Opera in Mark Adamo's Lysistrata