Monday, March 30, 2015

Zachary Altman shirtless again in Basel

Zachary Altman in The Rape of Lucretia in Basel
We're beginning to wonder whether the costume department should only be paid half of the wages when working with Zachary Altman, as no one seems to have make him a shirt or jacket (which we're certainly OK with!). We've recently posted about him shirtless as Don Giovanni in San Jose and shirtless in Daphne in Basel.

Director Ulrike Jühe decided to keep the trend going in Basel, as she has Altman shirtless as Tarquinius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. Of course, considering the subject matter, having a shirtless Tarquinius makes directorial sense. We've featured countless shirtless barihunks as Tarquinius, including Duncan Rock, David Krohn, Christopher Maltman, Matthew Worth, David Krohn, Grzegorz Pazik, Nathan Gunn, Scott Beasley, Philip Cutlip, Michael Krzankowski  and Phillip Addis.
Zachary Altman shirtless in Don Giovanni and Daphne
The opera opened last night with Basel's studio artists and runs through April 25th. The cast also includes Jose Coca Loza as Collatinus, Jason Cox as Junius, Aidan Ferguson as Lucretia, Maria Carla Pino Cury as Lucia, Kang Wang as the Male Chorus and Meike Hartman as the Female Chorus. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Watch All-Star Don Giovanni from Monte-Carlo

Erwin Schrott (left and far right); Fernando Rado (center)
Two of the hottest barihunks ever to step on stage for Mozart's Don Giovanni are wrapping up a 10 day run at the Opera de Monte-Carlo today. Argentinian Fernando Javier Radó and Uruguayan Erwin Schrott, who sing Masetto and the title role respectively sang in a traditional production, but with some major international fire power.

The all-star cast also included Sonya Yoncheva. the hottest soprano sensation in the world right now, as Donna Elvira. Patrizia Ciofi sang Donna Anna, tenor Maxim Mironov took on the role of Don Ottavio and the charming Adrian Sampetrean rounded out the low male voices as Leporello.

For those who couldn't attend the performance, you're in luck as the production was taped and is available ONLINE HERE.

Introducing Danish Bass-Barihunk Simon Duus

Danish bass-barihunk will be sharing the run of Henrik in Nielsen's Maskerade at the Danish Royal Opera with Henning von Schulman. Also in the cast as the tutor is Palle Knudsen, who has been featured on this site. 
Simon Duus is currently finishing his last year at the soloist class at The Royal Danish Academy of Music. He's recently performed Colline in Puccini's La boheme at Danish National Opera, Vaughan Williams' "Songs of Travel" with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, a New Year's concert with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Haydn's Cäcelia Mass in Heidelberg.
Simon Duus sings Lascia amor from Handel's Orlando

In 2011, Duus graduated from The Opera Academy at The Royal Opera in Copenhagen where he honed his skills in many great Mozart roles. His performance as Nardo in La Finta Giardiniera was broadcast live on Arte TV. 
He is the recipient of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation Scholarship and was the only opera singer to receive a talent prize at the annual Reumert Awards for his interpretation as Seneca in the København Musikteater's production of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea. He has also performed Schubert's Winterreise and Schwanengesang, as well as many cantatas and oratorios.
Performances of Maskerade continue from April 8 through May 21 and tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happy Birthday, Samuel Ramey!

Samuel Ramey
He has been referred to as the original barihunk by some, for leading the way in sexy portrayals of the low voice repertory. His video of Boito's Mefistofele from the San Francisco Opera has become a cult classic with opera aficionados. He continued his sexy shirtless portrayals as Attila that were not only sexy, but set the vocal standard to this day.

His amazing vocal flexibility and range has allowed his to sing roles ranging from Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo to the title role in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle. His repertoire includes the florid pasages of Handel, the bel canto roles of Bellini and Donizetti, the great baritone roles of Verdi and Puccini, great American operas and even many of the great Russian and French bass roles.

If he sang nothing else, he would be famous for his interpretation of Boito’s Mefistofele,which has included  seventy performances in the Robert Carsen production of the opera specifically created for  him. In fact, devilish roles have dominated his stage performances, including Berlioz's devil in La damnation de Faust; the sinister Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; and the tour de force of all four villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. In 1992, Ramey sang all of Offenbach’s villains for the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night, prompting one critic to write, “[It was] the best interpretation of the four villains I can remember in the last 25 years. This is the stuff of which operatic legends are made.” In 1996 Mr. Ramey presented a sold-out concert at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall titled A Date with the Devil in which he sang fourteen arias representing the core of this repertoire, and he continues to tour this program throughout the world.

Samuel Ramey holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. His more than eighty recordings include complete operas, recordings of arias, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums on every major label. His recordings have garnered nearly every major award including three Grammy Awards, Gran Prix du Disc Awards, and “Best of the Year” citations from journals including Stereo Review and Opera News. His exposure on television and video is no less impressive, with video recordings of the Metropolitan Opera’s Carmen, Bluebeard’s Castle, Semiramide, Nabucco, and the compilation “The Met Celebrates Verdi;” San Francisco Opera’s Mefistofele; The Rake’s Progress from the Glyndebourne Festival; Attila from La Scala; and the Salzburg Festival’s Don Giovanni. Ramey is seen frequently on television in appearances with “Live from the Met” and “Live from Lincoln Center” as well as other productions taped for PBS.

Following his phenomenal success in opera, concert, and recordings, Samuel Ramey’s sold-out Carnegie Hall recital in 1987 added a fourth dimension to his spectacular career. His returns to New York’s Carnegie Hall for solo recitals in February 1995 and November 1998 were the culmination of extensive, critically-acclaimed North American tours which had taken Mr. Ramey from Alaska to Alabama, with appearances on America's finest vocal series. His European recital career is equally notable, with sold-out appearances in all the music capitals.

A native of Colby, Kansas, Samuel Ramey was active in music throughout high school and college. In 1995 he was named “Kansan of the Year,” and in 1998 the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.

He is still actively performing, although in less demanding roles. Timur in Puccini's Turandot  in August and the Grand Inquisitor in Verdi's Don Carlos, both with the Wichita Grand Opera in his native Kansas. In recent seasons he's also performed Timur at the Met, Olin Blitch in Floyd's Susannah in Toledo and Priam in Berlioz's Les troyens at La Scala.

The Dilemma over Crossover Barihunks

Nicky Wuchinger (left) and Jan-Philipp Rekeszus (right)
We're usually pretty clear about our mission at Barihunks, which is to promote baritones (down to bass) who take great care of their voices as well as their bodies. Generally, that has meant operatic baritones, but occasionally those lines get blurred. Take the cases of Ramin Karimloo, Doug Carpenter and Seph Stanek, three of the most popular singers to have appeared on this site. All three were trained as operatic baritones, but both have crossed over into other genres.

Paulo Szot, Seph Stanke and Doug Carpenter
Ramin Karimloo has gone on to be one of the most heralded singers to perform Jean Valjean in Les Mirerables and the title character in Phantom of the Opera. Seph Stanek, who studied classical voice at Furman University and the L'Accademia dell'Arte, went on to have a career as part of the crossover group Figaro, sang on tour with the Twelve Tenors and even starred in Naked Boys Singing! Then there's the case of Paulo Szot, one of opera's biggest stars, who is probably best known for singing Emile De Beque in South Pacific, taking home a Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award the Outer Critic’s Circle Award and the Theater World Award.

That brings us to Jan-Philipp Rekeszus and Nicky Wuchinger, two German singers with operatic pedigree who are making their mark in operetta and musical theater. Wuchinger was a finalist in the Lotte Lenya Competition when fellow barihunk Doug Carpenter took away the top prize. Carpenter has also successfully "crossed over" starring in the national tour of Dirty Dancing.


Rekeszus and Wuchinger are mentioned in a new article by Kevin Clarke entitled "Eyes Wide Open: A New Generation of Operetta Superstars?." He even refers to Rekeszus as a barihunk, although upon listening to the two singers we'd be compelled to call them bari-tenors, much like Karimloo. Clark imagines Rekeszus as ideal for Wiener Blut or The Merry Widow, and points out the Wuchinger was hired to sing in Eduard Künneke’s operetta Der Vetter aus Dingsda.

Wuchinger and Rekeszus bothe studied voice at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. Wuchinger went on to embark on a successful career singing in Cats, The Who's Tommy, Phantom of the Opera and Hairspray. Rekeszus has made his mark performing in Hair and Bye, Bye, Birdie.

We'd love your thoughts on us featuring crossover artists on the site. However, if our statistics are any indication, we think that we know the answer, as posts about Karimloo, Stanek and Carpenter remain some of the most trafficked on the site.  Feel free to email us at or leave a comment below. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Andrew Potter takes Handel to the Wild Wild West

Andrew Potter as the "mystic traveler" Zoroastro
The Boulder Opera Company, which sits at the foot of the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Colorado, has updated Handel's Orlando to the American Wild West.

In their re-imagining of the story the deputy Sheriff Orlando is desperately in love with Angelica, who is in turn in love with a cowboy, Medoro. In this hopeless situation, Orlando is driven to madness from which only the mystic traveler Zoroastro can save him. Zoroastro is being sung by bass-barihunk Andrew Potter, who we introduced to readers (with a shirtless selfie) last September when he was singing in Mozart's The Magic Flute with Opera NEO.

Performances are on April 4 and 5 and tickets are available online.

Sexy new photos of Timothy McDevitt and some great music

Timothy McDevitt photographed by Alex Schaefer
Barihunks Calendar model Timothy McDevitt is having a busy season singing, as well as taking a little time for an amazing photo shoot with Alex Schaefer

McDevitt will be performing this Saturday in Vail, Colorado at a benefit for the Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center, which is used by over twenty organizations and seven denominations for services. The show will include everything from Verdi to Broadway. Tickets are available by calling 970-390-7741.

Timothy McDevitt photographed by Alex Schaefer
On Sunday, May 3rd, McDevitt will be performing the Bernstein Mass with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Nezit-Seguin. Kevin Newbury will direct the massive production, which deploys a battalion of musical forces, including two orchestras, a rock band, a marching band, a cast of Broadway vocalists, and multiple choirs.

Composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein conceived this sacred work as a Mass for John F. Kennedy, in conjunction with the dedication of the Kennedy Center in 1971. While he employed many of the elements of a traditional Mass, Bernstein also drew upon his Broadway experience, as well as other religious and popular genres.

Back in February he made his Off Broadway debut in Lady be Good alongside the legendary Tommy Tune with NY City Center Encores. He'll be recording a cast album of the show in May. That same month he debuted Marie Incontrea’s new song cycle “Do Not Harm” with the Moirae Ensemble.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Photo that will make Grown Men Cry

Kenneth Kellogg & Jarrett Ott
Exactly a month ago, we wrote about Glen Roven's new song cycle Songs That Make Grown Men Cry Opus 41, based on a texts from a collection of poetry edited by Anthony Holden and Ben Holden. The performance on March 19th was a huge critical success and we wanted to share this great photo of Kenneth Kellogg and Jarrett Ott from rehearsals. 

Here is Jarrett Ott singing "After Great Pain."

A recording of the performance will be out on GPR Records on May 28th.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ryan McKinny makes role debut as Mozart's Count

Pretty Yende and Ryan McKinny in LA Opera's Marriage of Figaro

Ryan McKinny made his role debut as the Count in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro with the Los Angeles Opera. Other than a run as Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte at the Met last season, Mozart has been virtually non-existent in the American's repertory. There will be five more performances until the show closes on April 12th. A look at his calendar shows that it may be awhile before you can hear him in a Mozart again.

After garnering worldwide acclaim for his Kurwenal in Houston and Dutchman at Glimmerglass, the music of Richard Wagner has been playing the biggest role in his career. His upcoming calendar includes Biterolf in Tannhäuser at the Met, Amfortas in Parsifal at the Teatro Colón, Donner in Das Rheingold and Gunther in Gotterdammerung at Washington National Opera.

Ryan McKinny as Stanley Kowalski and the Dutchman
After L.A., McKinny heads to the Santa Fe Opera to sing Jochanaan in Richard Strauss' Salome  from July 18- August 27. The cast also includes hunkentenor  Brian Jagde as Narraboth and Alex Penda as Salome.

Introducing Bass-Barihunk Božidar Smiljanić

Božidar Smiljanić
If you're in or around Nottingham in the U.K., make sure to check out British-born Serbian bass-barihunk Božidar Smiljanić on Sunday, March 22nd. He'll be giving a free performance of Schubert's Winterreise with accompanist Thomas Primrose as part of St Mary’s ‘Suffering & Sacrifice’ Lenten concert series.

Smiljanić, who is currently studying opera at the Royal Academy of Music, is new to our site. He was born and raised in London and gained his degree in Law at the University of Nottingham before focusing on a singing career.

In 2014, he made his debut at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera as A Captain in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, conducted by Omar Meir Wellber. During the same festival season, he also covered the roles of Police Commissioner in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier and Doctor Grenvil in Verdi’s La traviata.

At the Academy, Smiljanić has worked on a variety of operatic roles including Leporello and Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Figaro in La nozze di Figaro, Monterone in Verdi's Rigoletto, Bartolo in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le Roi  in Massenet's Cendrillon and Superintendent Budd in Britten's Albert Herring.

In the 2014-15 Royal Academy Opera productions, he performed the role of Betto in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and will be performing the roles of Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and Luka in Walton’s The Bear.

As an Academy/Kohn Foundation Bach Scholar, Smiljanić has performed numerous Bach Cantatas with the Academy Baroque Orchestra, conducted on different occasions by Iain Ledingham and Masaaki Suzuki. Božidar is also a member of the Royal Academy of Music Song Circle in which he has performed various recitals of lieder, English and American song.

Smiljanić was awarded first prize in the Blythe-Buesst Operatic Competition, the Sacred Aria Prize in the Mozart Singing Competition and was a two-time finalist in the Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Award. Most recently, Bozidar was awarded the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award which will culminate in an evening recital at the Church of St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square in June 2015.

You can also catch him on Saturday, March 28th in Mozart's Mass in C Minor at New Hall at Winchester College. He'll be joined by sopranos Mary Bevan and Kitty Whately, and tenor Daniel Auchincloss.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Introducing Calabrian barihunk Vincenzo Nizzardo

Vincenzo Nizzardo
We just discovered Vincenzo Nizzardo, who will be singing Apollo in Pier Luigi Pizzi's production of Gluck's Alceste at the Teatro la Fenice from March 20-28.  Tickets and additional information are available online.

The Calabrian barihunk was was born in the town of Locri in 1987. He began studying music at the age of six and enrolled at the Conservatoire Cilea of Reggio Calabria, where he graduated with a degree in singing. 

Vincenzo Nizzardo singing music from Cinema Paradiso:

He has performed Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Teatro F. Cilea of Reggio Calabria, The Marriage of Figaro  in Paola,  Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at the Teatro Rendano of Cosenza and at the Teatro Valle Rome, and Hermann/Schlemil in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffman in Como, Brescia, Jesi and Pavia. 

Upcoming performances include Billy Budd at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Paolo Albiani in Simon Boccanegra in Bordeaux and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte in Rouen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Benoit Pitre featured in night of sacred music

Benoit Pitre
Canadian barihunk Benoit Pitre will be singing Simeon in Debussy's sacred cantata L'Enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son) with Sakrale Opera in Berlin on March 20 and 22. The piece tells the Biblical story of the return of the Prodigal Son in a series of arias, ensembles and orchestral interludes. The work will be performed again on April 17th. Tickets are available online.

The program also includes Dvorak's Biblical Songs and will be performed at the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche. He'll be performing two of the songs.

You can also catch Pitre performing highlights from Mozart's Don Giovanni on March 19th at the 25H Hotel in Berlin. You can check out our post from last year introducing him to readers. Also, make sure to LIKE his Facebook page where you can follow his career.

Zerlina's barihunk dilemma in Monte-Carlo

Erwin Schrott and Fernando Javier Radó in Don Giovanni
Two of the hottest barihunks ever to step on stage for Mozart's Don Giovanni will actually share the spotlight in the same production. South America should be proud, as Argentinian Fernando Javier Radó and Uruguayan Erwin Schrott sing Masetto and the title role respectively at the Opera de Monte-Carlo from March 20-29.

The all-star cast also includes Sonya Yoncheva. the hottest soprano sensation in the world right now, as Donna Elvira. Patrizia Ciofi sings Donna Anna, tenor Maxim Mironov takes on the role of Don Ottavio and Adrian Sampetrean rounds out the low male voices as Leporello. Loriana Castellano as Zerlina must have the most enviable job of all, as both Masetto and Don Giovanni vie for her attention.

Erwin Schrott sings "Madamina" from Don Giovanni:

If you can't make it to Monte-Carlo, Radó will be singing Masetto at the Paris Opera this Fall and at the Dutch National Opera next Spring. Schrott will sing the title role again on August 29th at the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland. 

Fernando Javier Radó was born in Buenos Aires and in 2006 he became the youngest member of the Colón Theatre choir and the Colón Theatre’s Superior Arts Institute.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bjorn Bürger and Edwin Crossley-Mercer share Papageno in Paris

Bjorn Bürger
Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Two of the hottest barihunks in all of opera will be performing the role of Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Paris Opera.  Edwin Crossley-Mercer will sing the first half of the run from April 17-May 14, with Bjorn Bürger taking over from May 26-June 28th. The production is directed by Robert Carsen.

In April, Bürger will be singing Dandini in Rossini's La cenerentola at the Frankfurt Opera, where he will return after his Papageno to take on another Mozart role - Masetto in Don Giovanni. Crossley-Mercer will stay at the Paris Opera where he takes on Brander in Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust later this year.

Introducing German barihunk Kay Stiefermann

Kay Stiefermann (center as King Roger)
We ran across Kay Stiefermann when looking at picture's for the upcoming production of Karol Szymanowski's King Roger at the Staatstheater Nürnberg. The current production features Mikolaj Zalasinski, who we featured nude in the early days of our site. Stiefermann takes on the role for the company on May 9th.

The German born Stiefermann, who turns 43 on March 19th, sutdied at the  Hochschule für Musik in Cologne with the great bass Kurt Moll. His repertoire includes many of the greatest Mozart roles including Don Giovanni, Guglielmo, Don Alfonso and Count Almaviva. Other roles include the title character in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Danilo in Lehar's The Merry Widow, Eisenstein in Struass' Die Fledermaus and Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème

In recent years, German he's focused on more German roles, including the title role in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, Amfortas in Parsifal, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, Simone in Korngold's Eine florentinische Tragödie, Gyges in Zemlinsky's König Kandaules, Johanaan in Strauss' Salome, Mandryka in Arabella and Don Pizarro in Beethoven's Fidelio. Later this year he takes on Klingsor in Parsifal at the Teatro Colón with fellow barihunk Ryan McKinny as Amfortas.

He has performed at many of the world's greatest opera houses, including the Vienna State Opera,  Komische Oper,  Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Teatro Regio Torino, Vienna Volksoper, Opéra National du Rhin, and the Nederlandse Opera.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

David Adam Moore in Gatsby-esque Cosi fan tutte

David Adam Moore & Aaron Blake (left) in Cosí fan tutte*; Moore in Dead Man Walking (center)
American barihunk David Adam Moore is as sexy in evening wear as he is in briefs, which is when we last saw him as Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking.

Moore opened last night at the Utah Opera as Guglielmo opposite hunkentenor Aaron Blake in their  production of Mozart's Cosí fan tutte, which is updated to 1920s Naples, Italy. The entire cast is bedecked in Great Gatsy-like costume complete with spats.

Will Crutchfield leads a cast that also includes Matthew Burns as Don Alfonso, Karin Wolverton as Fiordiligi, Leah Wool as Dorabella and Abigail Levis as Despina. Performances run through March 22nd and tickets are available online.

*(Cosi photos by Rick Egan of The Salt Lake Tribune)

Christopher Bolduc making Wagnerian debut

Christopher Bolduc
Christopher Bolduc in making his Wagnerian debut today as the King's Herald in Lohengrin in Wiesbaden, Germany. His only prior on-stage performance of the great German composer was singing the aria "O du, mein holder Abendstern" from Tannhäuser at his undergraduate recital.

Performances run throught May 25th with two casts, although Bolduc is in all of the performances. It opens with Marco Jentzsch as Lohengrin, Johanni van Ostrum as Elsa and Andrea Baker as Ortrud, with those roles being taken over by Klaus Florian Vogt, Barbara Haveman and the great Waltrud Meier. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

In the 2013-14 Bolduc made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Jake in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys.
Last season, he also performed Christopher as the Huntsman in Heinz Holliger’s Schneewittchen at Theater Basel and Belcore in L’elisir d’amore at Oper Köln.

At the Staatstheater Wiesbaden, the American barihunk has performed Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème and Figaro in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. On May 3rd he takes on another great German composer in Wiesbaden when he sings Der Einäugige (the one-eyed man) in Richard Strauss' Die Frau Ohne Schatten.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Elliot Madore returns to North America for two recitals

Elliot Madore
Canadian barihunk Elliot Madore, who has been singing primarily in Europe since becoming part of the ensemble at the Zurich Opera, will be returning to North America for two recitals. Madore studied at Curtis and was a Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

On March 15th, he'll appear with the Baldwin Wallace Art Song Festival outside of Cleveland before heading to his native Canada for a March 26th recital with Music Toronto.  He will perform Robert Schumann’s Balsatzar, op. 57, followed by Schumann’s Liederkreis, op. 39, a song cycle on poems by Joseph von Eichendorff; Francis Poulenc’s Banalités, on poems by Guillaume Apollonaire; and five Charles Ives songs - The Circus Band, Ich grolle nicht, The Side Show, Tom Sails Away and Memories.

After his brief North American tour, he returns to Europe to perform Debussy's Pélleas et Mélisande with the Croatian National Opera in Zagreb and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Birger Radde takes on Philip Glass' The Fall of the House of Usher

Birger Radde (center photo from The Fall of the House of Usher)
Philip Glass' The Fall of the House of Usher opens at the Theater Hof, where it will run through June 2015. It will also tour to Bayreuth for performances on April 11 and 12. Singing the role of William will be German tenor turned baritone Birger Radde, who is new to our site.

Birger Radde made his operatic debut in 2005 at the Leipzig Opera, with subsequent debuts at the Musikalische Komödie Leipzig and the Neuköllner Oper Berlin. He graduated from Yale with a Master of Music Degree in Voice in 2008, the year he permanently changed fachs.

In 2008, he performed the title role in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in Virginia. In 2009, he created the leading role in Korngold's musical comedy The Silent Serenade, which was recorded by the German Label CPO.

He was a prizewinner of the International Opera Competition "Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg" in 2009. He is currently part of the ensemble at Theater Hof.

Tickets for performances at Theater Hof and Bayreuth are available online

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Henk Neven's sexy Don Giovanni in Bergen

Henk Neven in Bergen's Don Giovanni
For the Bergen National Opera's new Don Giovanni, British director Oliver Mears has transformed the stage of Grieg Hall in Bergen, Norway to a grand 1960s cruise ship with its classy salons and swimming pools. The production sets the story amongst the labyrinthine corridors and salons of a grand ship, with its upper and lower decks and their implicit privileges and deprivations. What could be more appropriate in a city set along Norway's famous fjords?

Mear's said of the production, "We wanted to set the production somewhere that was self-contained, labyrinthine, where it could be plausible that characters keep running into each other (as they do in the original libretto), and where the class and status differences so crucial to the original story could retain their importance.'

In the title role they've cast Dutch barihunk Henk Neven, who spends much of the opera in various stages of undress. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Henk Neven sings "Deh viena alla finestra" in Amsterdam:

After Don Giovanni, Neven returns to his native country to perform Bach's Matthäus Passion with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century from March 25-30. He then heads across the Pond for two performances of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, first in Quebec City on April 9th and then at New York's Carnegie Hall on April 12th.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Brian Mextorf in operamission recital series

Brian Mextorf
Emerging talent Brian Mextorf, who we introduced back in February, will be performing as part of operamission's 90-minute recital series, which occurs on the last Thursday of each month. Mextorf will perform Edvard Grieg's Six Songs, Op. 48 on April 30th in a program that also includes soprano Laura Kelleher singing Claude Debussy's Ariettes Oubliées and tenor David Kellett singing Schumann's Dichterliebe. The Grieg will be performed in its original German.

Tenor Cullen Gandy and Brian Mextorf sing the Pearl Fishers duet:

Other performances include a March 26th program featuring German songs peformed by tenor Mark Duffin, baritone Grant Youngblood, soprano Elisabeth Turchi and countertenor David Stanley. On May 28th, tenor Adam Klein will sing Schubert's Schwanengesang along with mezzo-soprano Kimberly Sogioka performing Berlioz's Les Nuits d'Été.

Tickets for the first three programs are currently on sale for $20 online.  Cabaret and conventional seating include light refreshments and opportunity to meet the artists.Conductor Jennifer Peterson accompanies at the piano and curates the programs.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Seven baritones/basses in Met Semi-Finals

Zach Owen, Jared Bybee and Michael Adams
Seven of the seventeen winners of the Metropolitan Opera regional competitions were baritones or basses, many of whom are familiar to our readers. Those who advanced will perform in the semi-finals on March 15th in a closed competition before judges. The winners will then advance to the Grand Finals Concert on March 22nd and perform two arias with conductor Fabio Luisi and the Met Orchestra.

The seven low male voices in the semi-finals are Michael Adams, baritone (Gulf Coast Region: Fort Worth, Texas); Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone (Western Region: Mobile, Alabama); David Leigh, bass (Eastern Region: New York, New York); Zachary Owen, bass-baritone (Midwest Region: Stillman Valley, Illinois); Reginald Smith, Jr., baritone (Southeast Region: Atlanta, Georgia); Matthew Turner, bass (Mid-South Region: Jackson, Kentucky) and Jared Bybee, baritone (Middle Atlantic Region: Modesto, California)

The Grand Finals Concert, which is held in the Met auditorium and open to the public, will be hosted by soprano Angela Meade, who herself first came to prominence in 2007 as a winner of the National Council Auditions. Meade will also sing an aria with the orchestra while the judges are deliberating. At the end of the concert, winners will be announced, each of whom will receive an individual cash prize of $15,000.

Other semi-finalists include mezzo-soprano Jenni Bank, soprano Sarah Cambidge, soprano Marina Costa-Jackson, tenor William Davenport, mezzo-soprano  Allegra De Vita, tenor Joseph Dennis, soprano Kathryn Henry, mezzo-soprano Anne Maguire, mezzo-soprano Deniz Uzun,  and mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez.

Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert begin at $25 and may be purchased at the Met Box Office, by phone at 212-362-6000, or online at

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Introducing Bass-Barihunk Brad Baron

Bran Baron
We've gotten know bass-baritone Brad Baron through Twitter and love following his tweets @BaronAsInRed. We've been meaning to post him many times over the last two years. In fact, he's been recommended to us by a few of his colleagues, particularly while working at the Des Moines Metro Opera. When we say his latest selfie...we knew it was time!

He has peformed Sir Anthony Absolute in the New York premiere of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals with the Bronx Opera Company, Harapha in Handel’s Samson and premiered The Soldier in the first orchestra performance of Theo Popov’s Once Upon the Wind with The Secret Opera. At the aforementioned Des Moines Metro Opera he sang the role of an Old Gypsy in Bizet's Carmen and one of Flora's attendants in Verdi's La traviata at their 2014 Festival.  He sang in the first public performance of Clint Borzoni’s opera Antinous and Hadrian as the High Priest with operamission.

He was an Encouragement Award winner in the Violetta DuPont Competition, a finalist in Classical Idol 8, a semi-finalist in the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition, and a semi-finalist in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition.  He will be a resident artist at the Ohio Light Opera this summer.

In addition to his work as a he singer, he's an actor and writer. His play 140 Characters or Less had its first reading as a part of the Annual Short Play Festival at Luna Stages. Brad is the author of five full-length plays and many more one acts. His full-length play Where We Always Go received its first staged reading as a part of the New Playwrights Series with The Villagers Theater in Somerset, New Jersey, and his play Homochondria had its regional premiere as a part of the Ringwald Theatre’s Gay Play Series in Michigan.

In addition to writing plays, Baron is a published contributing writer for a number of online blogs. He periodically writes for the site and also cultivates his own personal blog.

Baron graduated from Princeton University with an AB in English and Certificates in Theatre and Vocal Performance. He is currently in pursuit of his Masters of Music at Louisiana State University.

Introducing Palm Beach Opera's Jason Duika

Barihunk Jason Duika is new to the site. He was a finalist last year in the James Toland Vocal Competition and is currently a young artist with the Palm Beach Opera, where he is covering major roles. In December, he joined soprano Liana Guberman to sing in Ben Moore's Enemies, A Love Story at the company's outdoor concert.

In April 2014, he took the stage at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern auditorium to sing the duet Si pel ciel, from Verdi’s Otello opposite tenor Andrew Lunsford, and the aria Di provenza from Verdi’s La traviata. In April 2013, he sang the baritone solos in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Spring Masterworks concert at Alma College in Michigan.

Jason Duika at the James Toland Vocal Competition:

In 2012, he covered baritone Kyle Pfortmiller in the role of Valentine in Gounod’s Faust at the Utah Festival Opera in Logan, and in the winter of 2013, he joined the Wichita Grand Opera to cover the roles of the Count in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Iago in Verdi’s Otello.

In 2009, while in graduate school at Portland State University, Duika sang the role of Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff opposite veteran baritone Richard Zeller. Among Duika’s other performance credits are the title roles in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at Portland State and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

Duika holds a Bachelor of Arts in voice from Alma College, a Masters of Music in voice performance from Portland State University, and a Performer Diploma in opera from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, where he performed the title role of Dr. Falke in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

On March 26th, the Palm Beach Opera Young Artists will perform in a Liederabend at the Royal Poinciana Chapel. Tickets are available online.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Barihunks Celebrates Women's History Month

Barbara Strozzi, Ethel Smyth and Lori Laitman
Barihunks is celebrating Women's History Month, by highlighting some of the great women composers who left a legacy for the baritone voice. Recently, the Metropolitan Opera was criticized for announcing their new season, which for the 111th straight year included no works by women composers. That's not the case elsewhere, as Kaija Saariaho's operas are being performed this season in Linz, Helsinki and Amsterdam, while Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland opens in London on March 8th.

For centuries composition was not considered an appropriate role for women and, even when they did composer, their works were not taken seriously. Fortunately, a rich legacy of works by women composers is available online. Here are a few of our favorites (and this list is by no means comprehensive!).

Barbara Strozzi was a gifted singer and composer in the 17th century. Encouraged by her father Giulio Strozzi, a noted librettist and dramatist in his own right, she wrote eight volumes of dramatic vocal music. Many of her songs were set to lyrics penned by her father. He music is marked by chromatic tensions, expressive lines and long virtuoso vocal runs.

Kirk Eichelberger sings Barbara Strozzi's L’eraclito amoroso: 

Francesca Caccini was born into the Medici court and was a gifted composer, singer, lutenist, poet, and music teacher of the early Baroque era. She was also known by the nickname "La Cecchina," originally given to her by the Florentines. She was the daughter of composer Giulio Caccini. Her 1625 work comedy-ballet, La liberazione di Ruggiero, has been widely considered the first opera by a woman composer. She composed 32 songs, wrote music for the court, penned liturgical music and at least 16 stage works.

Francesca Caccini's La liberazione di Ruggiero:

The Hamburg born Fanny Mendelssohn is the sister of the composer Felix Mendelssohn, who was also an acclaimed pianist and composer in her own right. She is also the granddaughter of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. She showed prodigious musical ability as a child and began to write music, but was limited by prevailing attitudes of the time toward women.

She composed over 460 pieces of music, including her famous Piano Trio in D-minor, Opus 11 . A number of her songs were originally published under her brother's name in his Opus 8 and 9 collections.

She died in Berlin in 1847 of complications from a stroke suffered while rehearsing one of her brother's oratorios, The First Walpurgis Night. Her brother died less than six months later from the same complications.

Maarten Koningsberger sings Fanny Mendelssohn's Fichtenbaum und Palme and Traurige Wege::

Clara Schumann is the half of the composing team that included her husband Robert. She was not only a formidable talent as a composer, but a gifted pianist who premiered many of the works of Johannes Brahms. Her songs, not as well known as her works for piano, are among the treasures of her creative work and can take their place with the best of the German Lieder repertoire.

Robert Schumann had always urged her to compose songs, and he even undertook the necessary negotiations to get them published. Despite this, many of her songs have been erroneously attributed to Robert. All of Clara's songs published during her lifetime were written after her marriage to Robert and almost every song was intended as a Christmas or birthday gift for her husband. Her songs were performed by the leading male and female singers of the nineteenth century throughout the concert halls of Europe. In 1906, the her Ihr Bildnis and Liebst du um Schönheit.

Schumann was a unique phenomenon, honored and respected during her lifetime. Her triumphs as a musician may have compensated in part for the many personal tragedies she endured: the lengthy mental illness and death of her husband in 1856, the hospitalization of her incurably ill adult son Ludwig in 1870, and the deaths of three adult children: Julie in 1872, Felix in 1879, and Ferdinand in 1891.

Thomas Hampson sings five songs by Clara Schumann:

Ethel Smyth was an English composer and a member of the women's suffrage movement, whose father strongly objected to her becoming a composer. Her compositions include songs, works for piano, chamber music, orchestral and concertante works, choral works, and operas. In her mid-50s, she began to gradually lose her hearing and managed to complete only four more major works before deafness brought her composing career to an end.

Her opera The Wreckers is considered by some critics to be the most important English opera composed during the period between Purcell and Britten. Her operas Der Wald remains the only opera by a woman composer ever produced at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

In recognition of her work as a composer and writer, Smyth was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1922. Smyth had several passionate affairs in her life,, most of them with women. She died in 1944 at the age of 86.

Ethel Smyth's Mass in D:

Ruth Crawford Seeger was a modernist composer active primarily during the 1920s and 30s and an American folk music specialist from the late 1930s until her death. She was a prominent member of a group of American composers known as the "ultramoderns," and her music influenced later composers including Elliott Carter.

Her reputation as a composer chiefly rests on her New York compositions written between 1930 and 1933, which are concerned with dissonant counterpoint and American serial techniques. She was one of the first composers to extend serial processes to musical elements other than pitch, and to develop formal plans based on serial operations.

Judith Weir CBE is a British composer and Master of the Queen's Music. She studied with Sir John Tavener at the North London Collegiate School and subsequently with Robin Holloway at King's College. Her music often draws on sources from medieval history, as well as the traditional stories and music of her parents' homeland, Scotland. Although she has achieved international recognition for her orchestral and chamber works, Weir is best known for her operas and theatrical works.

She has written seven full length operas, many of which were commissioned by the English National Opera. Her operatic writing has been compared to Benjamin Britten.

George Mosley sings Judith Weir's Blackbirds and Thrushes:

Lori Laitman is an American composer of vocal music. She has composed over 250 songs, setting the words of classic and contemporary English-language poets, including the lost voices of poets who perished in the Holocaust.

Her opera, The Scarlet Letter, to a libretto by David Mason (based on the Nathanial Hawthorne classic), will receive its professional premiere at Opera Colorado in May 2016 starring Elizabeth Futral. The one-hour adaption for five voices and piano will premiere in March 2015 with the Young Artists of Opera Colorado. Her children's opera, "The Three Feathers," to a libretto by Dana Gioia (based on a Grimm's fairy tale), was commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech and premiered on October 17, 2014.

The title song of her cycle "Men With Small Hands" refers to a small child gazing up at adults, whose heads appear to be disproportionately tiny. "Refrigerator, 1957" contains an unopened jar of maraschino cherries, brimming with fascination to someone weaned on bland food, and "A Small Tin Parrot Pin" uses internal rhyme and wordplay to smirking effect, coupled with Laitman's light, brisk vocal writing. But the final song might have been the funniest: "Snake Lake," in which the singer uses an overly sibilant "s" in every word that that has one.

Andrew Garland sings Snake Lake by Lori Laitman:

After centuries of being discouraged from composing, women composers are finally coming into their own. Finland's Kaija Saariaho, Russia's Sofia Gubaidulina and Korea's Unsuk Chin are all making a major mark on the opera scene. Meanwhile, on the concert stage the works of Clara Schumann and Barbara Strozzi are gaining in popularity, while women like Laitman, Rebecca Saunders, Tansy Davies and Liza Lim are making a distinct mark on the contemporary music scene.

Barihunk rich Manchurian Candidate premieres in Minnesota

Brenda Harris as Eleanor Iselin (left) and Matthew Worth as Sergeant Raymond Shaw; Leonardo Capalbo as Captain Ben Marco (right) Photos (c) Michal Daniel
Kevin Puts' latest opera The Manchurian Candidate is having its world premiere at the Minnesota Opera on Saturday, March 7th. The cast includes four barihunks who have been featured on this site, led by Matthew Worth in the pivotal role of Sergeant Raymond Shaw. Joining him in the cast are Christopher Job as Senator Thomas Jordan, Christian Zaremba as General Tracy and Andrew Lovato as Young Raymond. Added to the mix is hunkentenor Leonardo Capalbo as Captain Ben Marco.

The Manchurian Candidate is part of Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative, a program designed to invigorate the operatic repertoire with an infusion of contemporary works. The opera follows Kevin Puts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning first opera Silent Night, also led by Michael Christie and with a libretto by Mark Campbell, which Minnesota Opera premiered in 2011.

Matthew Worth in rehearsals for The Manchurian Candidate:

The Manchurian Candidate is based on a 1959 novel by Richard Condon, which inspired two film adaptations. In the story, Captain Ben Marco, Sergeant Raymond Shaw and the rest of their infantry platoon are kidnapped during the Korean War and brainwashed to believe that Shaw saved their lives in combat –for which Congress awards him the Medal of Honor. Years after the war, Marco begins having a recurring nightmare about Shaw murdering two of their men while under observation by Chinese and Soviet officials. When Marco learns that another soldier from the platoon has been suffering the same nightmare, he determines to solve the mystery.

The opera runs from March 7-15 and tickets are available online.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Barihunk Trio in Dallas Opera's La boheme

Steven LaBrie
Today is über-barihunk Steven LaBrie's birthday, which reminded us that he's about to open in Dallas Opera's production of Puccini's La boheme with a barihunk trio that also includs Alexander Vinogradov and Jonathan Beyer. LaBrie will be singing Schaunard, Vinogradov takes on Colline and Beyer sings Marcello. Performances run from March 13-29 and tickets are available online.

After Dallas, Labrie heads off to Washington D.C. to sing the fiendishly difficult baritone part in Orff's Carmina Burana at the Kennedy Center on April 12th. The performance celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at Catholic University and features their symphony orchestra and chorus.  

Alexander Vinogradov and Jonathan Beyer
We originally featured Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov back in 2009. After this performance, he heads off to Geneva where he'll charm the Carmen of Sonia Ganassi from May 8-17th.

Jonathan Beyer will grab some scissors as he takes on Figaro in The Barber of Seville with the Opera Theater of Saint Louis form  May 23-June 27th. You can check out Beyer's la la la-ing his way through Largo al factotum on his website, along with many other great sound clips.

The Dallas Opera season wraps up with Tchaikovsky's Iolanta. Tickets and additional cast information is available on the Dallas Opera website

Artur Ruciński replaces Domingo again

Artur Ruciński backstage as di Luna in Venice and at the Rosenblatt Recitals

Artur Ruciński may want to just follow tenor turned "baritone" Placido Domingo around, as he's slated to replace him for the second time in less than a year. After replacing him this summer at the Salzburg Festival, he's now jumping in for him as the Count di Luna in Berlin. 

Domingo's foray into the baritone range has been met with a mixed critical reaction and has caused many in the music industry to question whether this change of fach should continue.

Artur Ruciński sings of Mieczysław Karłowicz songs:

Ruciński is a formidable baritone talent in his own right. He made his debut at the National Opera in Warsaw in 2002 and was launched to stardom in 2010 when he sang Eugene Onegin in Berlin with  Daniel Barenboim.

In 2013, he made his Covent Garden debut as Germont in Verdi’s La traviata, a role he's currently performing in Berlin. Upcoming roles include Ashton in Lucia in Hamburg and Zurich, Don Giovanni in Paris and his Metropolitan Opera debut as Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly in 2016.

The singer with the most roles in the history of opera has dropped one from his baritone register. Placido Domingo has pulled out of Il Trovatore in Berlin, La Scala and this summer’s Salzburg Festival, saying he can’t manage Count Luna again.
Salzburg has replaced him with Artur Ruciński, who stood in for Domingo last summer.
- See more at:
The singer with the most roles in the history of opera has dropped one from his baritone register. Placido Domingo has pulled out of Il Trovatore in Berlin, La Scala and this summer’s Salzburg Festival, saying he can’t manage Count Luna again.
Salzburg has replaced him with Artur Ruciński, who stood in for Domingo last summer.
- See more at:
The singer with the most roles in the history of opera has dropped one from his baritone register. Placido Domingo has pulled out of Il Trovatore in Berlin, La Scala and this summer’s Salzburg Festival, saying he can’t manage Count Luna again.
Salzburg has replaced him with Artur Ruciński, who stood in for Domingo last summer.
- See more at: