Sunday, April 17, 2016

Introducing Aussie barihunk Christopher Tonkin in operatic rarity

Aussie barihunk Christopher Tonkin
Australian barihunk Christopher Tonkin, who is new to this site, will be singing the role of Hans in Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky's rarely performed Der Traumgörge (Görge the Dreamer) at the Staatsoper Hannover. The 2-act opera was originally intended to be performed at the Vienna State Opera where Gustav Mahler, a mentor of Zemlinsky's, was Musical Director.

Mahler had encouraged Zemlinsky to compose the opera following the success of Es war einmal which Mahler had premiered in 1900. In 1907, the same year Der Traumgörge was scheduled for its premiere, Mahler hired Zemlinsky to be an assistant conductor. However, Mahler abruptly resigned and his successor, Felix Weingartner, dropped Der Traumgörge from the schedule as rehearsals were underway. Zemlinsky himself then resigned in protest.  Zemlinsky moved on to other compositional projects and made little effort to further promote it. 

The original performance materials were discovered in the archives of the Vienna State Opera in the 1970s, a period of renewed interest in Zemlinsky's music. This led to the opera's belated premiere in Nuremberg, Germany on October 11, 1980. The opera was performed at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2008 with Markus Brück as Hans and has been recorded twice.

Tickets for the Hannover performance, which runs from April 16-May 28, are available online

Tonkin is a resident principal baritone with Hannover Staatsoper, where he's performed Marcello in Puccini's La bohème, Ottokar in Weber's Der Freischütz, Maximilian in Berstein's Candide, Pollux in Rameau's Castor et Pollux, Albert in Massenet's Werther, the Count in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and other roles.

He grew up in Geelong, Australia, before moving to Melbourne, where he completed a Bachelor of Music Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts. In his native country he performed the Count in Richard Strauss' Capriccio and the Novice’s Friend in Britten's Billy Budd for Opera Australia, the Black Minister in Ligetti's Le Grand Macabre at the Adelaide Festival, and the roles of Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Chou En-Lai in Adam's Nixon in China and Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore for the Victorian Opera, for which he received a Green Room Award nomination.

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