Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Davoné Tines to star in new Terence Blanchard opera

Davoné Tines
Davóne Tines will star in the world premiere of five-time Grammy winner Terence Blanchard and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” at the Opera Theater of St. Louis this summer. The opera is based on the memoir of New York Times columnist and political commentator Charles Blow. This is the composer's second work for the company, following his highly successful "Champion," which premiered in 2013 and was subsequently performed at Opera Parallèle and the Washington National Opera.

The libretto for Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a soul-baring story of Blow's experiences growing up in Gibsland, Louisiana, including violence and the sexual abuse he endured from a relative.

The opera will also feature rising stars Julia Bullock in three roles and Karen Slack as Blow's mother. All three artists are making their Opera Theater of St. Louis mainstage debuts.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones” will premiere on June 15, 2019 at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and run for six performances. Additional information is available online.

Davóne Tines also recently premiered The Black Clown, with text that the singer adapted from Langston Hughes. The piece deals a Black man’s resilience against a legacy of oppression.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Remembering Dmitri Hvorostovsky on his birthday

Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who was broadly viewed as one of the greatest opera baritones of our times, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the summer of 2015 and died at the age of 55 on November 22, 2017 in London where he lived with his family.

There were few baritones as compelling on stage as Dmitri Hvorostovsky and only a few in history who matched his box office draw. His name will forever be associated with "legato" and perhaps only Montserrat Caballe or Zinka Milanov could sing with such glorious breath control and float silken sounds into the theater.

Along with Mariusz Kwiecien, he was one of the original inspirations for the Barihunks blog.

Half of Dmitri Hvorostovsky's ashes were laid to rest at Novodevichy Cemetery
He was born on October 16, 1962 and shot to fame in 1989 when he won the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in a legendary showdown with Bryn Terfel. Hvorostovsky sang two arias from Verdi, Rodrigo's aria "O Carlo, ascolta" from Don Carlo and "Eri tu che macchiavi" from Un ballo in maschera, as well as "Ja vas lyublyu" from Tchikovsky's Queen of Spades. The late, great soprano Elizabeth Soderström, who was one of the judges in 1989, famously marked a series of exclamation marks on her scorecard as she listened to Hvorostovsky sing. The music world was instantly abuzz with stories about a baritone who looked as beautiful as he sounded.

University of Oregon/KWAX radio's tribute to Dmitri Hvorostovsky:

After his brain cancer diagnosis, he cancelled concerts in Kaliningrad, Minsk, the Georges Enesco Festival, Tanglewood and Vienna, as well as the Met's performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, but made a brief return for a concert in Toronto and appeared at the Met Gala.

His career took him to all the world’s major opera houses and renowned international festivals, including Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Salzburg Festival, La Scala Milan, Vienna State Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings "Il balen" from Il trovatore:

His extensive discography includes 30 recitals, numerous complete operas on CD and DVD, and the award-winning film "Don Giovanni Unmasked" where he performed the dual roles of Don Giovanni and Leporello. On November 10, 2017, he released his first recording of Verdi's Rigoletto, on which he sings the title role.

There were memorial concerts in his honor at The Royal Opera in London and at Zankel Hall in New York City.

Luis Alejandro Orozco stars in Santa Barbara Opera's 25th Anniversary season opener

Luis Alejandro Orozco (Photos: C. Stanley & Tim Trumble)
Mexican-American barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco will sing the role of Marcello in Puccini's La bohème, which will launch the 25th anniversary season of the Opera Santa Barbara on November 9 and 11. Tickets are available online.

He'll be joined in the cast by Vincent Grana as Colline, Eleni Calenos as Mimi, Elle Valera as Musetta, Nathan Granner as Rodolfo and Yazid Gray as Schaunard.

The rest of the Opera Santa Barbara season includes Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin with barihunk Lee Poulis in the title role and Robert Ward's The Crucible with bass-barihunk Colin Ramsey as Reverend John Hale. 

 Luis Alejandro sings "Where is the life that late I led" from Kiss Me, Kate:

Orozco made his Opera Santa Barbara debut in 2014 as Assan in Menotti's The Consul, and returned as Taddeo in Rossini's L’italiana in Algeri in 2015 and as Belcore in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love in 2016.

He will return to the role of Marcello in April with the Anchorage Opera. In the meantime, one can hear him as Watty Watkins in Lady Be Good at the Teatro di San Carlo and Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas with Pensacola Opera.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Iurii Samoilov makes US debut in Detroit

Iurii Samoilov (Photo by Maria Shkoda)
Iurii Samoilov made his long overdue American debut on October 13th singing the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit. The cast also includes Corinne Winters as Tatyana, Jamez McCorkle as Lensky and Carolyn Sproule as Olga.

There will be additional performances on October 17, 19 and 21 and tickets are available online.

Samoilov first sang the role of Onegin at age 19 in his native Ukraine. 

He will return to his home base at the Oper Franfurt to sing Riccardo in Bellini's I Puritani on December 2.  According to his website, he is also slated to make his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the near future.

Ernesto Petti to sing Lord Enrico Ashton in Basel

Ernesto Petti (Photos courtesy of singer and Theater Basel)
Italian barihunk Ernesto Petti will take on the role of Lord Enrico Ashton at the Theater Basel beginning on October 19th. The staging will be led by the noted French director, actor and writer Olivier Py. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Make sure to follow him on Facebook

Petti answered a few questions about the performance for Theater Basel:

🎵 What is the best part of the stage setting/best part of costume/best prop?

Petti: In my personal opinion the most beautiful scene is the beginning of the opera: The director re-enacts a famous painting from the late 19th century that depicts a medical examination of a woman, who is ill with hysteria, by Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot in front of a medical audience. And I’d like to compliment the costume department for the wonderful costumes. 

🎵 Why shouldn’t one miss this show?

Petti: This show is absolutely not to be missed. The reading of each character is quite profound and the initial point of the director’s interpretation is very interesting: He compares Lucia’s madness to Augustine’s hysteria - one of Charcot’s famous hysteria patients. The staging perfectly follows the magnificent musical interpretation of the conductor. 

That’s why this will be a great show and the audience will love it! 

🎵 What do you do in your free time?

Petti: During my free time I love walking around the city, visiting open spaces like parks or rivers and I also like to do workouts in the gym. Until a few days ago I loved to relax by swimming in the Rhine!

Steven LaBrie making Tulsa Opera debut as Figaro

Steven LaBrie as Figaro (courtesy Opera Hong Kong)
Barihunk Steven LaBrie will make his Tulsa Opera debut as the title character in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” which opens the company’s 2018-2019 season on October 19th.

LaBrie is familiar with the opera, having first sung Fiorello at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and then making his professional debut as Figaro with the Lyric Opera Baltimore in 2015. He has also performed the role with Opera Hong Kong.

Steven LaBrie sings "A tanto amor" from Donizetti's La favorita:

He'll be joined in the cast by hunkentenor Aaron Blake as Almaviva, Sarah Coburn as Rosina and Peter Strummer as Dr. Bartolo.

Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances for LaBrie include Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with Opera Omaha on February 15 and 17 and Jake Heggie's Three Decembers with the San Diego Opera on March 8, 9 and 10 with Frederica von Stade.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Jesse Blumberg featured in Polish Independence Day concert in NY

Jesse Blumberg
The Oratorio Society of New York will celebrate Polish Independence with a November 11th concert featuring barihunk Jesse Blumberg, soprano Susanna Phillips and Polish mezzo-soprano Ewa Płonka. The concert will feature Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater and Górecki’s Euntes Ibant et Flebant.

November 11th commemorates the anniversary of the restoration of Poland's sovereignty as the Second Polish Republic in 1918 from the German, Austrian and Russian Empires. Following the partitions in the late 18th century, Poland ceased to exist for 123 years until the end of World War I, when the destruction of the neighbouring powers allowed the country to reemerge.

The concert is part of “100 for 100,” a worldwide musical commemoration of the Polish centenary in conjunction with the Polish Cultural Institute New York, and Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Edition (a music publishing house).

 Górecki’s Euntes Ibant et Flebant:

Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater was written during his late Nationalist period and is characterized by his use of Polish melodies and rhythms. Circumstances in the composer's personal life inspired the work. Upon the death of his niece, Alusia Bartoszewiczówna, in January 1925, the composer spent time consoling his sister in her loss, subsequently choosing to set the Stabat Mater text, with its profound reflection on the grieving mother.

Górecki’s Euntes Ibant et Flebant has text from the Book of Psalms and is written for unaccompanied choir. The composition is extremely interesting from the harmonic point of view, as it constitutes a sublimated synthesis of the major-minor system with the folk music modality. This procedure provides the work with an ''extraterrestrial'', meditative character, emphasized in addition by the strict psalmody appearing more or less in the middle of the piece. 

The concert also includes Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem, which looks back at recent wars and makes a plea for peace even as a new war threatens.

The concert will be held at Carnegie Hall at 8 p.m. and tickets are available online.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Mathias Hausmann in provocative Dantons Tod

Mathias Hausmann (center) Photo: Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz
The Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz is presenting Gottfried von Einem's Dantons Tod with barihunk Mathias Hausmann as Georges Danton along with an array of hunky, shirtless men. The production is directed by Günter Krämer. The opera is being performed in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth.

Dantons Tod Photo: Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz
Georg Büchner's pitiless drama offered the Austrian composer Gottfried von Einem an ideal opportunity to examine Fascist structures of domination. Premiered at the Salzburg Festival two years after the Second World War, the work has lost nothing of its topicality today. 

Dantons Tod Photo: Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz
In the opera, the French Revolution has disposed of the absolutist rulers, but the people continue to live in fear and trepidation. While the erstwhile revolutionary Georges Danton seeks pleasure in gambling and love, Robespierre intends to bring about the equality of all people with violence and terror. It is only when he himself comes to the attention of the tyrannical regime that Danton is persuaded to become politically active again. But doubts about his own motives and the possibility of achieving liberty and fraternity through violence stand in the way of his power to act.

Additional performances are on October 13, 15, 19 and November 1, 4, and 15. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Brandon Cedel in Verdi rarity Il corsaro in Franfurt

Brandon Cedel
Brandon Cedel will sing the bass role of Giovanni in Oper Frankfurt's concert performances of Verdi's Il corsaro. He'll be joined by an all-star cast that includes Dorothea Röschmann as Medora, Željko Lučić as Seid and Mario Chang as Corrado.

The performance is part of the company's series of early and middle period operas by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto is based on Lord Byron's 1814 poem The Corsair, which many believe was based on the life of the 19th century French pirate Jean Lafitte. The composer expressed interest in Byron's poem The Corsair as early as 1844 when he was planning an opera for Venice, but a suitable baritone was not available. Therefore, he completed I masnadieri for London before completing Il corsaro, which premiered in Trieste on October 25, 1848. With the exception of two other productions, the opera all but vanished from the repertory after just three performances in Trieste. It didn't appear in the U.K. until 1966 and in the U.S. until 1981. The San Diego Opera produced it in 1982 with a cast that included June Anderson, Rosalind Plowright, Alfonso Navarrete and J. Patrick Raftery.

Thomas Hampson sings "Alfin questo corsaro...Cento leggiadre vergini" from Il corsaro:

The opera is about a noble pirate who battles the Muslims, is loved by a harem maid but in turn loves another, and who finally kills himself after his true love poisons herself when she thinks he is dead.

Performances are on November 7th and 9th and tickets and additional information is available online. Cedel is currently performing Angelotti in Puccini Tosca and the Messenger in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex with Oper Frankfurt.

Monday, October 8, 2018

David Adam Moore stars in West Coast premiere of Soldier Songs

David Adam Moore
Barihunk David Adam Moore will reprise the role of the Soldier in David T. Little's "Soldier Songs," which he created at the 2008 premiere at Le Poisson Rouge in New York. The Ford Theatres and LA Opera Off Grand, in collaboration with Beth Morrison Projects, will present the West Coast premiere of the piece on October 13th.

The monodrama for baritone and chamber orchestra is a groundbreaking multimedia piece that combines elements of theatre, opera, rock-infused concert music and film. The piece contrasts the perceptions and realities of war from the soldier's perspective.

David Adam Moore
The score for Soldier Songs was commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, which premiered a concert version of the work in 2006. Soldier Songs received a fully staged workshop production sold to standing room capacity by Beth Morrison Projects in New York in 2008 at Le Poisson Rouge. Beth Morrison Projects produced the premiere of the full production at The International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut in June 2011 and was remounted during the inaugural PROTOTYPE Festival.

Tickets are priced at $35, 55 and 75. Tickets and information about parking are available by visiting or by calling (323) 461-3673.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Rufus Wainwright's "Hadrian" to premiere with adult warning

Thomas Hampson and David Leigh (costume sketch courtesy of Canadian Opera)
Rufus Wainwright's second opera, "Hadrian," will open on October 13th at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. The opera is about a gay relationship in ancient Rome between the Roman emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous. Daniel MacIvor's libretto was inspired by Marguerite Yourcenar's novel "Memoirs of Hadrian," which Wainwright read twenty years ago.

"Antinous and Hadrian," an opera based on the same story, was recently completed by composer Clint Borzoni and librettist Edward Ficklin, and was presented in New York in 2017 in concert form. You can hear the beautiful love scene HERE.

This is pop singer Rufus Wainwright's second attempt at opera, after "Prima Donna," which premiered at the New York City Opera in 2009, featuring barihunk Randal Turner.

Wainwright's "Hadrian" comes with an adult warning and features a musical interlude where Hadrian and Antinous make love. The cast includes the ageless barihunk Thomas Hampson as Hadrian, tenor Isaiah Bell as his lover Antinous, Karita Mattila as Plotina, bass-barihunk David Leigh as Turbo, Ambur Braid as Sabina and Ben Heppner as Dinarchus. The piece is sung in English and Latin.

The story is about Emperor Hadrian, who is devastated after his lover Antinous drowns in the Nile River. While matters of state encroach on his grief and advisers clamor for war against a radical new threat to the Empire, Hadrian slips out of time to re-encounter the vision and reality of Antinous—and learn the truth about what happened on the Nile.

There are seven performances between October 13-27 and tickets are available online.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Brian James Myer to sing Mercutio with Hawaii Opera Theatre

Brian James Myer
Barihunk Brian James Myer will take on the role of Mercutio in the Hawaii Opera Theatre's new production of Gounod's Romeo & Juliet. Soprano Amanda Woodbury, who sang the role at The Met will sing Juliet, in a cast that also includes Derek Taylor as Romeo, Alyssa Martin as Stephano, Jamie Offenbach as Frère Laurent, Carlos Enrique Santell as Tybalt and Blythe Kelsey as Gertrude.

The opera was first performed at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris on April 27, 1867 and is most notable for the series of four duets for the main characters and the Juliet's oft-performed waltz song "Je veux vivre."

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has inspired all kinds of music, including songs, operas, symphonic poems, Broadway musicals and film scores. Perhaps the most famous musical example is Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's West Side Story. Remarkably, there are dozens of operas based on the story, but only Gounod's has consistently remained in the repertory. In fact, Brian James Myer just performed in est Side Story at the Grand Teton Music Festival.

Performances are on October 12, 14 and 16 and tickets are available HERE.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Nmon Ford makes ENO debut in company's first production of Porgy & Bess

Nmon Ford and Donovan Singletary
The English National Opera is presenting its first staging of Porgy and Bess in the company’s history opening on October 11th. Barihunk Nmon Ford will also be making his company debut as Crown.  Also featured will be barihunk Donovan Singletary as Jake.

The cast will also include Eric Greene as Porgy, Nicole Cabell as Bess, Latonia Moore and Gweneth-Ann Rand alternating the role of Serena, Nadine Benjamin as Clara, and Frederick Ballentine as Sportin' Life.

The 1935 “folk opera” will be presented anew in a realistic and hard-hitting account of life in the African-American communities of the 20th century Deep South. Porgy and Bess tells the story of disabled beggar Porgy and his love for Bess as he tries to rescue her from the influence of her abusive lover Crown. With songs including “Summertime” and “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin” and “I Loves You Porgy”, material from the opera has been reinterpreted by jazz and popular singers for decades.

Performances run through November 14th and tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Hubert Zapiór wins top song prize at Gerda Lissner Competition

Hubert  Zapiór
Polish barihunk Hubert  Zapiór won the Lieder/Song Prize and $7,000 at the 2018 Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition in New York City.

The Gerda Lissner Foundation was created by Gerda Lissner, a Metropolitan Opera subscriber for 77 years with the mission of providing young opera singers with the financial support they need to pursue their craft and excel in the world of opera.

Upcoming performances for Zapiór include Mendelssohn's Elijah at Paul Recital Hall at Juilliard on October 15th and Britten's War Requiem with the Albany Symphony on November 10th. He returns to his native Poland on December 14th to sing Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Teatr Wieki.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Jonathan Estabrooks in world premiere of Anna Christie

Melanie Lang and Jonathan Estabrooks
Jonathan Estabrooks, who appeared in the very first Barihunks calendar, will be appearing in the world premiere of Edward Thomas and Joseph Masteroff's opera Anna Christie. The Juilliard-trained singer and producer, who continues to look better with each passing year, will take on the role of Mat Burke, the stoker who falls in love with the title character.

The opera will be presented by Encompass New Opera Theatre in New York on October 4 and will run through October 21, 2018 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

The cast includes also includes Frank Basile as Chris Christopherson, Melanie Long as Anna Christie, Joy Hermalyn as Marthy Owen and Mike Pirozzi as Larry the Bartender.

Anna Christie, based on Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning play explores the lost relationship of a woman and her father, and the sailor she falls in love with. The sea is a powerful symbol in the play and O'Neill having lived by the docks in New York City's waterfront, was acquainted with the sailors, booze, saloons and night life that he wrote about with such passion and authenticity. Abandoned by her father when she was five years old, Anna suffered a life of hardship and carries a dark secret from her past. An emotionally charged reunion with her father, a captain of a coal barge, intensifies when a merchant sailor is pulled from the cold, dark waters of the Atlantic on a foggy night. When the fog clears, Anna, the sailor and her father are caught in a riveting struggle between love and the sea, changing their lives forever.

The play made its Broadway debut at the Vanderbilt Theatre on November 2, 1921 and was made into a 1930 Hollywood film starring Greta Garbo in her first talking picture.

Tickets and additional information is available online.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Evan Hughes to make San Diego Opera debut

Evan Hughes
American Bass-barihunk Evan Hughes whose photos as Somnus in the Komische Oper of Handel's Semele were quite popular with our readers, will be making his San Diego Opera debut on October 20. Hughes will be replacing Nicholas Brownlee as Figaro in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

The cast will include fellow barihunk John Moore as the Count, Caitlin Lynch as the Countess, Sarah Shafer as Susanna, Emily Fons as Cherubino and the legendary mezzo-soprano Sussanne Mentzer as Marcellina. Additional performances are on October 23, 26 and 28 and tickets are available online.

The Southern California native will also be making debuts this season with Opera Philadelphia as Theseus in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Bolshoi Theater as Astolfo in Vivaldi’s Orlando Furioso and at the Aldeburgh Festival. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Watch Marcell Bakonyi in thrilling performance of Bánk bán

Marcell Bakonyi
You can watch Hungarian barihunk Marcell Bakonyi as the King of Hungary online at OperaVision in Ferenc Erkel's Bánk bán, which is considered the national opera of the country. The tragic story of has not left the repertoire in Hungary since it was first performed in 1861. It’s performed regularly on national holidays, often with school kids in the audience. The opera includes two amazing arias for the baritone leads, Bánk bán and the King of Hungary, as well as the obligatory soprano mad scene from the era. 

The main storyline is based on the assassination of Queen Gertrúd, wife of Andrew II in 1213.

Composer Ferenc Erkel is barely known outside Hungary, where he’s revered as the father of Hungarian music and the composer of the country’s national anthem. The opera is rarely heard outside of Hungary because it's hard to find singers who can sing in Hungarian.

Marcell Bakonyi sings "Se vuol ballare" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro:

Marcell Bakonyi has not been featured on our site before, but his aria is a tour de force, which is worth hearing. Marcell studied voice at the Leo-Weiner Conservatory of Music in Budapest and at the Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart, Germany. From 2007-2008 he was a member of the ensemble at Theater Heidelberg, followed by being an ensemble member at the Landestheater Salzburg, where he sang the roles of Bartolo and Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Kaspar in Weber's Der Freischütz, Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and Leporello Mozart's Don Giovanni. Since 2010, he has been a member of the Ensemble at the Nürnberg State Theater.

In 2011, he  made his debut as Pietro in Verdi`s Simon Boccanegra at the Budapest State Opera House.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Georg Festl featured in title role of Saint François d’Assise

Georg Festl as Saint François (Photo: © Stephan Ernst)
Georg Festl created quite a stir with our readers when we introduced him with a shirtless picture back in July.

He's now performing the title role in Olivier Messiaen's Saint François d’Assise at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, which runs through October 28th. The cast includes fellow barihunks Julian Orlishausen as Frère Léon and Johannes Seokhoon Moon as Frère Bernard, along with Katharina Persicke as the Angel, Mickael Spadaccini as the Leper, David Lee as Frère Massée, Michael Pegher as Frére Elie and Werner Volker-Meyer as Frére Sylvestre. Tickets are available online.

This was Messiaen's only opera and it took him eight years to complete. It premiered at the Paris Opera in 1983 and reflects his devout Catholicism.  In searching for a subject, Messiaen pondered dramatizing either Christ's Passion or his Resurrection. Feeling unworthy of either subject, he eventually chose to dramatize the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, which paralleled Christ's chastity, humility, poverty, and suffering. Messiaen also wrote the libretto, consulting Franciscan sources, reading biographies by Thomas of Celano and St. Bonaventure, as well as Francis' own prayers (including Canticle of the Sun). He also cited passages from the Fioretti, Considerations on the Stigmata and the Bible.  

Georg Festl as Saint François (Photo: © Stephan Ernst)
Festl was born in Nuremberg, Germany and studied English and American studies at the University of Music Würzburg. After graduating, he was cast as Artie Green in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard at the Mainfrankentheater Würzburg.  He is a recipient of the Richard-Wagner Society scholarship and the Da-Ponte Society scholarship.

From 2015-2017, he sang at the Theater Augsburg, where he performed in Zemlinsky's Der König Kandaules, Verdi's Macbeth, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Die Csárdásfürstin, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Tosca and the children's opera Ritter Odilo und der strenge Herr Winter by Mareike Zimmermann.

Christopher Maltman and Isabel Leonard sing Marnie excerpts at the Guggenheim

Christopher Maltman (Photo: Pia Clodi)
British barihunk Christopher Maltman will sing excerpts from Nico Muhly's opera Marnie at the Guggenheim Museum as part of the Works & Process series, presented jointly with The Metropolitan Opera. He'll be joined by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and director Michael Mayer on Monday, October 1, 2018 at 7:30pm.

With a libretto by Nicholas Wright, Marnie is based on the novel by Winston Graham and it examines the cost of freedom, the limitations of forgiveness and the impossibility of escaping the past. Set in 1950s London, the psychological thriller tells the story of a woman who has gone through life embezzling her employers, changing her identity, being forced into a loveless marriage by Okulitch's character, and eventually being forced to confront her past. 

Leonard and Maltman will sing excerpts from the opera and join in a discussion about the opera. Tickets are available online

Marnie opens at The Met on October 19 and runs through November 10. Also in the cast is Denyce Graves, Iestyn Davies and Janis Kelly.  Tickets are available online.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Watch Nicolas Courjal as Ramfis in Aida from Orange

Nicolas Courjal (Photo: Chorégies D'Orange Festival)
You can check out the video taped broadcast of Verdi's Aida from the historic Roman theater in Orange on culturebox with French bass-barihunk Nicolas Courjal as Ramfis.

The all-star cast was originally supposed to include Sondra Radvanovsky as Aida, but she withdrew due to fatigue and was replaced by the American soprano Elena O'Connor. The remainder of the cast includes the reigning Amneris of our time, Anita Rachvelishvili. as well as Marcelo Álvarez as Radamès and Quinn Kelsey as Amonasro.

You can click HERE to watch the broadcast.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Marco Vassalli to sing German premiere of Clint Borzoni songs

Marco Vassalli in Montreuil Bellay, France (Photo by Jack Michaels)
Barihunk Marco Vassalli will sing the German premiere of Clint Borzoni's Stufen and Magere Kost on September 9th in Überlingen. The two German language songs were written for the singer and debuted in San Francisco in 2016. The program will also include music by Robert Schumann, Samuel Barber and the Überlingen-based composer Justus Hermann Wetzel. He'll be accompanied by Florian Appel on the piano. The concert will be at the Stadtisches Museum Uberlingen and tickets are available online.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen":

The first song is based on Hermann Hesse's Stufen and the second text Margere Kost is by the contemporary poet Hilde Domin. These are the first German language texts set by Borzoni. The singer hand selected the poems to be set by the American composer and performed at Vassalli's official U.S. debut.

The Borzoni songs were so popular when presented at Musica Marin that the chamber group is presenting the songs again at their upcoming festival, which runs from September 21-23. Tickets and additional information is available online.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Oleg Loza to perform "Music of Love" recital at Chaliapin Estate

Russian barihunk Oleg Loza will perform a "Music of Love" recital at the Feodor Chaliapin Estate in Moscow on September 22nd, named after the great Russian bass. He will be joined by Natalia Peshekhonova at the piano.

The concert is in the Novinsky Boulevard home that Chaliapin bought in 1937, while he was at the height of his powers, and includes his Bechstein grand piano, theatrical costumes, playbills, and posters. Chaliapin and his wife, the Italian ballet dancer Iola Tornagi, hosted some of the greatest figures of the time at their home, including Sergei Rachmaninov, Leonid Sobinov, Maxim Gorky, Ivan Bunin, Konstantin Korovin and Konstantin Stanislavsky.

Feodor Chaliapin sings Glinka's "Doubt":

The recital will include music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Glinka, Dargomyzhsky and Schubert. Tickets are available online.

Loza is a former member of the International Opernstudio at Opernhaus Zurich who made his professional debut at the Moscow Conservatoire Opera Theatre.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Three barihunks advance to Operalia finals; No sopranos!

Sean Michael Plumb, Simon Shibambu and Johannes Kammler
Three barihunks have made it to the finals of the Operalia competition in Lisbon, Portugal. South Afrian bass Simon Shibambu, American baritone Sean Michael Plumb and German baritone Johannes Kammler are among the final 12 singers who will compete on September 2nd.

In a bit of shocker, not a single soprano made it to finals. Readers of Barihunks may recall the "Baritone Blackout" in 2014 when not a single baritone made it to the finals despite some amazing low voice talent in the competition.

Bass Simon Shibambu graduated from the Royal College of Music, and in 2017 entered his second season as a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He next appears at the English National Opera in Richard Strauss' Salome, which opens on September 28.

Johannes Kammler is a former Samling Artist and Britten-Pears Young Artist and a member of the Opera Studio at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He next appears in Trier in the title role of Mendelssohn's Elias on October 3. He then heads to the Canadian Opera Company to sing Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte.

Johannes Kammler sings Pierrot's Lied:

Sean Michael Plumb was graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music and made his national television debut in the HBO documentary “Renée Fleming: A YoungArts MasterClass.” He is currently a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper ensemble. He next appears as Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with the Kentucky Opera opening on September 21.

The other finalists are the brilliant American mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, Russian tenor Migran Agadzhanyan, Candian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, Canadian/Italian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, Portuguese tenor Luis Gomes, Chinese tenor Long Long, Belarus tenor Pavel Petrov, Swiss/French mezzo-soprano Marina Viotti and Russian tenor Arseny Yakovlev.

The competition's five Zarzuela finalists are mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, tenor Luis Gomes, tenor Pavel Petrov, Brazilian mezzo-soprano Josy Santos and Colombian/American soprano Vanessa Vasquez.

The September 2nd finals will be streamed on Medici.TV and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Justin Hopkins takes on Beethoven, Glass and holiday standards

Justin Hopkins (photo on right: Ellen Appel, Ft Worth Opera)
The sexy, shirtless photo of Justin Hopkins that we posted on Facebook yesterday drew a lot of praise, as well as comments about his glorious voice. For those who would like to experience this amazing talent live, he has some upcoming performances on both sides of The Pond. 

On September 15 and 16, he'll be joining the Dayton Opera for their season opening performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. He'll be joined by soprano Kasia Borowiec, mezzo-soprano Noragh Devlin and tenor John Pickle. Tickets and additional program information is available online

He then heads to Opera Vlaanderen, where he'll sing Lord Krishna and Parsi Rustomji in Philip Glass' Satygraha in an all-star cast headed by the fearless tenor Peter Tantsits, the lush voiced mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, Rihab Chaieb, Denzil Delaere and Tineke Van Ingelgem. This will be Hopkins' debut with the Belgian company. Performances run from November 18-December 2. Tickets and additional information is available online.

He then returns to his native shore, for a Holiday Pops concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony on December 6, 7, 8 and 9. The concert includes Hopkins singing holiday standards along with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. Tickets are available online.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Waltteri Torikka in world premiere of "Sanatorio Express"

Waltteri Torikka (Image: Finnish National Opera)
Regular readers may recall our posts about Finnish barihunk Waltteri Torikka being named "Sexiest Man in Finland" and for winning MTV's singing competition Tähdet, Tähdet (Stars, Stars) with his hip swinging rendition of Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loca.  

He is currently slated to appear in the world premiere of Iiro Rantala and Minna Lindgren's  Sanatorio Express, a comic opera about today’s neuroses and relationships. The opera plays on the spirit of 19th century comic opera, including catchy melodies, plot twists, and troubled, if not complicated, romantic relationships. The opera deals with more modern issues of weight loss, peacefulness/mindfulness, social media, as well as the timeless issues of deception and addiction.

Waltteri Torikka sings Don Giovanni's serenade:

Torikka plays Sports Addict, the husband of the female lead, who has fallen in love with Meditation Addict while at a sanatorium where she's trying to lose a few extra pounds.

The opera opens on September 27 and runs through January 11. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sam Roberts-Smith sings "Nessun dorma" like you've never heard it before

Sam Roberts-Smith on mix94.5 in Perth

Check out Aussie barihunk Sam Roberts-Smith singing on Perth's mix94.5’s The Big Breakfast with Clairsy, Matt & Kymba morning show. He joins comedian/host Matt Dyktynski on his Hits From Ya Hood for a revised rendition of Puccini's "Nessun dorma," which has both revised lyrics and transposed down a bit!

You can check it out HERE.

Sam Roberts-Smith just wrapped up a run as Moralès in Bizet's Carmen at the West Australian Opera.

Happy 100th Birthday, Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, and pianist. His special gift of bridging the gap between the concert hall and the world of Broadway made him one of the most glamorous and popular musical figures of his day.

As a composer Bernstein was a controversial figure. His large works, including the symphonies Jeremiah (1943), Age of Anxiety (1949), and Kaddish (1963), are not considered masterpieces. Yet they are skillfully shaped and show his sensitivity to small changes of musical variety. He received more praise for his Broadway musicals. The vivid On the Town (1944) and Wonderful Town (1952) were followed by Candide (1956), which, though not a box-office success, is considered by many to be Bernstein's most original score. West Side Story (1957) received international praise. Bernstein's music, with its strong contrasts of violence and tenderness, determines the feeling of the show and contributes to its special place in the history of American musical theater.

Sir Thomas Allen sings "Dear Boy" from Candide:

In works that could be dubbed operas, his most notable roles for low male voice are the philosopher Dr. Pangloss in Candide who sings "Dear Boy" and Sam in Trouble in Tahiti who sings "There's a Law." Perhaps his most popular and frequently recorded work for baritone is "Simple Song" from Mass.

His role as an educator, in seminars at Brandeis University (1952–1957) and in teaching duties at Tanglewood are legendary and still watched by students today.  He found an even larger audience through television, where his animation and distinguished simplicity had an immediate appeal. Two books of essays, Joy of Music (1959) and Infinite Variety of Music (1966), were direct products of television presentations.

Sebastià Peris sings "There's a Law" from Trouble in Tahiti:
Bernstein had his greatest impact as a conductor. His appearances overseas—with or without the New York Philharmonic—brought about an excitement approaching frenzy. These responses were due in part to Bernstein's energy and emotion. It is generally agreed that his readings of twentieth-century American scores showed a dedication and authority rarely approached by other conductors of his time. His performances and recordings also ushered in a revival of interest in the music of Gustav Mahler.
There was some surprise when, in 1967, Bernstein resigned as music director of the Philharmonic. But it was in keeping with his nature and the diversity of his activities that he sought new channels of expression. After leaving the Philharmonic Bernstein traveled extensively, serving as guest conductor for many of the major symphonies of the world, including the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic. He became something of a fixture in those cities in the last few decades of his life.

Theo Hoffman's amazing rendition of "Simple Song":

Bernstein also became caught up in the cultural upheaval of the late 1960s. He angered many when he claimed all music, other than pop, seemed old-fashioned. Politically, too, he drew criticism. When his wife hosted a fund-raiser for the Black Panthers in 1970, charges of anti-Semitism were leveled against Bernstein himself. Press reports caused severe damage to his reputation. Bernstein also brought criticism with his stance against the Vietnam War. His activism ultimately led J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI to monitor his activities and associations.

Thomas Hampson sings "Lucky to be Me" from On the Town:

In 1971 Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It was, according to biographer Humphrey Burton, "the closest [Bernstein] ever came to achieving a synthesis between Broadway and the concert hall." The huge cast performed songs in styles ranging from rock to blues to gospel. Mass debuted on Broadway later that year.

He died in New York City, on October 14, 1990, of a heart attack brought on by emphysema and other complications.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Benjamin Appl to replace Piotr Beczala

Tenor Piotr Beczala had to cancel his August 25th Schubertiade Schwarzenberg recital due to laryngitis. Barihunk Benjamin Appl has been tapped to replace him and will perform a program of Schubert, Schumann and Grieg. Accompanist Helmut Deutsch, who was scheduled to play piano for Beczala, will perform with Appl. Tickets are available online.

Appl has other upcoming recitals on September 9th in Köln and on September 21 in Bad Kohlgrub. He then heads to Tokyo to perform Orff's Carmina Burana with soprano Olga Peretyatko and countertenor Max Emanuel Cenčić.

On September 7th, Appl will release his solo album of Bach with Concerto Köln for Sony Classical. The album includes music from the St. Matthew Passion, as well as lesser known pieces selected by Appl.

Sexy photos of Davide Luciano's wildly popular Barber; Reprising role throughout Europe

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Photo: ©Studio Amati Bacciardi)

Davide Luciano's shirtless Figaro in The Rossini Opera Festival's "The Barber of Seville" pretty much stole the show for every reason imaginable. During his crowd-pleasing "Largo al factotum" he not only hit all the right comic and musical notes, but strutted around wearing only a pair of tight black pants. The crowd at the August 22nd closing performance at Pesaro's Adriatic Arena showered their approval with a nine minute round of wild applause at the curtain call. Later in the show he accompanied the Count Almaviva's "Se il mio nome" on guitar.

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Image: Pesaro Rossini Festival)
Since word spread pretty quickly in operatic circles about Davide Luciano's performance, we figured that we'd share a few images from the production.

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Image: Pesaro Rossini Festival)

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Image: Pesaro Rossini Festival)
If you missed Luciano's performance of the Barber, you'll have a number of chances to catch him in the next year. He'll sing it at the at the Dutch National Opera opening on November 10, then at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on December 30 and January 2,  and finally at the Semperoper Dresden opening March 9, 2019. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Zachary Gordin in concert celebrating Reynaldo Hahn (and his new CD)

Zachary Gordin
Barihunk Zachary Gordin and accompanist Bryan Nies will perform a recital in celebration of the release of their CD “Amour sans ailes” on the MSR Classics label. The concert is at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in California on Saturday, August 25th at 7:30pm.

The concert is presented by Michael Morgan, Music Director of the Oakland Symphony and features a program of music by Hahn, Massenet, Fauré and Duparc.

The concert tells the story of the relatively unknown composer Reynaldo Hahn through his music, teachers, and musical contemporaries. The recital follows his path from a child prodigy and star of La Belle Époque, his return to a changed France post-WWI, and his struggles to find a new musical identity. 

Tickets are available online.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Watch Quirijn de Lang as Sam in Trouble in Tahiti on OperaVision

Quirijn de Lang as Sam in Trouble in Tahiti (Image courtesy Opera North)
You can watch Dutch barihunk Quirijn de Lang in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti with Opera North on OperaVision from August 25-September 11. He will be joined by the Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as the other half of the argumentative couple.

Bernstein wrote the libretto and music for Trouble in Tahiti and directed and conducted the premiere himself in June 1952 at the University of Brandeis, Massachusetts. Eager to make his one-act satirical opera seem as realistic as possible, Bernstein set it in the aftermath of World War II, a time when consumerism was spreading through society. His work had a number of autobiographical references and the male protagonist, Sam, shares his name with Bernstein’s father who left Russia to find the 'American Dream'.

The opera opens with a jingle performed by a musical trio who sing into the microphone of a recording studio. Bernstein wanted this trio to "never stop smiling". The jazz rhythms evoke the radio commercials of the time and the trio is reminiscent of an ancient Greek choir that satirically comments on the story.

Quirijn de Lang will be performing Danilo in Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow with Opera North beginning on September 29th and running through November 17th.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Luis Alejandro Orozco reprising El Payador at Arizona Opera

Luis Alejandro Orozco as El Payador (Photo right: C. Stanley)
Barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco will be reprising the role of El Payador (the gaucho minstrel) in Astor Piazzolla's tango infused opera Maria de Buenos Aires at the Arizona Opera. Orozco will be joining forces with director John de los Santos, both of whom have become closely associated with this opera. Orozco has performed the lead role in Lexington, Miami, New Orleans, Fort Worth, Mill City Summer Opera and Nashville.

Performance in Phoenix will be on September 28, 29 and 30, with additional performances in Tucson on October 6 and 7. Tickets are available online.

The opera opens with Duende (the Narrator) who relates the story of Maria, a prostitute born in the slums “one day when God was drunk … with a curse in her voice.” Maria is seduced by the rhythms of the tango and soon becomes “the most sorcerous singer and lover” in Buenos Aires. However, her “fatal passion” arouses the wrath of robbers and brothel madams who shoot her to death, and bury her in an unmarked grave. In death, Maria is pulled into a dreamlike Hell where she encounters the choral circus of psychoanalysts who dissect her to the core. She makes a resurrection of sorts when the Duende summons her to return as a Shadow, give birth to a new Maria, and haunt the sordid streets of Buenos Aires which she once walked.

The opera has become popular in Germany, where is has been performed in apparently every city that starts with the letter "B": Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Biel, Bremen and coming to Bremerhaven in April 2019.

A clip of Luis Alejandro Orozco as El Payador:

Unlike most who contributed to the origins and development of the tango, Piazzolla came from a different background. He was a classically trained, refined musician and composer. Piazzolla undoubtedly made tango available to a wider audience and helped extend its boundaries, both stylistically and geographically. For that, he was equally admired and criticized, but it is almost universally recognized that Piazzolla’s style lent tango worldwide cultural legitimacy, even in what is known as the realm of “classical” music.

Luis Alejandro Orozco and Catalina Cuervo (Photo: Jeff Roffman)
Besides being an extraordinarily talented composer, he was also an exceptional bandoneon player. Piazzolla drew from classical and contemporary sources as well as from the deep roots of tango, creating a powerful synthesis that propelled it from being in some regards a thing of the past to a contemporary language, reinvigorating the style. 

Luis Alejandro Orozco was born in El Paso Texas, but raised in Juarez, Mexico for most of his life. He has performed with such companies as Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, El Paso Opera and the Seoul International Opera Festival in South Korea.

Friday, August 17, 2018

John Brancy in German premiere of Lost Highway

John Brancy
American barihunk John Brancy will star as Pete Dayton in the German premiere of Olga Neuwirth and Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek's Lost Highway at Oper Frankfurt featuring Ensemble Modern. Performances will run from September 9-October 3.

Lost Highway is a 2003 opera adaptation of the 1997 David Lynch film of the same name. It premiered in Graz in 2003 at the Steirischer Herbst Festival of New Music and made its American premiere at Finney Chapel in Oberlin, Ohio and at the Miller Theater in New York City in February 2007 featuring barihunk Michael Weyandt and students from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. The UK premiere in 2008 at the ENO featured barihunk Quirijn de Lang as Pete Dayton.

Olga Neuwirth's Lost Highway Suite:

Lost Highway is a composition that lives from the transformation of physical spaces, diverse inner and outer spaces, into sound spaces. In performance, this is achieved through various, three-dimensional sound projections, which surround the audience with playing, live-electronics, and virtual acoustics, resulting in different experiential relationships from within and without, close by, and from a distance

The Frankfurt performances also feature Elizabeth Reiter, Hugo Armstrong, and David Moss in leading roles.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

David Diston posts funny bio for upcoming Winterreise

David Diston
We've been meaning to post about Canadian David Diston for at least a year, but his bio for his upcoming bio for the 24-baritone Winterreise-fest was the best motivation to get this done. Regular readers may recall barihunk Zachary Luchetti's hysterical and epic biography that we posted about in 2015 and Diston's is shorter, but every bit as clever.
"David Diston’s rapidly developing artistry is quickly gaining him recognition as a ‘sonorous baritone’ (Huffpost Alberta) with ‘full-throated and characterful singing’ (Calgary Herald). Also hailed as 'the best baritone ever' (Dave's Mom), Mr. Diston recently performed a most dramatic rendition of Don Giovanni, in his shower. Critically acclaimed for his coffee consumption abilities, David becomes a bigger fan of coloratura with each additional cup. Don't miss David in his upcoming appearances as 'King of the Night' in his living room, and 'passenger' on the 11:43pm Lakeshore West from Union."
You can hear (and see) Diston live in the Tongue In Cheek Productions performance of twenty-four basses and baritones singing Schubert's Winterreise on Wednesday, September 5, 8pm at Lula Lounge in Toronto. Some of the singers include Jason Howard, Doug MacNaughton, Dion Mazerolle, Alexander Hajek, Cairan Ryan, Aaron Durand, Michael Nyby and Olivier Laquerre. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Joshua Bloom to premiere solo opera for bass; Role debut at Bluebeard

Joshua Bloom (Photo: Kim Hardy)
There aren't many solo works for bass, so we were thrilled when we learned that Joshua Bloom would be starring in the world premiere of Richard Ayres' The Garden at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek opening on September 5th. The work will be paired with two musical compositions, William Kuo's In flieht wie ein Schatten and William Dougherty's The new normal.

The one-man, semi-staged opera with video is a cyclical tale about a man who, dissatisfied with his life, starts digging from his garden down to the center of the earth. He then climbs a tree and is transported through clouds and flocks of birds, ever higher up into the heavens, only to land up in the very same tree in his garden. 

Tickets are available online.  

After The Garden, the Australian singer will head to the Irish National Opera for a piece with double the cast, Béla Bartók's two singer masterpiece, Bluebeard's Castle. This will be Bloom's role debut in the one-act opera based on the French literary tale "La Barbe bleue" by Charles Perrault. Bloom will be joined by soprano Paula Murrihy as his ill-fated wife Judith.

The piece didn't receive its U.K. premiere until 1957 at the Rudolf Steiner Theatre, which was 39 years after the opera debuted.

Performances are on October 12, 13 and 14 and tickets are available online.