Friday, December 7, 2018

Every GRAMMY nominee for "Best Opera Recording" featiures a barihunk

Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Günther Groissböck, Edward Parks & Aubrey Allicock
Every GRAMMY nominee for  "Best Opera Recording" featiures a barihunk this year.

The nominees, which were announced today, are as follow:

  • John Adams, Doctor Atomic, featuring barihunk Aubrey Allicock, Gerald Finley, Julia Bullock and Brindley Sherratt. 
  • Mason Bates, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, featuring barihunk Edward Parks, Sasha Cooke, Jessice E. Jones, Wei Wu and Garrett Sorenson. 
  • Jean-Baptiste Lully, Alceste, featuring barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Emiliano Gonzalez, Toro and Judith Van Wanroij. 
  • Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier, featuring Günther Groissböck, Elīna Garanča and Erin Morley. 
  • Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto, featuring the late barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Nadine Sierra. 
Bate's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs was also nominated for "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" along with Jake Heggie's Great Scott, which features the ageless barihunk Nathan Gunn.  Other nominees in the category are Du Yun's Air Glow, Kernis' Violin Concerto and Mazzoli's Vespers for Violin.

Ryan Speedo Green to be featured on "60 Minutes"

Ryan Speedo Green
Ryan Speedo Green will be featured this Sunday, December 9th on "60 Minutes" on CBS. Scott Pelley interviews the American singer about his journey from juvenile detention at age 12, after threatening to stab his mother and brother, to being a member of the ensemble at the Vienna State Opera. 

Green was one of the five winners of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, winner of the 2014 George London Foundation Award, and first prize recipient at the Gerda Lissner Foundation vocal awards.

In 2016, he released a book about his life, Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family.

David Adam Moore to reprise sexy Stanley Kowalski

David Adam Moore as Stanley Kowalski (Photo @dabva)
The Teatro Colón has announced its 2019 season, which will include barihunk David Adam Moore as Stanley Kowalski in Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, in what will be the South American premiere of the opera. Moore has had great success with the role at both the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Virginia Opera.

The opera is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams and has become a showcase for barihunks, including Gregory Gerbrandt, Dan Kempson, Rod Gilfry, Ryan McKinny, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Jordan Shanahan.

A Streetcar Named Desire was premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 1998 with Rod Gilfry as Stanley and its become one of the most popular contemporary American operas in the repertory. It has gone on to see performances in New Orleans, Kentucky, Carnegie Hall in New York San Diego, Washington D.C., San Francisco (Merola Opera), Cleveland, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Honolulu and Virginia Opera. It had it European premiere in Strasbourg in 2001 and its U.K. premiere in 2003, with subsequent performances throughout Europe and in Tokyo.

The Teatro Colón cast will also include Sarah Jane McMahon, Eric Fennell, and Victoria Livengood. Performances run from May 7-14, 2019

Dmitri Hvorostovsky's hometown to rename airport in his honor

Dmitri Hvorostosky and the Krasnoyarsk airport
Dmitri Hvorostosky's hometown of Krasnoyarsk in Eastern Siberia has announced that they will honor the Russian singer by renaming the local airport after him.

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor in June 2015, Hvorostovsky died on November 22, 2017 in London. Hvorostosky sang a  farewell concert in Krasnoyarsk in June 2017.

In his will, Hvorostovsky asked that half of his ashes be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery and the other half in Krasnoyarsk.

There were few baritones as compelling on stage as Dmitri Hvorostovsky and only a few in history who matched his box office draw. He will forever be remembered for his seamless legato and movie star good looks.

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. 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.

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.

Björn Bürger doing double duty in Germany & Switzerland

Björn Bürger
German barihunk Björn Bürger is wrapping up 2018 with a busy schedule, as he's singing back-to-back-to-back performances in Switzerland in Germany.

He is opening a run as Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus (La Chauve-Souris in French) in Lausanne on December 13th, with performances running through New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, he's wrapping up performances as Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. That means he'll be singing in Lausanne on the 28th, a matinee in Stuttgart on the 29th and back in Lausanne on the 30th.

The cast of the Die Fledermaus also includes Stephan Genz as Gabriel von Eisenstein and Eleonore Marguerre as Rosalinda.

The cast of Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Staatsoper Stuttgart also includes the always entertaining bass Matthew Anchel as Bartolo, Mert Süngü as Almaviva and Stephanie Lauricella as Rosina. There is an evening performance of the same opera that features fellow barihunk Jarrett Ott as Figaro.

Lausanne and Stuttgart are about 438 km (272 miles) apart. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Barihunk duo in premiere of Dear Erich at NY City Opera

Peter Kendal Clark and Brian James Myer
The New York City Opera will premiere Ted Rosenthal's Holocaust themed opera Dear Erich  on January 9th, with performances running through January 13th.  The opera was inspired by 200 recently discovered letters written in Germany between 1938 and 1941 by Herta Rosenthal to her son Erich, the composer's father.

Barihunk Brian James Myer will be making his company debut as Young Erich, in a cast that also includes fellow barihunk Peter Kendall Clark as the Older Erich, hunkentenor Glenn Seven Allen as Freddy, Jessica Tyler Wright as Herta and Rachel Zatcoff as Lili. Tickets are available online.

Glenn Seven Allen (photo as honorary tenor in Barihunks calendar)
The title character was a Jewish academic who escaped Nazi Germany to the U.S. shortly before Kristallnacht. The opera tells the story of his family's dual fates, including Erich's journey to a new life in the new world - his studies, jazz and love -  while the situation deteriorates in Germany and his family ultimately meets their cruel demise at the hands of the Nazis. Frustrated and powerless to help them emigrate, Erich must live with deep survivor guilt which affects him in his relationships with his wife and children.

The opera has had workshops at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, New York City Opera and the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Evan Hughes to perform recital with Les Grandes Interprètes

Evan Hughes (photo: Leela Ross)
American bass-barihunk Evan Hughes will be performing a recital with Les Grandes Interprètes in Toulouse, France on December 10th with accompanist Hélio Vida. 

The program will include selections from Schumann's Kerner Lieder, Hans Christian Andersen Lieder and his Lieder sur des poèmes de Heine, as well as Sibelius' Runeberg Songs, Ireland's Sea Fever, Purcell's Cold Song and Finzi's Earth and Air and Rain. Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances include Theseus in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Opera Philadelphia in February and Citheron in Rameau's Platée with Semperoper Dresden in April.

Watch Hans Tashjian perform Russian music live online

Hans Tashjian
Bass Hans Tashjian will be part of an evening of Russian songs on Wednesday, December 5th. The program will feature singers from the Yale opera program performing a wide array of Russian vocal music, from solo songs and arias to ensemble pieces.

The program will include works by such composers as Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Glinka, Shebalin, Pakhmutova and Rachmaninoff. Tashjian will sing Dmitry Kabalevsky's Don Quixote's Serenade.

The performance will be at Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall at 7:30 PM EST/4:30 PM PST or you can watch it live ONLINE.

Tashjian is an alumnus of the Manhattan School of Music and Carnegie Mellon University, where he received the Derdeyne Award in Voice. He has been a young artist at Chautauqua Opera, Sarasota Opera (where he was a recipient of the Scheininger-Reznick Scholarship), and the Caramoor Music Festival. 

He will perform Beethoven's 9th Symphony in the upcoming season for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Introducing Swedish barihunk Sebastian Durán

Sebastian Durán (Photo left: Malin Arnesson)
Swedish barihunk Sebastian Durán will be singing Kråkan (the Crow) in Benjamin Staern's Snödrottningen (The Snow Queen) at the Malmö Opera. Performances run from December 15 through January 19.

The 29-year-old singer studied at the Malmö Academy of Music and the University College of Opera in Stockholm. Shortly after graduating, he took on the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni on the Malmö Opera tour and at the Copenhagen Opera Festival. He went on to sing in Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vadstena Academy.

Sebastien Durán sings Hamlet's drinking song:

The Snow Queen was commissioned by the Malmö Opera and was premiered in 2016 with Durán in the cast. The opera is based on the 1844 story by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. 

There is a operatic link between Andersen and opera, as it is believed that he was in love with the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, although she did not have the same feeling for him. According to his biographer Carole Rosen, Andersen modeled the cold-hearted Snow Queen on Lind after she rejected him as a suitor.

You can listen to the entire opera on SoundCloud featuring Durán.

Nicolas Courjal getting downright devilish in 2019

Nicolas Courjal (left) and Méphistophélès
The role of Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust will be a main feature of French bass-barihunk's 2019 season, as he takes on the devilish role twice in the first part of the year.

From February 10-21, he'll perform the role at Opéra de Marseille with fellow barihunk Étienne Dupuis as Valentin. The cast also includes Nicole Car as Marguerite, Jean-François Borras and Jean-Pierre Furlan rotating the role of Faust, Philippe Ermelier as Wagner and Kévin Amiel as Siebel.

Then from May 22-28, he travels 159 kilometers down the road to Opéra de Nice where he'll be joined by Armando Noguera as Valentin, Stefano Secco as Faust, Nathalie Manfrino as Marguerite, Philippe Ermelier as Wagner and Camille Tresmontant as Siebel.

The final scene from Faust with Nicolai Ghiaurov, Joan Sutherland and Franco Correlli:

Gounod's libretto is based loosely on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Part One. It debuted at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on March 19, 1859. After its successful debut, it traveled to Germany, Belgium, Italy and England.

The opera opened the original Metropolitan Opera on October 22, 1883 and went on to become one of the most popular operas in the house, having received 753 performances to date.

In between performances, of Gounod's Faust, Courjal will sing the role of Bertram in Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable at La Monnaie with an all-star cast headed by soprano Lisette Oropesa and tenor Dimitry Korchak.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Barihunk duo in Beijing's "Don Giovanni"

Vittorio Prato
Two of Europe's hottest barihunks will be singing Don Giovanni and Masetto at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. Italian Vittorio Prato will take on Mozart's title character alongside Austrian Thomas Tatzl's Masetto.

The theatre is rotating a European cast on November 27, 29 and December 1 with an all-Chinese cast on November 28 and 30. Tickets and additional cast information is available online. The Chinese cast includes the amazing bass-baritone Ao Li as Leporello, who won the 2014 Operalia competition and has become a fixture at the San Francisco Opera.

Ao Li performs at the Mt Fuji Vocal Competition:

The National Centre for the Performing Arts was founded in 2010 and features European and Chinese artists performing both Western and Chinese opera. Chinese operas have included  Guo Wenjing's Rickshaw Boy, Qing Yin's The Long March, Meng Weidong's FANG Zhimin, Lei Lei's The Jinsha River and Visitors from the Snow Mountain.

Alexander Birch Elliott takes over remainder of Met "Pearl Fishers:

Met's Pearl Fishers and Alexander Elliott
The Metropolitan Opera has announced that Alexander Birch Elliott will sing the remaining performances of “Les Pêcheurs de Perles,” replacing fellow barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien as Zurga. The Polish singer was struggling to make it past the first act, prompting Elliott to step in for at least two performances, the first night being his Met debut.

There are three performances of the opera remaining on November 28, December 1st and 8th. Pretty Yende is set to sing all of them except for the December 8th showcase when Amanda Woodbury wil sing. Javier Camarena will appear as Nadir for all of the shows.

Tickets are available online

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Roberto Tagliavini makes his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut tonight

Roberto Tagliavini (Photos courtesy of Arena di Verona)
Italian bass-barihunk Roberto Tagliavini will make his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Verdi’s Il trovatore as Ferrando, which opens today and runs through December 9th.

He'll be joined by another singer making his house debut, the amazing Polish baritone Artur Ruciński, who is sing the Count di Luna. The rest of the all-star cast includes tenor Russell Thomas as Manrico, soprano Tamara Wilson as Leonora, and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as the tortured gypsy Azucena,

Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances for Tagliavini include Pagano in Verdi's I Lombardi at Opera de la ABAO  in January, Zaccaria in Verdi's Nabucco at the Bavarian State Opera and Basilio in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia in Parma.

Another famous singer with the same last name, Ferruccio Tagliavini, who was one of the greatest tenors of his era, made his U.S. debut in Chicago as Rodolfo in 1946.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Alexander Birch Elliot makes unexpected Met Opera debut

Alexander Birch Elliott (Photo from artist's website)
American barihunk Alexander Birch Elliot wasn't expecting to make his Metropolitan Opera debut on Wednesday night. However, there he was on stage for Act 2 of Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles after fellow barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien could not perform after the first act.

By all accounts it was a successful debut. New York Times music critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote, "Mr. Elliott tore into the music with heated intensity, his voice a beguiling timbre of mahogany carried by boyish ardor. When he was done, the audience cheered."

The blog Humbled and Overwhelmed, which covers the arts, wrote, "Alexander Birch Elliot was the type of cover that had everyone googling him by the time the curtain came down. What a triumph for him."

There are six remaining performance of Les Pêcheurs de Perles running through December 8th. The cast also includes Pretty Yende, Javier Camerena and Nicolas Testé. Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances for Alexander Elliott include Belcore in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore at Virginia Opera and Laura Kaminsky's As One at Portland Opera.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Justin Hopkins making Opera Vlaanderen debut as Lord Krishna

Justin Hopkins (Photo @Ellen Appel) and Satygraha (photo @Koen Broos)
American bass-barihunk Justin Hopkins is at Opera Vlaanderen this month, where he'll make his company debut singing 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, Tineke Van Ingelgem and barihunk Robin Adams as Mr. Kellenbach. 

Satyagraha (Sanskrit for “truth force”) is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s early years in South Africa, where he developed his groundbreaking ideas about nonviolent political resistance. Loosely based on the life of Gandhi, it forms the second part of Glass's "Portrait Trilogy" of operas about men who changed the world, which includes Einstein on the Beach and Akhnaten

The text is taken from the Bhagavad Gita and is sung in the original Sanskrit

Performances run from November 18-December 2. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Barihunk switch for Brahms Requiem

Samuel Hasselhorn
Barihunk Samuel Hasselhorn will be replacing fellow barihunk James Newby for the Brahms Requiem with Marin Alsop and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment this weekend.

The first concert is at Basingstoke’s Anvil concert hall on Saturday, November 10th followed by a second concert at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday, November 11th at 7pm. Sunday’s concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Monday, November 13th at 7.30pm. 

 Samuel Hasselhorn sings Brahms' "O Tod, wie bitter bist du":

After the Brahms Requiem, he will appear at Cambridge for a recital of Schubert’s Winterreise with Malcolm Martineau for Camerata Musica at the Peterhouse Theatre. Tickets are available online.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Christian Van Horn only ninth bass to get devilish at The Met

Christian van Horn as Mefistofele (courtesy of the Metroploitan Opera)
On November 8, 2018, Christian Van Horn will become just the ninth bass to sing the title role in Boito's Mefistofele at the Metropolitan Opera. He was preceded by some of the great singers of the last two centuries,  including Giovanni Mirabella who sang the role in 1883,  followed by Eduard de Reszke, Pol Plançcn, Fyodor Chaliapin, Adamo Didur, José Mardones, Dean Peterson and most famously Samuel Ramey.

Samuel Ramey sings "Ecco il monde" from Mefistofele:

The Robert Carsen production will feature an all-star cast that also includes tenor Michael Fabiano as Faust and soprano Angela Meade as Margherita. Mefistofele is the only completed opera by Arrigo Boito, who is best remembered for writing Verdi's librettos for Otello and Falstaff.  The composer was working on his opera Nerone when he died in 1918. The great conductor Arturo Toscanini led a three person team in completing the opera, which finally premiered posthumously in 1924.

Performances of Mefistofele will run through December 1st and tickets are available online.

This will be the opera's first performance at The Met since 2000. Of the 67 performances of Mefistofele, all but 13 came before 1927. Much of the recent interest in the opera is because of Samuel Ramey's devilishly sexy performances at the San Francisco Opera, which were captured on video.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Watch Alex Esposito as Assur in Semiramide

Alex Esposito as Assur (Image courtesy of Culturebox)
Alex Esposito, who is probably the preeminent interpreter of Assur from Rossini Semiramide in the world today, reprised his successful portrayal at La Fenice. He previously performed the role on three occasions at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. Esposito remains one of the few low voices around today who can flawlessly maneuver Rossini's coloratura to great effect.

Fortunately, a video of the October 25, 2018 performance is being shown on Culturebox with a cast that includes the formidable hunkentenor Enea Scala as Idreno, Jessica Pratt in the title role and Teresa Iervolino as Arsace.

Alex Esposito and Jessica Pratt (Photo: © Michele Crosera)
The production by Cecilia Ligorio is set in a timeless space with the chorus in shimmering gold and white costumes (including some shirtless eye candy along the way) The priests are costumed in black, while Semiramide is decked out in a black and white gown with golden accents.

The video is available until October 30, 2019 and can be viewed HERE.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Barihunk duo in Montrèal's Das Rheingold

Ryan McKinny and Soloman Howard
Opèra de Montrèal's upcoming performance of Wagner's Das Rheingold will feature the barihunk duo of Ryan McKinny as Wotan and Solomon Howard as Fafner.  The cast also includes Nathan Berg as Alberich, David Cangelosi as Mime, Aidan Ferguson as Fricka and Caroline Bleau as Freia. The production is directed by Brian Staufenbiel.

Performances are on November 10, 13, 15 and 17 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Montrèal. This is the first performance of the opera in the city in twenty years. Tickets are available online.

Watch Soloman Howard transform into Fafner:

The season will continue with barihunks Aubrey Allicock in Terence Blanchard's Champion and Nathan Keoughan in Ricky Ian Gordon's 27.

Upcoming performances for McKinny include reprising the role of Clarence in John Adams Girls of the Golden West at the Dutch National Opera and singing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Houston Grand Opera.

Upcoming performances for Soloman Howard include the role of the Lion in Jeanine Tesori's The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me at the Washington National Opera and The King in Verdi's Aida at The Met.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Gary Griffiths makes Oper Frankfurt debut in double bill of one-act operas

Gary Griffiths (photo from Oedipus Rex, Barbara Aumüller -left)
Welsh barihunk Gary Griffiths is making his Oper Frankfurt debut in a double bill of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, both of which deal with suppressed fears. He is singing Creon in Oedipus Rex and Robert in Iolanta. Fellow barihunk Brandon Cedel will perform the Messenger in Oedipus Rex.

Iolanta was Tchaikovsky's last opera and was first performed in 1892, the same year his Nutcracker ballet exploded onto the scene, keeps Iolanta's process of realization very focused on a musical level – in a one act work with a vivid, brightly colored, shimmering musical language.

Stravinsky and Jean Cocteau, on the other hand, fully intended to reach monumental heights in two acts. They created a mixture of music stereotypes and patterns: fateful, pulsating rhythms combine with harmonies, influences drawn from the Middle Ages, Russian orthodox church music and folk music, classic and jazz.

Griffiths was the winner of the Welsh Singers Competition in 2012 and a finalist representing Wales in the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where, in 2009, he won the Gold Medal Competition.

Performances run through November 25 and tickets are available online.

Robert Sims joins Oakland Symphony for Ghost Ship memorial concert

Robert Sims (photo: Christian Steiner)

Barihunk Robert Sims will perform the Brahms German Requiem with the Oakland Symphony on November 16th. He will be joined by soprano Patricia Westley under the baton of Michael Morgan.

The piece will be paired with the premiere of Richard Marriott's Ghost Ship Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, which has nothing to do with the ghost ship at the center of Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. Instead, it memorializes the 36 people who were killed on December 2, 2016 at the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland where a house music party was being performed.

In the late 1850’s, Brahms began a cantata of mourning, possibly influenced by Robert Schumann’s death in 1856. By 1861, he had selected several biblical texts and arranged a four-movement cantata.

After his mother’s death in 1865, he took up the work again and during the next two years the Requiem began to take its final shape.  Brahms did not take his text from the Roman Catholic Mass of the Dead, as had other composers before him. His intention was to select Old and New Testament texts that not only mourn the dead but also give comfort to the living. The texts he chose were taken exclusively from Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible; hence the title, A German Requiem, to distinguish it from the Latin Requiem of the Catholic liturgy. However, Brahms later mentioned that he would gladly have left out the word “German” and put “Mankind” in its place.

Tickets are available online.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Jérôme Varnier and Edwin Crossley-Mercer in updated William Tell

Edwin Crossley-Mercer (Photo: Herwig Prammer)
Rossini's opera Guillaume Tell (William Tell) has regrettably become best known for its overture, parts of which became the Lone Ranger theme, but it is also a highly entertaining opera with great music for all the key characters.

The Theater an der Wien just wrapped up an updated version of the opera with barihunks Jérôme Varnier as Melchtal and Edwin Crossley-Mercer as Walter Fürst.

Torsten Fischer’s production about the Swiss marksman who shot his people to freedom keeps the story relevant to today by making us think about the universal abuses of power. Melcthal stands on a massive steel floor that descends on the masses, while Walter Fürst dons the robe of the dictator portending an endless cycle of oppression. 

Jérôme Varnier (Photo: Herwig Prammer)
The run of Guillaume Tell wrapped up on October 27th, but the Theater an der Wien continues with Handel's Teseo and Weber's Euryanthe with Andrew Foster-Williams.

Edwin Crossley-Mercer can next be heard in Mozart's Requiem at the Opéra de Toulon on November 9th and then singing Schubert's Winterreise at the Nantes Festival on November 28th.

Jérôme Varnier will appear in Thomas' Hamlet at the Opéra Comique in Paris opening on December 17th.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Duncan Rock takes on Don Giovanni Down Under before heading to The Met

Duncan Rock rehearsing with Opera Queensland
British/Australian barihunk Duncan Rock will make his principal role debut with Opera Queensland in the title role of Mozar'ts Don Giovanni, which runs through November 2nd. He'll be joined in the cast by Shaun Brown as Leporello, Eva Kong as Donna Anna, Virgilio Marino as Don Ottavio, Hayley Sugars as Donna Elvira, Samuel Piper as Masetto, Katie Stenzel as Zerlina and Andrew Collins as The Commendatore.

After his run of Don Giovanni, he heads to The Metropolitan Opera to sing Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème from November 29-Deccember 13 and Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute on January 3rd. 

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.