Sunday, May 20, 2018

Brokeback Mountain gets U.S. debut a decade late at NYCO

Tom Randle, Daniel Okulitch and Glenn Seven Allen (L to R)
Charles Wuorinen's operatic adaptation of Brokeback Mountain is finally getting its U.S. premiere ten years after it was commissioned by Gerard Mortier while he was heading the New York City Opera. The company has since gone through some major changes before emerging as a radically different company.

The production will be New York City Opera’s second production in their LGBT Pride series, which kicked off with the New York premiere of Eötvös’s Angels in America in June 2017. Performances will be on May 31 and June 2, 3 and 4 at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center and tickets are available online.

Barihunk Daniel Okulitch will return as Ennis Del Mar, the role he created a decade ago, and hunkentenor Glenn Seven Allen will take on the role of his love interest Jack Twist.

After Mortier left New York City Opera, Brokeback Mountain went on to have its premiere at Madrid’s Teatro Real in 2014 with Daniel Okulitch as Ennis Del Mar and tenor Tom Randle as Jack Twist. The opera was inspired by the 2005 film directed by Ang Lee and came to life after American composer Charles Wuorinen approached Annie Proulx to adapt  her story into the libretto for Brokeback Mountain. The book most notably was adapted into a 2005 Academy Award-nominated movie with Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar and Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist.

The work has been highly successful in Europe, where it's been seen in Aachen and Salzburg, in addition to Madrid.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Seth Carico to debut as Nick Shadow in female-led Rake's Progress

Matthew Newlin and Seth Carico (Photo: Lucian Hunziker)
American barihunk Seth Carico will be making his role debut at the Theater Basil as Nick Shadow in Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, which runs from May 18 through June 24. He'll be joined in the cast by Matthew Newlin as Tom Rakewell, Hailey Clark as Anne Trulove, Andrew Murphy as Trulove, Eve-Maud Hubeaux as Baba the Turk, Theophana Iliewa-Otto as Mother Goose, Karl-Heinz Brandt as Sellem and Flavio Mathias as the Keeper of the Madhouse. TIckets are available online.
Seth Carico (left) and Matthew Newlin (right)
Carico has not sung the complete role, but did perform selections in his 2012 Schwabacher Recital Concert in San Francisco.

The Theater Basel production is being led by an artistic team of women, including conductor Kristiina Poska, director Lydia Steier, costume designer Ursula Kudrna and stage designer Katharina Schlipf. Steier is has been heraled throughout Europe for her award-winning productions throughout Europe.

The Rake’s Progress was composed between 1948 and 1951 based on a series of eight engravings by the 18th century painter William Hogarth, entitled “A Rake’s Progress.” They illustrate the gradual decline of a lazy and profligate young heir who squanders his fortune on gambling and pleasure only to end up in the Bedlam insane asylum. Stravinsky immediately saw the possibility for a sequence of opera tableaux in this series, giving him an opportunity to bring back to life the atmosphere of the 18th century.
After the run of The Rake's Progress, Carico returns to his home base at the Deutsche Oper Berlin where he'll appear as the Steuerman in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, as well as the Sacristan in Puccini's Tosca.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Barihunk Samuel Hasselhorn wins Queen Elizabeth Competition

Samuel Hasselhorn at the Queen Elizabeth Competition
German barihunk Samuel Hasselhorn has won the 2018 International Queen Elisabeth Grand Prize. he will receive 25,000 EUR and guaranteed concerts in Belgium and abroad. In the last two rounds, he performed music by Schumann, Wolf, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn as well as "Carlos écoute...Ah, je meurs" from Verdi's Don Carlos.

You can listen to Hasselhorn's final round performance HERE.

Second Prize went to French mezzo Eva Zaïcik and Third Prize went to Chinese bass Ao Li.

Hasselhorn is no stranger to walking away with top honors, as he has previously won the 2018 Emmerich Smola Prize, 2017 Das Lied International Song Competition in Heidelberg,  2015 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, 2013 International Schubert Competition and the “Prix de Lied“ at the 2013 Nadia and Lili Boulanger Competition in Paris.

He has upcoming recitals in Hannover, Germany on May 17th and June 11th. Fans in the U.K. can catch him at Wigmore Hall on June 24th in a program of Beethoven, Schubert, Wolf, Brahms, and Poulenc.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

RuPaul Drag Race Contestant Monet X Change has operatic past

Kevin Bertin aka Monet X Change
RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Monet X Change has a degree in opera performance and has appeared professionally as a bass. His real name is Kevin Bertin and he was born in Saint Lucia and raised in the Caribbean until the age of eleven. Since then, Bertin has lived in New York City. 

A graduate of the Westminster Choir College, he made his debut with the Westminster Opera Theater in Mozart's Cosí Fan Tutte and later performed Sarastro in the composer's Die Zauberflöte. He became a featured soloist with the Westminster Choir on their California and Florida tours, performing in Bach's Magnificat, Brahms' Requiem, and Bruckner's Te Deum.

He also appeared as Sarastro at the Portland Opera for the Education and Outreach Program, and also sang Colline in Puccini's La bohème

As a drag performer, he was mentored by Season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen, who taught him how to sew, as well as some performance tips. Monet's drag mother is Honey Davenport, who appeared on Season 5 of the show.

So far on Season 10, Monet has won two mini-challenges and also landed in the bottom two twice, where she had to lip synch for her life. Her opening line on the show was, ""Oh, don't mind me girl. I just came here to sweep up the competition."

Sexy Barihunk trio coming to Carnegie Hall

Jarrett Ott, Steven LaBrie and Tobias Greenhalgh
Three of the greatest young singers and hottest barihunks singing today will be performing in the "Three Baritones" concert together at Carnegie Hall on May 22nd.

Tobias Greenhalgh will perform Glen Roven's Four Surreal Songs with poetry by Paul Éluard, Steven LaBrie will sing Benjamin C. S. Boyle's Le passage des rêves with poetry by Paul Valéry and Lori Laitman's The Joy of Uncreating, and Jarrett Ott will perform Jake Heggie's Of Laughter and Farewell and Jennifer Higdon's Lilac with poetry by Walt Whitman.

The trio will also join forces for a medley of baritone aria greatest hits arranged by Glen Roven.

Tickets are on sale online. Barihunks readers can use the discount code RRR41517.

Sexy photos from world premiere of "When Adonis Calls"; Upcoming West Coast premiere of "The Hidden Singer"

Joshua Jeremiah and Trevor Martin (photo: Frank Zipperer)
The Asheville Lyric Opera has a huge success on its hands and bragging rights for landing the highly anticipated world premiere of composer Clint Borzoni and librettist John de los Santos' "When Adonis Calls," which debuted on May 11th. There are additional performances on May 12 and 13. Asheville is also the home of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, whose poetry was refashioned into the libretto. Tickets are available online.

Joshua Jeremiah and Trevor Martin (photo: Frank Zipperer)
The opera, which was work-shopped at the Fort Worth Opera Festival's Frontiers series of new works in 2015, chronicles the tale of a distant relationship between an accomplished, if aging and discouraged Poet an a young, inspired, and impetuous Muse. Two male dancers create the emotional subtext as the poets banter back and forth of their loves, their animosities, their jealousies, and their creative furies.

Trevor Martin (photo: Frank Zipperer)
The piece is scored for two baritones, string quartet, percussionist and two dancers (and comes with an adult content warning). When Adonis Calls features a low and high baritone, and Asheville Lyric Opera featured two amazing performers in Trevor Martin and Joshua Jeremiah, as well as two local dancers.

Joshua Jeremiah and Trevor Martin and dancers (photo: Frank Zipperer)
"When Adonis Calls" already has a second performance scheduled in Chicago with the Thompson Street Opera Company this Fall. Details are forthcoming. Our site has also learned that discussions are underway for a West Coast premiere.

Malte Roesner (Photo: Jack Michaels)
For those on the West Coast, you'll have an opportunity to experience another world premiere from Clint Borzoni, when German bass Malte Roesner premieres the song cycle "The Hidden Singer, " based on the poetry of Wendell Berry. The cycle revolves around seven poems all associated with birds, which are normally correlated with high soprano voices. The song cycle is scored for string quartet, but opens with an a cappella setting.

The concert will be held at Ansel Adams' former home in San Francisco and tickets include a generous supply of wine and food, in keeping with Musica Marin's tradition to present chamber music in the original intimate, salon setting of a home. The song cycle will be paired with Mendelssohn's String Quartet in A minor. Tickets for the June 3rd concert are available online

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Duncan Rock to be featured at Petworth Festival in WW I program

Duncan Rock
Australian barihunk Duncan Rock will be featured at this year's Petworth Festival in the U.K., performing music related to WWI.  The centerpiece of the concert will be George Butterworth's setting of A.E. Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad, which comprise eleven settings from the original sixty-three poems. The concert also includes music by Gerald Finzi and Ned Rorem. Tickets are available online.

Butterworth was killed in the Battle of the Somme and was posthumously awarded the Military Cross. His brigade commander, Brigadier General Page Croft, only learned after Butterworth's death that he was one of England's most promising young composers. Butterworth's body was never recovered and his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial, honoring the 72,246 British and South African soldiers missing in action during WWI.

John Brancy sings Butterworth's "The lads in their hundreds":

Petworth was also impacted by war, having suffered a horrible tragedy in World War II a generation later.  On September 29, 1942, a lone German Heinkel 111, approaching from the south over Hoes Farm, aimed three bombs at Petworth House, the stately 17th century home of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset. The bombs missed the house, but one bounced off a tree and landed on the Petworth Boys' School killing 28 boys, the headmaster and an assistant teacher.

American barihunk John Brancy also has toured with a popular program of WWI songs with pianist Peter Dugan. The recital. "A Silent Night: A WWI Memorial in Song," is also available on CD.

Barihunks galore in Rome's "Billy Budd" led by Phillip Addis

Phillip Addis as Billy Budd in Rome
Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd has long been a favorite of readers of this site. After all, who wouldn't like an opera that features a cast of sailors with some homoerotic undertones? The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is opening a run of the opera tonight laden with barihunks, starting with Phillip Addis in the title role. Also in the cast is John Relyea as the evil John Claggart, Thomas Oliemans as Mr. Redburn, Zach Altman as Mr. Flint and Jonathan Michie as Donald.

Performances will run through May 15th and tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Phillip Addis made his debut in the title role in 2015 at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. John Relyea will return to the role in January at Den Norske Opera with Jacques Imbrailo in the title role.

Phillip Addis as Billy Budd in Rome
Billy Budd had its world premier at London’s Royal Opera House on December 1, 1951 conducted by the composer with the role of Captain Vere sung by Britten’s partner Peter Pears. In 1966, in preparation for a television broadcast, Britten cut the score from four acts to two with a prologue and epilogue, which has become the standard version for the opera. 

The libretto was written by the English novelist E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier, and is based on the short novel Billy Budd by Herman Melville. The book was first published posthumously in London in 1924. Melville began writing the work in November 1888, but left it unfinished at his death in 1891. The novella was discovered in manuscript form in 1919 by Raymond M. Weaver, who was studying Melville's papers as his first biographer.

The first production of the opera Billy Budd in Russia occurred 100 years after the birth of Britten at St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre in 2013. Billy Budd received its United States premiere in 1952 at the Indiana University Opera Company with Jack Gillaspy in the title role.

Phillip Addis as Billy Budd in Rome
Britten originally intended the title role for Sir Geraint Evans, but he felt that the role sat to high for his voice, so he switched to the role of Mr. Flint. Britten then opted for barihunk Theodor Uppman to replace Evans in the title role.

The performance launched Uppman's international career and he went on to become one of the definitive Billy Budd's off all-time. Uppman sang in an acclaimed performance in 1970 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which included Sir Geraint Evans as Claggart and Richard Lewis as Vere. 

A number of famous barihunks have sung the role of Billy Budd, who many believe was secretly desired by the evil Claggart. Famous barihunk Billy Budd's include John Chest, Simon Keenlyside, Richard Stilwell, Nathan Gunn, Rod Gilfry, Bo Skovhus, Thomas Hampson, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Peter Mattei, Lauri Vasar, Lucas Meachem, Jacques Imbrailo, Daniel Belcher, Roderick Williams, Iurii Samoilov and Liam Bonner.

German barihunk Björn Bürger will add his name to the roster, when he takes on the title role beginning May 19th at the Frankfurt Oper.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Barihunk Trio in George Benjamin's new opera about Edward II

Stéphane Degout prepares for Lessons in Love and Violence
The Royal Opera will present the world premiere of George Benjamin's Lessons in Love and Violence from May 10-26 at the Royal Opera House's mainstage in London. Benjamin's second opera is a co-production with six other opera houses and includes the team behind his highly successful Written on Skin.

Written on Skin has become the second most performed new opera in the 21st century. 

The cast for Lessons in Love and Violence will feature French barihunk Stéphane Degout as the King, Hungarian-Romanian barihunk Gyula Orendt as his lover Gaveston and Icelandic barihunk Andri Björn Róbertsson as a Madman. The remainder of the cast includes Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan as Isabel, British tenor Peter Hoare Mortimer and British tenor Samuel Boden as the Young King.

The project began two years ago, when the Royal Opera House commissioned George Benjamin and librettist Martin Crimp to write a new work, following the huge success of Written on Skin, a medieval-set story in which the creation of an illuminated manuscript leads to adultery, murder and cannibalism.

Lessons in Love and Violence is a re-imagining of the life of Edward II and his doomed relationship with Piers Gaveston, the first Earl of Cornwall, and is presented as seven lessons seen through the eyes of the monarch’s two children. This is the second opera to be written in recent years based on the same topic, as Swiss composer Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini premiered his new opera about Edward II at the Deutsche Oper Berlin last year.

Lessons in Love and Violence will be performed at the Dutch National Opera in June 2018, Hamburg State Opera in April 2019 and at Opéra de Lyon in May 2019.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Barihunk Ken Mattice in German premiere of Everest

Ken Mattice
Barihunk Ken Mattice, who appears in our calendar and photo book this year, will star in the German premiere of Joby Talbot's Everest at Theater Hagen. The piece was commissioned by the Dallas Opera, where it debuted in 2015 starring barihunk Craig Verm, who is an actual climber. The opera at Theater Hagen runs through July 1st and tickets and cast information is available online.

The opera confronts the tragic events surrounding an ill-fated Everest expedition. Librettist Gene Scheer was fascinated by the infamous 1996 expeditions of the mountain. He wrote the libretto for Everest after traveling around the world to interview survivors of that doomed climb. Talbot told NPR that he was especially eager to create a sound world around the peak.

Everest was British composer Joby Talbot's first opera, after a career that has has included writing for film, television and ballet. The opera is also slated to receive it's Canadian premiere in February 2019. 

This summer, Mattice will be singing Fred Graham and Petrucchio in Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate at Theater Hagen. 

Introducing British barihunk Huw Montague Rendall

Huw Montague Rendall
We learned about British barihunk Huw Montague Rendall in a unique manner, having seen him as response to our question on Twitter and Facebook: "Name a parent and their child who both sang opera professionally."

It turns out that Huw Montague Rendell comes from operatic royalty, being the son of British mezzo-soprano Diana Montague and tenor David Rendall, who also was one of his voice teachers.

Montague Rendall graduated from the Royal College of Music and was as a 2016 Jerwood Young Artist with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. At Glyndebourne he sang the role of Fiorello in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, for which he was awarded the John Christie Award. The following summer he joined the prestigious Young Artist Programme at the Salzburg Festspiele where he made his debut in the role of Second Apprentice in Berg's Wozzeck. He is currently a member of the International Opera Studio Zürich with fellow barihunk Cody Quattlebaum. 

Huw Montague Rendall sings "Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Gounod's Faust: 

On July 4th, he'll make his debut as Harlequin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in a cast that includes Lise Davidsen as Ariadne, Eric Cutler as Bacchus, Sabine Devieilhe as Zerbinetta and Angela Brower as The Composer. He will also be making house debuts this season wit the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Komische Oper Berlin and Garsington Opera. In Zürich his roles include the Nazarene in Richard Strauss' Salome with Catherine Naglestad in the title role, Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with Saimir Pirgu as Pinkerton and Svetlana Aksenova as Cio-Cio San, and Nardo in Mozart's La finta giardiniera, which runs from May 5-18.