Saturday, July 6, 2019

Jonathan Beyer to appear on "Worst Cooks in America"

Jonathan Beyer
Barihunk Jonathan Beyer will appear as a "recruit" on the Food Network's popular show "Worst Cooks in America." You can begin watching the latest challenge on August 4th.

The show takes 12 to 16 contestants (aka recruits) with very poor cooking skills through a culinary boot camp, to earn a cash prize of $25,000 and a Food Network cooking set. The recruits are trained on the various basic cooking techniques including: baking, knife skills, temperature, seasoning and preparation. The final challenge is to cook a restaurant quality three-course meal for three food critics.

Beyer is currently at the University of British Columbia Summer Vocal Workshop, where he is teaching and performing.

A bit of trivia: Beyer appeared in our very first Barihunks Charity Calendar.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Barihunks Galore at 2019 Glimmerglass Festival

Justin Hopkins
The 2019 Glimmerglass Festival kicks off on July 6th with a slew of barihunks, including three for their opening night production of Show Boat.

The Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II classic, which gave us such immortal songs such as "Ol' Man River," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "Make Believe," will feature Michael Adams as Joe Ravenal, Justin Hopkins as Joe and Glimmerglass Young Artist Charles H. Eaton as both Steve Baker and Max.

The world premiere of Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson's Blue will feature barihunk Kenneth Kellogg as the central character of the father. He'll be joined by Briana Hunter as the mother andAaron Crouch as the son.

Michael Adams, Kenneth Kellogg and Charles Eaton
Kellogg says of the piece on the Glimmerglass website, "[Blue] came at a point in my life, as a Black Man in America, I was feeling like opera wasn’t doing enough to address issues we are facing as a culture. Blue is the first piece I’ve been a part of that I feel I can lend my authentic self to in telling a real story that reflects the lives of people that look like me. The subject matter actually mirrored things and conversations that were happening in my life at the time, being a new father and dealing with the real fear of raising a Black Boy in America.”

Also at this year's Festival is Verdi’s La traviata, John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Britten’s Noah’s Flood, a talk by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a gospel extravaganza and Stars’ Night Out, featuring principal artists of the 2019 Festival. 

Ben Schaefer
Barihunk Ben Schaefer, who is a Glimmerglass Young Artist and new to this site,  is having a breakout season in his young career, singing both Figaro in The Ghosts of Versailles and Yeletsky in The Queen of Spades

Christopher Carbin
Also, new to this site is bass-barihunk Christopher Carbin, who is singing Narumov in The Queen of Spades and in the Ghost Quartet in The Ghosts of Versailles.  Carbin is a second-year young artist at Glimmerglass.

The 2019 Festival runs July 6 through August 24, 2019. All tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Barihunks rotate lead in Opera Philadelphia world premiere

Theo Hoffman and Johnny Herford (photo: Maximilian Führig)
Barihunks Theo Hoffman and Johnny Herford will share the lead role in composer Philip Venables and librettist Ted Huffman's new opera Denis & Katya. The opera will premiere on September 18 with Opera Philadelphia as part of their Festival O19.

The true story follows 15-year-olds Denis Muravyov and Katya Vlasova, who livestreamed their final hours on multiple social media platforms after creating a real-time voyeuristic spectacle and leaving behind a trail of devastating footage of their drinking, smoking, cuddling, and crying as they prepared to die.

The couple had been in an armed standoff with Russian Special Forces when they decided to broadcast themselves live on social media, creating a spectacle of real-time voyeurism. The couple became known as the Romeo and Juliet of internet clickbait.

Denis & Katya is scored for four cellos and features a double cast. Theo Hoffman will be joined by mezzo-soprano Siena Licht Miller for opening night, with additional performances on September 21, 22, 25 and 29. The second cast features Johnny Herford and Emily Edmonds for performances on September 21, 23 and 28. Tickets and additional information is available online

West Coast fans of Theo Hoffman can catch him this Fall as Papageno in Barrie Kosky's highly acclaimed production of Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Los Angeles Opera. Information is available online.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Reader Submission: Bernhard Hansky

Bernard Hansky (Photo: Matthias Creutziger)
A reader alerted us to barihunk Bernhard Hansky, who hails from Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany near the Polish border.

He was joined the opera studio at the Semperoper in 2015 and the house’s solo ensemble for the 2017-18 season. His roles with the company have included Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, Baron Douphol in Verdi's La traviata, Morales in Bizet's Carmen, Fiorello in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia and Kilian in Weber's Der Freischütz.

He can next be seen with the company as Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte beginning July 6th. He'll have eleven additional performances of the role through June 2020. He will also be performing Don Alvaro in Rossini's comic masterpiece Il viaggio a Reims from September-November 2019.

Other career highlights have included Don Giovanni at Volkstheater Rostock and the Estates Theatre in Prague, Falke in Die Fledermaus at Staatsoperette Dresden, and Dandini in La cenerentola at the National Opera Brno, the Opera Festival Lignano and at the Rossini Festival in Wildbad.

In 2008 he was awarded the Franz Grothe Foundation Award at Germany's Bundeswettbewerb Gesang.

Hansky has some barihunk pedigree, having studied with both Hanno Müller-Brachmann and Roman Trekel.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Barihunk duo join SF Symphony for semi-staged Ravel opera

Kelly Markgraf and Michael Todd Simpson
Barihunks Michael Todd Simpson and Kelly Markgraf will join the San Francisco Symphony in a semi-staged performance of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells) on June 27 and 29–30 at Davies Symphony Hall. They'll be joined by an all-star cast including Isabel Leonard, Anna Christy, Nikki Einfeld, Marnie Breckenridge, Ginger Costa Jackson, Jennifer Johnson-Cano and Ben Jones under the baton of Martyn Brabbins.

The semi-staged production has previously been seen at the Opéra de Lyon in 2012 and 2016, and at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich in 2013. Tickets for the San Francisco performances are available online.

In L’enfant et les sortilèges, Ravel captures the fanciful world of a young child. Set in a country house in Normandy, the story opens with a boy being scolded by his mother and left alone in his room. Rebellious and fractious, the boy causes mischief—ripping the wallpaper and tearing pages from his schoolbook, sweeping the teapot off the table, swinging from the pendulum of the grandfather clock, and even injuring his pet squirrel. The objects of his tantrum come to life and turn against him, admonishing him for his misdeeds. More accusations and frightful encounters follow when the boy runs out to the garden, until he finally learns his lesson—showing kindness to the injured squirrel—and the magic of the garden turns to moonlight enchantment.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Rafael Fingerlos joins Imogen Cooper for Schubertiade

Burg Mauterndorf and Rafael Fingerlos
Austrian barihunk Rafael Fingerlos will join the legendary pianist Imogen Cooper for Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin on July 20th. The performance will at the historic Burg Mauterndorf in Austria. 

The castle was built in approximately 1253 and enlarged to its current size in the 15th century. Since 1968 the building has been owned by the state of Salzburg and includes a museum and noted restaurant.

Franz Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin is a cycle of twenty songs set to poems by the German  poet Wilhelm Müller. It tells the tale of a young boy whose journeys bring him to take an  apprenticeship at a mill, where he falls instantly in love with the miller's daughter. His love, and advances are sadly unrequited, and when she turns her attention to a hunter he bemoans losing her. Left with only the brook that guided him along the way, he succumbs to a watery grave as the brook lulls him to his final rest. 

Fingerlos can be seen this year at the Vienna State Opera as Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Demetrius in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Dr. Falke in Strauss' Die Fledermaus.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Edwin Crossley-Mercer to appear at Carnegie Hall

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
We recently posted about Edwin Crossley-Mercer's amazing performances in Rameau's rarely performed Hippolyte et Aricie in Zurich. We teased in that post that he was coming to Carnegie Hall, for an all too rare U.S. performance.

The June 24th program has been announced and it will feature Schumann's Dichterliebe, the world premier of  Michael Linton's Franchetti Songs, and Linton's Songs of the Sand Hills.

Cody Franchetti is an Italian socialite with lineage to the Milliken and Rothschild families. He is a controversial figure who was featured in Jamie Johnson's documentaries "Born Rich" and "The One Percent."  He earned his masters degree in modern European studies from Columbia University and has published a number of academic articles on history, philosophy, and literature.

This is the second time Linton has set Franchetti's poetry to music and both composer and poet will be in attendance. Tickets are available online.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Paul La Rosa stars in "grave" performance of Dido & Aeneas

Paul La Rosa as Aeneas
Barihunk Paul La Rosa will star as Aeneas in an adaptation of Henry Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas" at the historic catacombs at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The performance is part of The Angel’s Share, a new series of opera and chamber music concerts presented by Death of Classical at the cemetery. The series takes its name from the distiller’s term for whiskey that evaporates while maturing in the barrel, thus going to the angels.

Paul La Rosa as Aeneas
La Rosa will be joined by the rising star Daniela Mack as Dido, along with Molly Quinn as Belinda, and Vanessa Cariddi as the Sorceress. The opera will be directed by tenor Alek Shrader, and will incorporate spoken dialogue from Christopher Marlowe’s play “Dido, Queen of Carthage." Shrader and Mack are one of many husband and wife teams currently singing on the opera stage. The couple participated with La Rosa in San Francisco's Merola Opera Program for young artists.

Performances are slated for June 4, 5, 7, and 8 and tickets are available online. The catacombs are normally not open to the public.

Paul La Rosa as Aeneas
Each performance will begin with a pre-concert reception with food, drinks, and a whiskey tasting overlooking the Manhattan skyline and the New York Harbor at sunset. At dusk, guests will then follow a candle-lit pathway down to the Catacombs for the performance.

We previously posted about The Angel’s Share performance of the Red Elf featuring bass-barihunk Andrew Bogard and hunkentenor Kyle Bielfield.

Barihunk duo in world premiere of Stonewall

Joseph Charles Beutel and Brian James Myer
The New York City Opera continues its Pride Initiative of producing an LGBT-focused work each June in commemoration of Gay Pride Month with the premiere of Iain Bell and Mark Campbell's Stonewall. ” The opera will be performed at Rose Hall,at Jazz at Lincoln Center, on June 21, 22 (matinee and evening), June 27 and June 29. 

The opera features the barihunk duo of Joseph Charles Beutel as Troy and Brian James Myer as Carlos, a Dominican-American English teacher recently fired from a Catholic school.

Stonewall will be the first opera to feature a transgender character specially created for a transgender singer when Liz Bouk takes the stage as Sarah. Liz identifies as male and lives as a trans man.

The opera captures the rage, grit, humor and hope of the nascent LGBTQ movement.  On a hot night in 1969, a cross-section of characters find themselves thrown together in a Greenwich Village dance club with explosive results that give birth to a movement.

The cast also includes Andrew Bidlack as Andy, Lisa Chavez as Maggie, Michael Corvino as Sal, Jessica Fischenfeld as Leah, Marc Heller as Larry, Jordan Weatherston Pitts as Renata and Justin Ryan as Edward. Tickets are available online.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Joseph Lattanzi in free concert and world premiere

Joseph Lattanzi (Photos from artist website)
Barihunk Joseph Lattanzi will be one of the featured stars of Cincinnati Opera's free Opera in the Park concert on June 9th. He'll be joined at Washington Park by his fellow cast members from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, which is being performed on June 13 and 15. They include sopranos Janai Brugger and Susanna Phillips, mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb and tenor Martin Bakari. Also performing will be Piotr Buszewski, Liv Redpath, Thomas Dreeze and hunkentenor Aaron Blake.

No tickets are required for the event, but guests are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs, Concessions and food trucks will be on site.

In addition to The Marriage of Figaro, Lattanzi will join the company from July 22-27 for the world premiere of Scott Davenport Richards and David Cote's opera Blind Injustice, which explores the true stories of these six people who were tried, convicted, imprisoned, then ultimately freed by the Ohio Innocence Project. Joining him in the cast are fellow barihunks Miles Wilson-Toliver and Morgan Smith.

Casts and additional information on the Cincinnati Opera season can be found online

Later this season, Lattanzi will reprise the role of Hawkins Fuller in Gregory Spears' Fellow Travelers at the Arizona Opera and then perform Dandini in Rossini's L Cenerentola at the Virginia Opera.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tristan Hambleton to open Opéra de Lille season in Purcell rarity

Tristan Hambleton (from artist's website)
British barihunk Tristan Hambleton will open the Opéra de Lille season in Henry Purcell's rarely performed The Indian Queen. He'll be joined by Anna Dennis, Hugo Hymas, Gareth John, Rowan Pierce and Nick Pritchard under the baton of baroque specialist Emmanuelle Haïm. Tickets are available online 

Mark Stone sings "I Attempt from Love's Sickness: from The Indian Queen:

The Indian Queen is a largely unfinished semi-opera, which was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in 1695. The opera is based on John Dryden's 1664 play of the same name. Purcell was commissioned to adapt the play into an opera in 1694, but died the following year having only completed the Prologue and Acts II and III. His brother Daniel completed a masque for Act V.

Despite containing some of Purcell's most beautiful music, the opera is seldomly performed compared to Dido and AeneasKing Arthur or The Fairy-Queen, mainly because the piece has been deemed incomplete. The piece was performed in 2016 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève with barihunk Jarrett Ott.

Adrian Tamburini to make role debut in Bluebeard's Castle

Adrian Tamburini
Australian barihunk Adrian Tamburini will make his role debut in Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard's Castle with Pure Harmony Music & Events. He will perform the piece on July 24 and 25 in Sydney and Melbourne on July 2, 6, 10 and August 8, 9. He'll be joined by Australian soprano, Zara Barrett as Judith under the baton of Christopher van Tuinen, who will lead the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra. Van Tuinen has re-orchestrated the opera for a 23-piece chamber orchestra, which will incorporate the 1973 Pogson Pipe Organ of the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The Pacific Opera will open the performance with a recital of arias and ensembles.

Tamburini is also the artistic director Pure Harmony Music & Events, which was was formed in 2004 as a Music School, but now also produces concerts and events throughout Australia.

Bluebeard's Castle is a one-act expressionist opera with a libretto by the composer's friend  Béla Balázs. The 1911 composition is based on the French literary tale La Barbe bleue by Charles Perrault. The opera lasts only a little over an hour and there are only two singing characters onstage, Bluebeard (Kékszakállú) and his new wife Judith (Judit). The two have just eloped and Judith is coming home to Bluebeard's castle for the first time. Judith discovers seven doors that she insists be opened, despite the objections and warnings from Bluebeard.

More infornation is available on the company's Facebook site.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Zachary Gordin running the show and putting on a show at Festival Opera

Zachary Gordin
Barihunk Zachary Gordin has worn many hats in his operatic career, from teacher, coach, manager and, of course, singer. His latest endeavor will be as Artistic Director of Festival Opera in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The company was founded in 1991 by Arizona Opera co-founder Dr. Theodore Weis and has had a rich and occasionally rocky history, including the West Coast premiere of Ned Rorem's Our Town and a highly acclaimed Star Wars-themed production of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio.

Gordin's first season will include a fully staged production of Carlisle Floyd's American masterpiece Susannah. The opera will feature soprano Shana Blake Hill in the title role, tenor Alex Boyer as Sam, baritone Philip Skinner as Reverend Olin Blitch and baritone Eugene Brancoveanu as Elder McLean. Gordin has even imported German bass-baritone Malte Roesner for the role of Elder Ott. Roesner made his acclaimed 2017 American debut down the road with West Edge Opera in Vicente Martin y Soler's The Chastity Tree. This will be Roesner's debut with the company.

Malte Roesner
Gordin will kick off the season himself in a recital with his frequent collaborator Brian Nies on May 28. The duo will perform Schumann’s Dichterliebe, along with songs by Jake Heggie, Reynaldo Hahn, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The two released an album of Hahn songs in 2017 called “Amour sans ailes,” which was was named Best Lieder Recording of 2017 by Voix des Arts.

Gordin previously performed with the company as Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen,  Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Germont in Verdi's La traviata and Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

Tickets for the recital and Susannah are available ONLINE.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Evan Hughes steps in at Semperoper; Making role debut in NY

Evan Hughes as Somnus (Photos: Komische Oper and Leela Roos)
Barihunk Evan Hughes, who created quite a sensation as Somnus in Handel's Semele at the Komische Oper in Berlin last year, is stepping in to replace an ailing colleague at Dresden's Semperoper today.

Markus Marquardt had to withdraw as Leporello from the company's production of Don Giovanni, which features barihunk Ildebrando D’Arcangelo in the title role. He is expected to return for the remaining three performances on May 26 and June 16 and 20.

Hughes will be returning to his native country on July 18 and 20 to make his role debut as Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. He'll be alternating the role in the acclaimed Barrie Kosky production with Rodion Pogossov, who performs on July 17 and 19. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Edwin Crossley-Mercer in first performance of Hippolyte et Aricie in Zurich

Edwin Crossley-Mercer in Hippolyte et Aricie (Photo: T+T Fotografie)
Barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer performed Thésée in the first performance of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie at the Zurich Opera House last night, which was conducted by 18th-century French music expert Emmanuelle Haïm. They were joined by Stéphanie d’Oustrac  as Phèdre, Cyrille Dubois as Hippolyte and Mélissa Petit as Aricie.

There are additional performances of this French Baroque rarity on May 22, 24 and 30, and June 2, 7 and 14. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Jean-Philippe Rameau was 50 years old when he staged his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, in 1733. There was little in his life to suggest he was about to embark on a major new career as an opera composer. He was famous for his works on music theory as well as books of harpsichord pieces. The closest he had come to writing dramatic music was composing a few secular cantatas and some popular pieces for the Paris fairs

As the most important musical theorist of his day, Rameau created a work that far surpassed the conventions of French musical theatre of the time. The French libretto, by Abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin, is based on Racine's tragedy Phèdre. The opera takes the traditional form of a tragédie en musique with an allegorical prologue followed by five acts.

After a performance at the Paris Opéra in 1767, the work disappeared from the stage until the 20th century. The first modern performance took place in Geneva in March 1903 and returned to Paris in 1908. More recent performances include Aix-en-Provence in 1983, Lyon in 1984, the Opéra Comique in Paris in 1985, Lausanne in 1987, Versailles, in 1994, Palais Garnier in Paris in 1996 and Glyndebourne in 2013.

American audiences will be thrilled to know that Edwin Crossley-Mercer will appear at Carnegie Hall on June 24th (keep an eye out for an upcoming post with all the details)!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Fabio Lesuisse sings in Dido & Aeneas (and models for ad)

Barihunk Fabio Lesuisse and mezzo Rina Hirayama (Photo: Theater Aachen)
Germany's Theater Aachen near the Belgian border managed to get our attention with their gorgeous poster for Purcell's Dido & Aeneas. The shirtless model happens to be Belgian barihunk Fabio Lesuisse, who is making his role debut as Aeneas in the opera. The work will premiere on June 23, with additional shows on June 29 and July 5. The company is partnering with the School for Music and Dance in Cologne for this production. (Frustratingly, the Theater Aachen website does not list cast members for the show, but you can find them at the School for Music and Dance in Cologne website). Tickets are available online.

Purcell's Dido & Aeneas is based on Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid. It recounts the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair when he abandons her. A monumental work in Baroque opera, Dido & Aeneas is remembered as one of Purcell's foremost theatrical works.

Belgian barihunk Fabio Lesuisse is a graduate of the Cologne University of Music and First Prize winner at the 2015 Bach Competition in Barcelona, Spain.

He is currently a guest artist at the Theater Aachen in Germany, where this season he has also performed Mercutio in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Junior in Bernstein's A Quiet Place.

He has performed the title role in T.J. Hermann's Hamlet at the Theater Dortmund, as well as numerous roles at Oper Bonn, including Morales in Bizet's Carmen, Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes, Marco in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and Ramiro in Ravel's L'heure Espagnole.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Barihunk Duo Touring Agrippina with Joyce DiDonato

Luca Pisaroni, Joyce DiDonato and Andrea Mastroni
Barihunk Luca Pisaroni and bass-barihunk Andrea Mastroni are hitting the road with "honorary barihunk" Joyce DiDonato in Handel's Agrippina.

Pisaroni is singing Claudio, Mastroni is taking on Pallante and DiDonato is singing the title role. Also in the cast are Elsa Benoit as Poppea, Franco Fagioli as Nerone, Xavier Sabata as Ottone, Carlo Vistoli as Narciso and Biago Pizzuti as Lesbo.

The opera opened yesterday at the Philharmonie Luxembourg and now heads to the Teatro Real in Madrid on May 16, The Liceu in Barcelona on May 18, the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris on May 29, London's Barbican Centre on May 31 and the Turku Concert Hall on June 2.

Rising mezzo star Samantha Hankey will sing the title role on the final stop of the tour in Turku and countertneor Jakub Józef Orliński will take over as Narciso.

Barihunk Damien Pass sings and (strips for) the aria "La mia sorte":

In 1707-1708, Agrippina gave the young Handel his big chance to establish his reputation as an opera composer in Italy. The commission came from the famous Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice, which was funded by the influential Grimani family. The Venetians were extremely demanding when it came to music, but Handel succeeded in creating a wise, gripping and entertaining opera on the basis of the humorous libretto about lust for power and sexual desires in Ancient Rome. The success was overwhelming.

 Joyce DiDonato and a sexy dancer perform "Pensieri, voi mi tormentate":

The story takes place in Rome, 54 A.D. where Agrippina is married to the Roman Emperor Claudio, who is currently away on a crusade. When the rumor surfaces that he has been killed in battle, she tries to make her son Nerone, the result of an earlier liaison with another man, emperor. It turns out, however, that Claudio is not dead, but was saved by Ottone, one of his generals. Out of gratitude, Claudio has made him his heir. Consequently, there are now two heirs. The situation is made even more complicated by the fact that Claudio, Nerone and Ottone are all in love with the same woman: Poppea. Who will win the woman and the throne? Agrippina schemes, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. In the end, Ottone wins Poppea – for the time being – and Nerone is heir to the throne. But as we know from history and Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea things are not going to remain this way for long. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Barihunks win prizes at 10th International Moniuszko Vocal Competition

Bass-barihunk Cody Quattlebaum accepting the Marcella Sembrich-Kochańska Prize
They had to wait until after midnight when the final prizes were finally announced, but barihunks Cody Quattlebaum and Hubert Zapiór both walked away with prizes at the 10th International Moniuszko Vocal Competition. 

Quattlebaum walked away with $2,000 and the Marcella Sembrich-Kochańska Prize, as well as a Beethoven Prize, which gives him the opportunity to perform the composer's work in Poland. 

Hubert Zapiór won a special prize, which affords him the opportunity to perform with a major Polish orchestra. 

This year's competition clearly belonged to higher voices, as First Proze went to Russian soprano Maria Motolygina, Second Prize to Slovakian soprano Slávka Zámečníková  and Third Prize to Chinese tenor Long Long.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Introducing Italian barihunk Francesco Cascione

Francesco Cascione
The great soprano turned director Katia Ricciarelli will be directing barihunk Francesco Cascione in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni.

The performance will be at the Teatro Stabile di Potenza where Cascione is part of Young Artists 2.0, whose participants will fill out the cast. The opera is part of the 2019  Camerata delle Arti festival and they will be joined  the chorus of the Bitonto Opera Festival. There will be one performance on May 7th.

If you miss the Potenza performance, you'll have a chance to catch the opera this Fall when it tours to Matera, Taranto, Barletta and Lecce.

Ricciarelli is best remembered for singing Desdemona opposite Plácido Domingo's Otello in Franco Zeffirelli's 1986 film version of the opera. Since her retirement from singing she has founded the Accademia Lirica di Katia Ricciarelli and served as Artistic Director of the annual summer Macerata Opera Festival.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Barihunks star in NY premiere of Britten's Owen Wingrave

Michael Weyandt and Robert Balonek
Barihunks Robert Balonek and Michael Weyandt will alternate the title role in Benjamin Britten's Owen Wingrave at The Little Opera Theatre of New York from May 9-May 12. The performance is being billed as the New York premiere of the opera. Performances will be at the GK Arts Center in Brooklyn and tickets are available online.

Owen Wingrave, which premiered in 1970, tells the story of a committed pacifist born into a renowned military family.  Despite strong disapproval over his beliefs and desperate to maintain the love of his would-be bride, Owen Wingrave is determined to prove his inner strength – even if it leads to his own demise.

Britten was a deeply committed pacifist, which traces back to his early life, particularly during his years at Gresham’s, his public school in Holt, Norfolk. He was know as a sensitive young boy who abhorred violence and bullying. World War I had cast a huge shadow over Britten’s generation and it was felt nowhere more keenly than at Gresham’s.  Britten was born a year before the onset of WWI  where the U.K. and its colonies saw 887,711 killed in action between 1914 and 1918. 100 boys from Gresham’s alone lost their lives.  His school formed one of the first branches of the League of Nations Union, which was designed to foster peace and prevent future conflict. The school also banned corporal punishment.

Britten's most famous pacifist composition is his War Requiem.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Barihunk duo in Oper Köln's "Street Scene"

Timothy McDevitt as Harry Easter (right)
Barihunk Timothy McDevitt will be singing the role of the sleazy boss Harry Easter and fellow barihunk James McOran-Campbell will sing the alcoholic husband George Jones in Kurt Weill's Street Scene at Oper Köln.  The production is a co-production with the Teatro Real and Opéra de Monte-Carlo. The Madrid performance featured barihunk Paulo Szot, hunkentenor Joel Prieto and soprano Patricia Racette.

The current production in Cologne features Kyle Albertson and Oliver Zwerg as Frank Maurrant, Jack Swanson as Sam Kaplan and Allison Oakes as Anna Maurrant. Performance run from April 28 through May 16 and tickets and additional cast information is available online.

In 2010, McDevitt won the Lys Symonette Prize at the Lotte Lenya Competition for his outstanding extraordinary artistic promise. Lenya was the widow of Kurt Weill and competitors are judged on their ability to interpret Weill's music.

An overview of Street Scene from the Madrid production:

Street Scene is an American opera with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Langston Hughes, which was written in 1946. It was the composer's first opera composed during his American exile years and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Elmer Rice.  Weill referred to the piece as an "American opera." intending it as a groundbreaking synthesis of European traditional opera and American musical theater. He received the first Tony Award for Best Original Score for his work, after its Broadway premiere in 1947.

The story tells of a series of anonymous lives in a big city from a brutally realistic viewpoint. The score contains operatic arias and ensembles, including Anna Maurrant's "Somehow I Never Could Believe" and Frank Maurrant's "Let Things Be Like They Always Was." It also has jazz and blues influences in "I Got a Marble and a Star" and "Lonely House". Some of the more Broadway-style musical numbers are "Wrapped In a Ribbon and Tied In a Bow," "Wouldn't You Like To Be On Broadway?" and "Moon-faced, Starry-eyed," an extended song-and-dance sequence.

James McOran-Campbell (photo: Jane Hobson)
After his run in Street Scene, McDevitt moves on to the music of Leonard Bernstein, when he performs Maximillian in Candide on June 20th with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin with tenor Alex Shrader and soprano Erin Morley. He sticks with Bernstein for his Mass with the Chicago Symphony on July 20th under the baton of Marin Alsop at Ravinia.

James McOran-Campbell will sing Dr. Falke in a re-imagined version of Strauss' Die Fledermaus with Baseless Fabric Theatre in London from August 1-14.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Paul La Rosa stars in "grave" performance of Dido & Aeneas

Barihunk Paul La Rosa (Headshot by Nick Granito)
Barihunk Paul La Rosa will star as Aeneas in an adaptation of Henry Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas" at the historic catacombs at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The performance is part of The Angel’s Share, a new series of opera and chamber music concerts presented by Death of Classical at the cemetery. The series takes its name from the distiller’s term for whiskey that evaporates while maturing in the barrel, thus going to the angels.

La Rosa will be joined by the rising star Daniela Mack as Dido, along with Molly Quinn as Belinda, and Vanessa Cariddi as the Sorceress. The opera will be directed by tenor Alek Shrader, and will incorporate spoken dialogue from Christopher Marlowe’s play “Dido, Queen of Carthage." Shrader and Mack are one of many husband and wife teams currently singing on the opera stage. The couple participated with La Rosa in San Francisco's Merola Opera Program for young artists.

Performances are slate for June 4, 5, 7, and 8 and tickets are available online. The catacombs are normally not open to the public.

We previously posted about The Angel’s Share performance of the Red Elf featuring bass-barihunk Andrew Bogard and hunkentenor Kyle Bielfield.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Ryan Kuster to close Opera Colorado season as Figaro

Ryan Kuster
Bass-barihunk Ryan Kuster will star in the title role of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, which closes the 2018-19 Opera Colorado season. The singer previously appeared as Escamillo with the company in Bizet's Carmen.

Kuster will be joined by soprano Maureen McKay as Susanna, bass-baritone Simone Alberghini as Count Almaviva, soprano Ellie Dehn as Donna Anna,  mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala as Cherubino, mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak as Marcellina and bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo making his Opera Colorado debut as Dr. Bartolo.
Also joining the the cast are members of Opera Colorado's 2018-19 Artist in Residence Program, including tenor Aaren Rivard, as both Don Basilio and Don Curzio, baritone Eric McConnell as Antonio and soprano Rebekah Howell as Barbarina.

The production opens Saturday, May 4, and runs through Sunday, May 12. For tickets and information, visit the Opera Colorado online.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ryan McKinny to make role debut as Don Giovanni in Houston

Kasper Holton's Don Giovanni (left) and Ryan McKinny at the Los Angeles Opera (right)
Bass-barihunk Ryan McKinny will make his role debut as the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Houston Grand Opera from April 20 through May 5. The cast includes Paolo Bordogna as Leporello, Ailyn Pérez as Donna Anna, Melody Moore as Donna Elvira, Ben Bliss as Don Ottavio, Dorothy Gal  as Zerlina, Daniel Noyola as Masetto and Kristinn Sigmundsson as The Commendatore.

The new production by Kasper Holten will be on a rotating set with projections to let the audience delve into the mind of the serial philanderer. Set designer Es Devlin has designed sets for Beyoncé, Jay Z, U2 and Adele, as well as the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Tickets are available online.

Ryan McKinny sings Schubert's "Gute Nacht":

If you can't make it to Houston, McKinny will return to the role at the Washington National Opera from February 29-March 22. The cast includes fellow barihunk Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello,  Vanessa Vasquez as Donna Anna,  Keri Alkema as Donna Elvira, Alek Shrader  as Don Ottavio and Peter Volpe as The Commendatore. Tickets are available online.

Other upcoming performance for McKinny include Mahler's 8th Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, his role debut as Joseph De Rocher in Heggie's Dead Man Walking a the Lyric Opera of Chicago and a Mahler concert with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the San Francisco Symphony.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Barihunks take prizes at 2019 Lotte Lenya Competition

Trevor Martin and Jeremy Weiss

Barihunks Trevor Martin and Jeremy Weiss both walked away with prizes at the 2019 Lotte Lenya Competition.

Jeremy Weiss won the $3,500 prize that comes with the Carolyn Weber Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding creativity in the design of a diverse program and exceptional sensitivity to text/music relationships.

Trevor Martin walked away with the $10,000 3rd Place Prize. On April 26, Martin will join mezzo-soprano Caitlin Powell and soprano Sandra Lopez for the Opera North Spring Fling performing operatic music inspired by Shakespeare. He then joins the Modern Opera Company on May 4th where he is performing the title role in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

Barihunk John Brancy, winner of the 2018 Competition:

Singers are required to sing one theatrical selection by Kurt Weill, one song from the pre-1968  “Golden Age” of American musical theater, one song from the American musical theater repertoire of 1968 or later, and one aria from the operatic or operetta repertoire

First Prize went to Daniel Berryman and Second Prize was awarded to Andrea Wozniak. The
Marc Blitzstein Award went to Katherine Riddle for “Mr. Right” and Nyla Watson won the Lys Symonette Award for “Beautiful.”

Friday, April 12, 2019

Barihunk duo in Opera Santa Barbara's “The Crucible”

Wayne Tigges and Colin Ramsey
Bass-barihunks Wayne Tigges and Colin Ramsey will close out the Opera Santa Barbara season in Robert Ward's operatic rendition of “The Crucible.”

Tigges joins mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock as the husband and wife John and Elizabeth Proctor, who are at the center of the story. Colin Ramsey sings the role of doctrinaire, calculating witch hunter Reverend John Hale.

Robert Ward composed the English language opera based on Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. The opera won the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Music and was originally commissioned by the New York City Opera.

Barihunk Peter Bording in The Crucible:

Miller was involved in selecting Ward to adapt the play for an opera. The Crucible is a classic American drama written as an allegory for McCarthyism and the US Government’s persecution of suspected communists inspired by the 17th century Salem witch trials. Miller himself had been questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities. The story is about a community confronting mass hysteria and dangerous ideology and the repercussions and costs of reputation and integrity.

Performances are on April 26 and April 28 at the Lobero Theatre Opera, with an additional performance on April 29 for middle and high-school age students. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Barihunk duo in DNO's "bare" Tannhäuser

Tannhauser at the Dutch National Opera
The barihunk duo of  Björn Bürger as Wolfram and Kay Stieferman as Biterolf are part of director Christof Loy’s first Wagner opera presentation for the Dutch National Opera, an updated Tannhäuser.

The production features some male nudity, but since this is Amsterdam, there weren't the howls of protest that might have greeted the opera in other cities. Since story is about the knight Tannhäuser, who is torn between carnal thoughts of Venus and the socially acceptable love for Elisabeth, Loy added scenes in a men's club and included orgies.

The remaining cast includes Ekaterina Gubanova as the alluring Venus, Stephen Milling  as Landgrave Hermann, Svetlana Aksenova as Elisabeth and Daniel Kirch in the title role.

 Björn Bürger as Wolfram w/ Daniel Kirch as Tannhäuser and Svetlana Aksenova as Elisabeth (Photo © Monika Rittershaus) & Kay Stieferman (Photo © Jörn Kipping)

Performance continue on April 14, 18, 21, 24 & 28, and May 1st. Tickets are available online.

British audiences can enjoy Björn Bürger this summer when he takes on Papageno at the Glyndebourne Festival. Kay Stieferman has a full calendar of Wagner ahead of him, including Ein Steuerman in Tristan und Isolde at the Bayreuther Festspiele, Alberich in Oper Leipzig's Ring Cycle and Klingsor in the company's Parsifal.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Barihunk duo in Opera Atelier's Idomeneo

Doug Williams in Idomeneo (Photo: Bruce Zinger)
Opera Atelier's gorgeous production of Mozart's Idomeneo opened on April 4th with sexy bass-barihunk Doug Williams as Neptune and barihunk Olivier Laquerre as Arbace.

The cast includes Colin Ainsworth in the title role, Measha Brueggergosman as Elettra, Wallis Giunta as Idamante, Meghan Lindsay as Ilia and Bradley Christensen  as the Priest. Additional performances are on April 6, 7, 12 and 13 and tickets are available online.

The opera had a successful premiere in Munich in 1781 just two days after the composer's 25th birthday. However,  there was only one other performance of the piece in Mozart's lifetime, a concert version in Vienna in 1786. The lyrical tragedy is considered Mozart’s greatest choral opera and is composed in the baroque tradition of the opera seria. Unfortunately, its style fell out of favor and had a spotty performance history compared to his other works.

Olivier Laquerre as Arbace (photo: Bruce Zinger)
Based on a Homeric myth, the opera follows the return of Idomeneo, the King of Crete, to his Greek Island after the Trojan War. Along with him is his captive Ilia, a Trojan Princess, who is conflicted because she has fallen in love with her captor's son and enemy, Idamante.  Meanwhile, in order to save himself from an imminent ship wreck and watery grave, Idomeneo makes a pact with Neptune, the god of the seas, to sacrifice the first person he meets on shore. The sacrifice turns out to be his son, Idamante. Neptune agrees to spare Idamante's life if Idomeneo abdicates his throne to his son and his future wife, Ilia. Only Elettra, whose love for Idamante is unrequited, is left unfulfilled.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Barihunk duo in Bavarian State Opera's "Iolantha"

Boris Prýgl and Markus Suihkonen
Bass-barihunk Markus Suihkonen and barihunk Boris Prýgl will be featured in the Bavarian State Opera's "Iolanta," which will be paired with Stravinsky's "Mavra." The opera is about a blind princess who doesn't not know that she is blind or that she is a princess. Her blindness is eventually cured by love

Iolanta was Tchaikovsky's final opera and premiered on December 18, 1892. The libretto was written by his brother, Modest Tchaikovsky, who adapted the play “King Rene’s Daughter” by the Danish playwright Henrik Hertz. The opera was originally paired with The Nutcracker ballet and was actually better received initially than it's counterpart.

The best known piece from the opera is the love duet at the end of the opera, but the opera also features two arias for low male voices. King Renè's prayer and Robert's aria "Who can be compared with my Matilda?"

Igor Stravinsky's Mavra is a one-act comic opera and one of the earliest works of Stravinsky's neo-classical period. Boris Kochno's libretto is based on Alexander Pushkin's The Little House in Kolomna.

Performances of the double-bill run from March 15-28 and tickets are available online

Birthday Interview with Samuel Ramey

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

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

Rather than post our annual birthday tribute, we asked the legendary bass to answer a few questions for readers.

1. You were considered a "barihunk" before Francesca Zambello coined the phrase, singing both Attila and Mefistofele shirtless.  Did you ever imagine that baritones and basses would become the sex symbols of opera? 

Ramey: Generally speaking, most baritones and basses are "sexier" than most tenors.  So I can‘t say I‘m surprised.

2. You're now singing two comprimario roles at the Dallas Opera. What draws you to the stage when most singers are enjoying retirement? 

Ramey: I feel that I still have something to offer as a performer and I still love being on the stage.  I‘ve been trying to reinvent myself but it‘s not easy.  I appreciate the Dallas Opéra for giving me this opportunity.

3. Your Attila and Mefistofele are considered definitive interpretations by most opera aficionados. Were these your favorite roles. Which other roles did you love?

Ramey: Attila and Mefistofele were certainly two of my favorite roles, but I have quite a few favorites.  Others would be Mephistopheles in Faust and Damnation de Faust, Mozart‘s Figaro and Don Giovanni, Nick Shadow in Rake's Progress, Filippo II in Don Carlo, Bertram in Robert le Diable, Boris Godunov.

4. What role did you never get to sing that you would have loved to perform? 

Ramey: I‘ve always loved the early Verdi operas.  One I always hoped to sing was Silva in Ernani, but the opportunity never presented itself.

5. Karita Mattila just posted on our Twitter feed that Placido Domingo was her best stage kiss. Who was yours?

Ramey: I didn‘t have many stage kiss opportunities but I‘d have to say that my best stage kiss was Marie McLaughlin.