Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Barihunk switcheroo for Handel's Orlando

John Chest
Barihunk John Chest, who recently wowed audiences at the San Francisco Opera as Billy Budd, will step back a few centuries as he takes over as Zoroastro for Luca Pisaroni in Il Pomo d’Oro’s tour of Handel’s Orlando.

The four city tour opens on January 9th at the Teatro Ristori in Verona, before moving on to Paris (13th), Essen (19th) and Madrid (26th). The all-star cast also features Max Emanuel Cencic in the title role, Kathryn Lewek as Angelica, Francesca Ascioti as Medoro, and Nuria Rial as Dorinda. The tour is set to be recorded for a later CD release.

Other upcoming performances for the singer include Papageno in Mozart's Die Zäuberflöte at the Teatro Santiago de Chile from April 16-20 and an all-Mozart concert with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the baton of conductor Raphaël Pichon on May 23.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Barihunk duo in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo

Damien Pass and Alex Rosen
OPERA2DAY is teaming up with the Nederlandse Reisopera and Studio Drift to produce Claudio Monteverdi's L’Orfeo, often considered to be the first successful opera. Monteverdi referred to the piece as a "favola in musica," in which “all the actors are to sing their parts.”

Barihunks Damien Pass will sing Spirito and Alex Rosen will take on Caronte in a cast that also includes Samuel Boden as Orfeo, Kristen Witmer as Eurydice, Yannis François as Plutone and Laurence Kilsby as Apollo.

Hernán Schvartzman will conduct the orchestra of La Sfera Armoniosa on period instruments.  There will be ten performance  production can be viewed 10 times in January and February in theatres throughout the Netherlands starting in Enschede on January 25, then traveling to Leeuwarden, Maastricht, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zwolle, Arnheim and ending in Den Haat on February 22.

OPERA2DAY in Den Haag is a company founded to bring opera to new audiences by presenting old standards in contemporary settings. They often condense the opera to shorter running times.

Damien Pass' legendary strip tease in Agrippina

At the time when Monteverdi was composing L’Orfeo,  he was dealing with the recent death of his first wife Claudia and 18-year-old star soprano Caterina Martinelli. These events inspired him to compose some of the most beautiful music of love and mournful tunes ever written in opera.

Australian baritone Damien Pass has performed many baroque roles including Handel's Lucifero (La resurrezione), Zoroastro (Orlando) and Pallante (Agrippina), as well as Rameau's Borée (Les Boréades). After L'Orfeo, he head to Opéra de Lille to sing Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff.

American bass Alex Rosen is also not stranger to early music, having performed Seneca in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea with Cincinnati Opera, Haydn’s Creation and Handel’s Acis and Galatea with Les Arts Florissants and Somnus and Cadmus in Handel’s Semele with Opera Philadelphia.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sebastian Geyer sings lead in Rossini rarity

Sebastian Geyer (center photo © Barbara Aumüller)
Barihunk Sebastian Geyer will sing the lead role of Don Pomponio in Rossini's rarely performed two-act comedy La gazzetta (“The Newspaper”). The performances at Opera Frankfurt will be the first ever of the opera with the company, which was written for Naples’s Teatro dei Fiorentini in 1816.

The opera ran for 21 performances, but was only performed one more time in the 19th century when it was performed during the 1828 Carnival in Palermo. The opera was not revived until a 1960 Italian radio performance and a subsequent staging in 1976 by the Vienna Chamber Opera.

However, the late 1810s were an incredible prolific period for Rossini, who wrote many of his most famous works between 1815-1819, including Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Otello, Mosè in Egitto, La Cenerentola, La donna del lago and  La gazza ladra, now best remembered for its frequently performed overture. The overture from La gazetta was recycled and used for La Cenerentola.

Geyer will sing Don Pomponio, who places an ad in the newspaper for a husband for his flirtatious daughter Lisetta. The opera satirizes the influence of newspapers on people's lives.

Rossini wrote the role for the great Neapolitan buffo Carlo Casaccia, because he could sing in the Neapolitan dialect. 

Opera Frankfurt's production will open on February 2nd with subsequent performances on February 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16. Tickets are available online.

Additional performances with the company this season include Faninal in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and one of the officers in Henze's The Prince of Homburg with fellow barihunk Iurii Samoilov singing the lead role.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Johnny Herford in U.K. premiere of Denis & Katya

Johnny Herford
Johnny Herford, who shared the lead role in composer Philip Venables and librettist Ted Huffman's new opera Denis & Katya with fellow barihunk Theo Hoffman in its world premiere at Opera Philadelphia in September, will now perform the U.K. premiere on February 27. 

The production with the Music Theatre Wales will open in Newport and then head to Mold and Aberystwyth, Wales, and finally too London and Cardiff. Herford will be joined by mezzo-soprano Emily Edmonds as Katya. They'll be accompanied by four cellos from the London Sinfonietta. Tickets and additional information is available online.

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. 

After the tour, Herford will perform Starveling in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Grange Festival in a cast that includes Jonathan Lemalu as Bottom, Ben Johnson as Flute and fellow barihunk Dominick Sedgwick as Demetrius.  

Friday, December 27, 2019

George Humphreys sings lead drag role in Donizetti's Viva la Diva

George Humphreys' shirtless curtain call in Glass' The Trial
British barihunk George Humphreys just wrapped up a successful run in Carl Maria von Weber's Oberon at the Salzburger Landestheater, where is a member of the ensemble.

He will next appear with the company in Donizetti's comedy Viva la Diva, whose original title was the mouthful Le convenienze e le inconvenienze teatrali (Conventions and Inconveniences of the Stage). Performances start on February 8 and run through April 2.

Donizetti wrote the lead role of La Diva (aka Agata) for a baritone, which opens up another level of comedy as the singer performs in drag. As the drama unfolds and the jealousies come to a head, it is up to La Diva  to rescue an evening at a theater company trying to mount an opera. Donizetti chose a subject that allowed him to compose both virtuosic and parodistic music.

The opera became a great success after its 1827 world premiere in Naples and 1831 performances in Milan, but was soon forgotten. Regular performances did not resume until 1963. Recent performance include a 2015 production at the Volksoper Wien and one at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2017. The National Theatre Prague is currently staging the opera with Roman Hoza in the title role.

The Salzburger Landestheater produces its own version of the opera with a new translation by Andreas Fladvad-Geier, which revives the tradition of transferring the opera’s plot into a local setting to make the parody of the opera world even easier to recognize and appreciate for audiences.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Steven LaBrie to make European debut in Rusalka

Steven LaBrie (Center photo: Matt Madison-Clark)

American barihunk Steven LaBrie will make his European stage debut in Dvořák's Rusalka with the Tiroler Festspiele Erl on December 26th.

A rusalka is a water sprite from Slavic mythology, usually inhabiting a lake or river. Rusalka was the ninth opera Dvořák composed and remains his most popular, as well as one of the most frequently performed Czech operas worldwide.

Rusalka is based on the fairy-tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen which itself goes back to the Undine and Melusine sagas of the 14th and 12th centuries.  In bewitchingly beautiful melodies, characteristic rhythms and richly nuanced and sensuous sounds, rooted in Slav folk music, the work poses questions which are still relevant: questions as to one’s own identity, the limitation of space to live and be free, the relationship between human beings and nature.

Steven LaBrie sings "Cruda fuensta smania" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lamermoor:

LaBrie will sing the roles of Game Keeper and the Hunter. He'll be joined in the cast by Karen Vuong as Rusalka, Gerard Schneider as the Prince, Thomas Faulkner as the Water Man and Judita Nagyová as Ježibaba. There are additional performances on December 28 and 30. Tickets are available online.

In the Spring, LaBrie will make his role debut as Mr. Maguire  in Tobias Picker's Emmeline at the Tulsa Opera. The cast includes a number of singers who have appeared on this site, including  Jarrett Porter as Simon Fenton,  Andrew Potter as Pastor Avery and  Nathan Stark as Henry Mosher. Soprano Madison Leonard will sing the title role.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Huw Montague Rendall to make role debut as Count Almaviva

Huw Montague Rendall
British barihunk Huw Montague Rendall will be making his role debut as Count Almaviva in Mozart's the Marriage of Figaro at the Opéra national de Lorraine in Nancy, France.

Performing Figaro will be 25-year-old Russian bass-barihunk Mikhail Timoshenko, who won the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition in September. The cast also includes Adriana Gonzalez as the Countess, Lilian Farahani as Susanna, Giuseppina Bridelli as Cherubino and Ugo Guagliardo as Bartolo.

Performances are on January 31 and February 2, 4, 7 and 9. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

 Huw Montague Rendall performs Mahler:

He will also be performing a recital on February 11th at Salle Poirel à Nancy accompanied by Ensemble Stanislas and Hélio Vida on the piano. The program will feature French and English songs. Tickets are available online.

This summer, Rendall will perform Marcello in Puccini's La bohème at the Komische Oper.