Saturday, December 31, 2011


Christopher Johnstone: Model singer
We couldn't believe it when we saw Christopher Johnstone's new website this year. The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music graduate defines himself as a "Singer, Actor, Model" and it's tough to argue with it. The lyric baritone has sung with the Glimmerglass Opera, Lyric Opera San Diego, Opera Pacific, Cincinnati Pops, Boston Pops and performing Poulenc’s Le bal masqué for Baritone and Chamber Orchestra with Maestro James Levine of the Metropolitan Opera.

Nicholas Nelson: Singer or Abercombie & Fitch model?
When we first saw these pictures, we thought they were from an Abercombie & Fitch catalogue. If there is any question left in anyone's mind that singers are taking better care of their bodies these days, these pictures should dispel those thoughts. Nelson is currently with the Portland Opera Studio, one of the beneficiaries of funds from our 2012 Barihunks charity calendar.

Henk Neven: Best baritone studio CD of the year
Henk Neven was nominated for a presitigious Gramophone Award in the category of "Solo Vocal." Neven was nomintated for his recording of Carl Loewe's "Ballades" and Robert Schumann's Liederkreis with Hans Eijsackers on piano. It's an amazing recording that should belong in everyone's playlist.

Daniel Okulitch, Randal Turner & David Adam Moore
The music of living American Composers was all the rage this year. Barihunks Randal Turner and Daniel Okulitch both released brilliant CDs based on the theme. The Five Burroughs Music Festival run by barihunk Jesse Blumberg featured music by living American composers, including performances from fellow barihunk David Adam Moore. The New York Festival of Song, under one of our favorites, Steven Blier, also continued to deliver some of the best new American music on the scene.

We had a great post this year which asked the question: Can barihunks sing? If there was any question about it, two newcomers to the site Philippe Sly and Dominik Köninger quickly dispelled the myth. Sly blew away audiences during his brief tenure at the Merola Opera Program and went on to win the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.  He was identified early on as a favorite to win the competition and his version of Schubert's haunting Der Erlkönig drew comparisons to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and other great baritones.

In a year where baritones won almost every vocal competition, German barihunk Dominik Köninger took the top prize at the 2011 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. His seamless phrasing and beauty of tone instantly became the talk of European impresarios and critics.

Christopher Maltman in Juan

Ever since we posted that Christopher Maltman appeared nude in Kasper Holten's abbreviated and updated film version of Mozart's "Don Giovanni," our inbox was filled with queries asking us where they could see the film. Unfortunately, the film had VERY limited release in the U.S. and wasn't made available on DVD to North Americans. Fortunately, a fan of our site directed us to this LINK where the film can be viewed online for free. We suspect that they're getting a sudden uptick in traffic.


Dan Kempson & Justin Hopkins

The Ft. Worth Opera Festival continues to establish itself as a mandatory summer stop for any serious opera fan. This year's production of Phillip Glass' "Hydrogen Jukebox" was the surprise hit of the year. Directed by the Lawrence Edelson and featuring barihunks Dan Kempson and Justin Hopkins (who often appeared only in boxers), the production made an excellent case for this opera entering the standard repertory.

Gronk working on the Griselda sets
If you were looking for a short night at the opera, then you should have been at the Santa Fe Opera's production of Vivaldi's "Griselda." Director Peter Sellars and artist Gronk created an incoherent updating of a baroque masterpiece that had people scrambling for the exits. After Act 1 Santa Fe was filled with opera goers at local bars asking, "What the hell was that?"


John de los Santos and Michael Grandage
We return to Ft. Worth for our best young director, John de los Santos, who brought such vibrancy to Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado" that it seemed like a brand new hit show. We've been featuring a video of his work in our sidebar, as we think that his work should be more widely known to opera fans. He will be working on his first Wagner opera this year, when he joins the creative team at the Dallas Opera for their "Tristan und Isolde."

We've always had great respect for Michael Grandage as an actor and for much of his theatrical work. However, he needs to stay away from the opera house. He is the antithesis of everything that this site stands for, which is making opera accessible and interesting to modern audiences, as well as making it sexy when appropriate. He took all of the sexual tension out of Britten's "Billy Budd" at Glyndebourne and then mounted what the Guardian called a "disastrously dull" Don Giovanni at the Met. Two operas that thrive on sexual tension were basically emasculated by Grandage.

Mike Nyby
Kevin Puts' opera "Silent Night" contains more sexy men than a World Cup soccer championship. There were four barihunks in the premiere at the Minnesota Opera who had appeared on this site before, including Mike Nyby, Gabriel Preisser, Ben Wager and Liam Bonner, as well as Andrew Wilkowske. The opera is based on the screenplay for Joyeux Noël by Christian Carion and recounts a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history.

Zach Altman & Dan Kempson
This isn't you're grandmother's world of opera anymore. Baritones aren't the villains anymore, they're getting married to each other. Two of the most popular barihunks on this site tied the knot this year, Zach Altman and Dan Kempson. We wish them well!

Nathan Gunn as Tarquinius in Vienna
We're going to leave you with Nathan Gunn, whose popularity with Barihunks fans is off the charts. The 41-year-old singer still looks hotter than guys twenty years his junior. He returned to the role of Tarquinius in Vienna this year and still looked as sexy as when he sung the role in Philadelphia years ago. He's also about to return to the role of Billy Budd, which is often performed by guys 10-20 years younger. Gunn also promotes his fitness routine, which we think is good for opera and good for the singers.

HAVE A GREAT 2012!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Luca Pisaroni Gets Ugly at the Met

Luca Pisaroni: From Hot to Not

The Metropolitan Opera is premiering the baroque pastiche "The Enchanted Island" tonight and it will run for a month. The music is taken from a number of 18th century masters, including Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others. The original libretto which is drawn from Shakespeare was written by the British writer/director Jeremy Sams. Additional performance information and tickets are available HERE.

As much as we're intrigued by the opera and impressed by the amazing cast that they've assembled led my Joyce di Donato and David Daniels, we were fascinated by the transformation of barihunk Luca Pisaroni into the less-than-attractive character Caliban.

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Christopher Maltman's "Juan" available online

The sexy barihunk Christopher Maltman in Juan (top)
First of all, let us apologize for not posting for a few days, but we decided to enjoy the holidays and to take a break from posting. During those days, we received a number of emails about our Christopher Maltman post and most wanted to know when his film "Juan" would be available in the United States. We've been trying to get that answer for months, but with no success.

Fortunately, one of our most loyal readers alerted us to this LINK where you can watch the movie online for free. It will direct you to a number of sites where you can chose options to stream the movie online or to download it. Some sites are free and some will charge you, so chose carefully.

Juan, which is an abbreviated and updated version of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" is directed by Kasper Holten, who is the new Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Enjoy the movie and we'll return to our regular posting schedule tomorrow.

Also, thank you to everyone who purchased a Barihunks 2012 charity calendar. The proceeds will be going to the Portland Opera Studio and Seagle Music Colony in New York. Your support of our site is greatly appreciated. We pledge to continue to maintain a positive site in 2012 that promotes opera companies and singers. Any money that we make from calendars or other merchandise gets donated to support singers and singers. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christopher Maltman: COVERBOY

Christopher Maltman (photo by Pia Clodi)
We have a thousand reasons to love Christopher Maltman. We could start with his stunning lieder recitals and recordings, which currently include some of the best Schubert recordings on the market. Or we could love him for his dramatically intense portrayals on stage where he consistently taps into his emotional and psychological reservoirs to give us a complete portrayal of the character. Who could ever forget his Don Giovanni's at the Salzburg Festival or his portrayal of the same role in the movie Juan? We could love him for bringing elegance and grace to the world of opera both on stage or off stage. But Barihunks is equally about great musicianship and charismatic sexiness. Maltman has the latter in abundance.

Of course, there is nothing sexier than a sexy man who can carry it off without being pompous, arrogant or acting like a reject from Jersey Shore. Maltman wears his barihunk status as well as anyone in the business, along with guys like Erwin Schrott, Daniel Okulitch and Mariusz Kwiecien. One can always tell how comfortable a singer is in his skin by the way he answers a question about being a barihunk. We've seen singers make the ridiculous claim that they are completely unaware of their sex appeal or that they've never read articles (or looked at Barihunks) that discuss their sexiness. Of course, many of these same singers regularly send us photos and try desperately to get on the site!

That's why we loved this part of the profile on Maltman that appears in the Janauary 2012 edition of Opera Now magazine, where the British barihunk appears on the cover:

Opera needs its sexy poster boys and Maltman is claiming his billboard - not with Erwin Schrott-style Latin machismo or velvety Jonas Kaufmann looks, but a guy-impaling intensity that shatters surface veneer.

Does being considered a sex symbol bother him? 'No one's going to complain about being found desirable,' he laughs. 'And for Don Giovanni, it's crucial. He has to be dangerous, without that he's nothing. That's what I learnt when I was directed in the role by Sir Thomas Allen. He has to unbalance people, make them vulnerable and access their psyches at the same time. He's a chameleon, he changes from minute to minute but without personal contradiction; that's dangerous and sexy.'

Maltman will return to the role of Don Giovanni this summer with five performances at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. Performances will run from June 24-July 6 and tickets and additional cast information can be found HERE. The all-star cast is laden with barihunks, including Erwin Schrott as Leporello and Alexander Tsymbalyuk as the Commendatore. Anna Netrebko is the Donna Anna and this will undoubtedly be one of the hottest tickets in all of opera this year.

Maltman begins 2012 on the concert stage with a recital centering around Ravel and his contemporaries at Wigmore Hall on January 15.  He then heads to San Francisco on January 19 for a recital at the Herbst Theater, which includes music by Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Hahn and Faure. In February, he returns to the opera stage, singing Marcello at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.  The cast at the Liceu includes the most visited barihunk on our site, Gabriel Bermudez, who will be singing Schaunard. Perhaps the most unusual performance for Maltman this year is his assayal of Kurwenal in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in a concert version with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra on August 24.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mezzo Kate Jackman's "Top 10 Worst Opera Villains"

At Barihunks, we find baritones to be sexy and seductive, like Douglas Williams. Could a face like this be a villain?

The beautiful, funny and gifted mezzo-soprano Kate Jackman penned a list of the "Top 10 Worst Opera Villains" for the wonderful blog Operagasm. Of course any list about villains will invariably include some baritones, as many composers consider it the perfect voice for devils, killers, rapists and evil husbands. In fact, six of her ten villains are baritones or basses. (For the record, we think the baritone voice is sexy, sultry, seductive and virile).

Falk Struckmann as Kaspar in Vienna

Her baritone and bass villains include Kaspar from Der Freischutz, of whom she writes:

I get it. You don’t want to go to hell. Understandable.

But tricking some poor, love-sick sap into shooting his beloved Agathe, just so you can get three more miserable years on Earth seems excessive. And how did that plan work out for you? She’s alive, everyone else is happy, and you are burning in a fiery pit for all eternity. Good game.
Barihunk Kyle Ketelsen as Nick Shadow in London

 Nick Shadow from The Rake's Progress:
The Shadow Master. The Puppeteer. You pull the strings of poor, feckless Tom.  You give him money, loose women, a bearded wife (that’s right, BEARDED), and a magic bread maker, and in doing so make him penniless, loveless, hopeless, and eventually lifeless (as in DEAD). You evoke ruin, disaster, and shame from the second you appear until the instant you sink back into the depths of Hades. You, sir, are a scoundrel.
Barihunk Marco Vratogna as Iago with Carlo Ventre as Otello in Frankfurt

Iago from Otello:

Much like the same-named, cartoon parrot in Disney’s Aladdin, you perch on Otello’s shoulder and spew deceit.

I get that you hate Otello and want him to suffer, but was it really worth going through this whole elaborate plan? Couldn’t you just off the guy and be done with it? And, honestly, what did Desdemona ever do to you? Why does she have to be collateral damage? You had to know that you were not going to walk away from this without facing the consequences.

But you didn’t care, did you? You are just a hateful little worm, aren’t you?
Stephen Costello as Faust) with barihunk Greer Grimsley asMéphistophélès in San Diego

Mephistopheles from Faust:

Really, just don’t even talk to him. It’s not worth it and you will regret it in the long haul.

Take the story of Faust as a cautionary tale: He’s old; he has a lot of regrets. Suddenly, Mephistopheles appears and promises to make him young and virile in exchange for his soul. Stupid Faust agrees, and four acts later he is being dragged down into perdition.

Mephistopheles is just about as bad and scary as they come. Watch the Church Scene in the middle of the night and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Lado Ataneli as Barnaba and Violeta Urmana as Gioconda in the stunning Pizzi production

Barnaba from La Gioconda:

Gentlemen, take note. When a lady tells you she is not interested in your advances, you should:
a) Move on. Fish in the sea blah blah blah


b) Attempt to woo her with the standard flattery, flowers, dinner, etc. She may eventually develop romantic feelings for you.

When a lady tells you she is not interested, you should NOT:

a) Denounce her blind, elderly mother as a witch in front of the entire town.

b) Drown said elderly mother in the Venetian canals.

Your lady will not love you for it and may just stab herself in the gut to get away from you.
And her #1 evil villain is, of course, Scarpia (who we have actually found to be quite sexy in some productions, which adds a whole different element to the seduction scene):

María José Siri as Tosca and Claudio Sgura as Scarpia at the Savonlinna Festival

Scarpia from Tosca  Congratulations, Scarpia. You are the nastiest of the nasty characters in Opera.

Nobody likes you. Everyone was happy to see you die.  

Well, let’s recap: You arrested a painter and had him tortured where his lover, a singer, could hear his screams. You then attempted to seduce the singer, like she’d be in any kind of mood for nookie when her lover is being tortured in the next room… and she could hear
his screams. You made her promise to give herself to you in exchange for his life, and then had him executed anyway.  

Seriously, dude. If anyone deserved to get stabbed in the chest by a vengeful soprano, it’s you.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Emerging barihunk Xavier Edgardo; NPR examines the baritone voice; Verdi's Attila in Seattle

Puerto Rican barihunk Xavier Edgardo
We just had to share emerging barihunk Xavier Edgardo, who is simply adorable. The 22-year-old singer has been studying at the University of Puerto Rico, where he also sang in the choir. He honed his solo skills for two seasons at the International Vocal Arts Institute run by the esteemed Joan Dorneman, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.

Edgardo has participated in and won a number of vocal competitions, include many in Europe. In 2009, he was asked to participate in the prestigious Pablo Casals Festival. He has participated in masterclasses with a number of great singers, including fellow Puerto Rican Justino Diaz, Denis Sedov, Sherril Milnes, Mignon Dunn and Elaine Ortiz Arandes. He is currently a member of the Opera of Puerto Rico chorus. We plan of following the solo career of this young talent in future seasons.

Gerard Souzay: A Barihunks favorite

If you haven't heard Tom Huizenga's analysis and breakdown of the baritone voice, we recommend that you click HERE and listen to it. The article includes sound clips, including one of Gerard Souzay's beautiful rendition of Faure's "Clair de lune."

John Relyea reprising Attila in Seattle
We want to remind readers that Canadian barihunk John Relyea is returning to the Seattle Opera in the role of Attila on January 14th. This should be a huge hit and is a "must see" opera for any Verdi fan. Visit the Seattle Opera website for additional cast information and performance dates. Attila also contains two great baritone parts, including a baritone duet! We covered Relyea when he recently sang the role in a concert format this fall in Washington, D.C. Click HERE to see our previous post.

John Relyea sings Publio's "Tardi S'Avvede" from Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito:

Relyea’s previous Seattle Opera credits include the title roles in Don Quichotte and Bluebeard’s Castle, and Giorgio in I puritani. He won the 2005 Seattle Opera Artist of the Year award for his Four Villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann.

You can watch Attila in its entirety on YouTube by clicking HERE. The cast includes barihunk Samuel Ramey, Giorgio Zancanaro and soprano Cheryl Studer.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Introducing Uzbekistani Barihunk Dmitri Vargin

Dmitri Vargin

Dmitri Vargin studied choral direction in his native city Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and singing at the State Academy of Music and Theatre in Hamburg, with William Workman. In Hamburg he had the chance to participate in master classes with artists such as Kurt Moll and Franz Grundheber. He also appeared in numerous productions performing Junius in The Rape of Lucretia, Peter in Hänsel und Gretel, Marcello in La Bohème, Pappacoda in Eine Nacht in Venedig, and Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's dream.  

During his last year at the Academy, he appeared as a guest at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf performing Silvio in I Pagliacci and has been invited to join the company. At the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, he has sung Marcello in La Bohème, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream and in the new productions - Achilla in Giulio Cesare, Valentin in Faust, Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande, Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore, and the title part in Eugene Onegin.  

He also appeared at the Erfurt Opera as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, at the Hamburgische Staatsoper as Tusenbach in Tri Sestri by Peter Eötvös, and performed Mahler's 8th Symphony with Maestro Lorin Maazel.  

Following his debut at Bolshoi Theatre Moscow as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, he has been re-invited to perform Marcello in La Bohème and Lopakhin in Fenelon's The Cherry Orchard.   He also made his South American debut performing the title part in Eugene Onegin (Montevideo).

Upcoming engagements include both Brétigny in Manon and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte (Düsseldorf), and Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos (Glyndebourne Festival), among others.   Dmitri Vargin has been granted by the DAAD and awarded with German Federal Cultural Prize (2004), the Masefield Scholarship by the Alfred Töpfer Foundation (2005), and he has been actively involved, with the Yehudi Menuhin "Live Music Now" program, in projects bringing music to people unable to attend regular concerts.

There are only two weeks left to order your 2012 Barihunks charity calendar. All proceeds will go to benefit the Portland Opera Studio and the Seagle Music Colony, two of the best young artist training programs in America. You can help out dozens of young artists by purchasing your calendar today. Click HERE and have your calendar before the new year. 

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peter Bording Shower Scene; Introducing Stephen Hegedus

Peter Bording

We haven't featured the sexy Dutch barihunk Peter Bording in awhile. We received an email alerting us that he has a sexy shower scene in Essen's holiday classic "Die Fledermaus." You can watch the clip HERE. The opera opens Sunday, December 18th and runs through New Years Eve. Bording then moves on to the Tiroler Landestheater in Innsbruck where he'll be performing Franz Lehár's "Die Lustige Witwe."

We also received a reader submission about Stephen Hegedus, who is new to this site. They saw him perform in Handel's Messiah with the Seattle Symphony on Friday night, a performance that he will reprise on Sunday night. The Seattle Times wrote of his performance, "The bass-baritone soloist, Stephen Hegedus, sang with commanding lyricism." On December 21 and 22, Hegedus will perform the Messiah with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Both performances are sold out.

A graduate of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, Stephen Hegedus’s  appearances in the 2010-2011 season included the title role of Le nozze di Figaro (Opera Hamilton), Albert in Massenet’s Werther (Opéra de Montréal) Zuniga in Carmen (Brott Festival) and the Marquis inLa Traviata (Vancouver Opera). On the concert stage he performed Handel’s Messiah with the Victoria Symphony and the Grand Philharmonic Choir, Bach’s Magnificat with the Orchestre Métropolitain du grand Montréal and Howard Blake’s The Bear with the Toronto Symphony.

Stephen Hegedus

He has performed with Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile, Pacific Opera Victoria, Les Violons du Roy, San Antonio Symphony, Houston Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, the André-Turp Musical Society The Aldeburgh Connection, the Lamèque International Baroque Festival, La Sinfonia de Lanaudière, the Aldeburgh Festival and the International Bach Festival in Toronto.  

In April 2009, he made his Carnegie Hall debut singing Bach’s Mass in B-minor with the Oratorio Society of New York and returned in 2010 singing Handel’s Messiah. Recently Stephen appeared as a finalist at Placido Domingo’s Operalia, The World Opera Competition, and was awarded 2nd Prize at the 32nd annual Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition hosted by the Oratorio Society of New York. Other awards include The Janet Stubbs Fellowship and The William and Phyllis Waters Graduating Award, both from the University of Toronto. He is a grant holder of the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers and of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Stephen Hegedus as Figaro

Stephen holds a Master’s of Music in Opera from the University of Toronto and has pursued further studies at the Banff Centre, the Britten-Pears Programme (Aldeburgh, England), The Canadian Vocal Arts Institute (Montreal), The International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv) and the Centre for Opera in Sulmona, Italy. Upcoming engagements include appearances with the Seattle Symphony, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria.

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There are only two weeks left to order your 2012 Barihunks charity calendar. All proceeds will go to benefit the Portland Opera Studio and the Seagle Music Colony, two of the best young artist training programs in America. You can help out dozens of young artists by purchasing your calendar today. Click HERE and have your calendar before the new year. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Announcing our Second Beneficiary for our 2012 Barihunks Charity Calendar: Seagle Music Colony

Seagle Barihunks: Christopher Temporelli, Seth Mease Carico and Wes Mason.
We’re pleased to announce our second recipient of a donation from the 2012 Barihunks calendar, the Seagle Music Colony at Schroon Lake in beautiful upstate New York. There are many reasons to support this great training program, but the fact that it was founded in 1915 by baritone Oscar Seagle, an early 20th century singer, certainly helped us in our decision. It’s also run by Darren Woods, who runs one of the best opera festivals in the world, the Ft. Worth Opera Festival. If your summer festival schedule includes Ravinia, Tanglewood and/or Spoleto and you haven’t checked out Ft. Worth, then you haven’t experienced the best of American opera.

A number of barihunks have trained at Seagle, including Ned Hanlon, John Cabrali,  Joe Hagar, Anthony Reed, Nicholas Wardcan and FOUR of our calendar models, Wes Mason, Seth Carico, Christopher Temporelli and Dan Kempson.  Since it’s founding in 1915, numerous singers have gone on to have amazing careers in opera and on Broadway. Their mission statement is “To identify, train and develop gifted singers and to present quality opera and musical theatre performances to the public.” They’ve obviously been successful, as Seagle alumni have performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera and, of course, the Ft. Worth Opera.

Oscar Seagle made several concert tours in the United States and Europe, and recorded albums for Columbia, including the popular World War I hit "Dear Old Pal of Mine." He served from 1903-1914 as teaching associate in Europe with his teacher, the great Polish tenor Jean de Reszke. De Reszke was a star of the Metropolitan Opera as well as Queen Victoria's favorite singer.

Darren Woods has served as General Director at the Seagle Music Colony since 1996. In 2000, it was named "Best Summer Vocal Training Program in the United States" by Classical Singer Magazine. Seagle receives over 500 applicants each year and it has expanded from two productions and eight performances per summer to six full productions and over thirty-five performances. Our favorite young director, John de los Santos (whose video you can see at the right) is also a regular at Seagle. 

We’re delighted to have them join the Portland Opera studio as one of our beneficiaries this year. We encourage you to purchase a calendar and help support his amazing organization. If you’re feeling extra generous this holiday season, please visit them online to make a donation HERE or mail a check to Seagle Music Colony, 999 Charley Hill Road, PO Box 366 – Schroon Lake, NY 12870.

Randal Turner (top), Seagle participant Dan Kempson (bottom left) & David Adam Moore (bottom right)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Erwin Schrott Stars in "3 Superstars in Berlin" & Don Giovanni in London

Three of the most beautiful performers in opera have teamed up for "3 Superstars in Berlin," an evening of music from opera and musicals. Barihunk Erwin Schrott is joining forces with his wife Anna Netrebko and hunkentenor Jonas Kaufman for a concert that will be shown in movie theaters worldwide on January 26 and February 3. The performance is being taped at the Berlin Waldbuhne, the city's gorgeous 23,000 seat outdoor theater set in the heart of a forest.

The trio will be peforming selections from Bernstein's "West Side Story," Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," Gounod's "Faust," Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and tangos. You can click HERE for tickets and showtimes. 

Erwin Schrott in Don Giovanni
Schrott returns to the opera stage on February 3rd at the Royal Opera House in London as Don Giovanni. His Leporello will be fellow barihunk Alex Esposito. Performances run through February 29th and tickets are available HERE.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christopher Maltman in "From the House of the Dead"

Christopher Maltman in Juan (top); Vienna's "From the House of the Dead" (bottom)
We've gone way too long without a post about Christopher Maltman, who tantalized us last year with his nude scene in Kasper Holten's movie "Juan." Unfortunately, the movie was never distributed widely in the United States and only played at a few art movie theaters. The DVD is only available in Region 2 format, but we promise to keep you informed when it is available worldwide.

Maltman is currently appearing in one of our favorite operas, Janacek's "From the House of the Dead." For those who haven't seen the opera it's non-stop feast of men from curtain to curtain. Maltman is singing the role of Šiškov at the Vienna State Opera. Šiškov brings the opera to a harrowing end when he sings a tale of murdering his love. There are four performances remaining between December 14-30. Click HERE for additional information or to purchase tickets.

Maltman talks about the role on his management website:

You’re rehearsing Janácek’s From the House of the Dead at the Vienna Staatsoper – an interesting piece to get your head around…Absolutely – but an amazing piece too. Its difficulty lies in the fact that there’s no real dramatic narrative; there isn’t a linear story to follow. But there are these four central monologues which are effectively studies in human psychology, each one becoming progressively more complicated.

Shower scene from Janacek's opera


Where do you fit in?My character Šiškov sings the final monologue. He’s a pretty ordinary, unassuming guy who through a series of awful events ends up doing something terrible, and my motto for the whole piece has been ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. It’s really about what people can do in very difficult circumstances and how those circumstances ultimately affect them. There’s this bunch of men trapped together in this prison; I feel the prison is a metaphor for those places in which people come express their emotions. It’s just a metaphor life.
Particularly when life means you’re thrown together with a large group of people away from home for a long and intense period of work – precisely the predicament of the modern opera singer…Very much so, and the similarities continue in that you’re with a bunch of people you don’t know very well. People very often take that opportunity to lay down their life story – to tell others about who they are and what they are, which is exactly what lies behind all the characters in From the House of the Dead. They’re people justifying why they are in the situation that they are in – why they did the things that they did.
And like them you’re on your own, too – away from your family…Well technology makes that far easier; I’ve just been able to talk to my two sons using Skype. But it’s always difficult and you have to balance the practicalities of having a career against the difficulties of having a family. It’s impossible to get it completely right, but there is nothing else that I could do to be at the level I hopefully sing and act at. Nor is there anything else I would want to do. But to go back to the prison idea, I am slightly trapped by my own profession!
Prison is exactly where your various vivid incarnations of Don Giovanni should probably be sent – you’re shortly to revive him in Berlin. How will that feel after your role in Kasper Holten’s explosive movie version?There are some constants that you take with you from production to production. Before I sang my very first big Don Giovanni I had lunch with Tom [Sir Thomas] Allen. He’s such a treasure trove. I asked him, look, is there any other advice you’d give me before playing the role? He told me, above all, to make Don Giovanni dangerous: he has to be dangerous, however that danger is achieved. There are sovereign requirements for Don Giovanni and that sense of danger about him is paramount I think.
And you’ll be re-united with Daniel Barenboim…He’s a very demanding man, a man with a lot of opinion and a man with a very clear vision of how things should be musically. But I’ve always found that kind of conductor much easier to work with than somebody who really lets you guess what it is that they want. For Daniel it’s all about the music – a desire to get the music right in his own head – and I can always live with that. He’s probably one of the greatest musical talents of the last 100 years – just a phenomenally, phenomenally gifted man. If you don’t listen to that kind of person, I think there’s something wrong.

Have you bought your 2012 Barihunks calendar? Buy one now before it's too late. Click HERE.

Celebrating Heinrich Heine - (December 13, 1797 – February 17, 1856)

Philippe Sly & Heinrich Heine

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Heine's later verse and prose is distinguished by its satirical wit and irony. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities. Heine spent the last 25 years of his life as an expatriate in Paris. [Excerpted from Wikipedia]

The first seven lieder from Robert Schumann's "Dichterliebe," set to poetry by Heinrich Heine Performed by Sanaz Sotoudeh and Philippe Sly in Pollack Hall at McGill University in 2009.

Schubert's haunting "Der Doppelgänger" from Schwanengesang sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau:

Der Doppelgänger by Heinrich Heine

Still ist die Nacht, es ruhen die Gassen,
In diesem Hause wohnte mein Schatz;
Sie hat schon längst die Stadt verlassen,
Doch steht noch das Haus auf dem selben Platz.

Da steht auch ein Mensch und starrt in die Höhe,
Und ringt die Hände, vor Schmerzensgewalt;
Mir graust es, wenn ich sein Antlitz sehe -
Der Mond zeigt mir meine eigne Gestalt.

Du Doppelgänger! du bleicher Geselle!
Was äffst du nach mein Liebesleid,
Das mich gequält auf dieser Stelle,
So manche Nacht, in alter Zeit?

English Translation

The night is quiet, the streets are calm,
In this house my beloved once lived:
She has long since left the town,
But the house still stands, here in the same place.

A man stands there also and looks to the sky,
And wrings his hands overwhelmed by pain:
Upon seeing his face, I am terrified--
The moon shows me my own form!

O you Doppelgänger! you pale comrade!
Why do you ape the pain of my love
Which tormented me upon this spot
So many a night, so long ago?

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Only two weeks left to purchase our 2012 Barihunks Charity Calendar. Get in the holiday spirit and buy your copy today. All proceeds go to young artist programs. We named our first recipient yesterday, which is the Portland Opera Studio. Scroll down and read about this amazing program.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Announcing our First Beneficiary for our Barihunks Charity Calendar: The Portland Opera Studio

Portland Opera homepage

We’re pleased to announce that the Portland Opera Studio is our first recipient of a donation from our 2012 Barihunks charity calendar. We’ll announce the second recipient later this week. The final donation will depend on how many calendars we sell, which you can purchase HERE.

When we looked at the requests that we received, we were most moved by the requests from some of the smaller artist training programs. They work on shoestring budgets and still manage to develop some of the best young artists around today. Often they have to work more on commitment than cash, yet still deliver great results. The Portland Opera Studio has helped develop four singers who have appeared on this site: Jonathan Lasch, Jonathan Kimple, Jose Rubio and Nicholas Nelson. Portland Studio Artists also participated in a vocal masterclass with Daniel Mobbs, who performed the role of Figaro in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” with the Portland Opera in November.

Portland Opera Studio participant Nicholas Nelson

Graduates of the Studio Artist program have performed worldwide, including roles with the New York City Opera and with young artist programs at Houston Grand Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. Nicholas Nelson will be appearing as the Commissioner in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" opening on February 3rd and a number of small roles in Philip Glass' "Galileo Galilei" opening on March 30th.

In 2005, the Portland Opera established the Portland Opera Studio program, designed to train the next generation of opera singers by providing a "bridge" from the conservatory world to the professional stage.

Selected at auditions around the country, young singers fresh from some of the nation's finest vocal conservatories and music academies join the company for a rigorous nine-month training program during which they are featured in their own production. Their training also includes voice, language and movement lessons and supporting roles in Company mainstage productions. Studio Artists also give an intimate recital of Art Song at the Portland Art Museum, exploring the close relationship between composer, singer and accompianist.

Jose Rubio, Jonathan Kimple & Jonathan Lasch

The Studio Artists yearly production has become a highly-anticipated event in Portland, delighting audiences with rarely heard works and beautiful young voices. Previous productions include Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (2005), Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses (2006), Britten's Albert Herring (2008), Cavalli's La Calisto (2009), Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and Monteverdi's Il Ballo delle ingrate and Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (2010) and a Ravel double-bill of L'heure Espagnole and L'enfant et les Sortilèges (2011).

No matter where you live, we encourage you to buy a calendar to support this program, as you are likely to encounter one of their graduates at an opera house near you soon. You can also give an additional holiday donation directly to the Portland Opera Studio by contacting Hannah Gildea their Individual Giving Manager, at (503) 417-0601 or email her at

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Click HERE to buy your calendar.