We thought that we'd have a little fun today to celebrate the first days of Spring. Here are three Russian baritones singing the classic Neapolitan song "Torna a Sorriento" in three very different renditions.
We can't think of a better way to pay tribute to the great Lee Hoiby than with his "The Last Letter Home from Iraq," which we previously posted with Andrew Garland. Here is Garland's wonderful version followed by the United States Army musicians performing the same piece.
If you have a favorite Lee Hoiby story, please leave it in the comments section.
There are some sexy Billy Budd's in the world and the opera remains a great vehicle for barihunks. Now you can add Estonian baritone Lauri Vasar to the ranks of great Billy Budds. The 40-year-old singer comes from a musical family. His father Harri Vassar was a renowned tenor who sang mostly operetta. His mother Ülla Millistfer is a pianist and concert mistress at the Estonian National Opera in Tallinn.
Other roles in Vasar's repertory include Marcello, Papageno, Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, Escamillo, Belcore and Almaviva in the Marriage of Figaro.
Billy Budd in Düsseldorf
Billy Budd opens at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf on March 31 and runs through April 24. Check out their website for additional cast and performance information.
Loren Maazel took his Castleton Festival west to California from Virginia, where it was met with the same critical acclaim that it received back East. Many of the same singers returned to reprise their roles, but we found a new addition to the barihunk family in Michael Weyandt, who was a sexy Junius. Cal Performance in Berkeley mounted both the "Rape of Lucretia" and "Albert Herring."
Joshua Kosman, the respected and brutally honest reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, gave "The Rape of Lucretia" a great review, saying this about the trio of barihunks:
Tarquinius was embodied with sonorous menace by baritone Matthew Worth, and bass-baritone Michael Rice brought a gorgeous warmth of tone to the role of Collatinus, Lucretia's ostentatiously virtuous husband. Michael Weyandt did a muscular turn as the ambitious Junius...
We learned during the performance run that Michael Rice plans on making this his final performance on the opera stage. Luckily, we'll still be able to enjoy him on his wonderful OperaNow! podcast, one of the most enjoyable shows about classical music around. We wish him well in his future endeavors. He's one of our favorite people in opera!
Michael Rice Sailing Off Into the Operatic Sunset
"Albert Herring" featured barihunk Adrian Kramer, who stole the show in the critical role of Sid. You can listen to this talented young Canadian at InstantEncore performing songs by Rorem, Barber and Danielpour.
The opera world should be grateful to Loren Maazel, whose Castleton Festival has reintroduced important operas to the repertory as well as talented young singers.
Delyan Slavov proved popular with our readers when we recently introduced him to readers, so we thought we'd provide a quick update on his schedule. He is performing as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni through April 4 at the Burgas Opera House.
Here is a clip from 2007 of him singing Tchaikovsky's "Blagaslavlaiu vas lesa..."
Uruguayan barihunk Erwin Schrott is starring as Dr. Dulcamara in a new production of the The Elixir of Love, which opens tomorrow in Valencia. After seeing some football players (soccer to the American readers) wearing uniforms with their names in Japanese as a tribute to the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan, Schrott decided to ask the costume department to make him a special shirt to wear on stage. (Erwin, how about a photo from the front?).
Rehearsal Photos From Elixir in Valencia (Photos by Tato Baez)
Performances run through April 8 and you can find additional information on the Palau de les Arts website.
Here is Schrott performing as Dr. Dulcamara at the Macerata Opera Festival in 2008:
In a previous post we inadvertently stated that Rodney Clarke was Jamaican. He was actually born in London to Jamaican parents. We figured that setting the record straight was a great excuse to post this video of him performing Billy Budd's "Look! Through the port comes the moonshine astray" with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Clarke will be performing the role of Guglielmo Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte at the Longborough Festival. He will then head to Valladolid, Spain to portray the Grand Pretre in Saint Saens’ Samson et Dalilahwith the Opera Proyect. In April, he heads to the warmer climes of Italy where he will portray Pasha Selim in Mozart’s Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, directed by Graham Vick
Marinel Cecilia & Randal Turner rehearse(Photo by Marinel Cecilia)
Barihunk Randal Turner, who readers voted as the world's sexiest Don Giovanni, is back as the title character in a production at the Teatro de la Opera in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There will be two performances at the Centro de Bellas Artes on March 24 and 26. Call (787) 763-2234 for tickets.
Randal Turner seduces Maria Leticia Hernandez
Of course, Turner will have some big shoes to fill on the island, as Puerto Rican barihunk Justino Diaz was a famous Don Giovanni (and Leporello) during his successful international career. Apparently, Turner will literally be filling the exact same shoes that Diaz wore when he performed the title role. Here he is singing Leporello's "Catalogue aria":
You can listen to Randal Turner on English radio today from Puerto Rico at 4:30 PM AST discussing the role. Here he is singing "Deh vieni alla finestra":
Ramin Karimloo poses nude for Testicular Cancer Ad
We're going to continue the birthday celebrations, even if it's a long trip from Bach to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Also, posting Ramin Karimloo as the singer honoring Webber is a bit of a stretch, but one that we think is worth it (because it's an excuse to re-post his picture). He has been called a "high baritone" in the press, even though he sounds like a tenor to us. All of that aside, we would like to wish Sir Andrew all the best on his 63rd birthday.
Here is Ramin Karimloo singing in the new official video of "Til I Hear You Sing" from "Love Never Dies":
We named Edwin Crossley-Mercer our hottest recitalist in our "Best of 2010" feature. There really aren't many baritones, hot or not, who are better in the art of lied and chanson than this 28-year-old singer. His insights, phrasing and singing are nothing short of magnificent. Unfortunately, there isn't much on the web or on his management site. However, we did find this charming clip of him working on Papageno at Aix-en-Provence and a video of him singing "Autumn Leaves" (Les Feuilles Mortes) in French. Enjoy!
Register: How did you react to People magazine's award [as one of the Sexiest Men Alive]? What's it like being a sex object as well as an opera star?
Gunn: It's kind of funny; flattering too. Mostly I was glad they didn't rank me. I caught a lot of flak from my buddies, of course. But I think something like that is good for my business. It helps break down those old outmoded stereotypes about opera.
The great Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli was born on March 20, 1890, so we're celebrating his birthday the only way that we know how - by pairing him with a barihunk. Here is Gigli with Titta Ruffo singing Puccini's glorious"O Mimi, tu più non torni" from La Boheme.
Vittorio Prato backstage during Don Pasquale in Lecce
We recently posted barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien with John Del Carlo singing "Cheti, cheti immantinente" from Don Pasquale and feel confident that it will go down in the annals of opera videos as one of the greatest moments ever filmed. So when we saw this video of barihunk Vittorio Prato with the great Simone Alaimo in Lecce performing the same duet, we thought it would be fun to post them together to show the stylistic differences. They are certainly both wonderful in their own special way.
Peter Mattei is at The Met tonight in Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades" surrounded by an all-star cast that includes Karita Mattila, Dolora Zajick and Vladimir Galouzine. This has clearly been one of the major successes for the company this year. In addition to tonight's performance, it will be performed on March 21 and 26. Click HERE for tickets and additional information.
Mike Silverman, writing for the Associated Press, said of Mattei's performance:
As Prince Yeletsky, Lisa's jilted fiance, Peter Mattei sang his gorgeous Act 2 aria with the silky tone we are accustomed to hearing from this artist.
This is not the usual post for Barihunks, but we want our readers to know about the "Solidarity Concert" for Japan. Kent Nagano will join baritone Christian Gerhaher and soprano Soile Isokoski in this special performance of Brahms' "Ein Deutsches Requiem" on April 3rd.
The performance will be held at the Frauenkirche and will be free to the public.
For ticket information, contact the box office at email@example.com.
Don't miss Daniel Okulitch's upcoming recital at Carnegie Hall on Monday, March 28, where he will be performing music from his new CD of American Art Song. Composers on the program include Ricky Ian Gordon, Jake Heggie, Lowell Liebermann, and Glen Roven. We've heard the CD and can promise and amazing night of music making. Click HERE to buy tickets while good seats still remain.
Okulitch in the Ft. Worth Opera performance of Heggie's "Dead Man Walking"
Seven months ago we introduced readers to Minnesota native Nicholas Nelson and his sexy abs. He was performing at the Central City Opera at the time and we've been waiting for an excuse for a follow up post.
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.
Fans of the young singer Nelson can see him at the Portland Opera in the double bill of Ravel's L'heure Espagnole and L'enfant et les sortilèges. He will be performing as the Armchair and the Tree. Performances will run from April 1-9. He also just finished singing the Mandarin in Turandot with the company.
From August 12-20 he will be performing Alidoro in Opera North'sCenerentola.
Clockwise bottom left: Joseph Barron, Ryan Green, Joseph Lim and Phillipe Sly
As if we needed further evidence that the "Golden Age of Baritones" is officially upon us, four of the five winners of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions were baritones. We've been featuring Phillipe Sly since we first heard him sing and believe that he's destined for a major career. Sly was joined by baritones Ryan Speedo Green, Joseph Lim, Joseph Barron and soprano Michelle Johnson as winners of the competition. We offer our hearty and well-deserved congratulations to each of the singers. You can read their bios HERE.
Mariusz Kwiecien in Met Brochure
A quick look at who the real superstars are on stage and in marketing campaigns reveals that baritones are dominating the opera stage like at no other time in history. Rene Pape, Bryn Terfel, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Paulo Szot, Christopher Maltman, Simon Keenlyside, Nathan Gunn, Erwin Schrott, Peter Mattei and Mariusz Kwiecien are some of the dominating figures in opera. A decade ago almost every marketing piece for an opera company featured female singers, with Renee Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu, Natalie Dessay and Cecilia Bartoli leading the way. Even the major "crossover" stars are now baritones, particularly Nathan Gunn, Rod Gilfry and Paulo Szot, who have all made their mark singing the music of Broadway.
Even the media savvy tenor Placido Domingo is getting in on the action, singing the baritone roles Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto and Iphigenie en Tauride.
Jacques Imbrailo, who recently starred in a somewhat controversial production of Billy Budd at Glyndebourne, is tackling the title role in a different production. Imbrailo will perform in the heralded Richard Jones production that we previously saw Peter Mattei perform at Frankfurt.
Imbrailo created a bit of a tempest before the Glyndebourne run with some comments he made in the Sunday Times that suggested to some that he was trying to take the gay element out of the opera. Here is an excerpt;
Imbrailo features on a website called barihunks.blogspot.com, whose breathless preview of Billy Budd is: “Let’s hope the production is shirtless.”
“They’re going to be disappointed,” says Imbrailo. “That’s a lazy way to characterise; Billy swinging round pipes. He doesn’t have to be a gym bunny.” Never mind Billy’s biceps, Imbrailo would rather emphasise his goodness.
Barihunks was besieged with emails and comments not just from readers, but from people involved with the production who felt that "stuffy" Glyndebourne was trying to rewrite the story to make Claggart troubled with Billy's "goodness" and removing the gay attraction. Of course, the current production is in the Netherlands where they celebrate rather than run from gay themes in opera. This production's Claggart, Clive Bayley, makes it clear in the preview video that Claggart is clearly gay and attracted to Billy, but decides to destroy what he loves.
Jacques Imbrailo: Not afraid to disappoint Barihunks readers?
Assuming he needed to redeem himself, Imbrailo has clearly done it in this production. One Dutch reviewer described Imbrailo and "vigorous" and "charismatic" with just the right baritone sound. He clearly didn't shy away from portraying a sexy Billy Budd and he appears to have redeemed himself with those "disappointed" Barihunks readers he previously referenced.
The Netherlands Opera has added a Gay Date Night on March 25th for the current of the opera. Details can and ticket information are available on their website. We hope that Glyndebourne does the smae thing when they mount Billy Budd again.
We received two emails about our Russian opera poll commenting that few people have heard some of these operas. Fortunately, companies around the world are continuing to add Russian operas to their repertory, as witnessed by The Met belatedly adding Shostokovich's "The Nose." Many companies don't venture far from Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," which is too bad, as some of the most amazing music can be found in Russian opera. There is a plethora of music for low voices in this repertory and it's also an opportunity for us to show of the "Siberian Hunky" - Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Here he is in some of the less familiar repertory.
One of our favorite pieces for baritone is the underperformed aria from by the character Shaklovity in Khovanshchina:
Prince Igor's aria from the eponymously named opera:
Boris' Monologue from Boris Godunov:
Hvorostovsky is in the Ukraine right now where he is performing a series of recitals. On March 30th he will be in London to perform at a gala concert celebrating Mikhail Gorbachev's 80th birthday. Click HERE for additional information.
Our recent post praising the artistry of Simon Keenlyside turned out to be an extremely popular post, so we're posting more of the popular barihunk. Simon-mania must be in the air, as "ColoraturaFan" on YouTube posted this 15 minute tribute, which covers most of his great roles.
Enjoy another healthy dose of Keenlyside:
Next month, Keenlyside will be performing Pelleas et Mellisande in Paris and London, followed by Verdi's Macbeth at Covent Garden and then the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro at Salzburg. His Macbeth opens in theaters around the world in June. Visit the Opus Arte Cinema website for screenings in your area.
The Boston Lyric Opera's performance of Handel's "Agrippina" is opening on Friday, March 11 with barihunks Christian Van Horn and David McFerrin (and lots of countertenors). For additional cast and performance information visit the BLO website.
David McFerrin: Rising Star
McFerrin has been featured on this site before as one of the alternating leads in the Seattle Opera's premiere of Daron Hagen's "Amelia" (the other lead was Nathan Gunn). He was also a standout in Steven Blier's "New York Festival of Song" singing some of the more provocative songs on the program. McFerrin was also a Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions finalist and we encourage anyone in the Boston area to check out this rising star.
Here is a clip of Christian Van Horn performing in Lucretia Borgia at the Bavarian State Opera.
New CDs by Daniel Okulitch & Randal Turner due for March 2011 release
Readers of this site who appreciate our great American composers are in luck. Two new CDs are due for release this month that showcase new American music. Barihunks Randal Turner and Daniel Okulitch are both releasing CDs this month that feature songs by Glen Roven, Ricky Ian Gordon and Jake Heggie. Okulich will also feature songs by Lowell Liebermann, while Turner will feature music by the wunderkind composer Clint Borzoni.
Daniel Okulitch and Randal Turner during their recordings
One other difference will be that Okulitch recorded his CD in the studio in anticipation of a series of live concerts. Turner's CD was recorded live in San Francisco and even features a special encore tribute to the "City by the Bay." Turner's concert will also be available in a high-definition DVD video format.
Both CDs will be available for pre-release purchase through this site. Stay tuned for more details.
Enzo Romano (L), Szymon Komasa (C) & Davide Bartolucci (R)
Finalists were announced 3,500 miles apart in two of the most prestigious vocal competitions in the world. The Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions announced their eight finalists and the grandly named "Cardiff Singer of the World" named their twenty finalists.
Although separated by the Atlantic Ocean and a different approach to reaching a winner, one thing that both competitions have in common is an abundance of barihunk talent.
Nicholas Masters & Philippe Sly
Both Nicholas Masters and Philippe Sly, who we featured earlier on this site, are among the "Elite Eight" who will sing with the amazing Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Lincoln Center on Sunday, March 13. Winners will receive $15,000 each.
HVOROSTOVSKY AT CARDIFF IN 1989
At Cardiff, three singers who are new to this site will compete for the Grand Prize, which in 1989 went to barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Italian baritone Davide Bartolucci, Polish baritone Szymon Komasa and Uruguayan Enzo Romano will compete between June 12-19 for the coveted title. [Click on their names to read their bios]. Famed baritone Håkan Hagegård will be one of the judges, as will Dame Kiri te Kanawa and Marilyn Horne. In addition to the Grand Prize, Cardiff awards a Lieder Prize and an Audience Favorite Prize.
PAUL WHELAN SINGS CLAGGART'S ARIA FROM BILLY BUDD
Other Cardiff winners who have appeared on Barihunks are Paul Whelan, winner of the 1993 Lieder Prize, Christoper Maltman, winner of the 1997 Lieder Prize, Tommi Hakala, who won the Grand Prize in 2003 and Jacques Imbrailo, who won the Audience Prize in 2007.
We hope that you had the chance to watch Opera Mission's wonderful Kurt Weill concert on Barihunks recently. If you missed it, here are two songs by the gifted barihunk Ian Greenlaw. The first video is the popular "Mack the Knife" and it's followed by the less familiar "River Chanty" from the musical Huckleberry Finn.