Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reader Submission: Remo Tobiaz

Remo Tobiaz
Remo Tobiaz in not only a reader submission, but he was suggested by a fellow barihunk. (Anyone out there casting for a barihunk duo?).

His path to opera has been unusual, as he once played bass guitar and sang for the punk band Croak. Influenced by the techno subculture, he produced electronic music until 2005 when his participation in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion inspired him to pursue more classical music.

Tobiaz then studied opera with Douglas Yates and is now perfecting his craft as a lyric baritone. He sings with various ensembles including Berlin International Opera, Oper Oder Spree, Opernhausen and Ensemble Corund, as well as concerts throughout Germany and Switzerland.

You can click HERE to listen to him sing from Smetana's opera Hubicka or HERE to listen to him at a late night Eurovision concert. 

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reader Submission: Stefan Hagendorn & Axel Humbert

Stefan Keijo Hagndorn as Papageno
Meet the barihunks of the opera in Pforzheim, Germany - Stefan Keijo Hagendorn and Axel Humbert.

Stefan Hagedorn studied in Frankfurt and debuted with the Theater der Stadt Bieleford. He went on to perform with the Chamber Opera at the Rheinsberg Castle, Staadstheater Braunschweig and the Festival Rossini in Wildbad. He is currently in the ensemble at the opera in Pforzheim.

Axel Humbert is also part of the ensemble at Pforzheim and he takes on the roles in the lower bass-baritone range. He studied in Würzburg and went on to sing a number of Mozart roles, including Don Alfonso in Cosi, Figaro in Nozze and Colas in Bastien und Bastienne.

Axel Humbert
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Ukrainian Baritone Andrei Bondarenko Wins Cardiff Song Prize

Andrei Bondarenko
24-year-old Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko has has won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize.  Bondarenko bested four other young singers in the competition. Bondarenko, has been a member of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers since 2007.

Bondarenko sang a diverse program that included Robert Schumann and Georgi Sviridov. The Song Prize jury was chaired by John Fisher, former chief executive and artistic director of Welsh National Opera, and included Marilyn Horne, baritone Håkan Hagegård, Swedish pianist Bengt Forsberg and BBC Radio 3's Adam Gatehouse. This wasn't his first win at a major competition, he previously won the 2006 International Rimsky-Korsakov competition and took first prize at the international vocal competition "Art in the 21st Century" in Vorzel (Ukraine).

Future highlights will include his debut with the Glyndebourne Festival & Touring Opera. 

Here is his prize-winning song program:

Here his performance from the aria competition:

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Reader Submission: Gustavo Feulien

Gustavo Feulien
Baritone Gustavo Feulien made his operatic debut as Don Giovanni in his native Argentina, where he also performed Germont in “La Traviata” and Figaro in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” Haly in “L’Italiana in Algieri,” and Il Marito in “Amelia al ball.” He performed leading roles in “Traviata” and “Rigoletto” in concerts throughout Argentina as part of the Teatro Colón, making his debut in “Carmina Burana.” Montserrat Caballé chose him to perform at her Voices Concert in Spain. He has also sung Di Luna in “Il Trovatore” and Marullo in “Rigoletto.”

A first-prize winner at the Il Trovatore International Competition in Argentina, he was also a semifinalist in the Hans Gabor Belvedere International and the Francisco Viñas competitions, and a finalist in Caballé's International Vocal Competition. Feulien completed music courses at the Julian Aguirre Conservatory and continued his studies at the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón in his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

We were hoping to post a video, but the YouTube site featuring Feulien has video sharing disabled.  You can click HERE to watch him sing "Eri tu" from Verdi's "Un Ball in maschera."

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Introducing Henk Neven

Henk Neven

We were recently sent an email asking why we've never featured Henk Neven. We were certain that we had because we remembered preparing the post. However, when we checked it seemed like we forgot to post it. So we'd like to belatedly introduce you to this gifted Dutch barihunk.

Henk Neven studied with Maarten Koningsberger and Margreet Honig at the Conservatory of Amsterdam where he graduated cum laude in 2003. In winning the 2008 Fortis MeesPierson Award, the jury declared that "Neven has the potential to grow into a sensational artist". On April 16, 2011, Henk Neven received the Dutch Music Prize (Nederlandse Muziekprijs), presented by Judith van Kranendonk, a representative of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Neven's new recording of Loewe & Schumann

In addition to lieder and oratorio Henk Neven has sung in many operas, performing such roles as Marco Gianni Schicchi, Don Giovanni and Leporello Don Giovanni, Count Le nozze di Figaro, Aeneas Dido and Aeneas, Schaunard La boheme, Morales Carmen, Ben The Telephone and Mr. Gobineau The Medium (Menotti) and Mars Vénus et Adonis (Desmererst), Pollux Castor et Pollux and Frère Léon St. François d’Assise staged by Pierre Audi which was also recorded for DVD by Opus Arte (De Nederlandse Opera). He has appeared at the Opéra National de Paris, Staatsoper Berlin Unter den Linden, Le Duo de Dijon, Grand Théatre de Bordeaux, L’Opéra National de Montpellier, Grand Theatre de Tours, Opéra de Rouen and De Nederlandse Opera. In the Notre Dame in Paris he sung the role of Joseph in L’Enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz, conducted by John Nelson.

Neven can next be heard on July 5th at the City of London Festival where he will be performing Brahms, Grainger and Britten. 

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Instant Sensation: Nico Muhly's "Two Boys"

The world of opera is always looking for the next great piece that will squeeze its way into the standard repertory. The Met premiered John Corigliano's masterpiece twenty years ago and perhaps only a few operas have enjoyed such instant acclaim in the last two decades. Some that come to mind are Henze's "L'Upupa," Brett Dean's "Bliss," Mark Adamo's "Little Women," Birdwhistle's "The Minotaur," Saariaho's "L'amour de Loin," Ricky Ian Gordon's "The Grapes of Wrath," Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" and "Moby Dick," Philip Glass' "Hydrogen Jukebox" and "Appomattox" and John Adam's "Doctor Atomic."

Those have been outnumbered by some memorable flops led by Howard Shore's "The Fly" and Michael Daugherty's "Jackie O." So we were overjoyed with the critical acclaim that has greated American composer Nico Multy's "Two Boys" at the English National Opera. There is nothing that we could possibly add to Norman Lebrecht's spot-on review in The Telegraph, which you can read in its entirety HERE. Lebrecht's article is a "must read" for a number of reasons, including his views about what opera needs to do to succeed and, in particular, appeal to young people.

Jonathan McGovern: Jake in Two Boys
The story of "Two Boys" begins when a teenage boy is stabbed. An older boy is caught on CCTV leaving the scene. An open-and-shut case, it would seem. But, as Detective Inspector Anne Strawson investigates the older boy's story, she uncovers a bizarre nexus of chatroom meetings, mysterious internet identities, supposed spy rings and disturbing cybersex, leading to a stunning conclusion.

Critic William Robin said the opera deserves its place on the Metropolitan Opera's 2013-14 schedule. He perfectly described the music in her review:

Muhly composed several tender, brief, solo arias for the principal characters, and engaging dialogues both online and off. Though his music suggests the throbbing postminimalism of John Adams, his most clear influences come from this side of the pond — the English choral tradition of Herbert Howells (evoked in a somewhat out-of-place church scene) and the operas of Britten. “Two Boys” teems with references to Britten, from the pealing gamelan-style gongs of “Death in Venice” to the finale, an ornate passacaglia straight out of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The baritone role in the opera is sung by Jonthan McGovern who is new to this site.  He was the winner of the 2nd Prize at the 2011 Kathleen Ferrier Awards and graduated with a first-class honours degree in Music from King’s College London. He completed a PGD in Vocal Studies at the Royal Academy of Music and continued his studies with Royal Academy Opera. He was winner of the gold medal and 1st Prize at the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition 2010.

Recent operatic roles include Wu Tianshi and Pokayne in the première of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ opera Kommilitonen!; Shane Postcards from Dumbworld at Belfast Grand Opera Hosue; Delfa in Cavalli’s Il Giasone; Sid with Royal Academy Opera in John Copley’s first Albert Herring; Fiorello and Figaro cover Barber of Seville on tour with Armonico Consort Opera and Don Parmenione L’Occasione fa il ladro for RAO.

In September McGovern will join the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme to reprise the role of Sid for the Britten Festival in a new production conducted by Steuart Bedford and directed by Oliver Mears.

Click HERE for ticket and performance information.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Opera Jocks

Former Colorado Buffalo Keith Miller
We've covered the story about former University of Colorado running back Keith Miller and his transition to singing on the major stages of the world. It's an amazing story for a guy who was inspired to sing opera in college after seeing the musical "Phantom of the Opera."

You can click HERE to watch Keith Miller on ESPN talking about his transition from sports to opera.

Elliot Madore: Trading pads for opera
Now we've learned that he isn't the only opera jock around. The St. Louis American has a feature on Canadian barihunk Elliot Madore, who once played hockey and dreamed of Ice Rinks, not Ice Princesses. You can read the entire article HERE.

Madore, who recently replaced fellow Canadian barihunk Daniel Okulitch as Don Giovanni in St. Louis, now heads off to the haloed Salzburg Festival. He will be performing as part of the Young Singers Project.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Death of Klinghoffer in St. Louis

Avirath Dodabele as young Omar and Paul LaRosa as Rambo
Our inbox has been filled with an unusually large amount of correspondence about the Opera Theatre of St. Louis' production of John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer." With our commitment to promoting contemporary opera we're kicking ourselves for not covering this production until late in the run. There is one performance left on Saturday, June 25. 

Many of the emails were about Christopher Mageira, who plays the Captain, and who has not appeared on this site before. However, the heavy panting came through in the emails about Paul LaRosa's performance as Rambo. Fortunately, the opera company posted this photo on their website. We've posted a number of pictures of LaRosa and his muscled physique since his days at the Merola Opera Program.

Christopher Magiera as the Captain
Christopher Magiera is currently a member of the Dresden Semperoper., where he is singing Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri and Robert in Iolanta. This summer, Magiera will make his Santa Fe Opera debut as Valentin in Faust where he will alternate the role with fellow American barihunk Matt Worth. 

Magiera has won many awards and competitions. Most recently he won the 2009 Sullivan Foundation Grand Prize, was a 2008 Grand National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, an International Finalist in Placido Domingo’s World Opera Competition Operalia, and won First Place in the 2008 Opera Birmingham Vocal Competition. He has also received awards from the Jensen Foundation, Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Florida Grand Competition, Maguerite McCammon Competition (Fort Worth Opera), Liederkranz Foundation, Bel Canto Foundation, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, San Antonio Opera Vocal Competition and the Annie Wentz Prize (Vocal Performance, Peabody Conservatory).

Here is the Chorus of Exiled Palestinians from the opera:

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

David Adam Moore Reprises "Soldier Songs"

David Adam Moore: Too sexy for his shirt
David Adam Moore is reprising his performance of David T. Little's "Soldier Songs," which he performed in New York City in 2009. The performances will be at the International Festival of Art & Ideas in New Haven on June 23, 24 and 25.

David Adam Moore in the NYC production of Soldier Songs
This theatrically staged song cycle blends theater, opera, rock-infused-concert music, and projected animations, performed by the amplified octet Newspeak and Moore. With music and libretto written by David T. Little and conducted by Todd Reynolds, the piece adapts interviews with veterans of five wars. "Soldier Songs" reflects on war and the soldiers whose lives were changed by it.

Click HERE for additional cast and performance information. 

Here is an interview from Connecticut Style with David Adam Moore and David T. Little:

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Reader Submission: Jonathan Estabrooks

Jonathan Estabrooks
We continue to receive reader submissions and are grateful for your continued enthusiasm in exposing us to new talent. We received two submissions from other singers in the last few weeks and here is the first, Canadian Jonathan Estabrooks. This submission came with the note, "I have a feeling that Jonathan would be flattered to be on the site." Well, we're more than happy to oblige.

Estabrooks is a Juilliard graduate and the winner of the prestigious 35th Oratorio Society of New York Vocal Competition. He appeared with the accompanist Steven Blier in his Festival of Song Spring Gala along with soprano Kelli O'Hara and tenor Joseph Kaiser. In late 2010, he was heard in the role of Belcore on a 20-city tour with the Jeunesses Musicale du Canada. He is also another in our long list of singers who have sung Tarquinius in Britten's "The Rape of Lucretia."

He has also performed for the Governor General, The Prime Minister of Canada, the US Ambassador to Canada, The Italian Ambassador to Canada and President Bill Clinton.

You can follow Estabrooks on YouTube with his feature "Jonathan Daily." Here is a sample episode:

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Remembering Two Great Basses

Two of the greatest basses died on June 21st, the first day of summer, thirty years apart - the Austrian Emanuel List and the German Karl Ridderbusch. Although they might not necessarily be remembered as quintessential barihunks, they were two amazing singers who deserve to be remembered today.

Emanuel List

The noted Austrian-born American bass, Emanuel List (1886-1967) - real name, Flessing - was a boy chorister at the Theater-an-der-Wien. Following voice training with Steger in Vienna, he toured Europe as a member of a comic vocal quartet. He went to the USA and appeared in vaudeville, burlesque, and minstrel shows. After further vocal studies with Zuro in New York, he returned to Vienna in 1920.

In 1922 Emanuel List made his operatic debut as Charles Gounod's Méphistophélès at the Volksoper. He then sang at Berlin's Städtische Oper (1923-1925) and State Opera (1924-1933), London's Covent Garden (1925; 1934-1936), the Salzburg Festivals (1931-1935), and the Bayreuth Festival (1933). List made his Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in December 1933, as Hermann in Tannhäuser. While remaining on its roster until 1948 [16 seasons (1933-1948, 1949-1950), 449 performances, 17 roles, 16 works), he also appeared in San Francisco and Chicago (1935-1937) and gave lieder recitals. He was again on the Metropolitan Opera's roster in 1949-1950. In 1952 he returned to Vienna.

Emanuel List was especially admired for the rich vocal resources he brought to such roles as Osmin, the Commendatore, Sarastro, Rocco, King Marke, Hagen, Pogner, Hunding, and Baron Ochs.

The fine bass singer, Karl Ridderbusch (1932-1997) , first wanted to become a engineer. He was discovered at a singing competition by Rudolf Schock, who partly financed his musical education. From 1955, he studied at the Duisburg Conservatory, then from 1957 to 1961 at the Folkwangschule, Essen, with Clemens Kaiser-Brehme.

Karl Ridderbusch

Karl Ridderbusch had his debut at Münster in 1961 (Philipp II., Commendatore, Mathis der Maler). From 1963 to 1965, he was a member of the Essen ensemble. During this three-year engagement he began to add the great Wagner, Strauss and Verdi roles to his repertoire. In 1965 he joined the prestigious Deutsche Opera am Rhein Düsseldorf-Duisburg (Sparafucile, Boris Godunow, Hunding). In 1967, he debuted at Bayreuth, which was the beginning of an international career. Until 1975, when he departed in anger from Bayreuth, he had sung Heinrich der Vogeler, Fasolt, Fafner, Hagen, Pogner, Hans Sachs, Hunding, Daland, Titurel, Koenig Marke. Other roles included Ochs auf Lerchenau, Monteverdi's Seneca, Donizetti's Henry VIII., Verdi's and Nicolai's Falstaff, Flotow's Plumkett, Cornelius's Barbier von Bagdad, Cardinal Madruscht in Palestrina, and numerous oratorio parts (Bach, Bruckner). He was a regular guest at the great opera houses of the world: La Scala (debut 1966), Metropolitan Opera (1967), Vienna State Opera (1968, Kammersänger 1978), Royal Opera House Covent Garden (1971), Paris (1967), Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Salzburg Osterfestspiele (1968).

Karl Ridderbusch possessed a voice of rich colour, which, allied with his rock solid technique spanning a full 2 octaves, made him a formidable singer. In the opera house, his voice easily sliced through the thickest orchestra, with a diamond like brilliance to the tone, yet he always maintained an almost bel-canto tone, even at extremes of volume. This made his success in parts like Hans Sachs, The Flying Dutchman and Boris almost a foregone conclusion when he finally added them to his repertoire. He was a powerfully built man, and his impact on the stage in the great Wagner roles was almost as impressive as his voice. His other roles included Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier, Hunding in Die Walküre, and Hagen in Die Götterdämmerung.

Karl Ridderbusch died of severe heart condition and liver disorder at the age of 65 in June 1997, after his wife had taken him back to his home from an Austrian hospital the day before.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Ryan McKinny as Escamillo in Berlin

Ryan McKinny, the winner of the Birgit Nilsson Prize for 2010, sings "Die Frist ist um" at La Scala in 2010. The Dutchman has been condemned to sail the seas forever with his only respite coming every seven years. The seven years have at last passed again and the Dutchman is to go on land again. The only thing he truly wants, though, is death but he is not allowed to die.

McKinny is showing off his formidable vocal skills as Escamillo in Bizet's "Carmen" from June 25-30 at eh Dresden Semperoper. Click HERE for tickets and performance details.

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Wolf-Ferrari at Wolf Trap

Ryan Kuster & Kenneth Kellogg
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's seldom performed opera "Le donne curiose" (The Curious Women) is currently being performed at the Barn at Wolf Trap with two talented young barihunks, Ryan Kuster and Kenneth Kellogg.  Wolf-Ferrari was a turn-of-the-20th-century composer whose heart remained with 19th-century romantics. “The Curious Women,” premiered in 1903 and has not been performed in the United States since its debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1912.

The Curious Women at Wolf Trap
There is one performance remaining on June 25 at 7 PM. Click HERE for ticket and additional cast information. 

Here is some rehearsal footage from this production:

Perhaps the best known piece from the opera is the overture, which is conducted by the great Arturo Toscanini in this performance:

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Don Giovanni back in Berlin

The amazing production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" directed by Roland Schwab at the Deutsche Oper Berlin is back for three performances on June 22, 26 & 29. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is back in the title role, but David Bizic is replacing Alex Esposito, the reigning Leporello in the world. The Masetto is the polish barihunk Krzystof Szumanski, who also appeared naked as an apparition in Macbeth. A reader send us this photo, which is allegedly Szumanski.

Krzystof Szumanski nude?

 Here is Ildebrando D'Arcangelo talking about singing Mozart from an RAI 3 radio broadcast:

Here are a few other photos from the Berlin production taken by Marcus Lieberenz.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Is that a Magic Flute in your pocket?

The La Scala cast of Magic Flute; Alex Esposito
We recently featured a post about all of the Mozart on Alex Esposito's schedule. We've posted often about his definitive Leporello, but we've never featured a video of his Papageno. Fortunately, it was recorded by RAI 5 from La Scala during its recent run in April 2011.  Esposito's Papagena is Ailish Tynan.

Günther Groissböck
The cast also included barihunk Günther Groissböck as Sarastro. Here he is singing "In diesen heil'gen Hallen." You won't want to miss hearing his beautiful rolling bass. The Austrian bass is currently singing the role at the Vienna State Opera with the Papageno of fellow barihunk Markus Werba.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More Barihunks at Boston Early Music Festival

Douglas Williams
An astute reader and attendee of the Boston Early Music Festival pointed out to us that Jesse Blumberg isn't the only barihunk performing at the festival. Douglas Williams, who has also appeared on this site before, is singing Polyphemus in Handel's "Acis and Galatea."

Michael Kelley
Also appearing in the cast is Michael Kelly as Coridon. If you've needed an excuse to experience baroque opera, what more do you need than Jesse Blumberg, Douglas Williams and Michael Kelly? There are performances on June 18, 26 and 27. Click HERE for additional cast and performance information. 

Click HERE to watch Michael Kelly perform Schubert's Winterreise. 


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Jesse Blumberg in North American Premiere at Boston Early Music Festival

Jesse Blumerg & Amanda Forsythe

While we're on the subject of our favorite singers, we should mention that Jesse Blumberg is appearing as Polifierno in the first fully staged performance of Agostino Steffani’s opera, Niobe, Regina di Tebe  in North America. The opera recounts a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses about the Queen of Thebes whose pride earns her family the vengeance of the gods.

Blumberg joins an amazing cast that includes the soprano Amanda Forsythe as Niobe and the brilliant countertenors Philippe Jaroussky as Anfione and Matthew White as Creonte.

Jesse Blumberg rehearsing Polifierno
There are still five performances remaining in Boston and Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Click HERE for additional cast and performance information. If you're within a 100 miles of Boston, you should make sure to catch this performance.

Our favorite picture of Jesse Blumberg
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Phillip Sly Talks About His Operatic Journey

Sly as Collatinus (top); bottom photo by Adam Scotti
We've been touting the amazing talent of Phillipe Sly even before he won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. He was recently interviewed in La Scena Musicale where he talked about his operatic journey from childhood to the Met Auditions. Click HERE to read the interview.

Here he is performing the first seven songs of Schumann's "Dichterliebe."

Contact us at We are always accepting reader submissions for new "talent." Please keep in mind that we don't post everyone who is submitted. If your submission has not appeared, please do not keep submitting them. We greatly appreciate all of the amazing singers who readers have exposed us to and allowed us to share with the world.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A "Rape of Lucretia" Photo Tribute

Heather Jewson & David Krohn in Aspen
Perhaps only Mozart's "Don Giovanni" has provided more material for Barihunks than Benjamin Britten's "Rape of Lucretia." The opera contains three roles that are often cast with barihunks - Junius, Collatinus and Tarquinius. Because the opera revolves around young soldiers it is usually cast with young, buff singers. Rather than bore readers with a lot of text, here is a photo tribute to one of the sexiest operas in the repertory.

Nathan Gunn in Vienna
Dan Kempson in Pittsburgh
The Rape of Lucretia revolves around a bet made between three Roman officers, Collatinus, Junius, and Prince Tarquinius, while they are at war with Greece. The three men bet on which of their wives will be faithful. As it turns out, only Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus remains true to her man. In a jealous rage, Prince Tarquinius rides back to Rome and rapes Lucretia. Overcome by shame, Lucretia commits suicide.

Robyn Rocklein & Seth Kershinik at Arizona Opera Theater

Benjamin Britten (November 22, 1913 – December 4, 1976) composed The Rape of Lucretia, a two-act English tragic drama based on the play "Le Viol de Lucrèce" by André Obey. The opera was premiered at Glyndebourne on July 12, 1946. The setting is in Rome in 500 BC.

Phillip Addis in Victoria; Colin Clarke at ENO

Grant Doyle at ROH; Kiera Duffy & Philip Cutlip in Toledo

Christopher Maltman sings "Within this frail crucible of light," where Tarquinius pauses to collect his courage before doing the dreadful deed.

Matt Worth in Berkeley

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Introducing Omar Montanari

Omar Montanari (Top Photo by Luca Nicosanti)
-->Italian baritone Omar was born in Riccione, Italy and studied at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro. He was the winner of the 59th Concorso Europeo per Giovani Cantanti Lirici “A. Belli” in Spoleto and made his professional debut as Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in Pesaro in 2000.

He has performed numerous role in Rossini operas including Trombonok and Don Alvaro in Il Viaggio a Reims, Don Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Dandini in La Cenerentola and Haly and Taddeo in Italiana in Algeri, Don Pomponio in La Gazzetta and Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory.

He is currently performing in Mercadante's I due Figaro at the Ravenna Festival directed by Emilio Sagi. In September, he returns to Rossini in Fenice where he takes on Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia.

[Duet starts at 2:16]

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Keenlyside's Macbeth in Theaters Worldwide on Monday, June 13th

Keenlyside as Macbeth

Phyllida Lloyd’s production of Verdi's Macbeth from the Royal Opera House is being broadcast in movie theaters worldwide on Monday, June 13th. Click HERE for performance times in your area. The production uses Verdi’s 1865 revision, especially noted for Lady Macbeth’s great aria ‘La luce langue’ and the wonderful Act IV opening chorus, and brings out the dark motivations of the Macbeths and the light of justice for those they wrong.

Simon Keenlyside and Liudmyla Monastryrska play the Scottish nobleman and his villainously ambitious wife, who spurs her husband to murder for the sake of his career, and American bass-baritone Raymond Aceto takes the role of Banquo, murder victim and symbol of conscience.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Celebrating Cole Porter

Cole Porter at Yale

The great Cole Porter was born 120 years ago today and we figured he's as worthy of a tribute as yesterday's composer, Robert Schumann. We can't think of a better baritone to celebrate with than Thomas Hampson, who has championed Porter's music and recorded an album of his songs entitled, "Night and Day." Here is what Hampson had to say about Porter in an interview:

Thomas Hampson's "Night and Day"
Robert Hilferty: What’s the distinction between American art song and the songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern?

Hampson: These are concert songs, in which a poem is set to music versus a lyric. There is no reason to make a qualitative difference. A song by Samuel Barber is no better than a song by Cole Porter or George Gershwin. They have different thrusts. But what they have together, however, is storytelling.

Cole Porter was an American composer and songwriter. His works include the musical comedies Kiss Me, Kate, Fifty Million Frenchmen, DuBarry Was a Lady and Anything Goes, as well as songs like "Night and Day," "I Get a Kick out of You," "Well, Did You Evah!" and "I've Got You Under My Skin". He was noted for his sophisticated bawdy lyrics, clever rhymes, and complex forms. He was one of the greatest contributors to the Great American Songbook. Cole Porter is one of the few Tin Pan Alley composers to have written both lyrics and music for his songs.

Just for fun, here is the great John Barrowman performing "Anything Goes," followed by Frank Sinatra singing "I've Got You Under My Skin."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Celebrating Robert Schumann's Birthday with Gérard Souzay

Gerard Souzay
Gérard Souzay is one of our favorite historical hunks, so it seemed fitting that we celebrate the 201st birthday of Robert Schumann with his Dichterliebe. The song cycle, which roughly translates as "The Poet's Love," was written in 1840 and is based on the great poetry of Heinrich Heine. The very natural, almost hyper-sensitive poetical affections of the poems are beautifully mirrored in Schumann's settings, with their miniaturist chromaticism and suspensions. The poet's love is a hothouse of nuanced responses to the delicate language of flowers, dreams and fairy-tales. Schumann adapts the words of the poems to his needs for the songs, sometimes repeating phrases and often rewording a line to supply the desired cadence. 

1. Im wunderschönen Monat Mai (Heine, Lyrical Intermezzo no 1). (In beautiful May, when the buds sprang, love sprang up in my heart: in beautiful May, when the birds all sang, I told you my suffering and longing.) 

2. Aus meinen Tränen sprießen (Heine no 2). (Many flowers spring up from my tears, and a nightingale choir from my sighs: If you love me, I'll pick them all for you, and the nightingale will sing at your window.) 

3. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne (Heine no 3). (I used to love the rose, lily, dove and sun, joyfully: now I love only the little, the fine, the pure, the One: you yourself are the source of them all.) 

4. Wenn ich in deine Augen seh (Heine no 4). (When I look in your eyes all my pain and woe fades: when I kiss your mouth I become whole: when I recline on your breast I am filled with heavenly joy: and when you say, 'I love you', I weep bitterly.) 

5. Ich will meine Seele tauchen (Heine no 7). (I want to bathe my soul in the chalice of the lily, and the lily, ringing, will breathe a song of my beloved. The song will tremble and quiver, like the kiss of her mouth which in a wondrous moment she gave me.) 

6. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome (Heine no 11). (In the Rhine, in the sacred stream, great holy Cologne with its great cathedral is reflected. In it there is a face painted on golden leather, which has shone into the confusion of my life. Flowers and cherubs float about Our Lady: the eyes, lips and cheeks are just like those of my beloved.) 

7. Ich grolle nicht (Heine no 18). (I do not chide you, though my heart breaks, love ever lost to me! Though you shine in a field of diamonds, no ray falls into your heart's darkness. I have long known it: I saw the night in your heart, I saw the serpent that devours it: I saw, my love, how empty you are.)


8. Und wüßten's die Blumen, die kleinen (Heine no 22). (If the little flowers only knew how deeply my heart is wounded, they would weep with me to heal my suffering, and the nightingales would sing to cheer me, and even the starlets would drop from the sky to speak consolation to me: but they can't know, for only One knows, and it is she that has torn my heart asunder.) 
9. Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen (Heine no 20). (There is a playing of flutes and violins and trumpets, for they are dancing the wedding-dance of my best-beloved. There is a thunder and booming of kettle-drums and shawms. In between, you can hear the good cupids sobbing and moaning.) 
10. Hör' ich das Liedchen klingen (Heine no 40). (When I hear that song which my love once sang, my breast bursts with wild affliction. Dark longing drives me to the forest hills, where my too-great woe pours out in tears.) 
11. Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen (Heine no 39). (A youth loved a maiden who chose another: the other loved another girl, and married her. The maiden married, from spite, the first and best man that she met with: the youth was sickened at it. It's the old story, and it's always new: and the one whom she turns aside, she breaks his heart in two.) 
12. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen (Heine no 45). (On a sunny summer morning I went out into the garden: the flowers were talking and whispering, but I was silent. They looked at me with pity, and said, 'Don't be cruel to our sister, you sad, death-pale man.')13.
13. Ich hab' im Traum geweinet (Heine no 55). (I wept in my dream, for I dreamt you were in your grave: I woke, and tears ran down my cheeks. I wept in my dreams, thinking you had abandoned me: I woke, and cried long and bitterly. I wept in my dream, dreaming you were still good to me: I woke, and even then my floods of tears poured forth.)


14. Allnächtlich im Traume (Heine no 56). (I see you every night in dreams, and see you greet me friendly, and crying out loudly I throw myself at your sweet feet. You look at me sorrowfully and shake your fair head: from your eyes trickle the pearly tear-drops. You say a gentle word to me and give me a sprig of cypress: I awake, and there is no sprig, and I have forgotten what the word was.) 

15. Aus alten Märchen winkt es (Heine no 43). (The old fairy tales tell of a magic land where great flowers shine in the golden evening light, where trees speak and sing like a choir, and springs make music to dance to, and songs of love are sung such as you have never heard, till wondrous sweet longing infatuates you! Oh, could I only go there, and free my heart, and let go of all pain, and be blessed! Ah! I often see that land of joys in dreams: then comes the morning sun, and it vanishes like smoke.) 

16. Die alten, bösen Lieder (Heine no 65). (The old bad songs, and the angry, bitter dreams, let us now bury them, bring a large coffin. I shall put very much therein, I shall not yet say what: the coffin must be bigger than the 'Tun' at Heidelberg. And bring a bier of stout, thick planks, they must be longer than the Bridge at Mainz. And bring me too twelve giants, who must be mightier than the Saint Christopher in the cathedral at Cologne. They must carry the coffin and throw it in the sea, because a coffin that large needs a large grave to put it in. Do you know why the coffin must be so big and heavy? I will also put my love and my suffering into it).

As a bonus, here is Souzay singing Widmung. In "Widmung," Schumann confessed all of the things his beloved Clara Wieck (Schumann) was to him; his peace, angel, repose, rapture, heart, soul, grave for sorrows, better self and his heaven. In this carefully balanced arrangement of text and music, he revealed the depth of his engagement as a poet-musician. This spirited song contains a few devices which reappeared in his later works, including sweeping keyboard passages and the haunting enharmonic progression (A flat major to E flat major) to the central section. He altered the text by repeating the final verse, and these last measures contain a thoughtful instrumental effect, which eclipses the text and introduces a new motif.

Also, make sure that you check out our recent post of Austrian barihunk Markus Werba singing Schumann's "Faust."

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