Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Barihunk Baroque: Pisaroni's Rinaldo from the BBC Proms

Luca Pisaroni after a recent performance of Rinaldo

We have three clips of Luca Pisaroni singing selections from Handel's "Rinaldo," which was broadcast live on the BBC on August 25, 2011.

Luca Pisaroni sings the thrilling Act 1 aria "Sibillar gli angui d'Aletto"from Handel's Rinaldo:


Luca Pisaroni sings the Act 2 aria "Basta che sol tu chieda" from Handel's Rinaldo:

Luca Pisaroni and Brenda Rae sing the Act 3 duet "Al trionfo del nostro furore" 

Also, don't forget that for the next two weeks we'll be taking submissions for our first-ever charity Barihunks calendar. Send High Res photos and bio to

New Yorkers are gearing up for Pisaroni's return as Leporello in the Met's "Don Giovanni" with fellow barihunks Mariusz Kwiecien as the Don and Joshua Bloom as Masetto. Here is Kwiecien singing the Champagne Aria at the Met in 2009. Click HERE for tickets and additional cast and performance information.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

James Morris reveals John Claggart's Religion

James Morris reveals John Claggart's Religion

The blog Superconductor recently posted about Billy Budd in anticipation of the upcoming run at the Metropolitan Opera. They posted this picture of James Morris, which was revealing enough to even make us blush.

Also, don't forget that for the next two weeks we'll be taking submissions for our first-ever charity Barihunks calendar. Send High Res photos and bio to

Mariusz Kwiecien Bringing "King Roger" to U.S.

Kwiecien as Don Giovanni in Krakow
For fans of Mariusz Kwiecien in the United States who have been eager to see him perform something outside of the Italian repertory, you're in luck. The Santa Fe Opera will present the Polish barihunk in Karol Szymanowski's masterpiece "King Roger" next season. We'll have plenty of coverage before next summer. The entire opera with Kwiecien is available on YouTube. You can start the series right here on Barihunks by clicking HERE.

Also, don't forget that for the next two weeks we'll be taking submissions for our first-ever charity Barihunks calendar. Send High Res photos and bio to

Monday, August 29, 2011

OperaUpClose's Delightful "Don Giovanni"

Marc Callahan
The opera world continues to complain about its inability to attract young people to opera. Perhaps they should look to London's OperaUpClose who continue to produce innovative performances that are popular with younger audiences. We covered their successful "La Boheme" and now they're back with a truncated, English language version of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" written by director Robin Norton-Hale.
Marc Callahan, Anthony Flaum and Fleur Bray in Don Giovanni at Soho Theatre, London
Marc Callahan, Anthony Flaum and Fleur Bray in Don Giovanni at Soho Theatre, London (Photo: Simon Kane)
Tom Stoddart

Don Giovanni is re-cast as Johnny, a thrill-seeking, pre-credit crunch banker with Leporello (now Alexander) as his intern. Fair warning, this production is not for purists, but should be enjoyed by those who are willing to be more adventuresome in their interpretation of Mozart. The production includes electronic additions to the score, major scene cuts and video projections.

Click HERE for tickets and performance information.

Don Giovanni Rehearsal Trailer from Soho Theatre on Vimeo.

Here is Marc Callahan peforming Balfe's "The Bohemian Girl":

Also, don't forget that for the next two weeks we'll be taking submissions for our first-ever charity Barihunks calendar. Send High Res photos and bio to

"South Pacific" Heads to the South Pacific

Teddy Tahu Rhodes to perform Emile de Becque

The Bartlett Sher-directed production of Broadway's "South Pacific," which won seven Tony Awards in 2008 and played to sold-out housed for two years is heading to the South Pacific. The successful show, which catapulted barihunk Paulo Szot to international prominence, will feature New Zealand barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Emile de Becque in the "down under" run.

The production will open in Sydney for a four week run on August 11, 2012 and then head on a nationwide tour of Australia.

Paulo Szot sings the classic "Some Enchanted Evening":

Also, don't forget that for the next two weeks we'll be taking submissions for our first-ever charity Barihunks calendar. Send High Res photos and bio to

Samuel Ramey on Sesame Street: The Letter "L"

Samuel Ramey on Sesame Street

We want to thank the Dallas Opera for posting this wonderful video of Samuel Ramey on Facebook. He teaches kids about the letter "L" by singing a revised version of the Torreador Song. The episode originally aired on January 17, 1996. Next year, Samuel Ramey will be celebrating his 70th birthday!

Make sure to check out the 2011-12 Dallas Opera season, which includes Wagner's "Tristan & Isolde," Verdi's "La Traviata," Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," Mozart's "The Magic Flute" and Peter Maxwell Davies' "The Lighthouse."

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mariusz Kwiecien is September's "Opera News" Cover Boy: Angel and Devil

Portrait photographed at Hotel Stary, Kraków, by Johannes Ifkovits
Grooming by Evelyn Rillé / shirt by Hugo Boss
© Johannes Ifkovits 2011
Mariusz Kwiecien has sung Mozart's Don Giovanni many times — but never the same way twice. The baritone now looks forward to taking on the role at the Met this season in a new staging by Michael Grandage. How does he plan to seduce his audience? WILLIAM R. BRAUN reports for Opera News.
[Reprinted from Opera News.  Click HERE to subscribe]

"I was always dreaming as a child that I would be the prince," says Mariusz Kwiecien. At the moment, he looks more like the most popular graduate student in the opera workshop. It's the start of the Memorial Day weekend, and suddenly, after the award-winning Worst Winter Ever, New York is broiling. Kwiecien is wearing a polo shirt and khaki shorts and carrying a shopping bag from the Juilliard bookstore. His hair, formerly longish and curly, is in a summer-weight buzz cut. But he's about to get a high-profile chance at nobility. In an unusual vote of confidence in a singer not yet forty, the Met has cast him in the title role of a new Don Giovanni, opening next month under the direction of Michael Grandage.

Kwiecien has never met Grandage or seen any of the director's stage work. Grandage is a relative opera novice, known primarily for his work as artistic director of London's Donmar Warehouse and for his staging of the Broadway and West End hit Frost/Nixon. But Kwiecien isn't worried. For one thing, he doesn't believe that the great role needs to be played in any one particular way. "This year it's ten years since I sang my first Don Giovanni. I'm open for everything. I've done it in many ways. Sometimes I'm just a stupid seducer, just for my ego, sometimes I was playing a person who cannot really seduce and is trying to do it just to prove that there is still some heat coming from inside, but it isn't actually. And then I've done it in ridiculous productions where I was almost a Jesus Christ, or where I had a crown on my head, or where I was raping old women onstage. Many, many things. So I just  have to know why from the director — why the director decided to do Don Giovanni, what he wants to say, where is the start and the end of my person, why do I die, why do I seduce people. I am not a person who wants to disappear onstage. I am coming in front of the public to exist, to give them some kind of motto, some text — I am telling you that I am this."

Marcello in La Bohème at the Met, 2008
© Beatriz Schiller 2011

Thomas Allen, the much-admired Don Giovanni of an earlier generation, recently told OPERA NEWSthat he missed "a devil" in the younger generation of singers who take the role. Asked if he agrees, Kwiecien becomes highly animated. "Yes. But we have to always remember that Giovanni doesn't have the greatest music in the opera — but he has the most challenging character. We have to give not only lots of devil, we need also some angel. I don't think that if any woman would meet on the street a man without this soft, sugar-ish thing — not necessarily a devil, but you can call it a devil, because it is also a seduction — no woman would go with that man after two minutes, and Don Giovanni wouldn't succeed. So it has to be that he has such an intelligent brain, being a man with huge experience, not only sexual experience but psychological experience, that he's using what nature gave him, his colors. I miss not only devil, I miss colors in Don Giovanni. I miss when a man comes in front of a woman that he should make her happy and satisfied. One woman wants to be adored, another wants to be treated rougher, one wants to be treated like another guy, and he has to know immediately.

"It's always incredible that we have such different casts, different ladies, different girls, and with every one in rehearsal I always try to find what does she like, what is she like, what is her ideal man like. When I have one Zerlina, I like to sing to her with the sweetest voice I can. When I have a Zerlina who is not a soprano but a mezzo-soprano, and she is more seductive and earthy, I do it a little bit like a gangster. When I have a very strong woman I try to be on top of her, because strong women usually have soft men as husbands and lovers. So that is what I'm looking for, those colors. So I agree with Thomas Allen about this devil, danger — it has to be dangerous, but it has to be also sweet and honey-like. And this too I miss in many Don Giovanni productions and interpretations of baritones. 

"I try to give this when I sing 'Deh, vieni alla finestra.' This should be absolutely unreal, it should be angelic, it should be like a song, like the last piece of light that comes from my soul, which is otherwise so dark. It should be like this one piece of straight white coming to the woman, or to God or heaven." Kwiecien has raised one of his hands over his head, index finger outstretched; the other is on his heart, and his head is cocked to one side. It's as if he had been asked to do a puppet version of the final scene from Faust

Many singers who perform a lot of Wagner or a lot of Puccini lament that they really want to be asked to do other things, but many singers who are primarily cast in Mozart or in Verdi are quite happy to stay where they are, refining the great roles over and over. Kwiecien, it is clear, finds it rewarding to sing so much Mozart. Although when he sang his first opera, Le Nozze di Figaro, he was Figaro, "I already thought, 'Okay, I'm singing Figaro, but the Count is where I want to be.' And when I did my first Count, it was just, 'Okay, that's my home.' I think this is my most successful role." Most young baritones loathe singing Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte and can't wait to move on. Asked if he minds Guglielmo, Kwiecien blurts, "I hate it!" But then, quickly, he rolls his eyes. "Well, I hated it. Not because of the music — the music is lovely — but the character is not interesting. Or it wasn't for me." 

But last summer, asked to stage the piece and sing Guglielmo for Italy's Reate Festival, he agreed. "I thought, this is like with Don Giovanni. When I was younger, when I did my first Giovanni, I thought Don Giovanni had to be a young man, full of passion, full of sex appeal, strong. In the same way I was talking about Guglielmo, 'Oh, he's stupid, he's naïve.' Well, I changed my mind about both of those characters. I try to play Giovanni now in a different way, not only as a volcano of sex. And when I was young, I was some kind of Guglielmo myself in talking about Don Giovanni, and now I will try to find in Guglielmo more of an Italian character, not judging him because of his simple way of thinking."

Kwiecien freely describes his growth as an actor, tracing his history with Lucia di Lammermoor. "When I sang Enrico for the first time, it was in Brazil, with June Anderson, and I did some bad singing. When I was twenty-something I thought that when I play a cruel brother I just have to beat her and shout at her. Then when I did it at the Met, the first run was with Natalie Dessay. She is a great actress, she is fantastic, but I didn't feel well, I had some health problems. But later, with Anna Netrebko, I felt better, and Anna is a man-eater, woman-eater, music-eater — she is an everything-eater. And I did it with a completely different point of view. I think it is normal to grow up, and you realize that sometimes a whisper can be stronger than a shout." 

Indeed, the most notable aspect of Kwiecien's performances now is the variety of his responses to the others onstage. This was apparent in 2008, when Susanna Phillips played opposite him as Countess to his Count in Santa Fe and, a few months later, as Musetta to his Marcello in a Met revival of La Bohème. She was not a natural stage presence (and the latter occasion was her high-pressure Met debut), but Kwiecien's unwavering focus on her in each situation was like a life preserver. He is the rare singer who leaves a primary impression of what he was able to pull out of the other members of the cast.

If Kwiecien is now in a position to be the anchor for a new Met production, and be confident about it, his new stature is more than merely the next step in his career path. It is clear that his maturity and his command of a role come from one specific event, a subject to which he returns repeatedly in conversation. When Kwiecien sang in a Krysztof Warlikowski production of Szymanowski's King Roger at the Opéra Bastille in Paris, he had to come to terms with both a demanding title role and a frightening rehearsal process. The result, he says, was "the first time in my life I really felt so unified with a role." The production opened in June 2009, but when he speaks about it he seems to have been performing it an hour ago. "Warlikow­ski is a director who doesn't really tell you what you have to do onstage. He trusts you. But for two weeks we had only conversation, not even one note sung onstage. And we'd been tired of talking and talking, and finally we said, 'Listen, let's do something. Let's try it.' And we tried, and he still didn't say 'good' or 'bad,' he was always just controlling our emotions and saying, 'Think about this, or about that,' and finally we discovered, maybe three days before opening night, very late, at the last moment — under huge pressure and nervousness inside, because we were not sure what we were doing onstage — what he wants from us. And then finally in the last days before opening night we'd been able to create a piece of art, basically made by all of us."

The rehearsal process was harrowing — Kwiecien became ill for a time — but he is now on a crusade for this opera. "For the first time, I felt really that I am an artist creating something special onstage, and after the whole run, I needed a week to come down, because my energy inside me was vibrating so high." The Warlikowski production was revived last spring in Madrid, and in 2012, Kwiecien will sing King Roger in a new Stephen Wadsworth production at Santa Fe — "my favorite festival in the world and one of my favorite places in the world." He loves the opera for the same reason he keeps singing Don Giovanni:there are so many ways of doing it. "The libretto gives the chance to me as a singer, and to the stage director, to create something very unusual. Because the libretto — well, it's very hard to say what it's about. You can play it as an erotic, sexual piece. You can play it as a very religious piece, because it treats the subject of God. But this God can be who knows what — can be everything, basically. And then it can be a simple piece about society and a period in Sicily, in Palermo in the twelfth century. It uses history and things which really happened, so you can play it as a historical piece."

King Roger at the Bastille in Paris, 2009, with Olga Pasichnyk (Roxana)
© Ruth Walz/Opéra National de Paris 2011

When asked if there are other Polish figures he would like to play in an opera, Kwiecien steers the conversation in another direction. "That is a very American thing, to have heroes and be proud of your country. Of course I love my people and my country. But when I was born, my country was really a prison for all of the Polish people. We were not very happy with Communism in our country. When I was young, I was watching these movies where you have noble people with their gestures, how noble people sit on the chair with the full body, how they belong, how they look, how they move their heads. I wanted to use it somewhere. I remember my mother told me about when I performed a Polish piece, Balladine, in school. I was maybe eight or nine. I was playing the prince. My mother told me, 'When I watched you, I was ashamed — I thought how is it possible that this boy sits, moves like somebody who had a year of lessons in movements of the period?'" Kwiecien's English is rapid-fire, comprehensive and idiomatic, but did he really mean to say that his mother was ashamed? "Yes! Because at that time under Communism everybody had to be the same, everything was grey. Everybody was earning the same amount of money, nobody was rich, nobody was poor — everybody was poor, actually. And if you see that some child is different, singing, speaking poetry, acting in that way, a mother feels like, 'Oh my god, what to do with this — is this okay? Is this wrong?' In America if you have a child, three years old, singing 'I Will Always Love You' like Whitney Houston, mothers say, 'It's brilliant, it's great!' because you want it and you have it around you." 

Later, a high-school teacher gave Kwiecien a vocal solo, "enough to feel the nervousness, the stress which comes from being in front of the public, but I liked it. It paralyzed me somehow, but it was a seductive feeling." Friends encouraged him to enroll at Kraków's Academy of Music, where he won a prize in lieder. But when he heard the winner of the opera prize, Daniel Borowski, Kwiecien decided, "When you sound like that, when it brings and gives this kind of excitement, this kind of colors and power in the voice, I'll try to do opera." With Guglielmo's logic of youth, he decided that he needed Borowski's teacher, and after three years of vocal study in Warsaw, his career was launched.

The Juilliard shopping bag, it turns out, offers a glimpse of the next stage of his career. It contains a brand-new score for Verdi's Don Carlo. Kwiecien will be singing his first Posa in Munich in January. Asked how he will go about learning the role, he cheerfully runs down his plan. "I'll learn the text and the music. I play a little bit of piano, but usually I have my flute, that's how I learn everything. And during this trip to Madrid I went to El Escorial, just to see how it looked originally, just to feel the smell of mold in this castle. I went to the cathedral, which was spectacular, amazing. The icons — you see this beauty just attacking you almost. And the simplicity. I just needed to feel it, to be in the role. And of course I have to read a bit of history. Then I try to do — not much more. I try not to do too much with coaches or dig on the Internet too much, because every story which is used for an opera is half history and half fiction, and this half fiction gives us a chance to create something."

Not that he is a stranger to the Internet. Kwiecien is scheduled to fly to Tokyo in two days for a Met tour, but he volunteers that he spent the morning blogging about The X Factor, a British televised singing contest. "I tried to write something — anonymously, of course, because it works like that. I wrote information. Obviously I'm long enough in this business that I can say that somebody makes mistakes, or somebody is good or bad, or that singing should be a certain way technically. And I got such terrible reactions from the other bloggers. People actually said that I am an idiot and I have no clue what I am talking about." We agree that he may sing new productions at the Met, but of course, every single person on the Internet is also an expert. "And I said never again, that's enough. Mariusz Kwiecien is done as a blogger for sure." spacer 

WILLIAM R. BRAUN is a pianist and writer based in Connecticut.

"Hurricane Irene" Forces NY Cancellations

Hurricane Irene from space
Hurricane Irene is blowing more wind than a Wagnerian soprano at the end of the Ring Cycle and she's wreaking havoc up and down the eastern seaboard. A number of performances have been canceled because of the storm, including all of today's performances on Broadway. The Metropolitan Opera has delayed the start of its Summer HD Festival. The two opera screenings scheduled for Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28 have been canceled. The festival will open on Monday, August 30 at 8:30 p.m. with Gluck's "Iphigenie en Tauride," which had been scheduled to start at 8 p.m. that evening. The festival runs through Sept. 5.

The closing night of the Mostly Mozart Festival at Avery Fisher Hall, scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, has also been canceled.

We can't think of many operas that have natural disasters in the plot other than Catalani's "La Wally," where the heroine dies in an avalanche. Unfortunately, the well-known arias are for soprano and tenor. The closest we could come was John Adams' masterpiece "Doctor Atomic" where there is a nuclear explosion. Here is Gerald Finley singing the great baritone aria "Batter my heart" from the end of Act I:

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Miscellaenous Barihunk News

Usually when we're covering anything in Ft. Worth it involves our beloved Ft. Worth Opera. But tonight the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra is opening their season with American barihunk Jonathan Beyer singing selections from Aaron Copland's "Old American Songs." If you're in the area, you won't want to miss Beyer, who is establishing a reputation as a leading interpreter of American music. Click HERE for concert and ticket information.

Andrew Garland & Liam Moran
The Annapolis Opera will be featuring two barihunks in their first-ever production of Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet." Andrew Garland will sing his first ever Mercutio and Liam Moran will be featured as Friar Lawrence. In the tenor role of Romeo is the equally adorable and talented Eric Margiore. There will be two performance on May 18 and 20 of next year. Click HERE for tickets and additional cast information.

Nathan Gunn
On August 31, barihunk Nathan Gunn will be teaming up with Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin at the Ravinia Festival for an evening of music from Broadway, opera, Americana, Yiddish and rock selections. Rumor has it that one of them will even appear in a bathtub. Click HERE for tickets.

Lastly, here is British barihunk Christopher Maltman talking about his recent live recording sessions of Schubert at Wigmore Hall and a clip of him at the 1997 "Cardiff Singer of the World" competition performing Schubert's "Ständchen." We think he's gotten sexier since his standout performance 14  years ago.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dan Richardson: The Forgotten Barihunk?

Dan Richardson
Sometimes barihunks inadvertently sneak past us even when they're right in our face. In November 2010, we posted about Gabriel Preisser and made a brief mention of Dan Richardson. A reader suggested that he should be featured on Barihunks and we concurred, but for no apparent reason we never did.

Here he is again with the gifted young barihunk Gabriel Preisser singing the famous duet from Bellini's "I Puritani." [Originally posted November 2010]

The Iowa-native recently joined the young artist program at the Florentine Opera Studio [Note to Florentine Opera Studio: You should list the names of your participants].

This past spring, he made his main stage debut with Opera Omaha as Prince Yamadori and the Imperial Commissioner in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Other recent roles include Méphistophélès in Faust with Opera Lousiane, Antonio and Figaro (cover) in Le nozze di Figaro with the Des Moines Metro Opera, and Angelotti in Tosca with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. He has also performed with the Sarasota Opera, Chamber Opera Chicago, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he performed the role of Don Bartolo for their “Opera in the Neighborhoods” production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

An excerpt of Dan Richardson singing "Il rival salvar tu dei" from Bellini's "I Puritani":

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David Krohn's Cameo on ABC Nightly News

David Krohn's latest debut: ABC Nightly News
Barihunk David Krohn made an unexpected appearance on ABC Nightly News when the earthquake hit Washington D.C. Krohn, who was at Union Station was stopped by ABC News' own hunk, David Muir, and asked to offer comment. Krohn appears at about 1:31 of the clip.

If you want to see the sexy singer for more than a few singers, you can see him as Dandini in Rossini's "La Cenerentola" with the Baltimore Concert Opera on December 2 & 4. Click HERE for ticket and performance information.

One question: Any chance that David Muir is a baritone?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jonathan Estabrooks' "A Singer's Life 201: Barihunks in Blacksburg"

Philip Kalmanovitch & Jonathan Estabrooks
Barihunk Jonathan Estabrooks is back with his second season of his vlog "A Singer's Life." We love the new season already since the first episode is called "Barihunks in Blacksburg." We love how fellow barihunk Philip Kalmanovitch corrects the vlogger when he gives the wrong url for Barihunks. Make sure to subscribe to the show on YouTube so you never miss an episode.

Estabrooks can next be seen as Silvio in Pagliacci with Opera Lyra in Ottawa opposite tenor Richard Leech and soprano Yannick-Muriel Noah. Performances run from September 10th through the 17th. Click HERE for tickets.

Kalmanovitch can next be seen as Antonio in Mozart's "Le nozze di Figaro" at the Opéra de Montréal from September 17-24 with fellow barihunk Phillip Addis as Count Almaviva. Click HERE for additional performance information and tickets.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

John Brancy Back from Germany; Appearing at Poquatuck Hall in N.Y.

John Brancy
American barihunk John Brancy just wrapped up a six week intensive training program at the Internationale Meistersinger Akademie in Neumarkt run by soprano Edith Wiens. The program offers emerging artists an opportunity to work with leading coaches and singers in developing their skills in opera, oratorio and Lied/Mélodie. European agents, promoters, opera directors and festival managers are invited to give seminars and to take part in roundtable discussions with the young artists, providing the networking and professional contacts important to the profession.

Brancy has appeared twice on this site, once upon his graduation from Julliard and more recently for a feature on the upcoming New York Festival of Song. We're big fans of this emerging talent and are eager to follow his career, which undoubtedly will be successful.

Brancy can next be seen on August 27th at Poquatuck Hall in Orient, New York with Steven Blier accompanying him in a program of classical art songs, duets, arias and American popular song. They will be joined by soprano Corinne Winters, mezzo-soprano Kara Sainz and Perlman Music Program Fellow Peter Dugan. Contact Jane Smith for reservations: 631-323-1378 or

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Watch the Complete Michael Kelly Recital

Michael Kelly
In December of last year barihunk Michael Kelly performed a recital with accompanist Jessica Chow at the Trinity Wall Street Church in New York. One of our readers alerted us that the entire recital is available on the church's website (and now on Barihunks). Don't miss a chance to watch this captivating and talented young singer!

Kelly has performed with Opernhaus Zurich, Chicago Opera Theatre, Gotham Chamber Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Tanglewood Music Center, and has performed in recital in New York, Houston, Chicago, Switzerland, Germany, France, and Corsica. He holds a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.

This evening, Kelly wrapped singing the role of Eric Satie's "Socrates" for the Mark Morris Dance Company at the Rose Theater as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival. You can read the New York Times review HERE. For those of you who missed this recital, he will be performing again at Merkin Hall in New York City on October 24. The 2011 winner of the "Joy In Singing Award," will perform works by Schubert, Poulenc, Vaughan Williams, and Bolcom, and introduce a new cycle written for him by Ben Moore. Jonathan Ware will accompany him at the piano. Click HERE for tickets.

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Leigh Melrose in Holocaust Opera

Leigh Melrose
British barihunk Leigh Melrose has never received the attention that he deserves on this site. We featured a video of him singing a selection from Britten's "Billy Budd" at the end of a feature on Alexander Tsymbalyuk. He certainly can't be ignored anymore, as Melrose has landed a key role at English National Opera in Mieczysław Weinberg’s 1968 opera The Passenger. 

The opera was banned in the Soviet Union and was first premiered last year at the Bregenz Festival. Weinberg, a Soviet composer of Jewish-Polish heritage who died in 1996, never saw a performance of this lost masterpiece in his lifetime. 

The opera revolves around an encounter between two women – one a former Auschwitz guard and the other a former prisoner. Melrose plays Tadeusz, a camp inmate and violinist who defies the Commandant byordered by performing some meloncholy music by Bach rather than a frolicking waltz. Needless to say, things don't end well for Tadeusz.

We continue to find the performances at ENO as some of the most innovative and interesting in all of opera right now. We loved Nic Muhly's "Two Boys" and look forward to seeing The Passenger. The opera runs from September 19-October 25. Additional cast and performance information is available HERE. If you're looking for more traditional operatic fare, ENO will be performing the highly acclaimed Jonathan Miller production of Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" at the same time.

You can read an entire feature on Leigh Melrose and The Passenger in the Islington Tribune by clicking HERE

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Henk Neven Nominated for Gramophone Award

Henk Neven, who we recently introduced to American audiences, has been 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. The winners, including the prestigious Recording of the Year, will be unveiled on October 6 at London's Dorchester Hotel. 

Other nominees in the category are:
  • Richard Rodney Bennett Songs with Sophie Daneman, Susan Bickley and Iain Burnside 
  • Benjamin Britten's "Songs & Proverbs of William Blake" with Gerald Finley
  • George Butterworth's "A Shropshire Lad" and other songs with Roderick Williams
  • Richard Strauss lieder with Diana Damrau
  • Hugo Wolf's "Italienisches Liederbuch" with Christoph Prégardien
For a complete list of nominees visit the Gramophone website.

Neven has yet to make his U.S. debut. 

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New Stefan Hagendorn Clips

Stefan Hagendorn
Two months ago a reader alerted us to German barihunk Stefan Hagendorn and we promptly introduced him to readers. Here are two new YouTube clips, one of extended clips from Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte"recorded at Schloß Oranienstein last month and the other of him singing Graun's "Liebste Kinder" from "Iphigenia in Aulis."

We are still accepting reader submissions for new and existing barihunks who may have escaped our watchful eyes. Send your suggestions to

Also, don't forget to listen to us on the Texapolitan Opera Roadshow podcast

Celebrating "West Side Story"

Fifty-four year ago today one of the greatest moments in theater history occurred as West Side Story premiered at the National Theater in Washington D.C. After successful previews in D.C. and Philadelphia, the original Broadway production opened at the Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 1957 making a permanent mark on American theater.

West Side Story was composed by Leonard Bernstein with a script by Arthur Laurents and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical is a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

The original production was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince and starred Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria, Chita Rivera as Anita and David Winters as Baby John the youngest of the gang members. Robbins won the Tony Award for Best Choreographer, and Oliver Smith won the Tony for Best Scenic Designer. Also nominated were Carol Lawrence, as Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical, Max Goberman as Best Musical Director, and Irene Sharaff for Best Costume Design. Carol Lawrence received the 1958 Theatre World Award. The production ran for 732 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre before touring and then returning to the Winter Garden Theatre in 1960 for another 253 performance engagement.

The great Sherrill Milnes performing Maria:

And just for fun, here is the charming, attractive and talented John Barrowman singing Maria:

And since we've strayed away from baritones, here is a rare clip from a 1964 broadcast of the "Anna Moffo Show":

Thursday, August 18, 2011

NY Times' Zachary Woolfe: "What is Charisma?"

Dmitri Hvorostovsky
In yesterday's New York Times, Zachary Woolfe asked the question "What is charisma? A gift from the musical gods." He mentions many of the great sopranos of recent times, including Maria Callas, Renata Scotto, Natalie Dessay and Catherine Malfitano. The one barihunk who is mentioned is the indisputably charismatic Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

Read the article and post a comment letting us know who else in the world of opera you find charismatic.

Russian composer Igor Krutoy and Dmitri Hvorostovsky collaborated on the video "Toi et Moi":

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jordan Shanahan in Dead Man Walking

Elise Quagliata as Sister Helen Prejean Jordan Shanahan as Joseph De Rocher

Jordan Shanahan, who won our favorite opera couple poll along with his wife Audrey Luna, will be peforming Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" with the Union Avenue Opera in Missouri. The opera is the modern-day story of Sister Helen Prejean and her journey as she undertakes the role of spiritual advisor to Joseph De Rocher, an inmate on Louisiana's death row. 

Performances will take place August 19, 20, 26, and 27 at 8:00 p.m. The real-life Sister Helen Prejean will be attending the opening night performance on August 19th. Tickets for the dinner are $250.00 per person. Additional information is available HERE.

Don't forget to listen to "Mr. Barihunks" on the Texapolitan Opera Roadshow

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Barihunks on the Air: Texapolitan Opera

Michael Mayes & the Texapolitan Opera
We've made no secret of our love for barihunk Michael Mayes and his always entertaining Texapolitan Opera podcasts. We were thrilled when he asked the site's founder to come on the show and talk about Barihunks and opera.

However, in Michael Mayes' inimitable fashion the show somehow got sidetracked into conversations about angry Germans, Branch Dividian strippers, Justin Bieber singing Don Giovanni, eye herpes and Ruphying tenors. You have to hear it to believe it (and this episode was NOT fueled by liquor!).

Mayes continues to be one of the most entertaining and original figures in the opera world. His podcasts are a must for anyone who loves the artform. If you don't laugh, you're probably a humorless Russian set designer. If you do laugh, subscribe and make it part of your social media ritual.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Mayes' operatic roles include Silvio in I Pagliacci, Mercutio and Lord Capulet in Romeo et Julette, Dandini in La Cenerentola, The Librettist in Viva la Mamma!, John Proctor in The Crucible, Don Giovanni, Escamillo in Carmen, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, di Luna in Il trovatore, Marcello in La Boheme, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and many more.

In February 2012, Mayes will make his much anticipated debut as Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" with the Tulsa Opera, which he discussed on the current episode. Click HERE for ticket and additional performance information.

Click HERE to listen to the podcast. You can also subscribe to the Texapolitan Opera podcast on iTunes.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Miscellaneous News

We've fallen a little behind with our posts as our Barihunks team is enjoying opera at Glyndebourne, Santa Fe and Bayreuth. We appreciate the emails encouraging us to maintain daily posts, so here are some quick updates from the opera world. Please help us keep us to date by submitting news and photos to, which continues to be our best source of barihunk activity.

Eugene Brancoveanu

Opera fans on the West Coast can see the gifted Romanian barihunk Eugene Brancoveanu in three upcoming performances. He will be at the Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton, California on September 11 at 3 PM. Brancoveanu’s performing selections from opera. On Sunday, November 13th, he travels north to Brookings, Oregon to perform An Afternoon of Opera and Musical Theater with tenor Thomas Glenn and soprano Ronit Widmann-Levy joined by the gifted accompanist Peter Gruenberg.  In April 2012, he will be a soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana with the underrated Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra in Central California.

Christopher Theofanidis & Thomas Hampson in Vanity Fair

We've previously covered American barihunk Thomas Hampson's upcoming performances as 9/11 hero Rick Rescorla in Christopher Theofanidis’ “Heart of a Soldier,” which opens September 10 at the San Francisco Opera. We thought that readers would enjoy this article from the San Francisco Examiner. Also, make sure to check out the September 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, which features a wonderful profile on the Hampson and "Heart of the Soldier." [Page 202]

Matthias Hausmann

The Austrian Cultural Forum NYC will Present “From Austria With Love,” sung by Mathias Hausmann and accompanied by pianist Craig Rutenberg on Thursday, October 6 at 7:30 PM. The program will feature songs by Austrian composters who lived in American including Mahler, Korngold, Zeisl, Krenek, Stolz and Kalman. Admission is free but tickets must be reserved by calling 212-319-5300 ext. 222. 

Michael Leibengut
On September 16, 2001, Michael Leibengut will make his debut with the Luzerne Festival in the premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas' "Nacht," a chamber opera in 24 scenes. For additional information, visit the Luzerne Festival website