Saturday, March 31, 2012

Joseph Lattanzi Interview

Joseph Lattanzi

Last week we featured an interview with David Krohn, who is playing Dr. Malatesta in the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program's production of Donizetti's "Don Pasquale." Krohn is alternating the role with fellow barihunk Joseph Lattanzi, who sings Dr. Malatesta in the April 1 and April 7 performances at the University of Washington's Meany Hall. Here is an interview with the rising young talent, who is headed off to San Francisco's prestigious Merola Opera Program this summer. 

The interview was featured on the Seattle Opera blog. You can subscribe to the blog and get regular updates about all of the amazing opera in Seattle.
At Seattle Opera’s recent gala, you sang the Pearl Fishers duet with William Burden. What was that like? It was great! It was the first that I had ever done that Pearl Fishers duet, and it’s such a great piece of music. So I was really happy to get to sing it, and really happy to sing it with Bill, who has done that role all over the world. It was really daunting for me because I knew I had to try and get to his level really fast, but it was great experience and he’s such a nice guy and a really great mentor for a young singer. He’s really got everything it takes. He’s a great actor, a great singer, and a great person.

Young Artists Christopher Lade and Joseph Lattanzi with tenor William Burden at Seattle Opera's 2012 Gala, "A Perfect Pairing." Photo by Alan Alabastro 

This opera is basically a cautionary tale warning against marriage (“Marriage is nothing but a heap of trouble,” everyone sings at the end). What do you think? Well, I think this opera is really about the wrong kind of marriage, in particular, and cautioning against marrying for the wrong reasons. Pasquale says at the beginning that he really just wants to marry someone to spite Ernesto, because Ernesto wants to marry Norina and he doesn’t approve. My character, Malatesta, shows Don Pasquale what a rash decision that was, and that he’s misguided. So I don’t know if it’s a cautionary tale against all marriage.

Have you sung any of the music in Don Pasquale prior to this production? Yes, I’ve sung the aria “Bella siccome,” which is one of the arias that people often give to young baritones because it’s really conducive to learning line and style and you can work on your Italian language through it. It’s one of those things that people hear a lot, so it’s hard to turn it into something really special and professional and get away from the amateur side of things. When you’re young and you work on an aria, things get ingrained. So after singing this for several years, I had a lot of habits I had to change and I had to modify the way that I was thinking about the role to fit in to how we’re doing it here in this production. I’ve also performed the duet with Norina and trio with Norina and Pasquale, both at the Chautauqua Institute a couple years ago.

Trailer for Seattle Opera YAP's Don Pasquale with barihunk David Krohn:

Like Albert in Werther, who you sang for us last fall, Malatesta is a bit of a two-faced character. Do you prefer these more dramatically complicated roles to a character who is simply good or bad? Yes, I think I do prefer them more. These types of roles have a lot of emotions to play and different ways to act around different people and things like that. But I have not met an opera role that has not been challenging yet. [Laughs] Even if they’re not two-faced or dramatically as interesting, nothing is really easy to play on stage, and there are always so many factors.

Have you played much comedy? How do the skills differ from those it takes to perform something like Carmen, which you sang on the mainstage last fall? I went to a performing arts high school outside of Atlanta where I grew up and we did a lot of musical theater and musical comedy there. And then in undergrad, I performed in Così fan tutte, and I also did Papageno, so those were comedic. Those roles do differ from the more dramatic roles—but my character in Carmen wasn’t so dramatic. Moralès gets to have fun, and that was a fun role for me. But, yes, the skill set for comedy is a little different. You have to have your wits about you and know what you’re going for but at the same time everything has to look very easy and spontaneous. When the performance looks planned, it’s not so funny for the audience anymore. You have to keep everything fresh while still hitting all your marks.

Lindsay Russell as "Sofronia" and Joseph Lattanzi as Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale Photo by Elise Bakketun
Are there any roles in particular that you really hope to get to perform someday? Oh, gosh, there are a lot of roles I really want to do. I’ve done a lot of Mozart (in school) and I was really lucky to have sung Don Giovanni. I’d really love to go back and do that again, because that a role that keeps evolving as you bring more experience to the table. I would also love to do Figaro in The Barber of Seville. That would be really fun down the line, maybe in a couple years.

What has been your favorite role you’ve sung so far in your career? I think I would say probably Don Giovanni. But this one, Dr. Malatesta, is shaping up to be one of my favorites because it’s really fun to sing. There are a lot of opportunities for showing off and it has legato singing, ensemble singing, and solo singing, so it’s really got everything. Don Giovanni was really fun, and so was Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, which I did at Oberlin when I was a student there. Don Giovanni was also through Oberlin, but as part of the Oberlin in Italy program.

How fun! Was that your first time in Italy? Yes, and I loved it. I have family lineage in Italy, so it was great to be there and also it was a really cool place to spend the summer. I went two summers ago and was there for maybe six or seven weeks for the Oberlin in Italy program, which was in Arezzo. Afterward I went to Paris for 10 days, as a vacation, because I’d always wanted to visit.
 What’s next for you, once you leave Seattle? I’m going to be at the Merola Opera Program this summer with San Francisco Opera and I’m doing a role in Postcard from Morocco called The Man with the Shoe Sample Kit. It’s the baritone role in that opera, and it’s an ensemble piece for sure. Everyone has a lot to do and it has challenging music, by Dominick Argento. So I’m trying to learn that right now. It’s going to take a lot of time. Some of the more modern pieces take a little longer to get in your brain, but it’s in English, so that’s nice, and it’s just a cool piece. I think it’ll be exciting!


Luca Pisaroni featured in Opera Now

Luca Pisaroni (photo by Marco Borggreve)
Luca Pisaroni is featured in the new issue of Opera Now. The magazine has recently featured barihunks Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Christopher Maltman on the cover. This month Pisaroni didn't make the cover, as that went to the equally hunky tenor Juan Diego Florez. If you're an opera fan and don't read Opera Now,  you're missing a world of great opera writing, reviews and photos. We never miss and issue and travel with the iPad version of the magazine. Barihunks readers can get a free introductory offer by clicking on the link to the right and entering the code BAR12.

Here's a teaser from the article entitled "Leader of the Pack," which refers to Pisaroni's love of dogs and being a social animal:

Luca Pisaroni is shaping up to be one of the most successful baritones of his generation. He talks to Louise Flind about his growing recognition in major opera houses around the world, and how his trusty dogs help to keep him grounded.

There may be a handful of opera singers as tall, dark and handsome as Luca Pisaroni, but few are as adorable, funny and ambitious. He and his American wife Cate (petite, blonde and foxy, if you're asking) were at Glyndebourne last summer where Pisaroni stole the show in Robert Carsen's new production of Handel's Rinaldo
[Read the entire article by accessing your free trial offer].
Pisaroni can next be seen on April 29th in Heidelberg, Germany where he will be performing a gala concert with his father-and-law and fellow barihunk Thomas Hampson. The two singers will perform  arias and duets by Verdi, Rossini and Mozart. In May, he performs Figaro opposite the Count of barihunk Simon Keenlyside in Munich. In June, he performs the same role opposite Gerald Finley in Vienna.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Fort Worth Opera's Plethora of Pulchritude

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It's not often that we feature Tosca and it's not that we don't love the opera. It's just that Scarpia hasn't been the quintessential barihunk role. Fort Worth Opera performed Tosca with the dashing Michael Chioldi in 2005, which brought a whole different tension to the rape scene. For a moment, one wondered, "Well, maybe Scarpia wouldn't be such a bad hook-up." Of course, then Puccini's music said otherwise. Fort Worth is bringing Chioldi back to reprise his successful portrayal of the evil police chief.

But who really caught our eye was Angelotti, who will be sung by the gifted young baritone Tom Forde, who we first discovered as a Santa Fe Apprentice Young Artist and who we featured in our charity calendar. Forde has taken his fitness routine as serious as his singing...and it shows. Forde, who has always had a great face for the stage - expressive, with big features - now has the body to match.

We are kind of wondering if Tosca will dump Mario and run off with Angelotti.

Donovan Singletary
Forde, will have a little of barihunk competition at the Fort Worth Opera Festival, as Donovan Singletary is returning to take on Figaro in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" opposite fellow barihunk Jonathan Beyer, who is singing Count Almaviva. Singletary, a rising vocal talent who excelled in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in New York, also happens to have one of the greatest bodies in opera.

We hate to rewrite Mozart, but if we were the Countess, we'd turn the tables on the philandering Count and run off into the garden with Figaro.

Seth Mease Carico (L) & Michael Mayes (R)
If you haven't hadn't enough beefcake after Tosca and Figaro, make sure to grab a ticket for Mark Adamo's comic, yet racy Lysistrata. Another singer who has recently hit the gym, Michael Mayes, will be performing Kinesias. His new abs went viral on the internet when we posted his picture performing in Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" at the Tulsa Opera.

Patrons who last saw Seth Mease Carico in Fort Worth's "Before Night Falls" may not recognize the singer, who has a body and new look that makes him look more like Adam Levine than Leonard Warren. Carico and Mayes are both great singers AND actors, which makes us think that Lysistrata could be the surprise hit of the festival. Few opera companies perform non-standard repertory as well as Fort Worth. Last season, Philip Glass' "Hydrogen Jukebox" played to enthusiastic, sold out houses. In fact, we named it our "Best Opera of 2011" in our annual year end feature.

Matt Worth

Last on the agenda, is Jake Heggie's amazingly moving opera "Three Decembers," which will feature one of our favorite singers, Matthew Worth.

Worth sang the role of Charlie with the Chicago Opera Theater in 2010 to great critical acclaim. Mark Thomas Ketterson wrote in Opera News, "Matthew Worth's warmly youthful baritone is intrinsically appealing, and he shaded Charlie's music with intelligence and great sensitivity."

Jake Heggie talks about his opera: 

The Fort Worth Opera Festival should be a stop on any opera lover's travel calendar. This year's festival runs from May 12-June 3 and tickets can be purchased online.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eugene Brancoveanu on PBS' "The Thomashefskys" Tonight

Eugene Brancoveanu in The Machine at The Crucible

Barihunk Eugene Brancoveanu will be on PBS tonight as part of "The Thomashefskys: Music & Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater," which was written, hosted and conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas of the San Francisco Symphony.

It’s the story of Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, two kids from little shtetls of the Ukraine who came to America and became the founders and pioneers of the American Yiddish Theater. The broadcast is scheduled on the Great Performances series on PBS on Thursday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m. (check local listings). If you forget to program your DVR, don't worry because the complete show will be released on DVD and digitally on April 24.

The Thomashefskys
Recorded in April 2011 at the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center in Miami Beach, the performance of The Thomashefskys for the March 29 broadcast. In addition to Brancoveanu, the performance features Judy Blazer. Gary Halvorson, Ronit Widmann-Levy and Shuler Hensley as Boris Thomashefsky.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Tribute to Samuel Ramey on his 70th Birthday

Samuel Ramey as Attila

Today we celebrate the 70th birthday of Samuel Ramey, who was one of the early pioneers of the shirtless male opera singer. His video of Boito's Mefistofele from the San Francisco Opera has become a cult classic with opera aficionados. He continued his sexy shirtless portrayals with an Attila that was not only sexy, but set the vocal standard to this day.

Samuel Ramey has been a leading interpreter of the bass and bass-baritone operatic repertoire for thirty years. His amazing vocal flexibility and range has allowed his to sing roles ranging from Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo to the title role in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle. His repertoire includes the florid pasages of Handel, the bel canto roles of Bellini and Donizetti, the great baritone roles of Verdi and Puccini, great American operas and even many of the great Russian and French bass roles.

 Samuel Ramey sings Attila's "Mentre gonfiarsi l'anima":

If he sang nothing else, he would be famous for his interpretation of Boito’s Mefistofele,which has included  seventy performances in the Robert Carsen production of the opera specifically created for  him. In fact, devilish roles have dominated his stage performances, including Berlioz's devil in La damnation de Faust; the sinister Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; and the tour de force of all four villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. In 1992 Mr. Ramey sang all of Offenbach’s villains for the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night, prompting one critic to write, “[It was] the best interpretation of the four villains I can remember in the last 25 years. This is the stuff of which operatic legends are made.” In 1996 Mr. Ramey presented a sold-out concert at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall titled A Date with the Devil in which he sang fourteen arias representing the core of this repertoire, and he continues to tour this program throughout the world.

Samuel Ramey sings Argante's "Sibilar gli angui d'Aletto" from Rinaldo:

Samuel Ramey holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. His more than eighty recordings include complete operas, recordings of arias, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums on every major label. His recordings have garnered nearly every major award including three Grammy Awards, Gran Prix du Disc Awards, and “Best of the Year” citations from journals including Stereo Review and Opera News. His exposure on television and video is no less impressive, with video recordings of the Metropolitan Opera’s Carmen, Bluebeard’s Castle, Semiramide, Nabucco, and the compilation “The Met Celebrates Verdi;” San Francisco Opera’s Mefistofele; The Rake’s Progress from the Glyndebourne Festival; Attila from La Scala; and the Salzburg Festival’s Don Giovanni. Ramey is seen frequently on television in appearances with “Live from the Met” and “Live from Lincoln Center” as well as other productions taped for PBS.
Following his phenomenal success in opera, concert, and recordings, Samuel Ramey’s sold-out Carnegie Hall recital in 1987 added a fourth dimension to his spectacular career. His returns to New York’s Carnegie Hall for solo recitals in February 1995 and November 1998 were the culmination of extensive, critically-acclaimed North American tours which had taken Mr. Ramey from Alaska to Alabama, with appearances on America's finest vocal series. His European recital career is equally notable, with sold-out appearances in all the music capitals.

 Samuel Ramey sings "Fin ch'han dal vino" from Don Giovanni:

A native of Colby, Kansas, Samuel Ramey was active in music throughout high school and college. In 1995 he was named “Kansan of the Year,” and in 1998 the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.

He is still actively performing, although in less demanding roles. In April, he performs the Grand Inquisitor in Verdi's Don Carlos at the Houston Grand Opera. In June, he trades in the title role in Verid's Attila at San Francisco Opera for the less demanding role of Leone. In September, he returns to the Met to sing Timur in Puccini's Turandot.


Classical Singer Coverboy: Paulo Szot

Paulo Szot
The "Barihunk as Coverboy" trend continues this month, as Paulo Szot is gracing the cover of Classical Singer magazine. Here is the article:

For some singers, the secret to a long and fruitful career is a one-track mind. It’s no surprise that more than a few stars—including Mary Costa and Joan Sutherland—have famously used the metaphor of being a horse with blinders on as a way of describing their forward drive and singular goals.

But the last half century has brought with it a staggering number of changes, particularly in how we receive and consume culture. The idea of being a singer who embraces duality between genres is perhaps not revolutionary—while Sutherland was taking the world by storm as Lucia and Norma, mezzo Risë Stevens was holding court both at the Met and on the Ed Sullivan Show—but the ability to embrace such a dichotomy has become much easier and fluid in the new millennium.

Exhibit A in that equation is baritone Paulo Szot, a singer who had gained momentum in the opera world starting with his professional debut in 1997 as Rossini’s Figaro in his native Brazil. It took a Tony-Award-winning Broadway debut in 2008 as Emile De Becque in South Pacific, however, to catapult Szot into the upper echelon of operatic stars. For Szot, such balance is just part of the game.

Born in São Paulo and raised in Ribeirão Pires, Szot was the son of two musically inclined Polish émigrés who settled in Brazil following World War II—an unlikely combination that the baritone nevertheless describes as “a very interesting mixture with many things in common . . . very interesting between the polonaises and Chopin and then bossa nova and Jobim.” Like his siblings, Szot was quickly indoctrinated into the music world, beginning his studies at age four on the piano, moving on to violin at eight, and never recalling a time in his childhood that wasn’t underscored by an LP or cassette tape of Polish folk music or Tchaikovsky.

[Read the entire article HERE.]


Hear the Ryan Opera Center Singers Online

Barihunk Paul La Rosa
Fans of this site know that our dedication to supporting young singers runs deep. We encourage readers to donate to young artist programs and our annual charity calendar benefits young artists. One of the best programs in the country is the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and now you can hear their amazing singers even if you're not anywhere near the Windy City.

The Ryan Opera Center is performing a Rising Stars Concert that will be broadcast in the Chicago area on 98.7 WFMT and streamed online at on Sunday, April 1st 4 p.m. CST. If you're in the Chicago area, the concert is on Saturday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m CST at the Ardis Krainik Theatre of the Civic Opera House, but tickets are only available to Lyric Opera donors of $75 and above. You can (and should) donate at the Lyric Opera website.

Members of the 2012 Ryan Opera Center
One of this site's most popular young artists, Paul La Rosa, will be featured in the concert along with fellow baritones and basses Joseph Lim, Paul Scholten, David Govertsen and Evan Boyer. Other singers include sopranos Emily Birsan, Kiri Deonarine, and Jennifer Jakob (sopranos); mezzos Emily Fons and Cecelia Hall; and tenors René Barbera, Bernard Holcomb, and James Kryshak. The singers will be performing works by Adams, Bellini, Berlioz, Bernstein, Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Rachmaninov, Rossini, Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Verdi.

Participants in the program have performed principal and supporting roles during Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 57th season. They also served as understudies for major and minor roles throughout the season.

Another member of the program is Will Liverman who we recently predicted would win the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Unfortunately, the judges disagreed, but he is destined for a major career.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Brokeback Onegin" returns to Munich with new cast

Simon Keenlyside (L), Ain Anger (C) and Pavol Breslik in Eugene Onegin
The famous "Brokeback Onegin" is back at the Bayerische Staatsoper with a new cast that includes barihunks Simon Keenlyside as Onegin and Ain Anger as Gremin. Regular readers might recall that the original production, which generated worldwide press attention, featured barihunks Mariusz Kwiecien as Onegin and Gunther Groissboeck as Gremin decked out in a muscle tee shirt. From the photo above, it looks like Anger looks pretty good in the muscle tee shirt, as well.

The "Brokeback Boys" backstage and onstage in Onegin
The production is directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, who envisions the opera as a story of suppressed homosexuality and a desire to break free from society. The production was inspired by Tchaikovsky's life story, "Brokeback Mountain" and Warlikowski´s own childhood in a suburban working class ghetto in Poland. When it first premiered in 2008, it was greeted by a combination of critical praise and outrage. The production, which was broadcast in Germany today, has become a bit of a cult classic amongst opera aficionados. There is one performance remaining on Wednesday, March 28th.

Watch the trailer from the 2008 production:

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Interview with David Krohn; Star of Seattle Opera YAP's Don Pasquale

David Krohn in Seattle Opera's YAP "Don Giovanni" Photo by Rozarii Lynch

We've featured David Krohn as the star in Don Giovanni at the Seattle Opera's Young Artist, as well as in our Barihunks Charity Calendar. The gifted young singer is wrapping up his second season performing Dr. Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale on March 31 and April 6. He'll be alternating the role with fellow barihunk and calendar model Joseph Lattanzi (interview forthcoming). Visit the Seattle Opera website for more information. 

After the young artist program, Krohn will join the Seattle Opera roster and perform Prince Yamadori on the mainstage in Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

Here is an interview with David Krohn from the Seattle Opera blog:

Previously on the Blog, you shared with us stories from your summer spent living in Italy. Do you think your time there has helped you with Italian roles like Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale?
I think any time you get the opportunity to spend time in a foreign country learning another language, and learning from another culture, you get insight into any role that comes from that country. You also get insight into the language, and why a character would chase to say something a certain way. I could deliver a line and say, “Hi, how are you?” or I could say, “What’s going on today?” or “How you been?” There are a thousand different ways I could phrase something, depending on the language, which then informs a little something about my character. You can read behind the text, the more comfortable you are with the language.

Earlier this season, you sang Dancaïre in Seattle Opera’s mainstage production of Carmen and Albert in the YAP’s Werther. Now you’re prepping for Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, and you’ll help close Seattle Opera’s season in May as Prince Yamadori in the mainstage Madama Butterfly. Which of these characters are you most like?
Well, that’s a difficult question! Dancaïre is a smuggler in the mountains of Spain who tells his girlfriend to go and have sex with customs agents in order to pass contraband. So I hope I’m not like Dancaïre. Albert is a jealous husband who essentially gives his best friend pistols so that he can kill himself, so I’m not Albert. Yamadori is an Asian prince who tries to marry an already married woman, so I’m probably not Yamadori. Malatesta is the only one left, so I guess I’d have to say I’m the most like him, out of default, but I don’t really think I’m anything like Malatesta.

[Read the entire interview at the Seattle Opera blog]


Thursday, March 22, 2012

3 Barihunks Named as Finalists in 2012 Lotte Lenya Competition

Doug Carpenter as he appeared in the Barihunks calendar
Three barihunks, including two of our calendar models, are among the twelve finalists in the 2012 Lotte Lenya Competition. Douglas Carpenter, Justin Hopkins and Nicky Wuchinger have all advanced in the competition. The participants will compete for prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 in the finals, which will be held on April 21, 2012, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Three-time Tony Award nominee and Broadway diva Rebecca Luker will serve as a judge along with Encores! music director Rob Berman and Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization President Theodore S. Chapin.  Held annually by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes talented young singer-actors, ages 19-30, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, and emphasizes the acting of songs within a dramatic context. 

Justin Hokins as he appeared in the Barihunks calendar

The competition has attracted numerous barihunks, many of whom have gone on to win the competition. Barihunk winners include Lucas Meachem, Liam Bonner, Zachary James, Cooper Grodin and Justin Lee Miller.

Liam Bonner performs Weill at a recent concert at the Gershwin Hotel:

Other 2012 finalists include mezzos Megan Marino, Cecelia Tickton and Christine Amon; sopranos Briana Elyse Hunter, Mollie Vogt-Welch, Natalie Ballenger and Maria Failla; tenors Matthew Grills and Jacob Keith Watson. The competition will culminate in an evening concert featuring all of the finalists, followed by the announcement of the winners. Both the daytime finals and evening concert are free and open to the public, and will take place in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music.  The Kurt Weill Foundation will award special prizes in addition to the top prizes, and has already presented an Emerging Talent Award to tenor Robert Ariza and the Grace Keagy Award for Outstanding Vocal Promise to mezzo Kate Tombaugh.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Naked Barihunk Singing: Seph Stanek

Seph Stenak (seated front) in Naked Boys Singing
(Photograph: David Rosenzweig)
When we recently featured Seph Stanek on the site it created a mini-sensation. It turns out that the TV performer, off-Broadway star and opera singer has quite a posse of fans. One of them informed us that Stanek has joined the cast of the popular show Naked Boys Singing. The show is currently at the Kirk Theater on 42nd Street in New York City.

Seph Stanek in Naked Boys Singing promo photo
The 70-minute show originally opened at the Celebration Theater in Hollywood in 1998. The New York production opened a year later at the Actors Playhouse in the West Village. It closed after a 13-year run, but recently reopened at the current location. As the title states, the show features naked men who sing mostly gay-themed numbers about the male body and the love of the male form. We're not sure if Stanek is the first opera singer to appear in the cast, but we can tell you that the show has featured 71 performers, including two porn stars (Spencer Quest and Dean Markham). It's probably safe to say that's he's the first member of the Metropolitan Opera roster to appear in the show. Stanek made his Met debut in Aida last month.

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John Brancy seductive as Guglielmo

John Brancy and Wallis Giunta
Check out barihunk John Brancy and mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta performing Dorabella and Guglielmo's seduction duet from Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte in Neumarkt, Germany. The two singers are participating in the International Meistersinger Akademie with coaches like sopranos Edith Wiens and Ann Murray,  as well as pianist Malcolm Martineau. Also in the program is barihunk Tobias Greenhalgh. 

If the two seem particularly cozy in this video it's because they are dating off-stage, so John's seduction skills as Guglielmo must be pretty convincing.

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Here is Brancy performing Largo al factotum from Rossini's Barber of Seville, filmed at a final dress performance for a concert that was broadcast throughout Germany.

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The International Meistersinger Akademie is a great opportunity for young singers to work with amazing coaches, but it is also a destination for European agents, promoters, opera directors and festival managers. These networking opportunities often provide a launching pad for young singers embarking on a European career.

John Brancy in Neumarkt

We wish all the singers the best of luck. 

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SF Lyric Opera returns with Eugene Brancoveanu in "the little match girl passion"

Eugene Brancoveanu in Machine at The Crucible earlier this year

The San Francisco Lyric Opera vanished from the scene for awhile, but they're back with David Lang's "the little match girl passion." The production features Barihunks regular Eugene Brancoveanu.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and influenced by Bach's St. Matthew Passion, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "the little match girl passion" has become one of the most heralded compositions since its premiere at Carnegie Hall.

Anastazia Louise of Bad Unkl Sista will create costumes and choreography for the production, the first West Coast production to include movement. Anastazia's fusion of Butoh-style dance with Western music focuses on creative, proactive human development.

Performances run from March 23-25 at the ODC Theater in San Francisco. Visit their website for additional information. 

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Free Masterclass with Chris Carr and Joyce DiDonato

If you're in the Kansas City area on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, you can hear emerging barihunk Chris Carr for free. He'll be performing a masterclass with world-renowned mezzo Joyce DiDonato and the Kansas City Symphony at 7 p.m.

DiDonato recently won a Grammy for best classical vocal solo for her album “Diva Divo.” She will give her first Kauffman Center performance at 8 p.m. March 23-24 and at 2 p.m. March 25 with the Kansas City Symphony.

Read more here:

Read more here:

The masterclass features three Kansas City-area vocal students, including University of Missouri/Kansas City student Chris Carr, who studies with famed tenor Vinson Cole. Carr was a Lyric Opera of Kansas City Artist Apprentice in the 2011–12 season. Carr will perform "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Barber of Seville.

Listen to Chris Carr performing the Tanzlied from Korngold's 
Die Tote Stadt at a Des Moines Opera masterclass:


Here's a more recent recording of Chris Carr singing Largo al factotum:

The event is free, but register HERE to ensure seating.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Celebrating Charles Gounod's Faust, which premiered on this date in 1859

Erwin Schrott as Méphistophélès

Today we celebrate Charles Gounod's Faust, which premiered on March 19, 1859. We love the opera because it is one of a select group of operas that can feature three barihunks in a single evening. The roles of Méphistophélès, Valentin and Wagner are all cast with baritones. Méphistophélès is often cast with devilishly sexy baritones like John Relyea, Rene Pape or James Morris.

The opera got off to a rough start, initially being rejected by the Paris Opera and then not quite catching on with the public. It was revived in 1862 with a ballet added for the Parisians and became an instant hit. It has gone on to become one of the most popular operas in the standard repertory, opened the original Metropolitan Opera in 1883 and has been translated into 25 languages. It is currently the 35th most performed opera in the world.

Rene Pape sings Méphistophélès' aria "Le Veau d'Or":

The opera is loosely inspired by Goethe’s legendary story and timeless tale of the devil (Méphistophélès) who appears to the old scholar Faust, promising him the elixir of youth in exchange for his soul. Faust is transformed into a young, handsome man and sets out with his devious companion to experience the pleasures of the world. Faust seduces the beautiful and innocent Marguerite, only to abandon her before she gives birth to his child. Her reputation destroyed, but not beyond redemption, Marguerite calls upon the angels for salvation. Faust receives no such escape and is condemned to his devilish fate in this spiritual conflict between heaven and hell.

Gino Quilico sings Valentin's aria "Avant de quiter ces lieux":

Some of the greatest singers ever have taken on the role of Méphistophélès, including George London, Rene Pape, Sam Ramey, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Jerome Hines, John Relyea, Bryn Terfel, Boris Christoff, Jose Van Dam and Feodor Chaliapin.

Other famous operas based on the same story include Boito's "Mefistofele," Berlioz's "La Damnation de Faust," and Busoni's "Doktor Faust." Boito's opera is probably closest to Goethe's original story.

There was some concern when the opera first premiered, as French censors were worried that church officials would be highly offended by the appearance of the devil in a church. Gounod invited a concerned clergyman to attend a rehearsal of the scene. The clergyman declared that he found the scene not at all offensive and, in fact, was quite complimentary of it. The censors were mollified and the scene was allowed. Gounod never told them that the clergyman was blind and could not tell that the scene took place inside a church. The "Church scene" from Gounod's opera, in which Méphistophélès torments the already distraught and guilty Marguerite by telling her that she is eternally damned for giving herself to Faust, is the dramatic crux of Gounod's opera.

The final trio from Faust with Anna Netrebko, Jonas Kaufmann and Erwin Schrott:

Although this site is dedicated to baritones, we'd be remiss to not show you this clip of tenor Alfredo Kraus singing Faust, which is one of the great moments in recorded operatic history.

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Latest Hot Photo of Buff Keith Miller

Keith Miller prepares for Florencia en el Amazonas (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

The story about barihunk Keith Miller going from football fullback to full-fledged opera star has been covered extensively in the press. However, when we saw the latest article in the Denver Post with this photo, we figured it was worth covering again. After all, some shirtless pictures of Miller that we posted remains one of our most popular features.

Miller is opening in Daniel Catan's Florencia en al Amazonas on March 27 with Opera Colorado

If you haven't read about Miller's career change, you can read the article HERE.

You can learn about Miller's Puissance Fitness training HERE

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Detroit Awaits Hot New Ford

Noah Stewart & Nmon Ford
Detroit has fallen on some hard times in recent years. It was once one of the great American industrial cities with a thriving musical scene. In recent years, neighborhoods have emptied out and Detrioit is no longer one of the 10 largest cities in America. But things appear on the rebound as President Obama's auto bailout has brought new hope to the region. The Michigan Opera Theatre survived the economic downtown and the Detroit Symphony is back after a brief hiatus. Cars and music defined the city for years, so it only makes sense that the Michigan Opera Theatre is presenting the hottest new Ford in years.

It's not a Mustang or a Crown Victoria, but barihunk Nmon Ford. The singer will be performing Zurga in fashion designer Zandra Rhodes' visually stunning production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers at the Detroit Opera House. Singing opposite Ford will be the hot, young tenor Noah Stewart, a recent graduate of San Francisco's Merola Opera program who has become a fan favorite in Detroit. We have a feeling that when these two guys appear on stage together, Detroit will have its hottest Spring ever.

Motown is back!

Ford and Stewart will alternate with tenor Jesus Garcia and baritone Edward Parks. Performances run from April 14-22 at the Detroit Opera House. Ford and Stewart perform together on April 14, 18 and 21. Visit the Michigan Opera Theatre website for more information.

You can watch Nmon Ford in a complete performance of Verdi's Attila in 
sixteen YouTube videos starting with this one:


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Early Verdi with Giorgio Caoduro (and some upcoming Attila performances)

Giorgio Caoduro (with Ortrud) and Stefan Kocan

We're huge fans of early Verdi operas at Barihunks, but we don't get nearly enough opportunities to post about them. Recently there have been a number of companies performing Attila, which often features multiple barihunks in the cast. Fortunately, the trend seems to be continuing in 2012.

In May, barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov will take on the title role in Rome in a production by Pier Luigi Pizzi and conducted by Riccardo Muti. Barihunk Luca Dall’Amico will perform the role of Leone. The San Francisco Opera performs it this summer with one of the greatest Attila's ever, Samuel Ramey, in the smaller role of Leone. The great baritone duet will be sung by Ferruccio Furlanetto and Quinn Kelsey, who portray Attila and Ezio respectively. In September, the opera opens in Santiago with barihunk Stefan Kocan in the title role. 

One of the operas that rarely gets performed is La battaglia di Legnano, which has amazing moments of inspiration, Verdian patriotic fervor, a love triangle and some great baritone music (even though the best known piece is the tenor aria "La pia materna mano"). Verdi, in fact, was a baritone and loved writing great roles in that range.

We were thrilled when a reader sent us a video of barihunk Giorgio Caoduro singing the great baritone aria and cabaletta "Se al nuovo di pugnando...Ah scellerate alme d'inferno"" from a recent performance of La battaglia di Legnano at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste.

Caoduro can next be seen at the Opéra de Lyon where he is donning his matadors outfit for Escamillo. He can next be seen in the United States in March 2013 at the Washington National Opera singing Lescaut opposite the Manon Lescaut of Patricia Racette. 

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Three Barihunks Photographed Together at Santa Fe Opera Reception in NY

The Three Barihunks? Luca Pisaroni, Mariusz Kwiecien & Thomas Hampson
If you were going to copy the famous Three Tenors format and use superstar barihunks, you couldn't do much better than Luca Pisaroni, Mariusz Kwiecien and Thomas Hampson. The three singers were recently photographed at a party for the Santa Fe Opera in New York City. All three baritones will be performing with the opera company this summer.

Is it just us, our do Pisaroni and Hampson appear to be wearing shirts with matching patterns? Perhaps the family did some shopping in Santa Fe's famous downtown. 

Pisaroni will be performing the title role in Rossini's underperformed masterpiece Maometto II, which also features soprano Leah Crocetto, a voice you won't want to miss! Pisaroni's father-in-law Thomas Hampson will be displaying his sinister side as Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca. International sensation Mariusz Kwiecien will be taking on one his favorite roles, King Roger, in the opera of the same name by fellow Pole Karol Szymanowski. The three men are some of the most popular singers on this site and we're thrilled that all be together at one of the greatest music festivals in the world. If you haven't been, book your travel plans today.

The season opens with Tosca and June 29th. Visit the Santa Fe Opera website for additional information.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New York City Opera Promotes Barihunks

Rod Gilfry
It's not often that we print something verbatim, but when we received this promotional email from New York City Opera's Christopher Alden, we had to print it. It's no secret that we're big fans of City Opera and were staunch defenders in their fight for survival.

Randal Turner
How could be not love a company that in their return year cast barihunk Randal Turner in Prima Donna and Rod Gilfry and Philip Cutlip in Cosi fan tutte? We may have to worry about a competing Barihunks charity calendar from City Opera if this keeps up. All we know, is the seats are sold and the funders are returning, so whatever they're doing, it seems to be on the right track. We wish them continued success and encourage everyone in the New York area to attend a performance.

Philip Cutlip
Dear Barihunks,

Brecht said that the right amount of rehearsal time for any theatrical production is always one week more than has been scheduled.  I'm definitely feeling like he was right as I approach the last precious days of our Così  rehearsal period - I've been hanging out in the Snapple Center (yes, that's what the place we're rehearsing in is called) for the last few weeks driving a pretty brilliant group of singers a little crazy. I guess that's because to get at, get into, get inside Così you have to go a little crazy - what a silly, deadly serious, frivolous, devastating piece it is!
But our singer/actors are rising to the challenge - Rod Gilfry, the Ur-Barihunk who plays Alfonso, is getting more and more ferociously comfortable in his bear costume - Marie Lenormand, our adorable Parisian Despina, admonished me, when I was micromanaging her too much, "Let me make my own soup!" and she is definitely doing just that. Sara Jakubiak, our Fiordiligi, is shifting gorgeously from Bernstein to Mozart (she played Didi in last season's  A Quiet Place).  Jennifer Holloway, as Dorabella, puts her amazingly supple voice and feet to very sexy use as she seduces our other brilliant barihunk, Philip Cutlip, in a row boat.  Allan Clayton, the sweetly Harry Potterish Brit tenor singing Ferrando, is breaking hearts with his "Un aura amorosa".  
I'm also having a great time collaborating again with the inspired Baroque maestro Christian Curnyn - last year around this time, we were doing a Handel opera together in Sydney, shuttling between rehearsals in the Opera House and various beaches, enjoying glorious summer weather in February - but I wouldn't trade even that for the Snapple Center, where we've found our own little piece of Paradise in midtown Manhattan, rehearsing  Così.
Please come and take a look at what we've created starting this Sun Mar 18 - Sat Mar 24 at the Lynch Theater (59th and 10th). 
See you soon,
Christopher Alden
Director, NYC Opera's Così fan tutte

Choose Your Weapon: Gunn replaces Spear in Texas

Deborah Voigt (photo NYTimes) and Nathan Gunn as Billy Budd

Barihunk Nathan Gunn will replace one of the great spear carrying Brunnhilde's of all-time, Deborah Voigt, on March 20th in Ft. Worth. Gunn is stepping in for Voigt at the Cliburn Concerts at Bass Hall. Voigt withdrew because of illness. The performance also serves as a preview to local audiences, who will see Gunn in the Dallas Opera's production of Dominik Argento's The Aspern Papers  in 2013.

Accompanying Mr. Gunn in performance will be his wife, pianist Julie Gunn.

Single tickets are available from $15-$90, and can be purchased at or by calling 817.212.4280. Tickets to Deborah Voigt's recital will be honored.

Gunn is currently wrapping up a highly acclaimed performance in Show Boat at Lyric Opera of Chicago. After the Ft. Worth recital, he heads back to the stage in two of his most heralded roles at two of America's greatest opera houses. On May 4th, he portrays the title character in Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd at the Metropolitan Opera. He then heads to the San Francisco Opera on June 13th, where he will portray Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute. The San Francisco Opera summer season also includes John Adams' Nixon in China and Verdi's Attila

Nathan Gunn as Papageno in Julie Taymor's famous production:

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Should Fellow Singers be Afraid of Günther Groissböck?

Scary? He looks so sweet

Our post about barihunks Thomas Hampson and Günther Groissböck generated a lot of traffic and interest. Much of it seemed focused on Austrian bass-barihunk Günther Groissböck. Our favorite was a comment from another barihunk, Kyle Ketelsen, who commented about performing Leporello opposite Groissböck's Commendatore on Facebook. Ketelsen said that  Groissböck always "scared the shit outta me" around the 3:35 mark of the following scene from he infamous Don Giovanni production by Calixto Bieito at the Liceu in Barcelona is 2008. We can see why!!!

The much discussed and debated production also featured barihunk Simon Keenlyside in the title role and we featured it in previous posts. Calixto Bieto is currently making his U.S. debut in a reimagination of Tennessee Williams' play Camino Real at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. Needless to say, he's generating just as much controversy on this side of the Pond.

Günther Groissböck in Die Zauberflote. Nice hair?

We've heard from other singers about Groissböck's dramatic intensity and imposing presence on stage. One soprano wrote us that she was always afraid that he was going to grab her by the hair and throw her down onto the stage. Regular readers and opera buffs may recall that Groissböck also starred in the controversial "Brokeback Onegin" in Munich that featured shirtless dancing cowboys and Groissböck in bed with Lensky.

The Comendatore's entrance and DonGiovanni's descent into hell:


Met Opera Finalists Announced; Is Will Liverman Another Baritone Frontrunner?

Will Liverman (Photo by Rebecca Fay)

The Metropolitan Opera announced the names of nine finalists who will sing in the 2012 National Council Auditions Grand Finals Concert on March 18 at 3:00 p.m. with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis. 

The finalists are: Janai Brugger, soprano from Darien, IL;Anthony Clark Evans, baritone from Owensboro, KY; Matthew Grills, tenor from Newton, CT; Will Liverman, baritone from Virginia Beach, VA; Margaret Mezzacappa, mezzo-soprano from Euclid, OH; Andrey Nemzer, countertenor from Moscow, Russia; Kevin Ray, baritone from Cornwall, NY; Lauren Snouffer, soprano from Austin, TX; and Michael Sumuel, bass-baritone from Odessa, TX.

As is the case from past seasons, we've heard a number of these singers live. Just as we predicted the success of barihunk Philippe Sly, who won the competition last year, we feel that Virginia Beach native Will Liverman is the latest baritone who has to be favored to win the competition. Of course, we wish ALL of the singers the best of luck in the competition and with their careers. 

Will Liverman's photo is by Rebecca Fay. Check out her website for more information. 


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Two Barihunks Make Met Role Debuts This Week

Thomas Hampson & Nadja Michael in Chicago's Macbeth

Two barihunks are making their Met role debuts on March 15th. American Thomas Hampson will take on the title role in Verdi's Macbeth and Austrian Günther Groissböck will debut as the vengeful Banquo in the same opera. Also appearing in the revival will be the thrilling soprano Nadja Michael as the bloodthirsty Lady Macbeth.

Günther Groissböck
Macbeth will be Hampson’s fifth Verdi role at the Met, where he has also sung Giorgio Germont in La Traviata, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, the title role in Simon Boccanegra, and Don Carlo in Ernani. Next season, he will make his Met role debut as Iago in Verdi’s Otello.

Thomas Hampson sings Macbeth's "Pieta, Rispetto, Amore" from Zurich:

The March 15th opening performance of Macbeth will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 74, as will the performances on March 20, 24, and 29. The March 15 performance will also be streamed live on the Met’s website. The March 24 matinee will be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network. 

Günther Groissböck  sings "In diesen heil'gen Hallen" from Die Zauberflote:

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