Monday, April 29, 2013

Wes Mason launches new website; Ben Affleck Doppelgänger?

Wes Mason (photo by Michael Yeshion)
People often ask us, "Where did you get that photo?" The answer is often on a singer's website, where we've learned one can find a treasure trove of sexy photos. It seems singers (or their website designers) are more inclined to post hot photos that their managers (oh, the boring headshot!).

American barihunk Wes Mason is no exception and he's launching his new website today with some male model-esque photos by New York City-based photographer and actor Michael Yeshion. In another example of the changing face of opera, Mason's new photos look like they were pulled from GQ or Vanity Fair rather than an opera program. Some of our recent posts have talked about fitness and image in opera and how it needs to catch up with other art forms in marketing and appealing to a broader audience. Mason's new website is a perfect example of the marketing aspect of that discussion.

Separated at Birth: Ben Affleck and Wes Mason
We've heard singers like Daniel Okulitch and Nathan Gunn talk eloquently about how opera needs to catch up with movies and television in order to survive. When we looked at Wes Mason's new photos it struck us that he's following that script by channeling a pretty hot Ben Affleck look with the baritone beard and seductive "stare at the camera and look serious" pose. You can visit Mason's new website at

Mason is currently at the Fort Worth Opera as Marcello in La bohème following his performances in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. He'll be making his mainstage debut next year as Masetto in Don Giovanni with Opera Philadelphia. Meanwhile, he's getting rave reviews again in Fort Worth, where he became a household name in opera for his stunning portrayal as Cuban dissident and poet, Reinaldo Arenas, in the world premiere of Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls in 2010.

The esteemed critic Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News dubbed Mason the "vocal standout" in a La bohème cast filled with vocal talent. Performances run through May 3 and tickets and additional cast information is available online. We highly suggest making a trip to Fort Worth if you can get away, as Michael Mayes' riveting performance in Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied will be running through May 11. We'll be there!

Previous engagements for Mason have included Masetto in Don Giovanni with Opera Naples, Moralès in Carmen with the Glimmerglass Festival, Le Dancaire in Carmen with Michigan Opera Theater, Valentine in Faust and both Schaunard and Marcello in La bohème with the Crested Butte Music Festival.

Mason was a finalist in the 2012 Opera Index Competition, Encouragement Award winner in the 2012 Loren L. Zachary Society Competition, Second Place Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2009 and a three-time nominee for the Sarah Tucker Study Grant in 2012, 2010 and 2009.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Barihunks in the mainstream press talk about fitness

Vasil Garvanliev
The term "barihunks" seems to have entered the mainstream vocabulary and our wish is that it finally makes it into the Oxford Old English Dictionary (OED) this year. That's when we'll know the term is here to stay. One thing we know for sure is that you can't walk into a theater without hearing the term thrown around. We recently received a call from a singer while he was getting his makeup done backstage and he had to let me know that the entire crew was talking about his recent appearance on the site.

Yesterday, the Toronto Star ran a piece about singers working out and how the introduction of HD videos and rising physical acting demands from director are forcing singers to work on both their voices and their bodies. A soprano whose boyfriend has appeared on this site regularly told me, "Having a great body may not provide an edge to someone singing Norma or Brunnhilde, but is sure does for roles like Juliette, Mimi or Leïla."

Tenor Adam Fisher and Barihunk Vasil Garvaliev
The Star article focused a lot on tenor Adam Fisher, who is opening in Operetta Theatre’s La Vie Parisienne on Tuesday, and barihunk Vasil Garvanliev, a regular on this site and at Opera Atelier. In fact, our favorite quote came from Marshall Pynkoski, co-artistic director of Opera Atelier, who observed,  “It is muscular control, not weight, that supports strong singing...No one is at their best pulling 100 extra pounds."

You can read the entire article HERE

We also got a kick out of the recent headline in the Terra Haute Tribune-Star announcing "Barihunk Gunn to close out Hasfield Hall's series on May 2." Gunn has been one of an increasing army of singers who has touted the benefits of working out for having not only a successful career, but a long-lived career. Readers may remember the features that the Wall Street Journal's Health Section did on Nathan Gunn and on New Zealander Teddy Tahu Rhodes, another fitness buff and surfer.

He commented to the Terra Haute paper, "I think something like that is good for my business. It helps break down those old outmoded stereotypes about opera.”
Singers looking for a social network in their efforts to stay fit or get fit can join Operaticus on Facebook, which has the tagline, "Look as good as you sound." Singers share workout tips, post pictures and even encourage meetups to go work out. The group was founded by BariChunk turned BariHunk Michael Mayes whose transformation has launched his career and made him the definitive exponent of Joseph De Roucher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, a role that requires the singer to do pushups while singing.

Fans of Michael Mayes can still catch his performances in Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied at the Fort Worth Opera. Performances run through May 11th and it's one of the hottest tickets of the summer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Santa Fe Opera announces 2014 season with Greer Grimsley, Kostas Smoriginas and Evan Hughes

Evan Hughes, Greer Grimsley & Kostas Smoriginas
The Santa Fe Opera has announced its 2014 Summer Festival Season and despite all the buzz about the riveting Anna Caterina Antonacci appearing as Carmen, there is plenty to get excited about for barihunk lovers. Joining Antonacci in Carmen will be Kostas Smoriginas as Escamillo and Evan Hughes as Zuniga. We named Antonacci, along with Susan Graham and Joyce Di Donato as our favorite divas in our "Top 25 of 2012" feature. She may be the most compelling performer of the last generation and any of her appearances should be a destination for the serious opera aficionado. Throw in two sexy barihunks and this is one of the hottest tickets of 2014.

All of the Santa Fe Opera productions are new and three are being presented for the first time. They are Beethoven’s FidelioThe Impresario by Mozart (presented as part of a double bill with Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol), and the American premiere of Dr. Sun Yat-sen by the Chinese American composer Huang Ruo.

Jonas Kaufmann & Kostas Smoriginas sing the Don José & Escamillo duet:

But the big attraction for us is the appearance of the world's reigning Wotan, Greer Grimsley, as Don Pizarro. Before heading to the great American Southwest, Grimsley will sing Wotan in the Metropolitan Opera Ring Cycle in May and in Seattle in August. He was last in Santa Fe in the 2006 Salome as Jokanaan. Evan Hughes, who was one of our reader submissions just a month ago, will also appear as Don Fernando.

Tickets will be available for purchase on June 28, 2013 by telephone 505-986-5900, toll free 800-280-4654, and in person.  Online sales begin in September.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Keith Phares in world premiere of Paul's Case!

Barihunk Keith Phares (with beard) and Hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock

Over the years we've made no secret that we occassionally have hunkentenor crushes. We understand that baritones don't always have a monopoly on hunkiness, so we like to sneak on a tenor once in awhile. Jonathan Blalock is a singer with outstanding musicianship and male model looks, so what's not to love? When we learned he was performing with barihunk Keith Phares, we knew that a post was in order.

The two singers are performing in the world premiere of Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case! at UrbanArias at Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia. The opera is based on the famous short story by Willa Cather. Blalock plays the lead role of Paul, the son of an businessman in early 20th-century Pittsburgh, who is played by Keith Phares. Paul, who is tired of his dreary existence steals money from his job and runs off to New York City to taste freedom and enjoy a life of luxury.

There are three remaining performances this weekend and tickets are available at 888.841.2787 or online.

Upcoming performance for Keith Phares include the premiere of Eric Sawyer's The Garden of Martyrs, the title role in Elmer Gantry with Tulsa Opera and Marcello in La bohème with Manitoba Opera. Jonathan Blalock can next be seen debuting Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni at Nevada Opera on May 17 and 19.

West Coast tidalwave of barihunks coming

David Adam Moore in Chicago's Streetcar Named Desire
As opera companies announce their upcoming seasons, it appears that the West Coast might be the best destination to catch a few barihunks. When even Rigoletto is cast with a barihunk, one can expect a tidal wave of male pulchritude on opera stages up and down the coast from Seattle to San Diego.

We've already marked our calendars to see the seethingly sexy David Adam Moore in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci at the San Diego Opera. The American baritone, fresh off his debut in Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire at Lyric Opera of Chicago will be singing the role of Silvio. This is one production where we certainly can't blame Nedda for having an affair with Silvio.

San Diego Opera will feature other operas with major baritone roles, including the great Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role of Massenet's Don Quichotte. Malcolm McKenzie and the hilarious John Del Carlo will team up in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love. Aris Argiris will join tenor superstar Piotr Beczala in Verdi's Un ballo in Maschera, which is sure to be a hot ticket. 

Dmitri Hvorstovsky & Ildar Abdrazakov (Dario Acosta Photography)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky will also return to the West Coast with recitals in Los Angeles on May 22, 2014 and San Francisco on May 25, 2014. The "Siberian Hunky" will perform romances on poems by Alexander Pushkin from Glinka, Borodin, Rachmaninov and Glier.

The recently buffed up Ildar Abdrazakov is featured prominently on the San Francisco Opera's beautiful 2013-14 marketing materials. He'll be kicking off the new season in the title role of Boito's Mephistopheles in an all-star cast that included Patricia Racette and Ramon Vargas. Performances run from September 6-October 2, 2013. Opera buffs will remember that the "Age of the Barihunks" unofficially kicked off with Samuel Ramey in the same opera in San Francisco in 1994.

Other prominent barihunks appearing with the San Francisco Opera are Nathan Gunn in Jerome Kern's Show Boat, Green Grimsley in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman and Audun Iversen making his local debut in Rossini's Barber of Seville.

Michael Todd Simpson shows off his baritone claw
Up north in Seattle, where they are three months away from Greer Grimsley heading the cast as Wotan in Wagner's Ring Cycle, they've announced a season with a bevy of barihunks. Michael Todd Simpson, a notoriously sexy Escamillo, will be taking on a very different role when he portrays John Sorel in Menotti's The Consul. Also in that production will be barihunks Steven LaBrie and Joseph Lattanzi. 

Steven LaBrie (left) and Donovan Singletary (right) heating up Seattle
The aforementioned Rigoletto will be in Seattle, as Marco Vratogna portrays the title character. We've seen him in this role and it's a performance that is not to be missed. Also in the cast is fitness guru Donovan Singletary as Count Monterone. 

Other operas are Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment and Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann. The Seattle Opera will also be hosting two special events next year. On August 7th the International Wagner Competition will take place and two nights later a concert celebrating the company's 50th anniversary and the tenure of outgoing general director Speight Jenkins. Features performers include Stephanie Blythe, Greer Grimsley, John Relyea and William Burden. 

Paul LaRosa (left) and Liam Bonner (right)
We don't feature the Los Angeles Opera as much as other companies because they cast fewer barihunks than most companies. They are almost making up for it in one performance of Britten's Billy Budd, which features Liam Bonner in the title role, Greer Grimsley as John Claggart, Paul LaRosa as the First Mate, Jonathan Michie as Donald and Samuel Ramey as Dansker. 

Of course, our biggest frustration with L.A. Opera has been their bad habit of casting tenors in baritone roles. They're doing it again this year, as tenor Plácido Domingo takes on one of the great baritone roles, Athanael in Massenet's Thaïs. Other operas include Glass' Einstein on the Beach, Donizett's Lucia di Lammermoor, Mozart's Magic Flute, Verdi's Falstaff and Bizet's Carmen (with a yet-to-be-announced Escamillo).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nathan Gunn and Timothy McDevitt in PBS "Carousel" telecast

Nathan Gunn (left) and Tim McDevitt (right)
The PBS show "Live from Lincoln Center" will broadcast the New York Philharmonic's performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel on April 26th. The performance features barihunk Nathan Gunn as the carnival barker Billy Bigelow and Kelli O'Hara as Julie Jordan. But keep your eyes peeled for Timothy McDevitt in the ensemble. He's clearly the next generation of barihunkitude and may well be a Billy Bigelow in a future broadcast.

McDevitt will be singing Le Mari in Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tiresias at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence on June 14th and 15th. Nathan Gunn can currently be seen in Dominick Argento's The Aspern Papers at the Dallas Opera. There is one performance remaining on April 28th and tickets are available online.

Tony Award winner John Rando, who is best known for Urinetown and A Christmas Story, directed the performance. Check your local listings for broadcast times and stations in your area.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Listen to Henk Neven live on the BBC

Henk Neven
Our goal at Barihunks is two-fold, to promote great low-voice singers, especially since baritones tend to get lost in the shadows of the tenor and soprano p.r. machines. We also believe in promoting singers who take care of their voices as well as their bodies. Not only is it good for a long, healthy career (i.e. - Thomas Hampson, Simon Keenlyside, Rod Gilfry and Nathan Gunn), but it makes opera a more believable art form and it allows it to compete with the omnipresence of television, movies and online media.

There are few singers who we've been more excited about than the Dutch barihunk Henk Neven. When he shot onto the scene, we instantly compared him to a young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau for his ability to beautifully convey the nuances of an art song. We first featured him almost two years ago, long before he was receiving Gramophone magazine nominations for his great singing.

He's also our birthday feature for tomorrow, so we were thrilled when we learned that BBC3 was giving the public Henk Neven as a birthday gift. His French song recital with English soprano Geraldine McGreevy and accompanist Graham Johnson can be heard live at 7:30 PM London time (2:30 PM EST/11:30 AM PST).

The program from Wigmore Hall features music by Debussy, Faure, Satie, Roussel and the rarely-heard Andre Caplet. Faure's song 'Le plus doux chemin' is the inspiration for Graham Johnson's latest series of themed recitals, exploring the tonal beauty, vibrant imagery and sense of spontaneity that is French chanson.

Henk Neven is a former Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and also studied with Graham Johnson and his latest CD is an acclaimed recital of mostly French songs.

Click HERE to listen to the broadcast.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Doug Carpenter's winning set from the Lotte Lenya Competition

Doug Carpenter as he appeared in the 2012 Barihunks Calendar
Last Sunday we posted about Doug Carpenter who had just won the Lotte Lenya Competition. The entire video of his winning set of songs is now available on YouTube, so we'd thought we'd share it with you. The American barihunk sang "C'est Moi" from Lerner and Lowe's Camelot,  Pierrot's Tanzlied ("Mein Sehnen, Mein Wehnen") from Korngold's Die Tote Stadt,  "This is New" from Kurt Weill's Lady in the Dark and "Molasses to Rum" from Sherman Edwards' 1776. Shane Schag is accompanying him on piano.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lots of Beefcake in Cheesecake Country

Cheesecake and Beefcake in Wisconsin
For those of you outside of the United States, the state of Wisconsin is known for its cheese. The natives are sometimes disparagingly called "cheeseheads," although if you're a Green Bay Packers fan being a cheesehead is an honor. One thing is certain, you can get anything made with cheese in Wisconsin, we've even seen sausages stuffed with cheese and donuts topped with melted cheese.

But over the next few weeks the state may become known for its beef, more specifically its beefcake, than its cheesecake. Five barihunks who have appeared on this site will be singing Mozart at the state's two major opera companies.

Matt Boehler at NYCO in Powder Her Face
First up is Don Giovanni with Kelly Markgraf in the title role, Matt Boehler as Leporello and John Arnold as Masetto. Performances are on April 26 and 28 and tickets are available online. The production also includes two spectacular young sopranos, Elizabeth Caballero as Donna Anna and Caitlyn Lynch as Donna Elvira.

Readers of this site will recall that Markgraf sang Masetto in the sexy Don Giovanni at New York City Opera in 2009 that put the company back on the road to recovery after a severe financial crisis. Markgraf next heads to the Aspen Music Festival in July 2013 to sing Swallow in a semi-staged performance of Britten's Peter Grimes.

Matt Boehler also made headlines at the New York City Opera in Thomas Ades' Powder Her Face where he shared the stage with 22 naked men [Google it!]. On May 10th, Boehler creates the role of the celebrated French author, Voltaire, in a workshop of composer Scott Wheeler’s The Sorrows of Frederick.. The workshop is run under the auspices of the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Theater Center's Opera/Theater Commissions program. Tickets are available at the Met website.

John Arnold in Dead Man Walking

In January 2013, John Arnold made his debut with Madison Opera in Philip Glass’s Galileo Galilei, singing the role of the younger Galileo. He recently performed Joseph de Roucher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking in Boston, part of three simultaneous productions of the modern masterpiece in North America. He'll be joining the prestigious Merola Opera Program in San Francisco this summer.

On May 10 and 12, cheeseheads can drive 80 minutes to the west where Florentine Opera will be performing Le nozze di Figaro with barihunks Craig Verm as Count Almaviva an Daniel Belcher as Figaro. Tickets are available online. If you're in the area, you can meet the artists on April 23 at the company's annual luncheon. Call 414-421-3005 for more information.

After Milwaukee, Daniel Belcher will head to the Central City Opera House to sing the other Figaro in Rossini's Barber of Seville. The run begins on June 29th and tickets are available online. You also won't want to miss the Almaviva of tenor Javier Abreu.

Craig Verm in Venus and Adonis at Florentine Opera (Photos by Kathy Wittman)
Readers may remember that Craig Verm created a vocal and visual sensation with his performance in John Blow's Venus and Adonis at Florentine Opera in 2011. We loved the photos so much that we used them in our 2012 Barihunks calendar. Of course, Verm was our coverboy for our 2013 calendar and remains one of the most popular singers on the site. On June 22, Verm heads to the Des Moines Metro Opera to perform Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ryan Kinny debuts Kurnewal in Houston Tonight

Ryan McKinny
Ryan McKinny is making his much anticipated debut in the role of Kurnewal tonight with the Houston Grand Opera. The all-star cast in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde is headed by Nina Stemme and Ben Heppner in the title roles. Performance will run through May 5 and tickets are available online

The former Houston Grand Opera Studio artist and Metropolitan Opera Auditions finalist, has become a regular with the company. He has appeared as Collatinus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (2012), the Royal Herald in Wagner's Lohengrin (2009), Theseus in Britten's A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2009), Don Pedro in Mozart's Beatrice and Benedict (2008), The Refuge by Christopher Theofanidis (2008, 2007), Mr. Flint in Britten's Billy Budd (2008), Samuel in Verdi's A Masked Ball (2007), Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni (2006), and Figaro in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

Ryan McKinny as Jochanaan
Last season, Ryan McKinny made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Lieutenant Ratcliffe in Britten's Billy Budd, sang his first Jochanaan in Salome at New Orleans Opera (remember that sexy picture?), and sang Hercules in Alceste with Leipzig Opera.

In 2010, he was named the first recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Prize for singing Wagner at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition. He also represented the United States in the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, where he was a finalist in the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize.

Hot tickets in London and NY; Introducing Gregory Jebaily

Peter Brathwaite
Peter Brathwaite will join Phoebus Cart and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in the annual tradition of Sonnet Walks. Started by English actor and former Globe Artistic Director Mark Rylance, the group of singers and actors will lead folks on a stroll through historic London to the Globe Theatre, charming you along the way with Shakespeare sonnets and speeches. Brathwaite will be singing "Sweet Love Remember'd."

The walk is this Saturday. April 20th, beginning at 10 AM. The walks set off every 15 minutes from 10am until 12.45pm. One walk from the East (Shoreditch) and one walk from the West (Westminster).  The walks are so popular that both walks are sold out, however you can call +44 (0)20 7401 9919 to check on returns. Ticket are  £18.

Michael Kelly
On May 5th, SongFusion presents the Voxare String Quartet and baritone Michael Kelly in a special benefit performance of Ricky Ian Gordon's Green Sneakers, held at New York’s LGBT Community Center with stage direction by Jeanne Slater.   Tickets are $20 and seating is limited, so go online and buy your tickets today.

Jesse Blumberg in Green Sneakers in San Francisco
Green Sneakers has received premieres on both coast in recent months. Jesse Blumberg performed the piece at Lincoln Center on April 6th with the Voxare Quartet and also with the Del Sol Quartet in San Francisco on February 19th in an acclaimed production by director John De Los Santos. Rumors have it that the De Los Santos production will soon receive it's premiere in Texas. More on that in a future post.
Gregory Jebaily
Our favorite thing about posting gym photos like the recent ones from Scott Beasley, is that it inevitably begets more photos of barihunks in gym shots. The most recent were of Florence, South Carolina native Gregory Jebaily, who is new to this site. He's part of the Operaticus group of singers who are getting their voices AND their bodies in shape for a professional career.      

Jebaily made his operatic debut as Wagner in Dayton Opera’s April 2010 production of Gonoud’s Faust. He returned the next year as a Dayton Opera Artist in Residence and performed the role of Hortensius in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment. For the past two years he's also been a studio artist with Kentucky Opera where he sang Dancaïro in Carmen, Hermann in Enemies: a love story by Ben Moore, and covered the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro and Danilo in The Merry Widow. He also performed The Elder Son in Britten's Prodigal Son.  

Gregory Jebaily singing "Look! Through the port..." from Billy Budd:

He recently completed his Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he studied with bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw. At CCM, Jebaily performed the role of Junius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and the title role of Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus. He is currently a Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist, where he is covering the role of Mercutio in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reader Submission: Scott Beasley gets in shape for Tarquinius in Rape of Lucretia

Scott Beasley onstage and prepariing for Tarquinius at the gym
A colleague of barihunk Scott Beasley was mighty impressed with the singer's dedication to his CrossFit routine in preparation for performing Tarquinius in Benjamin Britten's The Rape Of Lucretia at the University of Tennessee Opera Theater.  The production was double cast with Beasley alternation the role with Ryan Olson.

Beasley is currently studying voice at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and singing as a baritone soloist at the First Presbyterian Church.

Scott Beasley prepariing for Tarquinius at the gym and as Tarquinius
Unfortunately, the performances all wrapped up last weekend, but we'll be keeping an eye on this emerging talent. The local reviewer commented on Beasley's "marvelous physical strength," so all that CrossFit training seemed to pay off.

Other singers in the production included Aaron Dunn as Junius, and Ian Richardson and Peter Johnson alternating as Collatinus.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Four Barihunks in "Nude Hamlet" at La Monnaie

Stéphane Degout in Hamlet at Theater an der Wien
Director Olivier Py has never been shy about featuring male nudity, whether in operas like Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet or Alban Berg's Lulu, or theater productions like Die Sonne at Volksbühne Berlin. His Hamlet featuring Stéphane Degout in the buff created quite a buzz last Spring at the Theater an der Wien. The production is now coming to the La Monnaie in Brussels starring Stéphane Degout again. He will be alternating the role with fellow barihunk Franco Pomponi.

We were also intrigued to see two of our favorite barihunks in smaller roles, Jérôme Varnier and Henk Neven. If you like shirtless guys...and lots of may want to order your tickets when they go on sale October 10. Although there are thirteen performances, tickets are expected to be extremely scarce. Tickets will be available for as little as € 12.

Xavier Edgardo recital in Miramar, Puerto Rico

Xavier Edgardo from the 2013 Barihunks Calendar
Barihunks calendar model Xavier Edgardo Rivera will be joining soprano Daniela Yurrita and accompanist Pedro Juan Jiménez for his third year student recital at the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico in Miramar on April 24 at 7 PM. The recital is free, so if you in or near Miramar, make sure to go see this exciting young artist, who also performs as an actor.

Edgardo and Yurrita will perform works by Mozart, Satie, Ravel, Bellini, Donizetti, Duchesne, Spohr, Puccini, Bizet, Schubert, Delano, Debussy, Guastavino, Bernstein and others.

The 23-year-old singer studied at the University of Puerto Rico and was encouraged to pursue studies as a soloist after being a standout participant in the choir. He honed his solo skills for two seasons at the International Vocal Arts Institute run by the esteemed Joan Dorneman, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.

Edgardo has participated in and won a number of vocal competitions, include many in Europe. This led to him being invited to perform as a soloist with the Mundus Cantat Festival in Gdansk, Poland. He has also performed Mahler's Symphony no. 2 in C minor (Resurrection) with the Simón Bolívar Youth under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel. He has participated in masterclasses with a number of great singers, including fellow Puerto Rican Justino Diaz, Denis Sedov, Sherril Milnes, Mignon Dunn and Elaine Ortiz Arandes.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Doug Carpenter wins Lotte Lenya Competition

Doug Carpenter from the 2012 Barihunks Calendar
Barihunk Doug Carpenter, who created quite a sensation in our 2012 calendar with his "cupcakes" photo, has won the prestigious 2013 Lotte Lenya Competition. He was the only baritone in the finals, so his victory is especially sweet to us. He walks away with $15,000 in prize money to further his career.

Contestants were required to prepare four selections: an aria from the opera or operetta repertoire; two songs from the American musical theater repertoire (one from the pre-1968 "Golden Age" and one from 1968 or later); and a theatrical selection by Kurt Weill.

Doug Carpenter sporting his Barihunk tee (and some impressive guns!)
Held annually by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes talented young singer-actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, and emphasizes the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context.

Soprano Patricia Racette, British opera and musical theater conductor James Holmes, and Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization President and American Theater Wing Vice-Chairman Theodore S. Chapin served as judges.  

Doug Carpenter: Career is taking off
Next week, Carpenter will be doing a reading backed by Sony Music called Beautiful. He can next be seen at Pennsylvania Shakespeare doing Oklahoma from June 12-30, and then Life Could be a Dream at New York Musical Theater Festival.

Previous winners of the Lotte Lenya competition will be familiar to our readers, including barihunks Lucas Meachem, Liam Bonner and Jonathan Michie, as well as tenor Noah Stewart (who appeared in our year end feature as a tenor who we adore!).

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Watch Simon Keenlyside in Eugene Onegin (if you live in UK)

Simon Keenlyside and Krassimira Stoyanova
If you're in the U.K., you can watch a new production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin with the ageless barihunk Simon Keenlyside as Onegin and soprano Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana.  The opera from the Royal Opera House was broadcast yesterday under the baton of Robin Ticciati. The opera is introduced by Kasper Holten who makes his debut as stage director at the ROH. Because it's a BBC iPlayer telecast, it's only available in the United Kingdom. The broadcast is available until April 19th.

Regardless of where you are, you can always listen to the BBC radio online with their generous offering of opera.
Mariusz Kwiecien
Next up at the Royal Opera House is barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien as Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa in Verdi's Don Carlo. The cast also includes the riveting Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II and hunkentenor Jonas Kaufmann as Don Carlo. Most performances are sold out or nearly sold out, so order your tickets online today.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hampson, Pisaroni, Colombara lead all-star performance and recording of Simon Boccanegra

Thomas Hampson (left) & Luca Pisaroni (right)
Luca Pisaroni will sing Paolo Albiani and Thomas Hampson will sing the title role in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra in Vienna this weekend.  The concert performances of the opera will be recorded for future release on Decca.  If the twists and turns of this family plot aren't complicated enough on stage for you, Pisaroni is Hampson's son-in-law in real life. We're not sure if Hampson checks for poison when Pisaroni is over for dinner.

Carlo Colombara sings Fiesco's "Suona ogni labbro il mio nome" with Thomas Hampson:

The all-star cast also includes Kristine Opolais, Carlo Colombara and Joseph Calleja. The performances on April 13 and 17 with the Vienna Symphony will be conducted by Massimo Zanetti at the Vienna Konzerthaus.

Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rare performance of Thérèse by Jules Massenet with hunky Aaron Ball

Aaron Ball
This post is a series of firsts for us. The first time that we've featured the opera Thérèse by Jules Massenet. The first appearance of barihunk Aaron Ball on this site. The first time that we've featured an opera performance in Riverside, California.

For us lovers of everything baritone, Massenet wrote some amazing low voice roles, especially in Hérodiade, Werther, Le Cid, Thaïs, Manon and most notably in Don Quichotte (which was written for the great Feodor Chaliapin). When we saw the poster for Thérèse, the first thing that caught our eye was Aaron Ball and the second was the cast of one mezzo, one tenor and TWO baritones.

Thérèse takes place during the French Revolution and concerns a heroine who is torn between duty and affection, between her husband André Thorel and her lover, the nobleman Armand de Clerval. Although she had decided to follow her lover into exile, when her husband is being led to execution she shouts "Vive le roi!" (Long live the king!) amid the frenzied crowd and is dragged to her husband's side and marched to the guillotine.

Thérèse was first performed at the Opéra in Monte Carlo on February 7, 1907. Although it's been periodically revived, opera lovers today probably know the piece from a 1973 recording with the underappreciated Huguette Tourangeau under the baton of Richard Bonynge. The opera will be performed on April 24 at the Hole Memorial Auditorium at La Sierra University. Visit the school's website for additional information. This performance will be followed by one on Saturday, April 27 at 8 pm at Pasadena City College.

According to his bio, American baritone Aaron Ball has "one foot in the motion picture industry and one foot on the stage." He studied with tenor Kevin St. Clair, who also appears in this performance, as well as with baritone Douglas Nagel. He recently appeared in the U.S. premiere of Gabriela Ortiz's Camelia la Tajana at the Long Beach Opera. You can also catch him in Paul Bunnell's 2012 film, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lauri Vasar strips down for Il Prigoniero

Lauri Vasar in Il Prigoniero
One of our alert readers pointed out the barihunk Lauri Vasar is reprising the role of the Prisoner in Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero at Opéra de Lyon. The 7-part, 50-minute opera is being presented with Schoenberg's one-act opera Erwartung. This is the fourth time that we've featured the Estonian barihunk and his outfit of choice always seems to be his underwear, which is fine with us.

Il Prigioniero was first broadcast by the Italian radio station RAI on December 1, 1949. The work is based on the short story La torture par l'espérance ("Torture by Hope") from the collection Nouveaux contes cruels by the French writer Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam and from La Légende d'Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak by Charles de Coster. Some of the musical material is based on Dallapiccola's 1938 choral work Canti di prigionia.

Perfomances will run through April 13th. Visit the Opéra de Lyon website for additional information.

Lauri Vasar in Il Prigoniero

Vasar will now switch to the German repertory as Olivier in Richard Strauss' Capriccio. He then switches to Wagner, taking on Wolfram in Tannhäuser at the Staatsoper Hamburg in May and Amfortas in Parsifal at the Palace of Arts in Budapest. Somehow we think that he'll be more fully clothed for this series of performances.

You can listen to his Wolfram on his website, as well as view additional pictures from other productions of Il Prigoniero.

Michael Kelly & SONGFUSION present a Two-Night Celebration of LGBT Composers

Michael Kelly
The New York-based ensemble SONGFUSION, which is dedicated to presenting a wide range of art song repertoire in innovative ways, is presenting a two-night celebration of LGBT composers.

On Friday, MAY 3rd at 7:30 pm, they will present GAY WORDS/GAY MUSIC, a concert that explores issues of gay life. Composers include Eve Beglarian, David Del Tredici, Paula Kimper, David Leisner, Ben Moore, Ned Rorem, Glen Roven, and David Sisco. Topics include sex,
exploration, love and loss. The evening also includes Ben Moore's "Love Remained," which was  commissioned by SongFusion for baritone Michael Kelly.

Randal Turner performs Glen Roven's "A Crazed Girl":

On May 5th, Michael Kell will join the Voxare String Quartet for a benefit performance of Ricky Ian Gordon's Green Sneakers, held at New York’s LGBT Community Center. Green Sneakers, which recently received its West Coast premiere, is a heart wrenching account of the loss of the composer's partner Jeffrey Grossi to AIDS. All proceeds from this event will be donated to the Bailey Holt House, an AIDS facility in Greenwich Village, which suffered damage during Hurricane Sandy.​

For additional information and tickets visit SONGFUSION online.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Anders Froehlich is a sexy success in Bonjour M. Gouguin

Anders Froehlich in Bonjour M. Gouguin
One thing we love about the internet is that we can track which posts are of the most interest to our readers. Clearly, our readers like a little beefcake, as the posts with the most skin seem to consistently generate the most traffic. (Who said opera lovers were stuffy?). Our teaser post featuring Anders Froehlich in Fabrizio Carlone's Bonjour M. Gaugin at the West Edge Opera outside of San Francisco was no exception. It rivaled some of our top posts featuring Daniel Okulitch, Omar Ebrahim, Nathan Gunn, Michael Mayes, Gabriel Bermudez and our latest sensation snowboarder/barihunk Christiaan Smith Kotlarek.

Anders Froehlich and soprano Shawnette Sulker
We attended opening night, and the build up to the opera was worth the hype. West Edge Opera, which used to be Berkeley Opera, prides itself on "pushing the envelope" under General Director Mark Streshinsky, who also directed Gouguin. Their recent production of Monteverdi's L’incoronazione di Poppea with a fiendishly sexy Ryan Belongie in the countertenor role of Ottone was a huge critical success.

Anders Froehlich in Bonjour M. Gouguin
Streshinsky took a chance with Carlone's Bonjour M. Gaugin, in that the composer was virtually unknown and the story mixes French and English, dance and opera, and video projection with stage action. Froehlich was asked to perform extensive dance moves by choreographer Yannis Adoniou, which is usually a red flag in opera. But the 31-year-old baritone and amateur rock climber has extensive dance training and he moves as effortlessly as the other dancers. Even the music, which was scored for low instruments and no violins, had more hints of Debussy than modernism.

Anders Froehlich and soprano Shawnette Sulker
Next up for the company, is Benjamin Britten's Turn of the Screw, which runs from July 20-28. There are no baritones in the cast, so mark your calendars now. More information about West Edge Opera is available on their website.

We hope that you enjoyed the pictures!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Listen to Michael Mayes & Edward Hanlon in Don Giovanni on Iowa Public Radio

Edward Hanlon at Seagle Music Colony
If you're like us and can't wait to see and hear Michael Mayes in Glory Denied at the Fort Worth Opera Festival then you can catch him online on Saturday, April 6th. Mayes and fellow barihunk Edward Hanlon performed the opera during the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 40th Anniversary season last year. The performance will be at 7 PM CST on Iowa Public Radio.

Michael Mayes as Don Giovanni in Des Moines
The broadcast is part of Iowa Public Radio's Arias in April series opens. Don Giovanni will be followed by two other broadcasts from the Des Moines Metro Opera, Puccini’s La Rondine on April 13th and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin on April 20th.

Craig Verm
This season, the Des Moines Metro Opera will feature barihunk calendar model Craig Verm, who will be performing Mercutio in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes. Their other opera is Richard Strauss' Elektra. Visit their website for additional information.