Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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).

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