Friday, June 28, 2013

Zachary Gordin to kick off Olympic Music Festival

Barihunk Zachary Gordin

Popular barihunk calendar model Zachary Gordin will be performing this weekend at the bucolic Olympic Music Festival, located on a turn-of-the-century dairy farm located on 55 acres of tranquil farmland on Washington state's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.

The singer, who is based in the San Francisco Bay area and performs regularly with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, will be performing Robert Schumann’s “Dichterliebe,” Franz Liszt’s “Liebestraume” and the “Chansons Grises” by Reynaldo Hahn. His program is entitled “Songs and Dances of Love," but from the emails that we receive about the bodybuilding singer, he may want to rename it “Songs and Dances of Lust."

 Zachary Gordin sings "Estuans interius" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana

After Gordin kicks off the festival, concerts will continue every Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM now through September 1st. The concerts take place on hay-bale seating inside a barn with picnicking encouraged on the lawn outside.

Advance tickets to the Olympic Music Festival are $30 for adults for barn seating; $28 for seniors 62 and older and $18 for youth age 7 to 17. At the gate on concert day, those prices go up $3. For lawn seating, there are no advance sales; tickets at the gate are $20 for adults, $14 for youth and free for children 6 and younger.

Visit the Olympic Music Festival online for additional program information. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ildebrando D’Arcangelo joins Carmen cast at L.A. Opera

Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Escamillo with Anna Netrebko
The Los Angeles Opera has announced that bass-barihunk Ildebrando D’Arcangelo is joining the cast for their performances of Bizet's Carmen, which opens their 2013/14. Performances run from September 21-October 6 and tickets are available online

Also joining the cast as the whiny Micaëla is South African soprano Pretty Yende, who won first prize at 2011 Operalia competition. She is replacing Nino Machaidze, who is having her first child with barihunk Guido Loconsolo.

Ildebrando D’Arcangelo sings "Votre toast" from Carmen:

Ildebrando D’Arcangelo is currently singing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Theater Bonn. There are two performances remaining on June June 29 and July 14. After that, much of his attention will turn to the comic roles of Rossini, with performances as Alidoro in La Cenerentola at the Vienna State Opera, Selim in Il Turco in Italia at the Bavarian State Opera and Mustafa in L'Italiana in Algeri at the Opéra national de Paris.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sexy photos of Ryan McKinny's upcoming Flying Dutchman

Ryan McKinny as the Dutchman
Back in May, we mentioned that bass-barihunk Ryan McKinny would be debuting the role of Wagner's Flying Dutchman at the Glimmerglass Festival. Although opening night isn't until July 6th, these amazingly sexy photos from photographer Karli Cadel indicate that this may be THE summer opera destination for Barihunks readers.  

Ryan McKinny backstage preparting the Dutchman
The production is directed by the Queen Mother of barihunks, Francesca Zambello, and also featured the amazing soprano Melody Moore as Senta. Performances will run from July 6 to August 24 and tickets are available online

 Ryan McKinny sings "Die Frist ist um" from The Flying Dutchman:

Watch the entire Anna Netrebko/Dmitri Hvorostovsky concert from Red Square

Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky
A lot of our U.S. readers were disappointed when we posted that the Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Anna Netrebko gala concert from Red Square in Moscow would not be available to American audiences. Well, thanks to YouTube and some alert readers, we now have the entire concert for you to enjoy. 

Here is the entire program:
1. Giuseppe Verdi - La forza del destino
Overture (Orchestra)
2. Giuseppe Verdi - I vespri siciliani
Merce, dilette amiche (Anna Netrebko)
3. Giuseppe Verdi - Don Carlo
Io morró, ma lieto in core (Dmitri Hvorostovsky)
4. Giuseppe Verdi - Il trovatore
Vedi! Le fosche notturne spoglie (Anvil Chorus) (Chorus)
5. Giuseppe Verdi - Don Carlo
Tu che la vanitá (Anna Netrebko)
6. Giuseppe Verdi - Il trovatore
Il balen del suo sorriso (Dmitri Hvorostovsky)
Udiste? Come albeggi... Mira, d'acerbe lagrime (Anna Netrebko/Dmitri Hvorostovsky)
7. Giacomo Puccini - Tosca
Va, Tosca (Te Deum) (Dmitri Hvorostovsky/Chorus)
8. Umberto Giordano - Andrea Chenier
La mamma morta (Anna Netrebko)
9. Giuseppe Verdi - Nabucco
Va, pensiero (Chorus)
10. Giuseppe Verdi - Rigoletto
Cortigiani, vil razza dannata (Dmitri Hvorostovsky)
11. Francesco Cilea - Adriana Lecouvreur
Io son l'umile ancella (Anna Netrebko)
12. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin
Bolyat moyi skori nozhenki so pokhodushki...Uzh kak po mostu, mostochku (Peasants' Chorus and Dance) (Chorus)
Polonaise (Act III, No. 19)
Final scene (Anna Netrebko/Dmitri Hvorostovsky)

Raymond Ayers in sexy Carmen and opera based on Bjork movie

Dagmar Hesse as Selma Ježková and Raymond Ayers as Bill Houston
Remarkably, we haven't featured American barihunk Raymond Ayers on our site. The singer studied at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J. and the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He's currently a member of the ensemble at the Theater Hagen in North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, not far Dortmund, Dusselfdorf and Essen.

Perhaps we overlooked Raymond Ayers because our German sources for Barihunks are located in Berlin and Munich. It looks like we need to find some sources in the Western regions of Deutschland.  Over the last four years Ayers has sung a variety of roles with the company, including Germont in La traviata, Jupiter in Orpheus in der Unterwelt, Ottokar in Der Freischutz, Silvio in Pagliacci, La Dandini in La Cenerentola, Chucho in the European premier of Salsi Puedes,  Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte

Jaclyn Bermudez as Micaëla and Raymond Ayers as Moralès
He's currently playing a very sexy Moralès in Bizet's Carmen, with performances remaining on June 28, July 3 and July 10. In the photos, he almost looks like Joseph De Rocher from Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking.

He's also performing  in Paol Ruder's one-act opera, “Selma Jezkova,” based on the 2000 Lars von Trier film musical “Dancer in the Dark,” starring Bjork. The opera premiered in September 2010 at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen, directed by Kaspar Holten and had its U.S. premiere in July 2011 at the Rose Theater in New York City.

Tickets for both shows are available online. You can listen to sound clips of Raymond Ayers at his website.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Watch the Luca Pisaroni and Karita Mattila gala from Grafenegg, Austria

Luca Pisaroni
If you missed the Summer's Night gala broadcast from Grafenegg, Austria on June 20, it is now available online in its entirety. The concert features barihunk Luca Pisaroni and soprano Karita Mattila.

Pisaroni sings Leporello's catalogue aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, La Calunnia from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Cole Porter's Night and Day and then joins Mattila for Tonight from Bernstein's West Side Story.

Click HERE to watch the broadcast.

Merola Opera to present The Rape of Lucretia

Chris Carr and Kate Allen
The Merola Opera program in San Francisco will be presenting Britten's "The Rape of Lucretia" on July 11 and 13. Performing the critical role of Tarquinius will be Chris Carr, who we've featured on this site for his amazing physical transformation after taking up the Sparticus workout. He was also featured in our "Top 25 of 2012" for his transformation.

Of course, "The Rape of Lucretia" is one of our favorite operas, since it features three major baritone roles. In this performance, directed by Peter Kazaras, Carr will be joined by Efrain Solís as Junius and David Weigel as Collatinus. Solís was as a finalist in the most recent Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as well as this year's Eleanor McCollum Competition. Weigel was recently a member of the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center, where he sang Colline in Puccini's La bohème and Don Basilio in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.

The cast of "The Rape of Lucretia" also includes tenor Robert Watson as the Male Chorus, soprano Linda Barnett as the Female Chorus, mezzo Kate Hannigan as Bianca and soprano Alisa Jordheim as Lucia. Tickets are available online.

Don't forget to check out our popular Rape of Lucretia photo tribute.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hvorostovsky/Netrebko concert from Moscow's Red Square to be broadcast

When we posted about Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Anna Netrebko's upcoming concert in Moscow's  Red Square last month, we promised that we've have additional broadcast details upon availability. We have particularly good news for you if you're in Europe or Russia, but disappointing news for everyone else.

The June 19th concert will be broadcast live across Russia beginning at 20:30 Moscow time on Russian State TV's cultural channel - RUTV. Audiences in France and Germany can enjoy the performance two hours later on ARTE. Four days later on June 23, the concert will be shown during prime time by Germany's ZDF. SKY Arts will broadcast the performance in the United Kingdom in October 2013, with cinecast details to be announced at a later date. Release in the U.S. is still a possibility, so stay tuned.

Hvorostovsky and Netrebko will sing music from Puccini's Tosca, Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, Giordano's Andrea Chenier, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Verdi's I vespri siciliani, Verdi's Rigoletto, Verdi's Don Carlo and Verdi's Il trovatore. The singers will be accompanied by conductor Constantine Orbelia and the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Charles Gounod!

Charles Goundo
Charles Gounod (June 17, 1818-October 18, 1893) is best known for his operas Faust and Romeo et Juliette, as well as some sacred works, particularly his Ave Maria. His instrumental works never found the success of his vocal and sacred works. Although not considered a major composer of influence, his works are known for their tunefulness, imaginative vocal writing and orchestral scoring. Stylistically, he was a conservative composer whose influence extended to Georges Bizet, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Jules Massenet.

Gounod's first music teacher was his mother, who was a pianist. She arranged for him to receive composition lessons from the French composer Anton Reicha. After Reicha's death, he studied at the Paris Conservatory, where he won a Grand Prix in 1839 for his Cantata Fernand. After graduating he went to Rome to continue his composition studies, where he became interested in sixteenth century church music, particularly the works of Palestrina. By his late 20's, he had become deeply religious and even considered joining the priesthood.

He began composing religious music, with his most famous large scale work becoming the Messe solennelle à Sainte Cécile, which he wrote in 1855. He wrote 19 masses, including two Requiems, as well as a number of motets, cantatas and songs with religious themes. He wrote three works based on the story of Joan of Arc.

Rene Bianco sings "Si les filles d'Arles sont reines" from Mireille:

Though Faust and Romeo et Juliette remain his most famous of his thirteen operas, both Sapho and Mireille are periodically still performed today. Faust, for good reason, has been a favorite of this site, as it has three baritone roles - Méphistophélès, Valentin and Wagner. Here are some of Gounod's most famous baritone arias.

Valentin sings the glorious aria "Avant de quitter ces lieux," as he leaves for war with his friend Wagner, entrusting the care of his sister Marguerite to his youthful friend Siébel.

Méphistophélès providing the crowd with wine, sings Le veau d'or, a rousing, irreverent song about the Golden Calf. 

Méphistophélès, thinking that only Marguerite is at the cottage, sings Vous qui faites l'endormie, a mocking burlesque of a lover's serenade under her window.

The best known baritone aria from Romeo et Juliette is Mercutio's aria Mab, la reine des mensonges. Romeo and Mercutio have come to Lord Capulet's party in disguise. When Mercutio suggests that they should use the opportunity to create trouble with their enemy, Romeo disagrees, saying that the only reason he came was because of a dream he had. Mercutio speaks then of Queen Mab, the queen of all dreams.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Upcoming Broadcasts of Il Trovatore, Cosi fan tutte, Marriage of Figaro and Carmen

Alexey Markov

A couple of notable performances will be available online or in theaters shortly. 

On June 19, the Metropolitan Opera's high-definition production of Bizet’s Carmen returns to movie theaters with barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Escamillo. He'll be joined by the equally striking mezzo Elina Garanca as Carmen and tenor Roberto Alagna Don Jose. Performance begin at 7 PM, and additional information is available at their website.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes sing the Torreador Song from Carmen:

Perhaps for sheer star power and vocal thrills, not much will be able to top Verdi's Il trovatore from the Bavarian State Opera on Friday, July 5th. The cast will featured tenor heartthrob Jonas Kaufmann as Manrico, the thrilling soprano Anja Harteros as Leonora and Alexey Markov as Count di Luna.

The performance starts at 7 PM German time (1 PM EST/10 AM PST) and can be viewed online.

Alexey Markov sings "Eri tu" from Un Ballo in Maschera:

La Monnaie will have their performance of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte available online for three weeks beginning on June 26th. The cast includes baritones William Shimmell as Don Alfonso and Andreas Wolf as Guglielmo. Visit their online site to watch the performance.  

The 2012 performance of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro from Glyndebourne will be streamed online on July 12th. The cast includes Vito Priante as Figaro and Audun Iversen as the Count. The all-star cast is rounded out by Isabel Leonard as Cherubino, Sally Matthews as the Countess and Ann Murray as Marcellina. Additional information is available online.

For readers who want to enjoy plenty of opera online, we would suggest the Met Opera on Demand, which features video and audio performances from the Met archives;, which has a catalogue of over 50 operas and numerous instrumental performances; and, Sonostream, which streams concerts and opera online from Vienna.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rene Pape and Benjamin Jay Davis in long-awaited US release of Kenneth Branagh's Magic Flute

Rene Pape as Sarastro (left)
We've found it odd that a number of European release operatic films never make it to the U.S., or take years to get here. Kasper Holten's brilliant movie Juan (based on Don Giovanni) starring barihunk Christopher Maltman has never played at an American film festival or been released for general distribution (It did play at some scattered theaters last year). This isn't a new phenomenon, even Ingmar Bergman's 1975 classic film version of the Magic Flute took awhile to reach American soil after it appeared on Swedish television. Slightly more baffling is the seven years that it took for Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh's adaptation The Magic Flute to open in the U.S.

On Sunday, June 9th the movie opened at about 150 Emerging Pictures theaters across the U.S. and will have limited release moving forward. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a theater within 100 miles of either America's movie capital Hollywood or opera crazed San Francisco. The closest that we found to New York City was 57 miles away in Toms River, New Jersey. For individual theaters and show times go to: You can purchase your own copy of the DVD by clicking HERE. We'd like to think that a great director like Branagh would get broader distribution, which would surely attract new audiences to opera. You can request a showing at a theater near you by visiting this link.

We enjoyed the movie which features a libretto by the great actor Stephen Fry, which he updated to the eve on World War I.  Barihunk readers will be delighted to know that in a brilliant stroke of dream casting, Rene Pape has been cast as Sarastro. In the Branagh/Fry version Sarastro is a man in charge of a field hospital, not a high priest, and his ultimate wish is world peace, not simply the triumph of good over evil. He is also Pamina's father, as in the Ingmar Bergman adaptation. Another similarity to the Bergman film is that Sarastro desperately tries to save the Queen's life, who appears to be his estranged wife.

Benjamin Jay Davis as Papageno (right)
The barihunk in this opera is usually Papageno, who in the film is played by Benjamin Jay Davis, who we admittedly did not know. His website would indicate that, despite having studied with opera coach Bill Schuman of AVA fame, he has made his career in television and in Broadway musicals. He is currently appearing in Spamalot in St. Louis, where he will next take on the role of Emile De Becque in South Pacific next month. He returns to opera in September at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where he will play Billy in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole. We certainly welcome him to the realm of barihunks and plan on seeing him in Anna Nicole.

The critical roles of Tamino and Pamina are played by the rising tenor sensation Joseph Kaiser and soprano Amy Carson. The movie kicks off when Tamino sets off on a perilous journey in pursuit of love, light and peace in a world afflicted by darkness, death and destruction. An eerie quiet descends over a landscape still untouched by conflict as Tamino waits anxiously with his fellow recruits for the command to go into battle.  What ensues is an extravagant musical adventure in which the blossoming love between Pamina and Tamino may help determine the fate of a nation and the destiny of millions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jonathan Estabrooks' Kickstarter campaign to produce CD

Jonathan Estabrooks
Jonathan Estabrooks has been a regular on this site and has been featured in our calendar, as well. He also happens to be a great guy and a whiz at social media. His YouTube site features "A Singer's Life" is a great look at the opera business from a singer's point of view. His "Most Wonderful Memes of the Year" appeared on our year-end "Best of 2012" list. When he appeared in our calendar he asked that his social media addresses be included with his photo (Twitter @estarp and Facebook).

His latest venture is on Kickstarter, where he's trying to raise $40,000 to produce a classical/crossover album with full orchestra. He chose songs that spoke to his "...personal journey and sense of discovery, but also to the collective path we all follow in life, love, faith and that yearning to find a place to call home." The CD will also include an appearance by Jonathan Antoine, a semi-finalist on "Britain's Got Talent," whose audition video has 35 million hits on YouTube.

Check out highlights of Jonathan Estabrooks singing Big Band music:

The money is needed to pay for the orchestra, studio space, mixing, mastering, layout and design, printing and promotion. We're going to make a pledge and encourage all of our readers to do the same. What a great way to support an emerging young artist. There are benefits starting for as little as US $5.00, so make your pledge today. Go to this LINK now!

Nathan Gunn discusses playing Jesus in new opera in San Francisco

Nathan Gunn as Yeshua (Jesus) and Sasha Cooke as Mary Magdalene
The San Francisco Opera under the inspired leadership of David Gockley keeps adding exciting new operas to the repertory. The latest is the world premiere of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magadalene. (Their fall season also includes the world premiere of Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne starring Dolora Zajic). Adamo is the composer of two other hit operas, the hysterical Lysistrata and the classic tale Little Women, the latter which has become the most performed opera in America.

Supported by six years of his own research into ancient texts and modern biblical scholarship, Adamo has written a libretto for The Gospel of Mary Magadalene that scrutinizes Christian scripture and transforms it into an alternate history of sorts. Played out through human characters struggling with the role of sexuality in a patriarchal world, the opera reimagines a neglected, yet pivotal, female character who was traditionally (and erroneously) labeled as a prostitute but who, amidst the contentious religious politics of the time, was able to show Jesus the moral dignity of women.

The YouTube channel for San Francisco Classical Voice has posted a series of interviews with barihunk Nathan Gunn talking about the world premiere of Mark Adamo's Gospel of Mary Magadalene at San Francisco Opera.

Performances are running form June 19 to July 7 and tickets are available online.

Nathan Gunn on playing Jesus:

Nathan Gunn on working with his colleagues:

Nathan Gunn on working with composer Mark Adamo:

You can also listen to Cy Musiker from public radio station KQED talk about the The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reader Submission: Benjamin Appl

Benjamin Appl
German barihunk Benjamin Appl recently caught the eye of a reader while performing in the Guildhall School of Music's production of Britten's Owen Wingrave. Apparently, he wasn't the only one who found Appl both vocally stunning and visually attractive. The review in Bachtrack stated, "As Owen, Benjamin Appl’s voice was clear and strong, and he’d certainly be employed by Abercrombie and Fitch..." described him as "tall, blond and in Prince William mould." Even the oft staid Financial Times wrote, "Benjamin Appl’s Owen makes a handsome, quietly composed centrepiece."

It's been a busy year for the young singer, who in addition to Owen Wingrave has performed as Chevalier des Grieux in Massenet's Le portrait de Manon, Conte Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. He made his professional debut with the Berlin Philharmonic singing lieder by Mahler at the Ravinia Festival, as well as at the International Festival Heidelberger Frühling singing Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte, followed by his debut at Rheingau Musik Festival with Wolf's Italian Songbook.

A set of lieder from Benjamin Appl: 

Before studying at Guildhall, he received his musical training with the Regensburger Domspatzen. He studied with Edith Wiens and Helmut Deutsch at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich as well as at the Bayerische Theaterakademie.

In 2002, Benjamin Appl was awarded a Special Prize by the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation for his outstanding interpretation of 20th Century works. In 2003 , he was a prize winner of the "Bundeswettbewerb Jugend musiziert." In 2012, he was awarded the Schubert Prize by the Deutsche Schubert - Gesellschaft.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Introducing bass-barihunk Colin Ramsey

(L-R) Barihunk Gregory Jebaily, tenor Kenny Stavert, Barihunk Colin Ramsey and barihunk Stefan Barner
To no one's surprise, we're big fans of Operaticus on Facebook. It's where opera singers go to share workout tips, share stories about weight loss and fitness, and share photos. We recently saw a photo posted by Gregory Jebaily, who we introduced to readers in April 2013 and who has proven to be extremely popular with our readers. It appears that he's stuck to his workout routine, as you can see from the photo above. At this rate we may see him on the cover of both Opera News and Men's Fitness magazine.

Also catching our eye in the photo was another emerging singer who we haven't featured before, bass-barihunk Colin Ramsey. Ramsey is currently at the birthplace of Operaticus, the Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Program [If you want the history, click HERE]. He's appearing in the apprentice artist scenes, as well as covering the role of Friar Lawrence in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. Early next year, he's slated to make his mainstage debut with the Seattle Opera as Mr. Kofner in Menotti's The Consul.

Colin Ramsey sing La calunnia from Barber of Seville:

Ramsey graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in 2011, where he received the Hugh Ross Award, awarded to singers with "unusual promise." An award winner with the Pasadena Opera Guild, he went on to become a studio artist at Opera Santa Barbara and the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program.

He made his debut with Opera Santa Barbara singing the Doganiere in La Boheme. At Wolf Trap Opera he was featured as Hermann in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, Jonas Fogg in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and as Figaro and Alidoro in a program of scenes.  We look forward to seeing plenty more of this gifted young singer in the future.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thomas Hampson & Luca Pisaroni team up to celebrate Verdi's 200th birthday

It's time for another teaming up of the father-in-law/son-in-law duo of Thomas Hampson and Luca Pisaroni. A little over a year ago, we ran highlights from their concert in Heidleberg, Germany (unfortunately, they have been taken down!). This time the duo will be performing in Busseto, the home of the great composer Giuseppe Verdi.

Samuel Ramey & Thomas Hampson sing Il rival salvar tu dei... Suoni la tromba from I Puritani:

The program is not an all-Verdi, as one might expect. It includes Madamina, il catalogo è questo  from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Hai già vinta la causa from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Vous qui faites l’endormie from Gounod's Faust, Vision fugitive from Massenet's Hérodiade, La calunnia from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Sorgete… Duce di tanti eroi from Rossini's Maometto II. But there will be plenty of Verdi, including the thrilling "Restate" duet from Don Carlo, the Credo from Otello, and Perfidi… Pietà, rispetto, amore from Macbeth. They will close the official program with the crowd-pleasing duet from Bellini's I Puritani "Il rival salvar…Suoni la tromba."

Thomas Hampson sings "Perfidi… Pietà, rispetto, amore" from Macbeth     

The concert is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Verdi. It will be held on June 16th at the Teatro All'Aperto in Busseto. Tickets are available by calling +39 0524.91753 or emailing

We are not aware of any live broadcasts of the performance, but will update our readers if we learn of one.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Soloman Howard stars as Muhammid Ali

Soloman Howard in Approaching Ali
We're not sure how this almost slipped by us, but thanks to an alert reader, we've learned that the Washington National Opera is presenting the world premiere of composer D.J. Sparr's "Approaching Ali" today at the Kennedy Center. Bass-barihunk Soloman Howard, who we've featured on this site before,  will sing the role of Muhammad Ali. The opera based on the life of Muhammid Ali, is the second opera to premiere about a boxer within a week. Aubrey Allicock is starring as the bisexual boxer Emile Griffith in the world premiere of Tereence Blanchard' s Champion on June 15th in St. Louis.

Sparr's one-hour opera was created under the auspices of the American Opera Initiative, Washington National Opera’s program for commissioning contemporary American opera. The libretto is by Mark Campbell and Davis Miller, based on Miller’s own autobiographical novella.

The opera tells the story of a young boy in North Carolina in the early 1960s who overcomes the loss of his mother and the trauma of being bullied when he sees Muhammad Ali on television. More than 20 years later, as a writer on the brink of middle age, he seeks to rekindle that spirit by visiting his boyhood hero in person at the home of Ali’s mother in Louisville.

Muhammid Ali and Soloman Howard
A number of contemporary composers are writing operas based on news figures from our lifetime. Some of these include John Adams' "Nixon in China" and "The Death of Klinghoffer," Stewart Wallace's "Harvey Milk," Anthony Davis' "X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X," Mark-Anthony Turnage's "Anna Nicole Smith," Philip Glass' "Satyagraha" and Thomas Adès' "Powder Her Face." These operas have been dubbed "CNN opera" or "MTV operas," although with the new focus on sports figures, perhaps we should add "ESPN opera" to the vocabulary.

"Approaching Ali" will also feature baritone David Kravitz as Davis Miller, Aundi Marie Moore as Ali’s mother Odessa Clay, boy soprano Ethan McKelvain as Young Davis, Tim Augustin as Roy Miller and Catherine Martin as Sara Miller.

In addition to today's performance at 7:30 p.m., the opera will be repeated on Sunday, June 9 at 2 p.m. There will be a Q&A with the artists and creative team following both performances.
All tickets are $30 and are available at the Kennedy Center Box Office, by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324, or online at

Thursday, June 6, 2013

André Schuen debuts as Don Giovanni in Montpellier and Versailles

André Schuen as Belcore in Graz (right)
We just learned the André Schuen will be singing the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni with Opéra National Montpellier for the first time in his young career. He had previously sung the role of Masetto in Graz. The opera opens today and there will be six performances running through June 16. The opera then travels to Versailles with the same cast on June 23, 25 & 27, 2013.

We've been watching his rapidly emerging career, which included his sensational shirtless performance as Belcore in Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" at the Graz Opera in Austria in November 2012. After this run of Don Giovanni, Schuen returns to Graz where he will perform Die Heerrufer des Königs in Wagner's Lohengrin, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflote and  Alphonse in Donizetti's La favorite.

We will try to post pictures as soon as they are available. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

NEWS FLASH: L.A. Opera to present U.S. premiere of stunning "1927"/Barrie Kosky "Magic Flute"

Anyone who reads this site knows that we're completely enamored with the "Magic Flute" from the Komische Oper in Berlin directed by Barrie Kosky and designed by the innovative London theater group "1927." Inspired by the silent movies, this production makes Mozart's 222-year-old opera seem like a new hit musical. Loaded with stunning animation and digital effects this production is a "must see" for any opera aficionado.

Imagine our excitement when the Los Angeles Opera announced that it was shelving its 20-year-old Gerald Scarfe/Peter Hall production for the Komische Oper production.

The baritone roles will be filled by Russian Rodion Pogossov as Papageno, Canadian Phillip Addis as The Speaker and American Morris Robinson as Sarastro. The young lovers Tamino and Pamina will be sung by Lawrence Brownlee and Janai Brugger. The scene stealing role of the Queen of the Night is being sung by Erika Miklosa.

Reader Submission: Philippe Brocard

Philippe Brocard
Our latest reader submission is French baritone Philippe Brocard, who is opening in William Mayer's "A Death in the Family" on June 9th at the Opera Theatre D'Avignon. However, one would never know it from visiting the company's website, as there are no cast lists (our biggest pet peave in the opera world!). You can, however, get tickets online

William Mayer’s three-act opera is based on two American classics: the Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Death in the Family by James Agee and the play All the Way Home by Tad Mosel. The opera also draws on related passages from Agee’s non-fiction work  Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.  Premiered by the Minnesota Opera Company in 1983, A Death in the Family was cited as the best new opera of that year by the National Institute for Music Theater

Philippe Brocard sings "Finch'han del vino" from Don Giovanni:

Brocard started playing the piano at the age of five. In 2004, he decided to become an opera singer and won the FLAME 2007 competition and a year later came in second at the 15th European Competition of Music in Picardie. He performed as a soloist in several oratorios in France and abroad. 

Recently, he sang Figaro in Madagascar, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana at Paris Châtelet Theater, Belcore in Donizetti’s Elisir d’amore, Don Giovanni at the Gigondas’ Festival, Baron Gondremark in La Vie parisienne, Jupiter in Orphée aux enfers, le Comte Oscar in Offenbach’s Bluebeard, Papageno at the 10th Puisaye-Forterre Festival, Dr. Ricin in Hervé’s Chilpéric and Valentin in Gounod’s Faust 

As a soloist he sang Le chant des partisans at Bastille Day on Paris’ Champs Elysées which was broadcast live on national TV. He recently performed Guglielmo in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte in Paris and Papageno with the Mozart Gesellschaft in Dortmund, Germany.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Christian Van Horn's breakout performance as Four Villains

Christian Van Horn in SF Opera's Tales of Hoffmann
Bass-Barihunk Christian Van Horn is about to have a major breakout performance in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann opening on June 5th at the San Francisco Opera. People who have sat through the dress rehearsals tell us that the American singer may steal the show in a star-studded cast that includes Natalie Dessay and Matthew Polenzani.

Van Horn who previously has only sung the minor role of Crespel in Tales of Hoffmann, has been assigned the task of singing the four villains: Lindorf, Coppélius, Miracle, and Dapertutto. Offenbach intended all four roles to be performed by one singers, as they are all various manifestations of evil.

The San Francisco Opera is presenting nine performances of the opera from June 5-July 6. There is still seating available for most performances and tickets can be purchased online. As a bonus, barihunk Hadleigh Adams can be seen in the roles of Luther and Schlemil.

Christian Van Horn sings Non piu andrai from Le Nozze di Figaro

Keep an eye out for Van Horn's new recording of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro recorded under the baton of Theodor Currentzis on Sony Classical.

He can next be seen at the Canadian Opera Company this Fall as Colline in Puccini's La boheme.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Listen to Simon Keenlyside on BBC3 in Eugene Onegin

Simon Keenlyside and Krassimira Stoyanova in Eugene Onegin
Make sure to tune in to BBC Radio 3 all week to hear Simon Keenlyside in the title role of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. The performance was recorded earlier this year at the Royal Opera House and was Kasper Holten's first production for the company after taking over as Director of Opera. The cast includes Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana, Diana Montague as Madame Larina and Pavol Breslik as Lensky.

Simon Keenlyside and Krassimira Stoyanova in Eugene Onegin:

Keenlyside can currently be seen in Wozzeck at the Teatro Real in Madrid with Nadja Michael as Marie. Performances run from June 3-20 and tickets are available online.

Michael Weyandt to perform with Summer of Song Series

Michael Weyandt
Our most recent post about German barihunk Martin Häßler ended with a notice about his upcoming debut recital at Wigmore Hall in London. The concert features works by Schubert, Wolf and Finzi. So imagine our surprise when the next day our inbox included a notice for American barihunk Michael Weyandt's upcoming recital with the "Summer of Song Series" in New York featuring works by Schubert, Wolf and Finzi.

The recitals do feature mostly different works by the two singers, except for Wolf's Begegnung
and An eine Aeolsharfe. Häßler will be performing Mussorgsky and Weyandt will have music by Bolcom, Poulenc, Fujimoto and Lehrer.

Heinrich Schlusnus sings Hugo Wolf's "Begegnung":

Weyandt's recital will be on on Thursday, June 20 at 7pm at Opera America (330 7th Avenue) and will feature accompanist Thomas Muraco. Single tickets for the concert are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Contact Blair Boone at regarding tickets. For all other tickets, visit,, call (646) 369-5247 or purchase directly at the door.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Reader Submission: Martin Häßler

We're not sure what is going on with our reader submissions, but they seem to either be coming from Germany or recommending German singers (which is fine by us!). The latest is Martin Häßler who began is vocal training at the Hochschule für Musik Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in Leipzig, Germany. He is currently studying as a full scholarship awardee at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

He has done well at numerous singing competitions including the Thomas Quasthoff's Das Lied, International Song competition, taking first prize at the Bundeswettbewerb Gesang Berlin, and winning the Best Singer's Award at the Gerald Moore Competition London.

Martin Häßler, Bariton, 21 Jahre from Bundeswettbewerb Gesang Berlin on Vimeo.

The 24-year-old singer has been making his mark as a recitalist having performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, at Deutsche Oper Berlin accompanied by Philip Moll, at Schloss Herten with Graham Johnson, at the Oxford Lieder Festival, at LSO St. Luke's London, the Vienna Musikverein with Marek Ruszczynski, and at the Schubert Festival accompanied again by Graham Johnson.

On June 21, he'll be making his Wigmore Hall recital debut performing the works of Schubert, Wolf, Mussorgsky and Finzi. Tickets are available online.