Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thomas Oliemans in Amsterdam world premiere

Laika and Thomas Oliemans
Dutch barihunk Thomas Oliemans is starring in the world premiere of Martijn Padding's new opera Laika at the Dutch National Opera in a co-production with the Holland Festival 2014.

Martijn Padding and librettist P.F. Thomése poke fun at the superficiality of ratings-obsessed television programs. Oliemans stars as Robbert, a famous TV personality who is tired of his fame and popularity and his superficial life.

Behind the scenes at Laika with Martijn Padding & Thomas Oliemans: 

Robbert still lives with his domineering mother, who keeps the embalmed body of his father on display in the living room. He dreams of abandoning TV and aspires to a more peaceful life with personal privacy.  Since his early youth he has immersed himself in the cosmos. After meeting astronaut Yuri Gagarin and a Laika, the first living animal to be sent into space, Robbert decides to embark on his own journey into space.

Performances run from June 3-8 and tickets are available online.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sidney Outlaw's "Night on the "A-List" with Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton and Sidney Outlaw
We make no secret about our love for Sidney Outlaw. He's not only an amazing singer, but one of the smartest and most interesting people in the business. When we saw him on Facebook posting pictures of himself serenading R&B icon Toni Braxton, we asked him to tell us the story. Here it is in his own words:
"Toni Braxton is one of the greatest contemporary R&B singers of our time. When I was a child, she was one of the singers I looked to for inspiration. So, when I learned she was to appear to do a signing for her memoir at the Barnes & Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles, I knew I had to be there.

I arrived early because I knew there would be a crowd gathered to see the iconic Ms. Braxton. I was right - not only were scores of her fans present, also at the store were several media outlets and the camera crew for her hit reality show, Braxton Family Values. I waited patiently in line for my turn to greet her. I watched as several fans attempted to impress her by singing their renditions of her songs.
Toni Braxton and Sidney Outlaw
When it was my turn to greet her, I told her about our mutual connection with the Lupus Foundation and of how she inspired me to become a singer. When she asked what I did, I informed her I was an opera singer and her eyes lit up. She asked me to sing for her. And she would not hear me sing any of her music. She wanted to hear opera! I sang the first verse of Mozart's "Deh vieni alla finestra" and she told me to keep going so I sang Stepfano Donaudy's "O del mio amato ben". Before I knew it, everyone in the bookstore was fixated on my voice - shoppers, fans, media, the camera crew, and, of course, Ms. Braxton.

She seemed to really enjoy my gift, and it was an honor to share it with her."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Reader Submission: Jens Søndergaard

Jens Søndergaard
Our latest "Reader Submission" is Danish barihunk Jens Søndergaard, who a reader informed us will sing Aslak in the world premiere of composer Magnar Åm's Is-slottet (The Ice Castle). The opera, which is based on author Tarjei Vesaas' award-winning novel of the same name, opens on September 16 at Den Ny Opera.

The legendary Norwegian story tells the tale of two friends who despite having spent only one evening together, finds the life of one of them shattered when the other inexplicably disappears.

In 2003, Søndergaard graduated from the Royal Opera Academy in Copenhagen, and debuted in 2005 from the Royal Danish Academy of Music. From 2004-2007 he was a member of the ensemble at Das Deutsche Nationaltheater Weimar. His operatic repertoire has ranged from the baroque to contemporary Danish music.

In addition to Is-slottet, Søndergaard's current season includes his debut as Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca at the Aalborg Opera Festivaland Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte at Jyske Opera opening February 2015.

Photos from Zomeropera's sexy Don Giovanni

Gianluca Margheri as Don Giovanni
We recently posted about the upcoming production at the Zomeropera in Belgium where barihunks Borja Quiza and Gianluca Margheri are alternating the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. We've just gotten pictures of both casts and lovers of a sexy Don won't be disappointed.

The worst thing about this production would be deciding which cast to see. Fans of Margheri can catch him on May 27, 29, 31 and June 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21. Fans of Quiza can see him on May 25, 28, 30 and June 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18 and 20. Tickets are available online.
Borja Quiza as Don Giovanni

The Zomeropera, which is in its 17th season, was created to bring professional orchestra musicians together with students to perform work for a broader audience. The professionals occupy the concert master’s chair and the lead player positions for viola, cello, double bass, wood instruments and brass instruments. These masters coach the different instrumental groups and offer their assistance in recruiting talented students.

Thomas Rainer Schütz
On June 23 and 24, there will also be a gala concert featuring some of Europe's top opera studio opera artists. Included in the concert will be baritones Thomas Rainer Schütz and Owain Browne, tenors Denzil Delaere and João Terleira, sopranos Sarah Mc Court, Julia Rodriguez and Siân Winstanley, as well as mezzo-soprano Helene Bracke.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sebastian Geyer in rare version of Orpheus myth

Sebastian Geyer in The Elixir of Love
German barihunk Sebastian Geyer, who we first introduced to readers back in 2010, is starring in Telemann’s rarely performed opera "Orpheus oder Die Wunderbare Bestängigkeit Der Liebe" (Orpheus or The Wonderful Constancy of Love). The production opened last night at the Oper Frankfurt and runs through June 8th. Tickets and additional information are available online

The opera tells of the destructive power of love from Eurydice's point of view. The myth of Orpheus is one of the best loved stories in literary and operatic history, at its center the power of music and love between Orpheus and Eurydice. In Telemann's version,  Orasia the Queen of Trace, who is in love with Orpheus plays a larger role than in versions by other composers. There also is no happy ending, as the composer/librettist ban all three main characters to the underworld.

Telemann’s Orpheus has often been dismissed as a pastiche because it included some well known passages from Handel and Lully operas. But the opera was a brave experiment that broke musical and dramaturgical boundaries. Telemann combined his own, strongly protestant, cantata forms with the sensuality of Italian opera and the courtly glamor of France. 

Sebastian Geyer in Orpheus at the Frankfurt Oper
Sebastian Geyer has become a leading baritone at the Oper Frankfurt, where he has sung Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Conte Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Dr. Falke in Strauß' Die Fledermaus and the title role in Handel's Giulio Cesare. He also has appeared on the company's recording of Richard Wagner's Die Feen.

On September 5th, he'll switch to Puccini as he sings Schaunard with the company in La bohème. He then travels to Wuppertal to sing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni in a cast that includes fellow barihunk Damien Pass as Masetto. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Duncan Rock to make U.S. stage debut with Boston Lyric Opera

The highly-anticipated U.S. stage debut of British Barihunk sensation Duncan Rock will occur not far from another rock, Plymouth Rock. The Boston Lyric Opera has snagged the charismatic fan favorite to portray the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni next season.

Fans will have to wait a year, as the opera runs from May 1-10, 2015, but we assure you it will be worth the wait. To order a tickets, call 617-542-6772 or email The remainder of their upcoming season includes Verdi’s La Traviata, Frank Martin’s The Love Potion and Janáček’s Kátya Kabanová.

At rehearsals of La bohème at English National Opera
We first discovered Duncan Rock when he was in Britten's Billy Budd at Glyndebourne and then as Moralès in a sexy production of Bizet's Carmen directed by Calixto Bieto at the English National Opera. In his young career, Rock has developed a reputation as both a gifted singer and riveting stage presence. His gender bending performance in Don Giovanni: The Opera at London's famous nightclub Heaven was a sensation. He followed that with an portrayal as an often shirtless Tarquinius in Benjmain Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne, where Irish actress and theatre and opera director Fiona Shaw pushed him to new dramatic limits. His performance prompted Tim Ashley, of the Guardian to comment, "Rock undercuts Tarquinius's raffish allure with unnerving intimations of psychotic violence."
Duncan Rock recently finished a successful run as Marcello in Puccini's La bohème with the English National Opera in a production that was updated to 1950s Paris. European fans can catch him as the waiter in Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice at the Teatro Real in Madrid from December 4-23. The cast also includes the amazing countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as the voice of Apollo. Tickets are available online.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reader Submission: Takaoki Onishi

Takaoki Onishi
Our latest Reader Submission is Japanese baritone Takaoki Onishi. He has won the Top Prize in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, and the First Prize in both the Opera Index, Inc. Vocal Competition and the Licia Albanese - Puccini International Vocal Competition. He also received a prize in the 2013 Loren L. Zachary Competition, as well as two Grants from the Giulio Gari Foundation.

He made his Lincoln Center debut in the Juilliard Vocal Arts Honors Recital at Alice Tully Hall. He has been awarded a fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival and he received the Makiko Narumi Prize for Outstanding Singer by the Juilliard School.

In 2013, Onishi created the leading male role in the world premiere of Marty Regan’s The Memory Stone, which was presented by the Houston Grand Opera’s East/West program. This spring in New York, he sang in two concerts in the Schubert & Company series, as well as appearing as baritone soloist in Franz Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G major, D.167 at Rockefeller University and in Brahms Requiem with West Village Chorale in New York..

In February, he performed the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin with Juilliard Opera and in March he performed Jesus in Bach's St. Matthew's Passion. He will also return to Japan to sing in several concerts of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, as well as a solo recital in Tokyo. On June 7th,  he sings at The Opera Ball at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Reader submissions are always welcome at

Baritone turned tenor Sam Roberts-Smith, returns as a baritone

Sam Roberts-Smith

We were devastated when Aussie barihunk Sam Roberts-Smith announced in 2011 that he was switching to tenor. We recently learned that he's now making the switch back to baritone and will compete in his lower fach at the Paris Opera Awards. 

The competition starts with 50 singers and ends with prizes for three male and three female singers. Ten singers will perform in a gala finale on November 19th. Each singer can place two video clips on their profile and the public can vote for their favorite singers. 

Make sure to check out the Paris Awards website and cast your vote. The site is in French, but many pages are translatable to other languages by clicking on the flags on the top right of the page. 

Sam Roberts-Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Music and Graduate Diploma in Opera from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2008. After completing his studies he relocated to Sydney and joined Australia’s national company, Opera Australia.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

John Chest to debut as Billy Budd in Berlin

John Chest as Billy Budd
Anyone who has ever seen or heard barihunk John Chest, with his golden locks and golden voice, immediately thinks of him as the perfect Billy Budd. Fortunately, conductor Donald Runnicles had a chance to hear and see Chest while they were both in San Francisco. The two are being reunited at the Deutsche Oper Berlin for five performances of Benjamin Britten's masterpiece running from May 22th-June 6th. Tickets are available online.

John Chest is a recent graduate of the Opera Studio at the Bayerische Staatsoper, where he sang over eighty performances including Fiorello in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Schaunard in Puccini's La Bohème with Anja Harteros, Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Lovec in Dvorak's Rusalka, Petrucci in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia with Edita Gruberova, Bizet's Carmen with Jonas Kaufmann.

Chest is now part of the ensemble at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he has sung Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Il Conte Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Albert in Massenet's Werther.  In November, he'll return to the U.S. to perform Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème at the Washington National Opera with fellow barihunks Joshua Bloom as Colline and Steven LaBrie as Schaunard. 

More Sexy Photos from LA Opera's "A Streetcar Named Desire"

LA Opera Production of Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Stacey Tappan as Stella. Photo by Robert Milliard

Ryan McKinny

Ryan McKinny

Ryan McKinny and Stacey Tappen

Renée Fleming and Ryan McKinny

As a follow-up to our previous post about the Los Angeles Opera's beautifully sung and sexy performance of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, here are some stunning photos from the production.

The opera featured bass-barithunk Ryan McKinny as the hotheaded Stanley Kowalski, soprano Renée Fleming as Blanche, Stacey Tappan as Stella, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey as Mitch.

Sometimes words aren't needed, so enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

San Diego Opera Saved; Barihunks in all 3 Operas

Alex Esposito is bringing his definitive Leporello to San Diego
Never underestimate the power of social media or the devotion of hard core opera lovers. On March 19, the San Diego Opera stunned the world when it voted to close the company at the end of the 2014 season. Social media exploded with employees, performers and orchestra members leading the charge. Questions were raised about the management of the company and the motives for closing.

Yesterday, Board President Carol Lazier, surrounded by fellow board members, opera staff, choristers and union members announced that the 2015 season will proceed after they raised over $2 million in crowd-funding campaigns. Lazier donated an additional $1 million to attain a goad requested by the Board to proceed with the new season.

Morgan Smith and Franco Pomponi
That season will include barihunks in each of their productions, which had already been planned under the old regime.  One opera was dropped due to the cost to produce it, which was Wagner’s Tannhäuser. The singers who were scheduled to perform in the opera have been invited to sing in one of two gala concerts, a recital, or come back and sing for the opera in a future season.

The scheduled operas include Puccini's La bohème with Morgan Smith as Marcello,  Mozart's Don Giovanni with  Ildebrando D’Arcangelo in the title role and Alex Esposito as Leporello, and the San Diego premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China with Franco Pomponi.

You can still donate to the San Diego Opera fundraising campaign online or purchase tickets for the new season.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rare Hunkentenor-Bass/Barihunk concert in East Bay

Jonathan Blalock and Aaron Sørensen
One of the recipients of our proceeds from the Barihunks calendar was the team of hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock and Bass-Barihunk Aaron Sørensen, who came up with the novel idea for a concert with this rarely seen vocal combination.

The duo will perform music by George Gershwin, Ricky Ian Gordon, Jake Heggie, Glen Roven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Gioacchino Rossini. The performance will be at Duende on Wed., May 21 at 7 PM  in the heart of Oakland's burgeoning arts district, The Uptown. Duende has become a popular destination for aficionados of alternative jazz and they've been eager to expand their musical offerings to include classical music. This will debut what we all hope is a regular feature on their calendar. A stones throw away from Duende is the restored Fox Theater, which features some of the biggest names in the music industry.  Tickets for the Blalock/Sørensen recital are available online.

This recital will also be the West Coast debut for two of the most talked about young artists in opera. Jonathan Blalock received rave notices from the New York Times and Alex Ross in the New Yorker for his riveting performance in Gregory Spears' Paul's Case, which featured barihunk Keith Phares. Aaron Sørensen is the bass voice that the opera world continuously clamors for and he recently appeared as the French General in Fort Worth Opera's production of Kevin Puts' Silent Night.

Efrain Solis in an ad for West Edge Opera
Blalock will be returning to the East Bay this summer in West Edge Opera's production of Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox, featuring barihunk Efrain Solis and bass-barihunk Kenneth Kellogg. You can watch a preview of their exciting and innovative upcoming season above and get more information on their website. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you'll want to add their summer festival to calendar.

Watch Henk Neven in complete Dido & Aeneas

Henk Neven & Vivica Geneaux in Dido & Aeneas at Rouen
You can watch an entire performance of Purcell's Dido & Aeneas from Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie with an all-star cast featuring barihunk Henk Neven as Aeneas, Vivica Genaux as Dido, Ana Quintans as Belinda and Marc Mauillon as the magician. The entire production was magically staged, directed and choreographed by the team of Cécile Roussat and Julien Lubek. You won't want want to miss the opportunity to watch this!

If you want to see the performance live, it will be reprised at Versailles with two performances daily on June 14 and 15. You can book online. From May 23-25, Versailles is also presenting the barihunk-laden performance of Lully's Persée that we recently featured starring Olivier Laquerre, Vasil Garanliev, Stephen Hegedus and Curtis Sullivan.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Barihunks Alternate Soldier Songs in D.C. and Holland Festival

Composer David T. Little's Soldier Songs seems to be finding a foothold in the contemporary repertory, as it is being reprised in Washington D.C. this weekend with barihunk David Adam Moore.

Soldier Songs is an evening-length multimedia event that combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused-concert music, and animation to explore the perceptions versus the realities of the Soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. The performance is further enhanced with video and film from Bill Morrison.

The libretto, created by the composer, was adapted from recorded interviews with veterans of five wars.  Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of 6 to the age of 66. The story follows the abstract character through the three phases of life:  Youth (playing war games) Warrior (time served in the military) and Elder (aged, wise, reflective).

There is one remaining performance at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Sunday, May 18 and tickets are available online. The production then travels to the Holland Festival with Christopher Burchett as the soldier for a double-bill with Nico Muhly's Spiral Mass. Tickets are available online.

Bevy of Barihunks in Broadcasts from Bavaria

Michael Nagy and Günther Groissböck
The Bavarian State Opera is continuing the popular live streaming of their performances which they debuted last year. This year's selection features some of our favorite barihunks in their free broadcasts which are available at STAATSOPER.TV.

Previous broadcasts have included Alban Berg's Wozzeck, Richard Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten, Verdi's La forza del destino and Mozart's La clemenza di Tito.

Tareq Nazmi
On May 31st at 7 PM CET./1 PM EST they will present Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Die Soldaten with Michael Nagy as Stolzius and Tareq Nazmi as Obrist.

30-year-old Bass-Barihunk Tareq Nazmi, who is new to this site, was born in Kuwait and grew up in Munich. He studied at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich with Edith Wiens and Christian Gerhaher. He is a first prize of both the Walter and Charlotte Hamel Foundation prize and the National Song Contest.

Since the 2012-23 season, Tareq Nazmi has been a permanent member of the Bavarian State Opera where he has performed Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni, the Speaker in Mozart's Magic Flute, Colline in Puccini's La bohème, Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen and Publio in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito.

Goran Jurić
On June 28th at 6 PM CET./Noon EST they will present a new production of Rossini's Guillaume Tell (William Tell) with Günther Groissböck as Gesler. Groissböck has been extremely popular on our site, especially the pictures of him in the "Brokeback Onegin," as it's been dubbed by opera bloggers. The cast also includes Goran Jurić as Walter Furst.

31-year-old Croatian bass-barihunk Goran Jurić is also new to the site. He has been a member of the Bavarian State Opera ensemble since the 2011-12 season. He received his Master's degree in Opera Studies at the Academy of Music at the University of Zagreb, where is completing his second Master's degree in Phonetics and Italian Language and Literature.

At the Bavarian State Opera he has performed Colline in Puccini's La bohème, Don Fernando in Beethoven's Fidelio, Biterolf in Wagner's Tannhäuser, Il Re in Verdi's Aida, Capellio in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Banco in Verdi's Macbeth, Il Frate in Verdi's Don Carlos and Timur in Puccini's Turandot. He also performs regularly with the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

On July 27th at 6 PM CET./Noon EST the company will present Claudio Monteverdi L'Orfeo with the amazing Christian Gerhaher and the stunningly talented Anna Bonitatibus.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ryan McKinny's ripped Stanley Kowalski at L.A. Opera

Ryan McKinny as Stanley Kowalski (Photo: Robert Millard for LA Opera)
The Los Angeles Opera has been marketing their upcoming performance of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire around mega-star Renée Fleming as Blanche DuBois. Fleming, who is a major exponent of American opera, and for whom the role was written when the opera premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 1998, certainly deserves to be the star attraction.

We, of course, were curious to see if the long tradition of casting a gym-toned barihunk as Stanley Kowalski was being upheld. The original Stanley was the Rod Gilfry in his vocal and physical prime. The role has subsequently been sung by a veritable Who's Who of barihunks, including Teddy Tahu Rhodes, David Adam Moore and Philip Cutlip. The L.A. Opera didn't disappoint, as they cast Ryan McKinny in the role, who like a bottle of 1982 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion just gets better and better with age.

Ryan McKinny as Stanley Kowalski and Stacey Tappen as Stella (Photo: Robert Millard for LA Opera)
McKinny became a household name in the world of opera after performing the Dutchman in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer at the Glimmerglass Festival under the direction of Francesca Zambello. Not only was McKinny's Dutchman vocally stunning, but it was the sexiest portrayal of that role in operatic history. The photos on our site went viral and almost doubled the traffic to our site.

In addition to Fleming and McKinny, the all-star cast also includes  Stacey Tappan as Stella and Anthony Dean Griffey as Mitch. Performances are on Sunday, May 18th at 5 PM and May 21 and 24 at 7:30 PM. Tickets for all three performances are available online.

You can read an interview with Ryan McKinny on the LA Opera blog

Monday, May 12, 2014

Guillaume Andrieux appearing in Eötvös opera

Guillaume Andrieux in Philip Glass' Les Enfants Terribles
French barihunk Guillaume Andrieux, who we introduced to readers in a performance of Benoît Mernier’s La Dispute, will perform Roger in Peter Eötvös' opera Le Balcon from May 20-24 at the Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet in Paris.

Le Balcon, Peter Eötvös' second opera, is based on Jean Genet’s play of the same name. He is best known in the United States for his opera Angels in America, which starred barihunk Thomas Meglioranza in New York and David Adam Moore in Fort Worth and Los Angeles.

Albane Carrère & Guillaume Andrieux
The composer wrote of the piece, "With Genet, one can take it literally; a revolution rages in the streets, the Palais Royal is blown up, while the customers in the specially equipped salons of the brothel 'Le Balcon' are dressed with the properties and costumes of major social positions: They want to become a bishop, judge, general, even if for only half an hour. The girls help them, and Madame collects the money for this dubious pleasure. The piece is a wonderful, constantly sparkling role play, a theatre within the theatre...My music sometimes 'is also dressed' with 'French-style manners,' but most important to me was to let the marvelously frivolous, poetic language of Genet remain understandable. I therefore used many grotesque, comedy-like cabaret-music elements, and sometimes my music is close to the French chanson, with Fréhel, Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Leo Ferré being my models."

In December, Andrieux can be seen as Raoul de Gardefeu in Offenbach's La Vie parisienne at Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lee Poulis & Kevin Thompson in Don Carlo concert

Kevin Thompson (left) and Lee Poulis (right)
There are few operas with more great music for low voices than Verdi's Don Carlo. On May 27th, you can see two barihunks perform Rodrigo and the Grand Inquisitor in a concert version at the Martha Cardona Theater in New York City.

Rodrigo will be sung by Lee Poulis, who gets to sing "Carlo ch'è sol il nostro amore," "Per me giunto è il di supreme" and "Io morrò, ma lieto in core." Kevin Thompson, as the Grand Inquisitor, gets to sing the great duet "Il grand inquisitor!" with King Phillip. 

Verdi’s original version of the opera premiered in Paris in 1867 as Don Carlos, and was sung in French. It was later translated into Italian as Don Carlo. The opera is often considered to be one of Verdi’s greatest operas, despite the fact that it has a darker tone and more complicated personalities than you’d find in many of his other operas.

Verdi’s Don Carlo is an epic story of love, jealousy, war, betrayal and death. Politics, love and family loyalties are tested in this epic battle of wills involving a tyrannical king, a despairing prince and an innocent young woman. When sung well, it's one of the most potent operas in the Italian repertory.

Tickets are $25 ($20 for singers, seniors, and students) and are available by calling (718) 490-4289.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Justin Hopkins and Doug Carpenter to sing in Stephen Schwartz gala

Justin Hopkins
Two barihunks are slated to appear at a New York City gala honoring composer Stephen Schwartz. 

Bass-barihunk Justin Hopkins, who just finished a critically-acclaimed run as Nourabad in the Pearl Fishers at the Fort Worth Opera and Doug Carpenter.

Schwartz, is the composer and lyricist of such Broadway hits as Wicked, Pippin, and Godspell, as well as Séance on a Wet Afternoon, developed by the American Opera Projects. Hopkins will perform "Children of the Wind" from Rags, composed by Charles Strouse with lyrics by Schwartz. Carpenter, who just finished a run as Lt. Joe Cable in South Pacific at the Paper Mill Theater,  will sing "Proud Lady" from Bakers Wife.

Doug Carpenter rehearsing South Pacific
Schwartz also contributed lyrics for a number of successful films, including Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Prince of Egypt and Enchanted. Schwartz has won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, three Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards and has been nominated for six Tony Awards.

The gala entitled "Opera Sings Broadway Sings Opera," features some of the biggest names in opera and Broadway, including Lauren Flanigan, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Betsy Wolf, Michael Marcotte, Michael McCorry Rose, Simone Osborne, Jessica Phillips, Bailey Grey and Tony Ponella.

The gala is on Monday, May 12th at The Players, 16 Gramercy Park South with a 6:30 pm VIP cocktails and hors d'oeuvres reception,  7:30 pm cocktail hour and 8:00 pm performance. For tickets call 718-398-4024  or visit their online site.   

Doug Carpenter will be performing in Ed Dixon's new musical comedy Cloak and Dagger at the Signature Theatre in Washington DC from June 12-July 6.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Franco Pomponi's revealing Hamlet

Franco Pomponi & Sylvie Brunet-Grupposo
Readers may recall the post about Stéphane Degout's nude scene in the title role of Olivier Py’s production of Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet at La Monnaie in Brussels. He rotated the role with fellow barihunk Franco Pomponi and we managed to find the photo above, but nothing as revealing as our Degout shots. The production also featured barihunks Jérôme Varnier as the ghost and Henk Neven as Horatio.

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 at both the Theater an der Wien and La Monnaie in Brussels. You can watch the entire opera below:

Pomponi opens today in John Adams' A Flowering Tree at the Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris, which runs through May 13. The piece is inspired by a southern Indian folk tale and describes the trials and tribulations of a young couple subjected to a series of rituals and trials designed to demonstrate the power of love. Tickets are available online.

Matthew Treviño returns to U.S. for La bohème

Matthew Treviño
Matthew Treviño will make his debut this weekend with the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee as Colline in Puccini's La bohème. The role is becoming a bit of a calling card for the Texas native, as he's performed it with Opera Carolina, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Fresno Grand Opera.

Treviño recently wrapped up a successful stint with the English National Opera where he performed  Hobson in Britten's Peter Grimes and Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto.  

Performances of La bohème are on Friday, May 9 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, May 11 at 2:30 PM. Tickets are available online

Friday, May 2, 2014

Green Sneakers "Dream Team" reuniting in San Antonio

Cellist Kathryn Bates and Jesse Blumberg in Green Sneakers
One of our favorite collaborations in all of opera is coming to Opera Piccola of San Antonio. Barihunk Jesse Blumberg will be rejoining the acclaimed young director John de los Santos and the riveting Del Sol Quartet for a repeat of their powerful performance of Ricky Ian Gordon's Green Sneakers, which played for one night in San Francisco last year. We were at that performance and there wasn't a dry eye in the theater when the opera ended.

Opera Piccola will present two performances on May 10 and 12 in a double-bill with Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice. Tickets are available online.

Green Sneakers, which is broken into nineteen songs and runs about 80 minutes was written with Jesse Blumberg in mind. The piece is scored for baritone, string quartet, and empty chair, with a libretto by the composer. It premiered on July 15, 2008 in Vail, Colorado and has had a number of subsequent performances since, mostly with Blumberg.

Ricky Ian Gordon today wrote the mini-opera as a way of dealing with the loss of his lover Jeffrey Grossi to AIDS in 1996. In an interview with the Advocate Gordon said, "The world is so different now than it was when Jeffery died in 1996. Young people today missed seeing what it was really like at the height of the AIDS crisis so for them they think it’s OK because you just get to take a few pills all the time. Today, HIV is romanticized in a way because you get to be like that character in Rent, but young people need to know that there’s nothing romantic about it."

You can read the entire interview HERE

Director John de los Santos and composer Ricky Ian Gordon
Jesse Blumberg just wrapped up a successful run as Papageno in the famous Barrie Kosky/1927 production of Mozart's Magic Flute at the Minnesota Opera. Blumberg can next be heard performing Schubert's Winterreise at the Kerrytown Concert House on May 17th and Aeneas in Purcell's Dido & Aeneas at the Connecticut Early Music Festival on June 7 and 8.

De los Santos has just brought Bizet's Pearl Fishers to life at the Fort Worth Opera Festival, which has a final performance tonight. From July 16-19, the wunderkind director will work his magic with Rossini's L’Italiana in Algeri at the Seagle Music Colony.

Ricky Ian Gordon has been one of the busiest composers in the world, with premieres of his new operas A Coffin in Egypt and "27." A Coffin in Egypt can next be seen at Opera Philadelphia from June 6-15 and "27" will premiere on June 14 at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.