Sunday, August 31, 2014

OPERA NEWS "Road Show: Mariusz Kwiecien in Kraków"

Kwiecien as Mozart's Count Almaviva at Kraków Opera
© Ryszard Kornecki 2014
Kraków may not be one of the world's great opera centers, but it's Mariusz Kwiecien's home town and a true gem among Central European cities. Kwiecien loves going back to perform there. Its pull on him has been so strong that he recently bought a home on its outskirts among the forests and fields that lead to the scenic Tatra mountains. 

"Performing in Kraków is fantastic," he says. "You know, when I made my debut there, it was six years after my debut at the Metropolitan Opera. So when I came back to Kraków, I came as a small star. And I was very excited, more nervous even than when I sang at the Met. When I come to Kraków to sing now, I know it will be sold out within an hour after the tickets go on sale, because our opera house is rather small, around 700 seats only. I always try to do three or four performances, and my colleagues at the opera house are always fantastic. And it's wonderful to sing opera in Poland with an all-Polish cast! Everywhere else I go, I have to speak many languages at once — Russian, English, Italian, German — and when I come to Kraków, I just have my wonderful Polish friends to sing with."


Philippe Sly in Tolkien inspired video

The following text is by Mathieu Sly, brother of barihunk Philippe Sly:

"Since 2001 when The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theatres, my brother (Philippe Sly) and I (Mathieu Sly) have been relentless fans of both films and books. After seeing the first film, I pretended to be sick for a week of school just so I could read the volumes in their entirety.

When the extended DVDs came out I mined the special features as though for mithril. I didn't realize then that what I had found was in fact the Arkenstone from which I could not pull my gaze. I worshipped the artists of Weta Workshop.

My brother, for his part, in those young years the host to an enchanting falsetto, could conjure any of the distinctive melodies and themes painted by Howard Shore in those first three films that changed the course of our lives. Still we sing "Into the West" anytime we are reunited in the presence of a piano.

In our high school years Howard Shore brought the music and art of the films to our city of Ottawa to be performed in concert with our local symphony, slides of the film's conceptual art to be projected throughout. We were lucky enough, as young choristers, to take part; to finally, and truly, add our voices to the enduring life of the films - to be a part of the team.

Here we offer our voices again. We want to thank everyone who made those first films and inspired two young boys to imagine.

The poem is concerned with Bilbo's inner turmoil in this final chapter of the film saga."

'Live Or Die Tomorrow'

Through cloud, and rock, and mountains sharp
Now weary are my feet
If now I sleep and disappear
None will hear, none will hear

Though I will walk through fields alone
Winds will blow, rivers run
The sun will fall and stars will shine
And show the way by night

To waters of the Western Seas
Where none can die I'll hide
Over forests and through the dark
Metal, earth, and sorrow

A mountain rich with golden halls
Five armies there will meet
A battle fought, though I will not
The King will loose his seat

Now sun has fell and all is well
But stars they do not shine
I'll sing to warm my heart for now
Find my way tomorrow

What song to fill this night so dark?
Of deeds brave and noble
From dream of steel and death I wake
From loss, shadow, and ash

One star dim through the mist I see
It will fade, it will fade
What lies along this road I tread,
For none to see but me?

By cloud, and rock, and mountains sharp
I'll find my friends and fight
We'll fill the sky with stars so bright
Live or die tomorrow

Live or die tomorrow

poem by Mathieu Sly, music by Philippe Sly

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Low voices bounce back in Paris after Operalia's "Baritone Blackout"

Sam Roberts-Smith and Pietro di Bianco
Just days after Placido Domingo's Operalia Competition completely eliminated any low male voices from their finals scheduled in Los Angeles today, the Paris Opera Competition announced that three baritones/bass-baritones have advanced to their finals. Xiaohan Zhai of China, Sam Roberts-Smith of Australia and Pietro Di Bianco of Italy will compete in the Competition's final gala concert on November 19th. 

After the gala performance, three male and three female singers will be selected as winners, with a prize of €5000 (US $6750) for 1st place, €3000 (US $4050) for 2nd place and €1000 (US $1350) for 3rd place.  Special prizes for Best Artistic Performance and Audience Favorite will earn the winners €1000. 

Joining the three in the final concert will be Carol Garcia of Spain, Marina Nachkebiya of Georgia, Daria Terekhova of Russia, Yujoong Kim of South Korea, Miriam Zubieta of Spain, Cristian Mogosan of Romania and Sarah Strauss-Zhai of Germany. 

Xiaohan Zhai sings Leporello's aria from Don Giovanni:

Xiaohan Zhai was born in in Kaifeng, China in 1986. He went to France to study at the l'École Normale de Musique de Paris. In 2011, he took second place at the Concours de Clés d'Or and a year later finished third at the FLAME Competition. Last season, he performed Leoporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Festival Saint-Cere.   

Born in 1983, Pietro Di Bianco studied piano at the Conservatoire Giuseppe Martucci of Salerno, where he graduated in 2004. He studied chamber music at the Accademia nazionale de Santa Cecilia and won several national competitions. He was hired as a piano accompanist at the music conservatories in Salerno and Potenza.
Pietro di Bianco sings Tamerlano's aria:
He then took up singing at the conservatory in Aquila and graduated in 2009. He worked with the great soprano Renata Scotto at the opera in Santa Cecilia and with the legendary baritone Renato Bruson in Sienna. He was a finalist at the 62nd Concours européen Associazione lirica concertistica Italiana at the Teatro de Como. He is currently honing his skills with the Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaiwanska. 
He recently received critical acclaim for his performance as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra National de Paris in a cast that featured fellow barihunk Damian Pass as Masetto (who was eliminated at Operalia!). 
Sam Roberts-Smith sings "Sois immobile" from Rossini's William Tell:
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.
He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards including the Joan Sutherland Society of Sydney Scholarship, the Rosina Raisbeck Award and winner of the prestigious 2009 Australian Singing Competition. As winner of the ASC, Sam was asked to perform at both Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge’s 80th Birthday Galas. 
In 2010, after performing the role of Morales in Francesca Zambello’s production of Bizet's Carmen and Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, he was invited to join Opera Australia’s Young Artist Program.

Mariusz Kwiecien featured in Lyric Opera of Chicago's free concert

Mariusz Kwiecien
Barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien will be featured in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's annual "Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park" concert on Saturday, September 6 at 7:30 pm. The free concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion will feature previews of Lyric's upcoming 2014-15 season.

Kwiecien will be featured in one of his signature roles, that of the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni. He will join sopranos Marina Rebeka and Ana María Martínez, and bass Andrea Silvestrelli in the final scene from the opera. For those of you unfamiliar with the history of this Barihunks site, it was inspired by a performance of Kwiecien as Don Giovanni. 

The program will also feature Wagner's overture to Tannhäuser, the Act One finale of Puccini's Tosca featuring baritone Mark Delavan and tenor John Irvin, the entire third act of Verdi's Rigoletto, and the chorus "Patria oppressa" from Verdi's Macbeth.

If you can't make the concert, you can listen to a live broadcast live on 98.7 WFMT or online at

Performances of Don Giovanni run from September 27 to October 29. Kwiecien will return to the Metropolitan Opera from December 4-20 as Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Royal Opera takes barihunks on Japanese road show

Liudmyla Monastyrska and Simon Keenlyside (left, photo: Clive Barda); Alex Esposito (right)
 The Royal Opera House is taking three of the most popular barihunks in the works on a tour of Japan in September 2015. The company had a successful tour in 2010, the last time that they toured the island nation.

The company will perform Phyllida Lloyd's production of Verdi's Macbeth with Simon Keenlyside in the title role alongside soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska as Lady Macbeth, Greek tenor Dimitri Pittas as Macduff, and American bass Raymond Aceto as Banquo.  

Alex Esposito looking bari-hunky
Kasper Holten's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni will feature the Italian barihunk duo of Ildebrando D'Arcangelo in the title role and Alex Esposito as Leporello. They will be joined in the cast by mezzo-soprano (and honorary barihunk) Joyce DiDonato as Donna Elvira, tenor Rolando Villazón as Don Ottavio, soprano Albina Shagimuratova as Donna Anna, soprano Julia Lezhneva as Zerlina, and bass Matthew Rose as Masetto. 

Both productions will be conducted by ROH Music Director Antonio Pappano.  Macbeth runs for four performances in Japan beginning September 12th, with Don Giovanni running for three performances beginning September 13th. Information about tickets and venues will be announced shortly.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Emmett O'Hanlon to tour with Celtic Thunder

We have mentioned Irish-American barihunk Emmett O’Hanlon twice on our blog, but have never featured him individually.  The New York native is going to be touring with the popular all-guy group Celtic Thunder. First up is his solo show on the Celtic Thunder Cruise, which sails from Miami on Nov 8th-12th stopping at Nassau in the Bahamas and at the secluded private island of Thunder Bay. He'll be performing songs from Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles, as well as performing arrangements of Melody Gardot, Michael Buble and Zac Brown Band.  

O'Hanlon is classically trained and received his Bachelors Degree in Voice from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he also performed as a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He continued on to Julliard, where he is currently completing a Masters Degree in Voice. Last season, he performed in both productions in  Julliard Opera’s double bill of Britten’s Curlew River and Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea, as well as in this season’s Metropolitan Opera workshop production of The Sorrows of Frederick. At present, he is preparing for the role of Onegin in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. He was also in the Bel Canto Young Artist Mentoring Program at Caramoor.


Emmett first met Celtic Thunder producer Sharon Browne in New York City, where she invited him to audition for the show. 
The Very Best of Celtic Thunder Tour” kicks off in Orlando, Florida in February 2015 and features an eclectic collection of the group’s best-loved and most popular songs. The tour will take them throughout the U.S. and Canada. Check their website for a concert near you.

SHOCKER: "Baritone Blackout" at Operalia

Despite 11 of the 40 competitors being baritones in this year's Operalia competition, not a single baritone made it to the final round. Many felt that a top prize winner could have come from the talented field of low voices that included Igor Bakan, Aleksey Bogdanov, Alexandre Duhamel, Dan Kempson, Alexey Lavrov, Alex Lawrence, Shea Owens, Damien Pass, Pavel Shmulevich, Anatoli Sivko and Ivan Thirion.

In what has been dubbed the "Golden Age of Baritones," it was a bit of shocker to see a complete blackout of baritones. Baritones have been winning top prizes at almost every major vocal competition in recent years, including the thrilling two runner-up finishers at the Mirjam Helin Competition, Croatian baritones Matija Meić and Leon Kosavic. Jonathan Beyer alone has won no less than 18 competitions. The Lotte Lenya Competition has a distinguished roster of low-voice winners that includes Doug Carpenter, Lucas Meachem, Liam Bonner, Zachary James, Cooper Grodin and Justin Lee Miller. Other examples include Gordon Bintner who won two prizes at the Canadian Opera Company Competition, Scott Conner who won the Loren L. Zachary Competition, Brandon Cedel who won the George London Competition, Jongmin Park taking two prizes at the Neue Stimmen Vocal Competition, Ukrainian Baritone Andrei Bondarenko Wins Cardiff Song Prize and Dominik Köninger winning the prestigious Wigmore/Kohn Competition.

At the Queen Sonja Competition last year, a full third of the finalists were baritones, including American Brandon Cedel, Turk Kartal Karagedik, Croatian Krešimir Stražanac and Moldavian Oleg Tilbulco. And the list goes on, which makes the "Baritone Blackout of 2014" at Operalia all the more shocking!

The finalists at the Operalia Competition will be tenor Joshua Guerrero - USA/Mexico, mezzo Alisa Kolosova  - Russia, soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen - USA, mezzo Carol Garcia -Spain, countertenor Andrey Nemzer - Russia, tenor Abdellah Lasri - Morocco, tenor Yi Li - China, soprano Amanda Woodbury  - USA, countertenor John Holiday - USA, soprano Sicilia Mariangela - Italy Anaïs Constans - France, tenor Mario Chang - Guatemala and soprano Christina Poulitsi - Greece.

You can watch the finals on at 10 PM EST/7 PM PST.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Michael Mayes, Jesse Blumberg to perform Jake Heggie's Three Decembers

Barihunk Michael Mayes who has been called the definitive Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking is taking on a new role from the composer. From September 27-October 4, he'll be singing the role of Charlie in Three Decembers at Urban Arias. Mayes will be joined by Janice Hall and Emily Pulley. Tickets are available online.

The chamber opera tells the story of family secrets that are uncovered over the course of three Decembers, each a decade apart. Glamorous actress Madeline Mitchell and her two adult children, Charlie and Bea, struggle to reconcile the truth and lies about their lives and relationships. The story is based on a short play by Terrance McNally with a libretto by Gene Scheer.

Kathyrn Bates and Jesse Blumberg in Ricky Ian Gordon's "Green Sneakers"
A number of barihunks have taken on the role of Charlie including Keith Phares in San Francisco and Houston, and Matt Worth in Chicago and Fort Worth. Keith Phares will be singing the role again on December 5, 6 and 7 at the Des Moines Metro Opera. Jesse Blumberg will sing the role with the Atlanta Opera on May 29, 30 and 31 of 2015.

The Dallas Opera has announced the commission of Heggie's next opera, Great Scott, with a libretto by Terrence McNally, set for a premiere on October 30, 2015. It will also star Michael Mayes.

Listen to Stéphane Degout from Edinburgh

Stéphane Degout
French barihunk Stéphane Degout and British pianist Simon Lepper teamed up at the Edinburgh Festival to perform a recital of Gallic songs and miniature operas. You can listen to the entire recital HERE for the next seven days. The program is as follows.

Schubert: Der Zwerg D771
Loewe: Edward 1
Schumann: Belsatzar Op 57
Lizst: Die drei Zigeuner
Weill: Die Ballade vom ertrunkenen Mädchen
Wolf: Der Feuerreiter
Debussy Images
Faure: Automne in B minor Op 18 No 3
Faure: L'Horizon Chimérique Op 118
Liszt: Three Petrarch Sonnets

Degout will be in recital in Brussels on September 12th at La Monnaie. He'll be performing the Mörike-Lieder of Wolf and lieder by Richard Strauss. Tickets are available online.

You can see him on stage again from October 16-29, when he takes on Oreste in the revival of Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide at the Theater an der Wien opposite the stunning  Iphigénie of Véronique Gens. Tickets and additional information are available online.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Introducing Roberto Garcia Fernandez

Roberto Garcia Fernandez
Despite having featured barihunks from across the globe, we've had a dearth of singers from Cuba. We featured Homero Pérez Miranda back in 2009 and extensive coverage of the opera Before Night Falls based on the works of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. So when we learned about the amazing young bass-barihunk Roberto Garcia Fernandez, we were eager to feature him on the site.

Fernandez was born in Havana, Cuba on October 10, 1992 and studied at the Conservatory "Amadeo Roldan." He has performed Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute and the title role of Don Giovanni, Melisso from Handel's Alcina, Colline in Puccini's La boheme, the Priest in Puccini's Tosca, Malatesta from Donizetti's Don Pasquale and the priest from Vicente Lleo's La corte del Faraon.

Tenor Alfredo Kraus sings music from Maria La O:

He has also performed Jose Inocente from Maria La O by zarzuela composer Ernesto Lecuona, a fellow Cuban. Lecuona composed over six hundred pieces, mostly in the Cuban vein, and was a pianist of exceptional quality. He was a prolific composer of songs and music for stage and film. His works consisted of zarzuela, Afro-Cuban and Cuban rhythms, suites and many songs that became Latin standards. They include Siboney, Malagueña and The Breeze And I (Andalucía). In 1942 his great hit Always in my heart (Siempre en mi Corazon) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song; it lost out to White Christmas.

Fernandez has performed the baritone solo in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony three times, the first two directed by Guido Lopez Gavilan and the third one directed by Federico Cortese and the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra. In the United States he has sung at the 2014 Miami Piano Festival and in several concerts directed by Manny Perez.

He is currently a student of his fellow Cuban, Manny Perez, who has worked with Eglise Gutierrez, Elizabeth Caballero and Sidney Outlaw.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Listen to interview with Teddy Tahu Rhodes on ABC Sydney

Teddy Tahu Rhodes (photo on left: Opera Australia; photo on right WSJ)

Check out this half-hour segment with New Zealand barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes on "Weekends with Simon Marnie" on ABC Sydney.  He shares stories about his career, plays some of his favorite movies and music (and you may be surprised), talks about hair loss, his favorite books, future roles and other topics.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes will be opening in Rodger & Hammerstein's King in King and I at the Sydney Opera on September 7th. Did you know that the Maori word "Tahu" means "to set on fire"?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Todd Boyce stars in premiere of Die Antilope

Todd Boyce in Die Antilope
American barihunk Todd Boyce, who is a resident artist at the opera in Luzern, Switzerland, will be starring the world premiere of Johannes Maria Staud's The Antilope opening on September 3rd.

The opera is too difficult to describe, but Boyce does a great job on his blog, where also provides insights into developing the lead role of Victor. Here is a summary of the opera and his role in his own words:
The libretto for Die Antilope is an original creation by poet and author, Durs Grünbein, who, together with the composer, developed the thematic ideas with inspiration from such works as Eleutheria by Samuel Beckett, Herman Melville's Bartleby, as well as Martin Scorsese's After Hours. The characters for our piece are based on cardboard cut-out versions of office colleagues, secretaries, and bosses, as well as detached young adult smart phone addicts, bag-ladies, sadistic doctors, and over-sharing middle-aged women. The opening scene of the opera finds the main character, Victor, at a business party. He is unwilling or unable to join in the celebration or to connect with any of the other characters, and inexplicably throws himself out of the 13th-story window. Before he does so, he sings an aria in which he lists the names of dozens of different types of antelopes from all over the world. The following scenes find Victor in a series of sometimes bizarre, sometimes ordinary situations where he interacts with the other characters or the environment in his own peculiar way.

Playing the part of Victor has posed challenges for me. It's a part so unlike any other part I've played before that at first I was at a loss. During the learning process, I of course knew that Victor would need to be the golden thread which ties the whole production together, but unfortunately for me, he hardly speaks a single coherent word in the whole piece. So I had only a few clues as to his motivations for doing anything at all. The plot (not to be confused with 'storyline' because it's not a story in the normal sense of the word), is a set of abstract scenes, where Victor is present but separate, and in most cases doesn't say anything or speaks in backwards Baudelaire text, or disjointed Esperanto, or just says 'rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.'

Boyce will return to the standard repertory next year when he sings Marcello in Puccini's La boheme and Harlequin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. Visit the Luzerner Theater's website for a complete list of performances.

Richard Alexandre Rittelman in Carmina Burana at UNESCO site

Richard Alexandre Rittelmann
German-Hungarian barihunk Richard Alexandre Rittelmann, who is now based in France, recently completed a photo shoot for the 2015 Barihunks Charity Calendar, which is themed "Viva, Italia!" The above photo is just a headshot teaser for some amazingly hot pictures that will be featured in May of the new calendar.

On August 24, Richard Alexandre Rittelmann will be appearing in one of his signature role, the baritone part of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. This performance will be an adaptation for chamber music scored for two pianos, percussion, a 40-person chorus and soloists. During the performance, video images will be projected onto the walls. Tickets are available online.

This will be Rittelmann's sixth performance of the work, having performed in twice in Paris, with Michel Plasson in Nimes, under the baton of Bernard Tetu in Lyon and with Marco Guidarini in Nice.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vauban's masterpiece, the Besançon Citadel, is considered to be one of the finest in France. The Citadel houses three award-winning museums behind its ramparts, the Museum of French Resistance and Deportation, the Franche-Comté Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Barihunks is currently taking new submissions for the 2015 Barihunks Charity Calendar. The calendar will feature Italian and Italian-American singers, as well as non-Italian singers in Italian themed photos. Submissions should be sent to and must be received by September 21st. All proceeds will once again go to support young artists.

Listen to Simon Keenlyside's Edinburgh Recital

Simon Keenlyside at Edinburgh (right)
For the next four days one can enjoy Simon Keenlyside's amazing recital with Malcolm Martineau from the Edinburgh Festival on August 20th. The program contrasted English songs of regret and lost innocence in the first half with richly romantic German lieder in the second half.

Keenlyside and Martineau bring together songs from Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad, a touching evocation of a vanishing pastoral England, and Vaughan Williams’s Songs of Travel, which explore the innermost thoughts and longings for home of soldiers on the front line.

The rich melodies of Schumann’s gripping mini-drama Ballade des Harfners are a fine contrast to the touching pastoral evocations of Wolf’s Fussreise and Blumengruss. For an encore, Keenlyside performs Britten's The Fly from Songs and Proverbs of William Blake. Click HERE to listen to the recital.

You can next catch Keenlyside live at the Royal Opera House where he opens as the title character in Verdi's Rigoletto, in a cast that includes Saimir Pirgu as the Duke of Mantua, Aleksandra Kurzak as Gilda and fellow barihunk Duncan Rock as Marullo. The opera runs through October 6th and additional information is available online.

Here is the entire program for the Edinburgh recital:

Ireland: Sea Fever
Somervell: Into my heart an air that kills
Vaughan Williams: Youth and Love
Eisler: Spruch 1939
Somervell: There pass the careless people
Butterworth: When I was One and Twenty
Gurney: In Flanders
Butterworth: Think no more, Lad
Butterworth: The Lads in their hundreds
Butterworth: On the Idle Hill of Summer
Ireland: Vagabond
Trad: The three ravens
Eisler: Despite these miseries
Eisler: The only thing that consoles us
Finzi: Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Vaughan Williams: The Vagabond

11:40 (during the interval)
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll

Schumann: Ballade des Harfners
Wolf: Fussreise
Wolf: Denk es, o Seele
Wolf: Blumengruss
Wolf: Lied vom Winde
Wolf: Schlafendes Jesuskind
Wolf: Wie sollt ich heiter bleiben
Wolf: Christblume II
Wolf: Nimmersatte Lieve
Wolf: Lied eines Verliebten
Wolf: Storchenbotschaft

Friday, August 22, 2014

Introducing Davide Luciano; Starring in Teatro Real's Marriage of Figaro

Davide Luciano preparing for Le nozze di Figaro
We thought that you might enjoy seeing how Davide Luciano is preparing for his upcoming role as Figaro in Teatro Real's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. The opera is kicking off their new season on September 15th and includes two casts. Other upcoming operas include Donizetti's La fille du Régiment, a double-bill of Goyescas and Gianni Schicchi, and Britten's Death in Venice.

Davide Luciano will be paired with the Count Almaviva of Andrey Bondarenko, while the other cast features barihunk Luca Pisaroni as Almaviva and Andreas Wolf as Figaro.

Davide Luciano, was born in Benevento, Italy to a family of musicians. Before taking up singing, he played piano, percussion, bass and classical guitar. When he was 19 he began studying voice with the baritone Gioacchino Zarrelli.

Davide Luciano
Five  years later, he won his first competition and was awarded "Best New Artist" at the Associazione Lirica e Concertistica Italiana. He subsequently made ​​his debut as Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at Opera domani, followed by his debut at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro as Don Profondo in Rossini's comic masterpiece Il viaggio a Reims under the baton of Alberto Zedda. He won first prize and the audience prize at the Premio internazionale di canto lirico Santa Chiara in Naples. 

After singing Figaro, he heads to Sāo Paolo, Brazil to sing Silvio in Pagliacci. He then returns to his home base at the Deutsche Oper Berlin where he will perform Nottingham in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, Ping in Puccini's Turandot, Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bari-Chunk to Bari-Hunk Edwin David Vargas López

Our latest inspirational bari-chunk to bari-hunk transformation is Puerto Rican Edwin David Vargas López. We saw him at the Nevada Opera last year where he was singing with Michael Mayes, who was our original bari-chunk to bari-hunk post

Mayes has inspired scores of singers to care for their bodies as well as they take care of their voices. Vargas credits Mayes for his amazing transformation and dedication to fitness training. "While I was covering barihunk Michael Mayes, he told me that my career wasn't the way I wanted because of my size and that I had a great voice and I should lose weight!," Vargas told us. "This advice changed my life because now I have a new lifestyle. I feel my voice easier. On stage I can move my body without feeling tired. Generally I feel secure!"

Michael Mayes and Edwin David Vargas López
Vargas is currently getting his Masters Degree at the City University of New York (CUNY), where he has sung Ford in Verdi's Falstaff and Don Alvaro in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims. He graduated from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, where he sang Don Giovanni at the Opera Workshop , Schaunard in Puccini's La boheme, Count Almaviva in Marriage of Figaro, Dandini Rossini's La Cenerentola and King Melchior in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors

He has participated in the International Vocal Arts Institute in Chiari, Italy and Puerto Rico. He made his American debut with Nevada Opera in their production of Puccini's Madame Butterfly as Yamadori and Sharpless, returning later to perform in their aforementioned Don Giovanni. In 2012, he sang a concert in Carnegie Hall with Remarkable Theater Brigade.

On December 6 and 7, he will sing Nick Shadow in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College. Tickets are available online.
Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College
Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College
Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fire Island Opera performs Kurt Weill rarity

Guto Bittencourt (left) and Matthew Morris (right)
The Fire Island Opera Company is presenting the East Coast Premiere of Kurt Weill's first opera, The Protagonist. The piece stars a few singers familiar to this site, Liam Bonner, who sings the role of the Young Man; Matthew Morris, a former barihunks calendar model who sings one of the Schauspielers; and, Jeremy Galyon, who sings the innkeeper. Someone to keep an eye on in the production is model and singer-songwriter Guto Bittencourt, who is also one of the Schauspielers. 

The remainder of the cast includes tenor Samuel Levine in the title role, Maeve Höglund as the sister, tenor John Easterlin, as the Chief of Staff, as well as Jeremy Hirsch, Katrina Yaukey and Megan Marino as the remaining Schauspielers.

Liam Bonner
The opera is bases on a lurid subject drawn from a play by Georg Kaiser an is an example of the sensationalistic, psychologically oriented operas popular during the Weimar Republic. The story is about a theatrical troupe run by the Protagonist, an actor who is overly protective of his Sister. Unable to distinguish between illusion and reality, he kills her after she tells him she has a fiancé; at the close, he calls the murder his greatest theatrical performance. 

The Pines Pavilion on Fire Island has been transformed into a wild, dream world by Marfa-based installation artist, Charles Mary Kubricht, and project runway finalist and former Mark Morris dancer, choreographer/costume designer, Bradon McDonald.

The evening will culminate in a Kurt Weill inspired Haus music dance party!  [Hey, it's Fire Island].

The Sunday matinee production is preceded by a performance of Un Amour de Proust on The Pavilion's Lower Deck and followed by an Opera Pool Party on the Pool Deck! 

Performances are on August 23 and 24 and tickets are available online

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gotham Chamber Opera new season features three barihunks

Jarrett Ott (Photo Steve Riskind) & Joseph Beutel (Photo Kelly Kruse)
Gotham Chamber Opera has announced their new season, which includes the 2014/2015 season, which includes the Bohuslav Martinu double-bill Alexandre bis/Comedy on the Bridge, as well as a revival of their popular El gato con botas (Puss in Boots) by Xavier Montsalvatge.

The Martinu pieces are short comic operas that will star barihunks Jarrett Ott as Alexandre/Sykos and Joseph Beutel as Portrait/Bedron. 

Alexandre bis (Alexander Twice) is a surrealist comic opera in one act composed in 1937 to an original libretto written in French by André Wurmser.  The opera was intended for performance at the Paris World Exhibition of 1937. However, various delays, including World War II, prevented its performance during the composer's lifetime. The opera is subtitled 'The Tragedy of a Man who Had His Beard Cut', and the surrealist libretto is set in Paris about 1900. Although Martinů had asked Wurmser for a libretto including a singing cat, he compromised on Wurmser's suggestion of a singing portrait, which acts as narrator to a tale of bourgeois infidelity.

Comedy on the Bridge tells the story of two rival principalities separated by a river. A woman returning from one side gets caught in the middle by a bureaucratic snafu; soon she's joined in this absurdist limbo by a letch, a fiancé, a vengeful wife, and a schoolmaster with a riddle. Everyone has a secret, but no one has a clue - except the composer, who gets them all happily sorted by the end.

Also in the cast are Jenna Siladie, Abigail Fischer, Cassandra Velasco and Jason Slayden. Performances run from October 14 - 18, 2014 and tickets are available online or by calling 212-279-4200.

Craig Verm
Check out our previous post about Xavier Montsalvatge's El gato con botas (Puss in Boots), which was a huge success for Gotham Opera. They are bringing back barihunk Craig Verm for the revival, in a cast that includes Andrea Carroll, Ginger Costa-Jackson, Karin Mushegain, Craig Verm, and Kevin Burdette.

The work is an operatic version of the classic children’s tale in which a charismatic and cunning cat promises a poor miller everlasting love and fortune. All he needs to pull off his ruse are a hat, a cape, a pair of boots, and his wits.

Performances are from December 6 - 14. For more information, visit

Transgender themed opera to open at BAM

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke
The world permiere of Laura Kaminsky's opera "As One," which explores the revelatory and redemptive journey of a transgender individual, is opening on September 4th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Kaminsky was inspired to write the opera after reading an article in the New York Times in 2008 about a New Jersey marriage in which one of the parties transitioned from male to female, transforming the couple from heterosexual to homosexual. The opera has been cast with the real-life married couple of mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and barihunk Kelly Markgraf, as well as string quartet.

You can listen to three soundclips from the opera below. 

As One provides insights into both the personal and philosophical questions at the core of how personhood is defined, as well as into the compromised civil and humans rights of transgender individuals in the broader societal framework.

Performances at BAM run from September 4-7 and tickets are available online

People on the other side of the country can check out the opera in April 2015 at the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University.  Cooke's role will be sung by mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, but Kelly Markgraf will remain in the cast. The Fry Street Quartet will perform at both venues.

Barihunk duo opens Opera Philadelphia's Barber of Seville

Opera Philadelphia is opening its 40th Anniversary season on September 26th with a new production of Rossini's Barber of Seville starring Jonathan Beyer in the title role and Kevin Burdette as Dr. Bartolo. Performances will run through October 5th, with a free HD broadcast on a giant screen at Independence National Historical Park on Saturday, September 27.

Beyer, made his Opera Philadelphia debut as Escamillo in a 2011 production of Bizet’s Carmen. He has performed Figaro with the Boston Lyric Opera, the Castleton Festival, the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari and at the Lyrique-en-Mer. A little trivia about Jonathan Beyer that you may not know is that he's obsessed with figure skating and knows as much about the sport as most professional commentators. 

Kevin Burdette was last seen as the Prophet/King in the 2012 East Coast Premiere of Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters. He just wrapped up a run at the Santa Fe Opera as Herr Buff/Chamberlain in the double-bill of Mozart's The Impresario and Stravinsky's Le Rossignol. He returns to Santa Fe next season as Sergeant Supice in Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment and as Stobrod/Blind Man in the world premier of Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain.

They'll be joined in the cast by Jennifer Holloway as Rosina, which is her role debut and company debut. Count Almaviva will be sung by the wonderful young tenor Taylor Stayton.

Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 215.893.1018. The free tickets to Opera on the Mall broadcast are available beginning Wednesday, September 3rd at

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy Birthday, Gregory Gerbrandt!

Gregory Gerbrandt
August 19th is barihunk Gregory Gerbrandt's birthday, so it seems like a good time to check on his upscoming schedule, which runs from Broadway musical to opera. 

From October 2-26, he'll be performing in Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones' Broadway musical The Fantasticks at the Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tennessee. He'll be performing the role of El Gallo who sings the hit tune, "Try to Remember." The role El Gallo was originally played by Jerry Orbach (of TV's Law & Order), who asks the audience to use their imagination and follow him into a world of moonlight and magic. A boy and the girl fall in love, grow apart, and finally find their way back to each other after realizing the truth in El Gallo's words that "without a hurt, the heart is hollow."
Jerry Orback sings Try to Remember from The Fantasticks:

Gerbrandt will then return to his native state of Colorado when he appears at the Arvada Center. He'll be playing the lead role of Stephen Kodaly in Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's Broadway musical She Loves Me. The musical was written by the same team that created Fiddler on the Roof. Performances run from November 25 - December 21 and tickets are available online.

Next year, Gerbrandt returns to opera as Stanley Kowalski in André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire joined by one of the most exciting tenor voices in opera, Casey Candebot, who is singing Mitch.  Performances are on April 24 and 26 and tickets are available online. We have a feeling that he's going to be one of the sexiest Stanley's to hit the stage in the history of the opera.

Before he dons his white tank top in Streetcar, he can be seen in the title role of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at Opera Idaho on February 13 and 15, followed by Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro on March 20 and 22 at Opera on the James in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Christopher Bolduc and Keith Miller in new Two Boys recording

Christopher Bolduc and Keith Miller
Nonesuch is releasing Nico Muhly's Two Boys, which was recorded live during the Metropolitan Opera’s 2013 production with barihunks Christopher Bolduc as Jake and Keith Miller as Peter. It's currently available for pre-orders at the Nonesuch Store with an instant download of the opera’s Act I, Scene 6.

The two-act opera, which features a libretto by award-winning playwright Craig Lucas, is loosely based on true events and follows a lonely detective whose investigation of a seemingly simple crime draws her into a complex web of online intrigue. Alice Coote sings the role of Detective Inspector Anne Strawson and Paul Appleby sings Brian, the 16-year-old boy at the center of her investigations.

The 32-year old Muhly, 32 is the youngest composer ever commissioned by the Met, and Two Boys was his first large-scale opera. Two Boys, set in an English industrial city in 2001, combines two story elements rarely seen on the operatic stage: a police procedural and a dramatization of the mysterious and lonely lives of those who inhabit the dark corners of the Internet.

Muhly’s other recent projects include music for the Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie and the score to the film Kill Your Darlings. His other film credits include scores for Joshua (2007), Margaret (2009), and the Academy Award–nominated The Reader (2008).

The cast also features Jennifer Zetlan as Rebecca, Caitlin Lynch as Cynthia, Sandra Piques Eddy as Fiona, Judith Forst as Anne’s Mum

Christopher Bolduc is currently a resident artist at the  Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden, Germany. He'll be performing Der Einäugige in Richard Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten from September 12-October 11. In October, he'll be Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème, followed by Figaro in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia in December.

Make sure to check out our recent post about Keith Miller's upcoming appearance in Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas at the Nashville Opera.

Eleven Baritones Competing in Operalia; Broadcast Live on August 30th

Dan Kempson from the 2013 Barihunks Calendar
Eleven of the 40 singers in next week's Operalia Competition in Los Angeles are barihunk. Competing are Igor Bakan, Aleksey Bogdanov, Alexandre Duhamel, Dan Kempson, Alexey Lavrov, Alex Lawrence, Shea Owens, Damien Pass, Pavel Shmulevich, Anatoli Sivko and Ivan Thirion. Dan Kempson, Alex Lawrence and Damian Pass have been featured regularly on barihunks over the years

Daniel Kempson sings Pierrot's Tanzlied:

Operalia, was created by the legendary tenor Plácido Domingo and is in its third season and has instantly become one of the premiere vocal competitions in the world. The singers will compete over the course of one week, with the ten finalists performing on a concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion on August 30th. If you can't make the concert, it will broadcast live on beginning at 7 PM PST.

Carimina Catulli with Edwin Crossley-Mercer released tomorrow

Edwin Crossley-Mercer as Don Giovanni
We've been following the creation and performance of composer Michael Linton's 17 movement song cycle Carmina Catulli with barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer since its nascent days. The performance of the work at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and was taped for future release, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Auguest 19th. We recommend checking out iTunes or

You can watch a trailer below the includes interviews with the performers and production team, as well as discussions of the difficulty of the pieces, the genesis of the project, and the graphic nature of Catullus' poetry.

If you want to catch Crossley-Mercey live, on August 10th, he'll be performing a song recital with accompanist Fernando Pérez at the Sala Verdi in Montevideo, Uruguay. From October 13-21 he reprises his huge success as Pollux in Rameau's Castor et Pollux at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Barihunk shepherd boys frolick in Monnaie Daphne

Kris Belligh's photo that we cropped off and the always stunning Justin Hopkins
We couldn't help but notice that amongst the four shepherds in Richard Strauss' Daphne at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels are a bass who has appeared on this site in his boxers (Matt Boehler), a Barihunks calendar model who has also appeared on this site in his boxers (Justin Hopkins), and a singer who we inadvertently cropped off of a photo featuring another barihunk (Kris Belligh).

The opera features an all-star cast led by the glorious Sally Matthews as Daphne, Eric Cutler as Apollo, Peter Lodahl and Leukippos and Iain Paterson as Peneios. The opera will run from September 9-30 and tickets are available online.

Kris Belligh
We're a little embarrassed that we cropped off Kris Belligh in a photo introducing Toby Girling to the site during his run in Zatopek! That's an oversight that we rarely make!

The Belgian barihunk studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, before continuing his studies at the Opera Course at the Royal Scottish Academy. He was part of the barihunk trio in Zatopek! that included both Toby Girling and Peter Brathwaite with the Liverpool Philharmonic, which was featured on the BBC 3 as part of the Olympic Games in London.

In addition to Daphne, he appeared in Verdi's La traviata at Monnaie in a production directed by Andrea Breth, who invited the singer to take part in the production of Prokofiev's The Gambler at the Netherlands Opera.

Upcoming roles for Justin Hopkins include the sold out world premiere of Repast: An Oratorio Homage to Booker Wright in Oxford, Mississippi, the role of Publio in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito with Opera in the Heights, and Britten's War Requiem with the Dayton Philharmonic. (We also hope to get him back in the calendar this year!).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Theo Hoffman joins Steven Blier for Craigslistlieder

Theo Hoffman
Barihunk Theo Hoffman will be one of four singers joining the talented accompanist Steven Blier in the New York Festival of Song's Emerging Artists series. The program is entitles "Craigslistlieder & Other Love Songs" and includes music by Granados, Grieg, Frank Bridge, Sondheim, Stenhammar, and Gabriel Kahane.  

Kahane's "Craigslistlieder," which is a song cycle based on actual Craigslist personal ads headlines the program. The cycle includes 1. You Looked Sexy 2. II. I'm Sorry 3. III. Half A Box of Condoms 4. IV. Neurotic and Lonely 5. Today I Met 6. For Trade 7. If Anyone Knows 8. Opera Scene. 

Theo Hoffman sings the Count's Aria from the Marriage of Figaro:

The Festival is taking their program out to Long Island for two performances on Long Island this month! There will be a preview concert on August 23 at Christ Episcopal Church in Bellport followed the next day by a performance at in Orient. Hoffman will be joined by soprano Chelsea Morris, mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein and tenor William Goforth. The singers will perform solos as well as vocal quartets.

In November, Hoffman will play Bob in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief at Juilliard in a triple-bill directed by Edward Berkeley, which also includes Samuel Barber's A Hand of Bridge and Kurt Weill's Down in the Valley.. On March 8, 2015, he debuts with the Portland Symphony Orchestra as The Jailer in Poulenc's The Dialogues of the Carmelites. Tickets are available online

Make sure to read our interview with Theo Hoffman that appeared on our site in February.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Matija Meić takes two prizes at Mirjam Helin Competition

Matija Meić took the top prize for Finnish song interpretation and 2nd overall for men
Even though three of the four male finalists were baritones, the top prize for a male singer at the 7th Annual Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition was awarded to tenor Beomjin Kim, who we commend for his stellar performances. However, the €3 000 prize for the best performance by a non-Finnish singer of a Finnish song went to Croatian baritone Matija Meić. Meić placed second behind Kim, followed by fellow Croatian Leon Kosavic and Ukranian Dmytro Kalmuchyn.

First prize for a female singer went to the Ukranian soprano Kateryna Kasper, who was followed by Russian soprano Ekaterina Morozova, Korean soprano Sunyoung Seo and Russian soprano Elena Guseva. 

A total of €133 000 was awarded in prizes and the laureates receive invitations to perform in Finland and abroad. The members of the Jury voted independently and did not discuss the performances during the voting procedure. In adjudicating the Final performances from all three rounds were taken into account.

Forty-six singers from around the globe took part in the Competition this year, with the jury selecting 19 for the semi-finals and eight for the final round. The chairman of the 2014 Jury was the Artistic Director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Jorma Silvasti. Other jurists included Franz Grundheber, Maria Guleghina, Ben Heppner, Robert Holl, Andrea Rost, Nathalie Stutzmann and Deborah Voigt.

The prize winners will perform at a concert on August 15th at Tampere Hall accompanied by the Tampere Philharmonic under the baton of Hannu Lintu.

You can listen to Majita Meić's performance HERE,  Leon Kosavic's performance HERE, and Dmytro Kalmuchyn's performance HERE.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nathan Gunn to be artist-in-residence at Notre Dame

Nathan Gunn performing at Notre Dame in 2009
Barihunk Nathan Gunn has announced that he's beginning a four-year artist-in-residence series at the University of Notre Dame. Gunn will spend one week each semester for the next four years interacting with Notre Dame students and faculty and with residents in the community. He will teach vocal students, visit classes, coach students as they prepare for OperaND’s annual performances and participate in public events with faculty.

On September 10th, he will perform “The Art of Song and a Life in Music: A Conversation and Performance with Nathan Gunn and Pianist John Blacklow” at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, inviting the audience on stage with him for a small, interactive concert experience. Gunn will share reflections on his life in music and his repertoire, which ranges from art song to opera, to the American songbook, cabaret and works of contemporary composers.
Tickets for the performance are $10 and may be purchased by calling the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center ticket office at 574-631-2800 or visiting

Barihunks to portray JFK and LBJ in Fort Worth

Matthew Worth and Daniel Okulitch
One of America's most innovative opera companies, the Fort Worth Opera has collaborated with the American Lyric Theater to produce an opera based on President John F. Kennedy's final twelve hours. The opera will star two of the world's most popular barihunks in the lead roles, as Matthew Worth takes on JFK and Daniel Okulitch portrays LBJ. Worth shares both the good looks and New England charm of our 35th President, while Okulitch matches the Vice President's 6' 4" frame.

Joining them in the cast will be the amazing mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack as Jackie Kennedy, Talise Trevigne as hotel maid Clara Harris, and the thrilling tenor Sean Panikkar as JFK's secret service agent and confidant, Henry Rathbone. The opera is being written by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, who collaborated on the critically acclaimed opera Dog Days in 2012.

The opera, which is slated to premiere at the Fort Worth Opera's 2016 season, is the perfect setting, as it's the last place that the President slept before being gunned down in Dallas. JFK left the Hotel Texas (now the Fort Worth Hilton) on the rain-soaked morning of November 22, 1963, and spoke to thousands who had waited in the rain to hear him speak. Those remarks were to be his final public speech.

The American Lyric Theater and the Collegiate Chorale will produce a workshop of the opera-in-progress this November, which will bring together the world-premiere cast together for the first time. On Tuesday, November 25 at 7:00 PM, American Lyric Theater will present InsightALT: JFK at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. The InsightALT series provides the public with the opportunity to look inside the process of creating new operas at all stages of their development through a combination of performance and discussion with the creative artists behind these new works. InsightALT: JFK will feature excerpts from the opera, as well as a discussion, moderated by ALT artistic director Larry Edelson, between composer David T. Little, librettist Royce Vavrek, Fort Worth Opera's General Director Darren K. Woods, and the cast members.

In the 2015 season, the Fort Worth Opera will present David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's Dog Days, along with Verdi's La traviata and Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet, starring barihunk Wes Mason in the title role. Daniel Okulitch can next be seen in September with the Milwaukee Symphony singing Mozart's Don Giovanni with André Courville as Masetto and Matthew Rose as Leporello. You can listen to Matthew Worth on a live stream of Bernstein's Candide on WCRB on August 17th from the Tanglewood Festival.