Friday, January 23, 2015

Smoldering Dan Kempson in Townsend Opera's Streetcar

Dan Kempson and Carrie Hennessey in Townsend Opera's A Streetcar Named Desire
Whenever we run a shirtless picture of Dan Kempson, the traffic to our site doubles or triples. So we were thrilled to get this picture of the 2015 Grammy Award nominee from rehearsals for this weekend's run of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, which opens for two performances at the Townsend Opera tonight in Modesto and then heads to the Fresno Grand Opera for a single performance on February 15th.

Although the role of Stanley Kowalski was originally sung by fellow barihunk Rod Gilfry, the role seems like it was written for Kempson. Blessed with one of the most beautiful baritone voices in opera, he also has the same smoldering sexual charisma that Marlon Brando brought to the movie role.  In a stroke of genius casting, Townsend Opera in conjunction with the Fresno Grand Opera were the first to cast him in this role, affording people in Northern California to get the first glimpse of Kempson in a role that will certainly become a signature part for him in his rising career.

Scenes from A Streetcar Named Desire at Townsend Opera
Although Modesto and Fresno are 90 minutes and 3 1/2 hours away from the Bay Area, they are rapidly becoming a key part of the Northern California music scene.  Founded in 1983, Townsend Opera has taken off under Artistic Director Matthew Buckman who launched the Opera Remix Initiative, which is bringing the art form into the 21st century by experimenting with how it can blend the musical styles of today’s world.

Rod Gilfry (left) and Marlon Brando (right)
Fresno Grand Opera, which was founded in 1999, has attracted some of the biggest names in opera, including Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Renée Fleming.  In another example of the changing economics of the opera world, the two companies have joined forces in sharing season and production costs, despite remaining separate entities with their own board of directors.

The remainder of the cast includes Carrie Hennessey as Blanche DuBois,  Kiera Duffy as Stella, James Callon as “Mitch,”  Sharmay Musacchio as Eunice Hubbel and Robert Norman as Steve Hubbel. Tickets for the January 23 and 25 performances at Townsend Opera are available online, as are tickets for the February 15th performance in Fresno.

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