Sunday, May 31, 2015

Reader Submission: Brandon Coleman

Brandon Coleman
We've had two readers suggest that we add Brandon Coleman to the site and from the looks of that six-pack, he seems way overdue. He's currently performing the role of the Mandarin in Puccini's Turandot at the Opera Company of Middlebury in Vermont. Performances run through June 6th.

In 2011, he made his international debut as a guest artist singing the role of Sarastro in Mozart's Die Zauberflote with the Tuscia Opera Festival under the baton of Maestro Stefano Vignati. 

This season, he's been featured in The Beth Morrison Projects' The Difficulty of Crossing a Field National Tour, Mephistopheles in Gounod's Faust with Tri-Cities Opera and Porgy & Bess at Syracuse Opera. Upcoming performances included Bartolo in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with Kentucky Opera from May 20-24, 2016 and Ferrando in Verdi's Il Trovatore with the Hawaii Opera Theatre.

Previously he's appeared as Jesus in The Seven Last Words, Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Fred in Smokey Joe's Cafe, Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, Ibn Hakia in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, and Parsons in Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen.

Coleman, who is based in Washington, D.C., received his Bachelors of Music degree from the University of Hartford Hartt School of Music.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Two Barihunks advance to Final 6 at Montreal Competition

Takaoki Onishi and Vasil Garvanliev
Barihunks Takaoki Onishi from Japan and Vasil Garvanliev from Macedonia have advanced to the Final 6 at the Montreal International Musical Competition, which began on May 25. The competition started with 24 singers from nine countries and was pared down to six after recitals this weekend from the Final 12.

Joining them for the next round are France Bellemare, Anaïs Constans, Keonwoo Kim and Hyesang Park.

You can watch the final round on Tuesday, June 2, and Wednesday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m. EST online.   If you can't watch live, the video will be available online for three months after the competition.

The singers are performing for $80,000 in prize money, including, $30,000 for 1st Prize, $15,000 for 2nd Prize, $10,000 for 3rd Prize, $5,000 for best French Art Song, $5,000 for best Canadian Artist, $5,000 for best artist from Quebec and a $5,000 People's Choice award.  The three top prize-winners will perform with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal at a Gala concert on June 5. 

Peter Brathwaite discusses career on BBC

Peter Brathwaite (Photo: Maria Scard)

The English Touring Opera wraps up their Spring season today, which included barihunks Nicholas Lester, Grant Doyle, Jan Capiński and Peter Brathwaite. The company performed Donizetti's
The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo) and his The Siege of Calais, as well as Puccini's La bohème.

Peter Brathwaite, who has been a regular on this site and appeared in two of our charity calendars, was a guest on Chris Mann's BBC show to discuss the English Touring Opera shows, as well as his career. You can listen to the interview HERE, which begins at the 1:48:30 mark. 

Simon Wallfisch
The English Touring Opera's Fall season opens on October 1st and will feature Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, Massenet's Werther and Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann. A number of barihunks will be featured in the new season, including Jonathan McGovern as Pelleas and Simon Wallfisch (aka The Singing Cellist) as Albert in Werther. Additional information about the upcoming season is available online.

Introducing German Barihunk Raimund Nolte

Raimund Nolte in Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero
A reader recently spotted Raimund Nolte at the Wiener Festwochen performing Zebul in Händel's Jephtha.

After originally studying mathematics and viola in Cologne, he graduated from the Musikhochschule in Mainz. He made his professsional debut with the German Rhine Opera and was asked to join the Komische Oper in Berlin after being heard by director Harry Kupfer. He went on to perform in Halle from 2005 - 2009, where he specialized in Händel, but also performed in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero.

Raimund Nolte sings Händel's "Cuopre tal volta il cielo":

He appears on numerous CDs, including recordings of Händel's Italian solo cantatas for bass, Gluck's Iphigenia in Aulis, Händel's Admeto, Messiah, Bach's Mass in B minor, Bernstein's Candide and Schubert's Lazarus.

He can next be seen making his debut at the Bayreuth Festival as Melot in Tristan und Isolde conducted by Christian Thielemann. Tristan und Isolde stars Stephen Gould as Tristan, Anja Kampe as Isolde and Christa Mayer as Brangäne and opens on July 25th. Tickets and additional performance information is available online.

Three barihunks advance to semi-finals in Montreal Competition

Vasil Garvaliev backstage and onstage at the Montreal Competition (Photos: CBC Music)
Barihunks Byeong-Min Gil from South Korea, Takaoki Onishi from Japan and Vasil Garvanliev from Macedonia are among the 12 finalists in the Montreal International Musical Competition, which began on May 25. The competition started with 24 singers from nine countries and will be reduced to 6 after each of the singers performs a recital this weekend.

The singers are performing for $80,000 in prize money, including, $30,000 for 1st Prize, $15,000 for 2nd Prize, $10,000 for 3rd Prize, $5,000 for best French Art Song, $5,000 for best Canadian Artist, $5,000 for best artist from Quebec and a $5,000 People's Choice award.  The three top prize-winners will perform with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal at a Gala concert on June 5.

Takaoki Onishi and Byeong-Min Gil at the Montreal Competition (Photos: CBC Music)
Byeong-Min Gil is currently studying with Attila Jun at the College of Music at Seoul National University. He took the top honors at the 2014 Busan Ilbo Voice Competition in and 3rd Prize at the Schubert Lied Competition.

Takaoki Onishi is currently completing his Graduate Diploma at Juilliard School. This season, he joins the Ryan Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago. He won the top prizes at the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Competition and the Opera Index Inc. Competition.

Vasil Garvanliev, who has appeared frequently on this site and in our calendar, is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music. He was a member of Calgary’s Opera Emerging Young Artist Program and a member of Opera Atelier, and took part in the Toronto Summer Music Festival & Academy. He was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – Illinois District in 2014-15.

You can watch the competition online.  Gil and Onishi performed yesterday, but you can watch Garvanliev today at 7:30 EST/4:30 PST. The video will be available for three months.

Other semi-finalists include Claire De Sévigné, Yauci Yanes Ortega, Anaïs Constans, Keonwoo Kim, Owen McCsusland, Hyekyung Choi, Min Gue Cho, France Bellemare, Hyesang Park.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Jason Duika returning to Palm Beach Opera

Jason Duika after a workout
American barihunk Jason Duika will be returning as a young artist with the Palm Beach Opera, where he will be singing the role of Dancaïre in Bizet's Carmen and covering Zachary Nelson as Escamillo. He'll also be  covering Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale and Harlequin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. He'll also be featured in the family performance of Don Pasquale.

Regular readers will recall that Duika created a bit of a sensation when his shirtless pictures appeared on the site. 

Joining him at the Palm Beach Opera Young Artist Program will be fellow barihunk Andrew Bogard, who has also been featured on this site as one of our Reader Submissions. Hopefully, we'll be able to convince them to send us a photograph of them together. 

Jason Duika sings "Ah per sempre" from I Puritani:

This year's Opera on the Waterfront will be at the Meyer Amphitheatre on December 12th and usually features the PBO young artists, as well as star singers from the Palm Beach Opera. Their season runs from January 22-March 20 and tickets and cast information is available online

Along with fellow barihunk Samuel James Dewese, Duika is also a finalist in this year's James Toland Vocal Arts Competition at Holy Names University in Oakland, California on June 26 and 27. Tickets are available online.

Jesse Blumberg in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers

Jesse Blumberg and Jennifer Black in Three Decembers at the Atlanta Opera
Barihunk Jesse Blumberg is the latest singer to take on the role of the gay son Charlie in Jake Heggie's chamber opera Three Decembers.

The opera deals with family secrets that are uncovered over the course of three Decembers, each a decade apart. Glamorous actress Madeline Mitchell and her two adult children struggle to reconcile the truth and lies about their lives and relationships.

Mezzo-soprano Theodora Hanslowe sings the role of the mother Madeline Mitchell, which the composer wrote for the legendary Frederica von Stade, while Jennifer Black portrays the other sibling Beatrice. The piece will be performed in the intimate Alliance Theatre on May 29, May 30 and May 31.

Daniel Teadt sings Charlie's aria from Three Decembers:

Two other companies will be performing Three Decembers this season, with the Kentucky Opera's running from November 13-15 and Florentine Opera from March 11-20. 2016. Keith Phares will sing the role of Charlie at Florenine Opera, a role he has performed in San Francisco, Houston and Des Moines.

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, starring Nathan Gunn. The production will then head to the revived San Diego Opera in May 2016.

Upcoming performances for Jesse Blumberg include excerpts from Monteverdi's L'Orfeo with Voyces, Rosebmüller's Cantatas with ACRONYM, and Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah with the American Bach Soloists.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Vittorio Prato sports barihunk shirt in Rome

Italian barihunk Vittorio Prato is at the Rome Opera singing the Count in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro opposite fellow barihunks Markus Werba and Thomas Tatzl, who are rotating the role. Prato has two performances remaining. On May 29th, he'll perform with Tatzl along with Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi as the Countess, Anna Kasyan as Sussanna and Raffaela Lupinacci as Cherubino. On June 3rd, he'll join Werba in a cast with Eleonara Buratto as the Countess, Rosa Feola as Susanna and Michaela Selinger as Cherubino. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Prato also took some time out to pose in a barihunk tee shirt alongside one of Rome's 2,000 fountains. Prato is featured in this year's Viva, Italia! barihunk's calendar and we hope to have him back for our 2016 edition.

Vittorio Prato (Photo on right by © Yasuko Kageyama)
Prato next heads to Firenze where he will perform Figaro in the opera based on the first part of the Pierre Beaumarchais trilogy, Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. Le nozze di Figaro is based on the second part of the Beaumarchais trilogy. Prato will rotate the role with the rising young Korean baritone Julian Kim. Also in the cast is fellow Italian barihunk Luca Dall'Amico. Additional information is available online

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thomas Forde "LURCHES" back into musical theater

Thomas Forde
Bass-Barihunk Thomas Forde's career has been a nice mix of opera and musical theater in recent years. On the opera stage he's performed everything from Rosini's The Barber of Seville to Shostakovich's The Nose, while he's been featured on the musical theater stage in both Les Miserables and Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

This Summer and Fall, he'll be featured in the dream role for a bass on in a musical when he sings Lurch in The Addams Family: The Broadway Musical. The production will run at the New Theater Kansas City from July 16 – September 20, 2015.

The Addmas Family features a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The musical is based on an original story. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. A man her parents have never met. She confides in her father (Gomez) and begs him not to tell her mother Morticia. He must do something he's never done before - keep a secret from his beloved wife. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday's "normal" boyfriend and his parents. 

Thomas Forde
Thomas Forde is also another of the many great bari-chunk to bari-hunk stories, having lost 100 pounds despite a thyroid condition, and even being featured in the Barihunks charity calendar. He also lectures about fitness and maintaining a healthy life style for those on the road. you can read more about it on his website.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo adding new roles to repertory

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo
After having to scrap the role of Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust last summer, Italian barihunk Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is slated to debut the role with the Staatsoper Berlin this summer. He made his debut with the company in 2010 as Don Giovanni, a role that he has sung to great acclaim throughout the world.

Faust will be directed by Philipp Stölzl, who directed the films North Face, Goethe! and The Physician along with opera productions at the Salzburg and Vienna Festivals, Theater Basel and three operas at the Staatsoper Berlin - Rienzi, Parsifal and Faust. Performances run from June 19-July 5. The remainder of the cast includes Teodor Ilincai as Faust, Krassimira Stoyanova as Marguerite and Markus Brück as Valentin.  

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo sings the Song of the Golden Calf:

Although generally associated with Rossini and Mozart, he's now branching out into new repertory, recently adding Verdi's Attila in Bilbao and Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra in Barcelona next year. Simon Boccanegra will run from April 12-29 with a cast that includes Leo Nucci in the title role, Barbara Frittoli as Amelia, Fabio Sartori as Gabriele and Àngel Òdena as Paolo.

Bo Skovhus in sexy livestream of Berg's Lulu

Bo Skovus and Marlis Petersen
The ageless barihunk Bo Skovhus takes on Jack the Ripper opposite the sexy Lulu of Marlis Petersen in Alban Berg's provocative opera at the Bavarian State Opera. The production by Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov features lots of beautiful bodies in various states of undress throughout the production.

Fortunately, the opera will be available in the company's third season of performances available on their free live streams at STAATSOPER.TV. The live stream can be watched on June 6th at 6.00 PM CET/1 PM EST/10 AM PST. The cast also includes Daniela Sindram as Countess Geschwitz, Matthias Klink as Alwa and Rainer Trost as the painter.

Rainer Trost and the Lulu ensemble
The Bavarian State Opera's live streams will continue on July 4th at 7 PM CET with barihunk Elliot Madore as Pelleas and soprano Elena Tsallagova as Melisande in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande.

Bo Skovhus next heads to the Salzburg Festival where he will sing Cortez in Wolfgang Rihm's Die Eroberung von Mexico (The Conquest of Mexico) opposite Angela Denoke. The production runs from July 26-August 10.

John Brancy wins Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

John Brancy
Barihunk John Brancy took 1st Prize at the 16th Annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition this weekend. He will receive a $15,000 award, as well as an opportunity to perform in Opera America's 2016 Emerging Artist Recital Series. 2nd Prize went to tenor Rexford Tester along with a $10,000 award, while soprano Ariana Wehr took 3rd Prize and the $7,500 award. Mezzo-Soprano Allegra de Vita won the Munday Encouragement Award and the $3,000 award.

The Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation was established by Lavinia Jensen in honor of her late husband, Fritz Jensen. The Foundation's purpose is to continue their philanthropic support of the musical arts by supporting young artists pursuing a career in opera.

A number of barihunks have taken 1st Prize at the competition, including Norman Garrett (2013), David Pershall (2012) and Edward Parks (2011).

Judges for the 2015 Finals were Ken Benson, Peter Russell, and Diana Soviero.

John  Brancy sings "God be with our boys tonight":

You can catch John Brancy on Sunday, May 31 for a recital of music including the works of Gershwin, Dvorak, Bernstein, Chopin and the Beatles. The concert will be at Governors Island at Nolan Park in New York on Sunday, May 31. The concert is free to the public. He will be accompanied by Peter Dugan.

This summer, he'll be making his company debut as Dandini in Rossini's Cenerentola with Opera Saratoga at the Spa Little Theater in Spa State Park. Performances run from July 2- 26. Additional information is available online. He'll be joined by fellow barihunk Ryan Kuster as the mysterious philosopher Alidoro. Additional information is available online.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kevin Thompson gets devilish again

Kevin Thompson as Mèphistophélés
Kevin Thompson is back as Mèphistophélés in Gounod's Faust, this time with the West Bay Opera in Palo Alto, California. He previously performed the role at the Fundación Teatro Nacional Sucre in Ecuador to great acclaim. The 6'5" American casts a towering and imposing figure as the demon and brings a booming bass to match.

In the current production, imagined by director Ragnar Conde, the action takes place in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, with survivors living among the scrapped, dysfunctional detritus of abandoned power plants.

Kevin Thompson sings Agnus Dei from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis:

There are three more performances at the Lucie Stern Theatre, including Sunday, May 24, Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

This summer, Thompson heads to the Santa Fe Opera, where he will appear as a Jew in Richard Strauss' Salome and cover Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Christopher Maltman's shows some skin in Salzburg

Christopher Maltman in Iphigénie en Tauride
We recently posted about the two runs of the Whitsun Festival at Salzburg's highly successful production of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride.  The opening night performance on May 22 already has opera aficionados across the globe talking about the production, which included an all-star cast led by Christopher Maltman as Oreste,  Cecilia Bartoli as Iphigénie, Michael Kraus as Thoas andTopi Lehtipu sings Pylade.

Iphigénie en Tauride
Beyond the great singing, much of the buzz has centered around an extremely fit Christopher Maltman's nude scene, which proves that a man can be as sexy at 45 than at 25. Maltman is no stranger to nudity, having bared all in the movie Juan, as well in the 2010 Salzburg production on Don Giovanni.

The  Festival has already announced additional performances from August 19-28 to supplement the one remaining show on May 25. Fair warning if you plan on attending, order your seats now because tickets are scarce.

Visit the Salzburg Festival website for additional information.

Christopher Maltman in Iphigénie en Tauride
With Iphigénie en Tauride, Gluck took the final step in his mission of operatic reform, radically distancing himself from both the formulaic opera seria, with its rigid sequence of numbers, and traditional French opera, creating a psychologically sound musical drama with self-contained scenes and integrated arias.

Christopher Maltman and Topi Lehtipu in Iphigénie en Tauride
Gluck had long since given the chorus an active role, and in this work, the ballet scenes that were obligatory in Paris are no longer harmless, non-committal amusements, but organically integrated in the action. Gluck stated that opera “...should speak the language of the heart, credibly portray great human passions, and serve poetry.”

Christopher Maltman in the movie Juan and Don Giovanni in Salzburg
You can next catch Maltman at the Royal Opera in London as the title character in Don Giovanni with fellow barihunks Alex Esposito as Leporello and Nahuel Di Pierro as Masetto. He'll also be reunited with his fellow cast member from Iphigénie, Rolando Villazón, who is singing Don Ottavio.

Photos from the osterfestspiele, Monika Rittershaus and Salzburg

Friday, May 22, 2015

John Brancy in free recital at Governor's Park

John Brancy and Peter Dugan
John Brancy will rejoin his frequent collaborator Peter Dugan for a recital of music including the works of Gershwin, Dvorak, Bernstein, Chopin and the Beatles. The concert will be at Governors Island at Nolan Park in New York on Sunday, May 31. The concert is free to the public.

This summer, he'll be making his company debut as Dandini in Rossini's Cenerentola with Opera Saratoga at the Spa Little Theater in Spa State Park. Performances run from July 2- 26. Additional information is available online. He'll be joined by fellow barihunk Ryan Kuster as the mysterious philosopher Alidoro. Additional information is available online.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Edwin Crossley-Mercer visiting Arabian Peninsula literally and musically

French-Irish barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer is bringing opera to the Arabian Peninsula in a recital at the One & Only Mirage Resort in Dubai. The May 29th show is entitled "It's All About Love" and will feature famous love songs in German, Russian, French and English.

The show will take the audience to Berlin, Moscow, Paris and New York by featuring pop classics from’40s, songs by Franz Schubert and the 19th century song repertory.  Crossley-Mercer, who grew up in the French town of Clermont-Ferrand, is also quite familiar with Berlin, having studied at the
Hanns Eisler Hochschule fur Musik.

Tickets for the show are available online

The singer's next performance also takes him to the Arabian Peninsula, but only musically. He will perform Schumann's Paradise and the Peri at the Festival de Saint Denis, which was inspired by one of the tales of the Arabian Nights. The text mixes enchantments with elements from the Bible, the Koran, and mythology.

On March 4, 2016, he makes his much anticipated US stage debut as Lescaut in Massenet's Manon at the Dallas Opera.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Peter Brathwaite to sing program of music banned by Nazis

Peter Brathwaite
On May 24th, British barihunk Peter Brathwaite will join accompanist Nigel Foster for  "Forbidden Art" at the Alderney Performing Arts Festival. The program centers around Entartete Musik (Degenerate Music), which was music suppressed by the Nazi regime for being to decadent. The concert is being performed in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Hanns Eisler's Serious Songs for baritone and string quartet:

From the Nazi seizure of power onward, these composers found it increasingly difficult, and often impossible, to get work or have their music performed. Many went into exile (e.g., Arnold Schoenberg, Kurt Weill, Paul Hindemith, Berthold Goldschmidt); or retreated into 'internal exile' (e.g., Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Boris Blacher); or ended up in the concentration camps (e.g., Viktor Ullmann, or Erwin Schulhoff).

The program includes songs by Kurt Weill, a selection of Hanns Eisler’s Protest Songs, and works by Friedrich Hollander and Ernst Krenek, including excerpts from his opera Jonny Spielt Auf. This concert forms a moving testimony to the power of music to overcome adversity, and reminds us that the atrocities of war and oppression are not confined to the battlefield. Tickets are available online.

Edwin David Vargas continues his vocal/physical transformation

Bari-Chunk to Bari-Hunk Edwin David Vargas

We introduced Edwin David Vargas to readers last year after he was inspired by barihunk another singer to get his body in shape, as well as his voice. He's been flourishing at the Brooklyn College CUNY where he's getting his Masters Degree. We also noticed that he's still hitting the gym and looking great, so we decided to share an update of his progress.

He recently performed Germont père in Verdi's La traviata at the university and will now take on the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. With his new physique, Leporello may have to add to the list of Don Giovanni's conquests in the Catalog Aria. We'll have additional information about the production soon. 

Vargas has previously sung Ford in Verdi's Falstaff and Don Alvaro in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims at CUNY. 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.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

André Courville wins Loren L. Zachary Vocal Competition

André Courville (left) and Jared Bybee (right)
Barihunk André Courville won the Loren L. Zachary Vocal Competition for Young Opera Singers in Los Angeles today. Five of the ten finalists were baritones this year, including fellow barihunks Jared Bybee and Michael Adams, who have both been featured on this site. Other finalists included baritone Anthony Clark Evans, soprano Chelsea Chaves, bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee, mezzo Sarah Mesko, soprano Julie Davies, soprano Elizabeth Baldwin and tenor Dominick Chenes, who won the Encouragement Award.

Dominick Chenes, Micahel Adams, André Courville and Jared Bybee
Courville's winning performance included "Vieni la mia vendetta" from Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia and Air du Tambour-Major from Thomas' rarely performed Le Caïd. Adams performed "Come Paride" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and Thomas' "O vin dissipe la tristesse" from Hamlet, while Bybee sang "Per me giunto" and "io morro" from Verdi's Don Carlo.

Courville even managed to pay tribute to the great Ezio Pinza while in Hollywood, whose birthday we're celebrating today in a separate post.

Happy Birthday, Ezio Pinza (May 18, 1892-May 9, 1957)

Ezio Pinza
Ezio Pinza (Fortunato Pinza) was one of the most popular and important basses of the twentieth century. Born in Rome in 1892, he originally wanted to make a career in sports, or perhaps engineering, but after discovering his voice he began studies at Ravenna and Bologna. He made his debut in the town of Spezia as Oroveso in Bellini's Norma in 1914, but his career was soon delayed by service in the Italian Army during World War I.

After the war, he sang at the Teatro Verdi in Florence in 1919 and then the Teatro Costanzi in Rome where he sang leading roles in Verdi's La Forza del Destino, Ponchielli's La Gioconda, Rossini's Il barbière di Siviglia, and Aida. He made his Teatro alla Scala debut in 1921 as Pogner in Wagner's Die Meistersinger. This and other German roles in Tristan und Isolde and Salome were sung in Italian translations. He sang Tagellino in the premiere of Boito's Nerone in 1924. During this time, he also sang in Naples, Turin, and other Italian opera houses.

His Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1926 as Pontifex Maximus in Spontini's La Vestale. He sang there for the next 22 years, and was greatly admired for his interpretations of leading Verdi roles in La Forza del Destino, Simon Boccanegra, Aida, and Rigoletto. Even more important was his participation in the revivals of Mozart's Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro; his importance to the success of these productions cannot be overestimated, with his good looks having as much to do with his fame as his superb vocal abilities. Pinza was equally popular in several French operas including Gounod's Faust, Delibes' Lakme, and Bizet's Carmen. His Russian roles included King Didon in Rimsky-Korsakov's Le Coq d'Or (in French) and Boris Godunov (in Italian). Other important roles at the Metropolian Opera were Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Basilio in Il barbière di Siviglia and the Father in Louise.

Pinza also appeared regularly in Europe at Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, Salzburg Festival, Florence, and Vienna State Opera. He appeared every season at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires from 1925 until 1932. In the United States, he also sang in Chicago and San Francisco. Late in his career, he appeared with his daughter, Claudia Pinza, who had a minor career singing leading soprano roles. After his retirement from the opera stage, he made a successful Broadway debut in South Pacific and later in Fanny. He also appeared in several motion pictures.

His voice was a rich basso cantante and had an easy elegance of phrasing, which is exhibited in nearly all of his recordings. He was at a disadvantage from some of his colleagues because he could not read music, but this meant that he was more willing to follow the concept of the conductor and, indeed, he was a favorite of Arturo Toscanini, Tullio Serafin, and Bruno Walter. He was able to sing the baritone role of Escamillo in Carmen as easily as most baritones. Although he had the lower notes of a bass, they did not have the presence usually associated with the true bass voice, which meant that his Sarastro (The Magic Flute) was not as effective as his Figaro or Don Giovanni. He willingly undertook smaller roles such as Ferrando in Il Trovatore and Colline in La Bohème.

Erik Larson makes role debut at Billy Bigelow

Erik Larson as Billy Bigelow
We first met Erik Larson busting out of his pants two years ago and we instantly fell so in love with the Midwestern barihunk. Now he's singing "So In Love" for the first time ever as Billy Bigelow in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Carousel. It's is role debut and it played for two nights at the Middleton Players Theatre in Wisconsin. He'll also sing the beautiful Soliloquy, which is one of the most famous baritone arias from a Broadway musical 

Gordon McRae sings Soliloquy from Carousel:

Known as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s favorite of all their collaborations, Carousel tells the beautiful and heartwrenching story of a young woman who falls in love with a roustabout carnival barker. Carousel is based on Ferenc Molnár's Hungarian-language drama, Liliom, which premiered in Budapest in 1909. Except for the ending, the plots of Liliom and Carousel are very similar.

Famous interpreters of Billy Bigelow have included John Raitt, Gordon MacRae, Stephen Douglass, Robert Goulet, Nathan Gunn, Bruce Yarnell, Michael Hayden, Howard Keel and Patrick Wilson.

Christopher Maltman's sexy Oreste getting two runs at Salzburg

There will be two opportunities to see the highly successful production of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride at the 2015 Whitsun Festival at Salzburg, which still has two performances remaining on May 22 and 25. If you can't make the current run, it will be revived from August 19-28 and opening night is already sold out.

The opera features barihunk Christopher Maltman as Oreste in the best shape of his life (which is saying something!). He'll be joined in the cast by Cecilia Bartoli as Iphigénie, Michael Kraus as Thoas and Rolando Villazón as Pylade.

With Iphigénie en Tauride, Gluck took the final step in his mission of operatic reform, radically distancing himself from both the formulaic opera seria, with its rigid sequence of numbers, and traditional French opera, creating a psychologically sound musical drama with self-contained scenes and integrated arias.

Gluck had long since given the chorus an active role, and in this work, the ballet scenes that were obligatory in Paris are no longer harmless, non-committal amusements, but organically integrated in the action. Gluck stated that opera “...should speak the language of the heart, credibly portray great human passions, and serve poetry.”

Visit the Salzburg Festival website for additional information.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Craig Verm in free recital at Dallas Museum of Art

Craig Verm's photo from the 2015 Barihunks Calendar
Barihunk Criag Verm, who was featured in our 2015 Barihunks Calendar, will perform a free recital on May 23 at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The recital is sponsored by the Dallas Opera, where he starred as Doug Hansen in the Dallas Opera’s world premiere of Joby Talbot's Everest. He’ll perform works by Mahler, Richard Strauss and Korngold. Both recitals, planned to coincide with the Dallas Opera’s Soluna festival, will be at the DMA’s Horchow Auditorium. He'll be accompanied by his wife Karen Roethlisberger Verm at the piano. Call 214-443-1000 for tickets or additional information.

Next season, the Dallas Opera will present the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Great Scott, Puccini's Tosca, Mark Adamo's Becoming Santa Claus, Massenet's Manon and Show Boat. Manon will feature the exciting US stage debut of Edwin Crossley-Mercer as Lescaut.

Evan Boyer to peform first Verdi Requiem in Florence

The Verdi Requiem, one of the greatest works of the Italian repertory will get its first ever performance in Florence on Sunday, May 17th.

Florence, South Carolina that is, not Florence, Italy. For the record, the Requiem, which premiered on May 22, 1874 at the San Marco Church in Milan, was performed in Florence, Italy the following year, as well as throughout most of Europe.

The Florence, South Carolina premiere will feature bass-barihunk Evan Boyer and the Masterworks Choir along with tenor Robert Watson, mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht and soprano Huanhuan Ma.
The concert will take place at the Francis Marion University and is free to the public. The 80-voice choir is led by Dr. William Carswell, associate professor of music at Coker College.

Evan Boyer began the current season with Seattle Opera as Masetto in Don Giovanni. He sang Mozart’s Requiem with the Houston and Dallas Symphony Orchestras, followed by Händel’s Messiah with the Jacksonville Symphony. This summer he will sing Ramfis in Verdi's Aida and the Bonze in Puccini's Madama Butterfly at Wolf Trap Opera.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Charles Rice to make role debut as Eugene Onegin

Charles Rice and Gelena Gaskarova in Eugene Onegin
British barihunk will be making his role debut as Eugene Onegin in Tchaikovsky's operatic masterpiece in Nantes and Angers. He previously performed the role of Zaretsky in the opera at the Iford Festival Opera. He'll be part of an all-star cast that includes Gelena Gaskarova as Tatiana, Diana Montague as Madame Larina, Oleg Tsibulko as Prince Gremin and Suren Maksutov as Lensky.

The opera will run from May 19-28 at the Théâtre Graslin in Nantes and then be performed at the Grand Théâtre in Angers on June 14 and 16.

Charles Rice in 2012 singing Eugene Onegin in recital:

Recent engagements have included Sid in Britten's Albert Herring with the English Touring Opera, Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes at the Aldeburgh Festival, Morales in Bizet's Carmen at theRoyal Albert Hall and Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca for Grange Park Opera. Rice studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio. He was a finalist at Les Azuriales Young Artists Competition 2009 in France and winner of the Garsington Prize 2009.

In December, he heads to the Stasttheater Klagenfurt to sing Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen.

Zachary Gordin in live broadcast of Carmina Burana

Zachary Gordin appears to have found a gym in San Antonio, TX
Barihunk Zachary Gordin is performing Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. The performance will be available online on May 17th at 7 PM CST.

The performance will be conducted by Music Director Troy Peters and also features the San Antonio Choral Society, the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio, and several other local choirs. Gordin will be joined by soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine and tenor Ryland Angel.

If you can attend in person, tickets are available online.

Randal Turner to make role debut as Ned Keene

Randal Turner
It's just been announced that Randal Turner will be replacing Christoph Plessers as Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes at the Theater Koblenz. This will be his role debut and his third Benjamin Britten character, having previously performed Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Pisa and Mr. Redburn in Billy Budd in Torino.

Ned Keene is an apothecary and quack who supplies the old widow Mrs Sedley with her pills. He also finds a new apprentice for Grimes after the last one mysteriously disappeared at sea. To cause a distraction and thus avoid an unpleasant scene in the Boar, he leads the crowd in the round of the sea shantly "Old Joe has gone fishing." The role was created by Edmund Donlevy in 1945 at Sadler's Wells in London.

Performances run from May 30 to July 3. He'll be joined in the cast by Ray M. Wade, Jr. as Peter Grimes, Aurea Marston as Ellen Orford and Jongmin Lim as Swallow. Additional cast and ticket information is available online.

There are a number of performances of Peter Grimes throughout Europe this year, including in Ulm, Vienna, Saarbrucken, Reykjavik, Mönchengladbach, Krefeld and Berlin. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Iurii Samoilov making role debut as Don Giovanni

Iurii Samoilov as Don Giovanni (left), The Frankfurt Opera production (right) Photo © Monika Rittershaus
Iurii Samoilov will be making his role debut at the Frankfurt Opera as Don Giovanni on May 30th in the company's heralded production by Christof Loy. He was originally alternating the role of Masetto with fellow barihunk Bjorn Bürger. He'll also be appearing as the Don on June 5, 13, 26 and 28, before turning the role over to Daniel Schmutzhard in July. Somoilov will be joined by Simon Bailey as Leporello and Kihwan Sim as Masetto.

Until May 23, he's performing Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola. Earlier this season, he appeared with the company in Wagner's Parsifal, Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea and Puccini's La bohème
Iurii Samoilov in Theatre Basel's Cosi by Calixto Bieito (Photo ©Ismael Lorenzo)
Samoilov joined the ensemble at the Frankfurt Opera this season after having been part of their Opera Studio since 2012. His debut with the company was as the Embittered Gambler in Prokofiev's The Gambler. Samoilov graduated from the National Music Academy of Ukraine in 2011 and in 2009 he was the youngest singer to ever reach the finals at the Neue Stimmen Competition in Germany.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Clint Borzoni's erotic "When Adonis Calls" to get NY workshop premiere

Grant Youngblood and Michael Weyandt
If you live in New York and missed the new opera workshop at Frontiers at the Fort Worth Opera, you're in luck. There will be a workshop reading of the sensational new work by composer Clint Borzoni and librettist John De Los Santos presented by operamission on Thursday, May 21 at 8 PM in the rehearsal hall at OPERA America's National Opera Center (330 Seventh Avenue at 29th Street) in New York.

The Poet will be sung by Grant Youngblood and The Muse by Michael Weyandt. The performance will feature string quartet and percussion and be conducted by Jennifer Peterson. The opera is based on the homoerotic poetry of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard.

You can watch the clips from Frontiers, which feature Tyson Deaton conducting with piano accompaniment by Stephen Carey. Wes Mason sang The Poet and Matt Moeller sang The Muse.

John De Los Santos and Clint Borzoni discuss "When Adonis Calls"

The performance will also include the world premiere of Clint Borzoni's song cycle "Earth, my likeness" featuring countertenor Daniel Bubeck. The piece is based on the poems of Constantine Cavafy, May Swenson and Walt Whitman.

Tickets are $20 in advance and are available online.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Davide Luciano in Jommelli rarity

Davide Luciano
Barihunk Davide Luciano will be performing the role of Gernando in Niccolò Jommelli’s rarely performed L'isola disabitata (The Desert Island) at the Teatro di San Carlo from May 14-20.

The opera was composed in 1761 with a libretto by Pietro Metastasio, which was also set by Haydn. The plot concerns Costanza, abandoned (or so she believes) by Gernando on a desert island, along with her sister, Silva. Gernando and his friend, Enrico, have in fact been taken captive by pirates. Gernando discovers an inscription in a rock which leads him to think Constanza is dead, but disaster is averted and a happy ending ensues. 

Joining Luciano in the cast are Raffaella Milanesi as Costanza. Alessandro Scotto Luzio as Enrico, Silvia Frigato as Silvia  and Antonella Morea Rinaldo as Matilde Serao. Alessandrini, who has performed this opera before, conducts.

You can listen to Roberto Abbondanza sing Gernando's aria Non turbar quand'io mi lagno by clicking HERE

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. 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. 

Get to know the Fort Worth Opera singers

Baritones Trevor Martin, Matt Moeller, Wes Mason, Stephen Clark and Wes Gentile
We made our annual trek to the Fort Worth Opera Festival again this year and hosted another barihunk lunch. It was attended by baritones Trevor Martin, Matt Moeller, Wes Mason, Stephen Clark and Wes Gentile. Normally, we always invite a single Honorary Tenor, but this year we had three of them, as Dane Suarez, Brian Wallin and Kevin Newell joined us. 

In an effort to get to know the singers a little better this year, we asked them some questions, which we'd like to share with our readers. Here are the baritone responses.
I'm a self-proclaimed expert on:
Trevor Martin: Game of Thrones
Matt Moeller: College Sports
Wes Mason: Sharks
Stephen Clark: The Bible
Wes Gentile: Nicolas Cage
David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's next opera should be about [blank] and feature me as [blank]
Trevor Martin: Bruce Jenner....Bruce Jenner
Matt Moeller: Game of Thrones...All the Dragons
Wes Mason: The Wild West...Doc Holliday
Stephen Clark: Mice Minutes...Mouse #3
Wes Gentile: Neal DeGrasse Tyson...A Dying Star
Secret Midnight Snack:
Trevor Martin: Whiteburger
Matt Moeller: Sweet potato chips
Wes Mason: Buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks
Stephen Clark: Wendy's
Wes Gentile: Dark chocolate-covered raisins
At age 10 I dreamed of being a....
Trevor Martin: Skywalker in Star Wars
Matt Moeller: Baseball player
Wes Mason: Marine Biologist
Stephen Clark: Writer
Wes Gentile: Primatologist
My pet peave is...
Trevor Martin: Bad drivers
Matt Moeller: Chewing with your mouth open
Wes Mason: Entitlement
Stephen Clark: Ungrateful people
Wes Gentile: Explaining a punchline
My least favorite character in opera is...
Trevor Martin: Micaëla
Matt Moeller: Gianetta
Wes Mason: Everyone in La sonnambula
Stephen Clark: Carmen
Wes Gentile: Chairman Mao's wife

Tenors Dane Suarez, Brian Wallin and Kevin Newell
Here are the tenor responses.
I'm a self-proclaimed expert on:
Dane Suarez: Guessing temperatures with my hands
Brian Wallin: Trolling Facebook for funny animal videos
Kevin Newell: [Declined to answer]
David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's next opera should be about [blank] and feature me as [blank]:
Dane Suarez: Taylor the latte boy...Taylor
Brian Wallin: A cat....the owner
Kevin Newell: Dune...A sand worm
Secret Midnight Snack:
Dane Suarez: Cheese
Brian Wallin: Sonic
Kevin Newell: Ben & Jerry's 
At age 10 I dreamed of being a(n)....
Dane Suarez: Artist
Brian Wallin: NASCAR driver
Kevin Newell: Butler
My pet peave is...
Dane Suarez: Taylor Swift
Brian Wallin: Mouth noises
Kevin Newell: Social media
My least favorite character in opera is...
Dane Suarez: Micaëla
Brian Wallin: Pamina
Kevin Newell: Micaëla