Monday, August 31, 2015

Björn Bürger's really, really sexy Don Giovanni

Björn Bürger as Don Giovanni at Den Norske Opera (photos: Jörg Wiesner)
Björn Bürger, who has previously sung Masetto, is now making his debut in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni. His performance, with open shirt and sporting white boxers, has been turning a few heads with his macho and sexual portrayal of the lascivious seducer. The cast includes Marcell Bakonyi as Leporello, Ann-Helen Moen as Donna Anna, Magnus Staveland as Don Ottavio and Marita Sølberg as Donna Elvira. Performances run through September 16 and tickets are available online.

Björn Bürger as Don Giovanni and Marita Sølberg as Donna Elvira. (Foto: Jörg Wiesner)
Bürger, who is making his debut with Den Norske Opera, is a member of the Frankfurt Opera where he has sung Bengtson in Reimann's Die Gespenstersonate, Astolfo in Vivaldi's Orlando Furioso, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Marcello in Puccini's La boheme. He returns to Frankfurt this season to sing Frank and Fritz in Korngold's Die tote Stadt, Don Bucefalo in Valentino Fioravanti's La cantatrici villane and Curio in Handel's Giulio Cesare

Fans in the U.K. will be interested to know that he will make debut as Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2016.

Vittorio Prato sporting Barihunk t-shirt on website

Vittorio Prato
We love that Vittorio Prato is proudly sporting his Barihunk t-shirt on his website's photo gallery. Few singers look better than the hunky Italian in or out of a t-shirt! Fans will be thrilled to know that he'll be back again this year in our annual charity calendar.

On September 2nd and 6th, he'll be appearing as Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia at Opera di Firenze. The cast includes Laura Verrecchia as Rosina, Alessio Verna as Don Basilio and Filippo Adami as Almaviva. You can listen to his Largo al factotum on his YouTube page. Tickets are available online

Vittorio Prato backstage and at the gym
In November, he heads to the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich to sing Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola, which will be directed by the great mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender. The cast includes Arthur Espiritu as Don Ramiro,  Jasmina Sakr as Clorinda,  Dorothea Spilger as Tisbe and  Diana Haller as Angelina.

In December, he returns to Italy where he'll sing Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna with Fabrizio Paesano singing Nemorino. Tickets are available online.

Reader Submission: Tyler Fitzgerald

Tyler Fitgerald and the Cantilon Chamber Choir
Our latest Reader Submission is Canadian barihunk Tyler Fitzgerald, who just sang the Toreador's Song with the Cantilon Chamber Choir [pictured above] and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Symphony for their Under the Sky concert in Hawrelak Park.

Originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, he just completed his second year of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Program. In 2011, he received a bachelor’s degree in music from Wilfrid Laurier University. In 2012, Tyler was the recipient of the Gladys Whitehead Scholarship for Voice, and in 2011 was the winner of the Lois Marshall Competition.

Recent concert and operatic performances with the Calgary Opera include Marchese d’Obigny in Verdi's La Traviata, Don Inigo Gomez in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnol, and Count Gill in Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Segreto di Susanna, Bonze/Prince Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Tarquinius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, and The Father in Humperdinks' Hansel and Gretel.

He has also performed in the Celtic Mass for the Sea by Canadian composer Scott MacMillian with the Festival Chorus of Calgary and in Orff's Carmina Burana and Handel’s Messiah with The Peterborough Singers.

Other roles include Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera NUOVA, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with Opera Laurier, Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff with Opera Nuova, Jimmy in Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel  with Saltwater Productions, Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, King Melchoir in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Le Marquis in Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Aaron O'Hare wins Northern Ireland Festival of Voice Competition

Aaron O'Hare
Aaron O'Hare from Warrenpoint in County Down kept the baritone winning streak alive at the Northern Ireland Festival of Voice Competition, winning a year after Seán Boylan took top honors.  The competition returned to the historic village of Glenarm for the fifth year and included a recital from Boylan on Friday night.

O'Hare was one of five singers in the finals, which included mezzo-soprano Katie Hainbach from Dublin, sopranos Maria McGrann from Moira and Aoife O’Connell from Greystones, and fellow baritone Cormac Lawlor from Tralee.

Aaron O’Hare completed his Bachelor's Degree in Music with honors at the University of Ulster in 2011. He is now in his second year of A Masters in Music Degree at the Royal Northern College of Music after being awarded the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Entrance Scholarship. O'Hare has worked with leading companies in Ireland, including NI Opera, North West Opera, and Wide Open Opera as well as Nevill Holt Opera in England. In 2012-13 he was a member of the Northern Ireland Opera’s Young Artist Scheme and appeared at the Oxford Lieder Festival, representing the Royal Northern College of Music.

Recent performances include: Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Bogdanovitch in Lehar’s The Merry Widow with the Royal Northern College of Music.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Barihunk duo alternating Count Almaviva's at Bolshoi

Konstantin Shushakov (left) and Andrei Jilihovschi (right)
We have "Barihunk scouts" on three continents who keep us well apprised of singers and productions worldwide, but we rarely get messages from Russia even though we get a lot of traffic from the country. So we were pretty thrilled to receive a message from a fan in Moscow letting us know about the barihunk duo alternating Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Bolshoi Theater. 

We originally featured Konstantin Shushakov back in 2011 when he took 2nd place at Operalia, but Andrei Jilihovschi is new to us. 

Shushakov was born in Udmurtia, Russia and began his vocal studies at Izhevsk Music College before moving on to the Russian Academy of Theatrical Art. He has been a regular at the Bolshoi Theatre since 2011, where he's been critically acclaimed as Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades. In the 2012-13 season he made his debut in the title role of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Maribor Opera. Last season, he appeared as Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte at La Scala in Milan. 

Shushakov appears as the Count on September 16, 18 and 20. 

30-year-old Andrei Jilihovschi was born in Moldova and completed his studies in choral conducting at the Ştefan Neaga Music College in the capital city of Chisinau. During his time at school he also studied singing in the opera studio and then continued his studies at the Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatoire where he sang he title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.


From 2010-2012, he was a soloist with the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg where he appeared as Belcore in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore, Schaunard in Puccini's La Boheme, Robert in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, the Prince in Asafiev’s Cinderella, Silvano in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Baron Douphol in Verdi's La Traviata and Dancairo in Bizet's Carmen.

In October 2012 he joined the Bolshoi Theatre Young Artist Program and become a member of the Bolshoi ensemble two years later. He will be singing Dancaïro in Bizet's Carmen with the company from September 4-9.  Next year, he makes his debut at the Opéra National de Paris as Robert in Tchaikovsky's Iolanata.

He appears as the Count on September 17 and 19.

Dominik Köninger catching birds and debuting baritone Hoffmann

Dominik Köninger as Papageno in the Barrie Kosky production
German barihunk Dominik Köninger is at the Edinburgh Festival reprising his highly-acclaimed Papageno in Barrie Kosky's magical production of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, which has performances remaining on August 29 and 30.

The innovative Barrie Kosky production of Die Zauberflöte is a collaboration with the amazing British theater group “1927," who put together a production that mixes silent movies, Weimar era cabaret, David Lynch and a touch of the Grimm's Fairy Tales.

The oft-shirtless Dominik Köninger
If you can't catch Köninger as Papageno in the U.K., you'll have plenty of additional opportunities as he's singing the role in the same production at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein beginning on September 19th, then again in Barcelona next summer at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

We've been huge fans of Dominik Köninger since he won the 2011 Wigmore Hall Song Competition and have been enjoying his regular appearances at the Komische Oper Berlin, where he's sung in Monteverdi's Orpheus, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Pantalone in Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, Oreste in Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride and Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro.  

 Dominik Köninger sings Hai gia vinta la causa from the Marriage of Figaro:

He returns to Berlin on September 11th to sing the title role in Handel's Giulio Cesare with fellow barihunk Günter Papendell as Achilla. On October 2nd, he'll open in Barrie Kosky's new production of Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann. For the first time in the opera's 132-year performance history, the role of Hoffmann will be sung by a baritone, which was Offenbach's original intention.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Erwin Schrott's year all Don Giovanni & Figaro

Erwin Schrott
Erwin Schrott's stage performances for the remainder of the year is nothing but Mozart's Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro. Tomorrow night he performs Don Giovanni in a concert version of the opera in the tent in Gstaad performed by the orchestra La Scintilla from the Zurich Opera under the baton of Pablo Heras-Casado. The cast includes Véronique Gens and Regula Mühlemann.

On September 15ht, he opens at the Royal Opera House in London for seven performances as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with fellow barihunk Stéphane Degout as Count Almaviva. The cast includes Ellie Dehn as the Countess, Kate Lindsey as Cherubino and Ann Murray as Marcellina.

In October, he heads to the Wiener Staatsoper to portray Leporello in Don Giovanni with fellow barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien in the title role. The cast includes Andrea Carroll as Zerlina and Juliane Banse as Donna Elvira.

The trend continues into 2016, when he returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich as Don Giovanni in a barihunk-laden cast that includes Alex Esposito as Leporello and Brandon Cedel and Tareq Nazmi rotating as Masetto.

His only U.S. performance is scheduled for December 12th when he performs Rojotango, his show of tangos by Astor Piazzolla and Pablo Ziegler as well as Argentinean and Brazilian folk songs.

Reader Submission: Joe Eletto

Joe Eletto
Our latest Reader Submission is American barihunk Joe Eletto, who will be performing at Opera in the Park on August 29 and September 13 with the Virginia Opera. Eletto is a participant in Virginia Opera's Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program, where he will cover the roles of John Styx in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld and Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème, and beginning in January 2016 will tour with their school outreach production of Little Red Riding Hood.

Eletto completed his Bachelor of Music with Distinction in Research and Creative Works at Rice University and earned his master of music from The Juilliard School and participated in Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute as a Vocal Fellow, Houston Grand Opera's Young Artists Vocal Academy and Aspen Music Festival and School. He won an Encouragement Award from the Opera Index Vocal Competition, first-prize in Classical Singer Magazine’s 2013 competition in the University Division, and second-prize in the inaugural Hal Leonard Vocal Competition in the College/University Voices Division.

Joe Eletto
In March 2016, he will sing his first Fauré Requiem with the Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Georgia. He recently made his debut with the Crested Butte Music Festival singing Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale and returned to the Bard Music Festival for their musical survey of Mexican composer Carlos Chávez, having sung Schubert’s Partsongs the previous year. He created the role of Felix Mendelssohn in Victoria Bond’s new opera Clara with Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival and sang with the New York Festival of Song in a performance curated by composer Mark Adamo.

Opera in the Park is free to the public and will be held at Dogwood Dell Amphitheatre in Richmond, Virginia. The park opens at 6 PM and the concert starts at 7:30 PM on both nights.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Barihunk trio in Kansas City's Don Giovanni

Daniel Okulitch as Don Giovanni at NY City Opera
The Lyric Opera of Kansas City is opening its 58th season with Mozart’s Don Giovanni featuring the barihunk trio of Daniel Okulitch in the title role, Joshua Bloom as Leporello and Rhys Lloyd Talbot as Masetto. Performances are on September 26 and 30 and October 2 and 4 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available online

The trio are also all alumni of the prestigious Merola Opera Program in San Francisco, with Daniel Okulitch taking part in 2002, Joshua Bloom in 2001 and 2003, and Rhys Lloyd Talbot in 2013 and 2014. Elizabeth Caballero, their Donna Elvira, was in the program with both Okulitch and Bloom. 

After Don Giovanni, Bloom will portray The Pirate King in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance in October at both Théâtre de Caen and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. Okulitch will head to the Manitoba Opera where he will sing Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Talbot just completed the Young Artist program at Glimmerglass where he performed the Speaker/Second Priest in Mozart's The Magic Flute and the Apparition in Verdi's Macbeth.

David Adam Moore to make Salzburg Festival debut

David Adam Moore (far left in Dead Man Walking at DMMO) and Barihunk Calendar photos (center, right)
Barihunk David Adam Moore will be making his Salzburger Festpiele debut in the 2015-16 season. He will be creating the role of Colonel Alvaro in the world premiere of Adès’ The Exterminating Angel in a production by Tom Cairns.

The opera, which is a co-commission between the Met, the Salzburg Festival and the Royal Opera,  features a libretto by Tom Cairns who based the work on the 1962 Luis Bunuel film of the same name. The co-commission was originally announced in 2011, but was delayed for unspecified reasons. After Salzburg, it will be performed at London's Royal Opera in the Spring of 2017 and at New York's Metropolitan Opera in the Fall of 2017.

Hunkentenor Ed Lyon
Word has it that Moore will alternate the role with fellow barihunk Simon Keenlyside, who has been sidelined with an illness since withdrawing from Rigoletto in Vienna in December 2014. The remainder of the cast is rumored to include hunkentenor Ed Lyon, Alice Coote, Frederic Antoun, Amanda Echalaz and Audrey Luna. 

 Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel will be premiered in Salzburg next year, ahead of performances at the Royal Opera House, London and the Metropolitan Opera, New York.  

Sexy photo shoot of Ramin Karimloo

Ramin Karimloo
Barihunk Ramin Karimloo is performing the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables eight times a week at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. That alone is a workout, but he's also been buffing up at the Columbus Circle Equinox.

Fortunately, The Broadway Style Guide did a feature on his workout routine which includes some amazingly beautiful photos by Matthew Murphy and his assistant Mitch Dean. You can read the entire feature on their website

the Columbus Circle Equinox
Imperial Theatre
Imperial Theatre
Ramin Karimloo
Karimloo, who is classically trained, has spent most of his career singing Broadway musicals. He sang the Pirate King in the U.K. tour of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. Tickets for Les Misérables are available online.

Reader Submission: Riccardo Fioratti

Riccardo Fioratti (Photo on right by Roberto Recanatesi)
Our latest Reader Submission is Italian barihunk Riccardo Fioratti, who was born in the province of Rovigo. He just wrapped up a run as Giorgio in Rossini's La gazza ladra at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in an all-star cast that included fellow barihunk Alex Esposito, Simone Alberghini, René Barbera, Nino Machaidze and Marko Mimica.

Fioratti studied organ and opera at the Conservatorio di Musica “Francesco Venezze” in Rovigo and Conservatorio "G. Frescobaldi" in Ferrara. He continued his studies with the great Rossini tenor William Matteuzzi and attended the L.T.L. Opera Studio in Pisa, where he performed the Narrator in Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera under the direction of Nathalie Marin. He also studied at the Rossini Academy under the artistic direction of Alberto Zedda, performing in the composer's comedy Il Viaggio a Reims.

Shizuka Salvemini and Riccardo Fioratti perform Shostakovich's Suite Michelangelo, op. 145:

Additional roles have included Tagliaferro in Piccinni's La Cecchina at the Malatestian Music Festival in Rimini,  Shostakovich's Michelangelo's Sonnets in a production by the theater group City of Ebla, Don Magnifico in Rossini's La Cenerentola at Tenerife Opera and the protagonist Brundibar by Hans Krasa with the Sucre National Theater in Quito.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Barihunk "Group Claw" at Seagle Music Colony

Top::  Kyle White, Ryan Stoll, Michael Miller, Eric McConnell
Middle:  Blake Jennings, Mason Jarboe, Thomas West, Nate Mattingly
Bottom Row:  Patrick Jones, Johnny Salvesen, Ryan Hill, Andrew Simpson
The low voices at this year's Seagle Music took a group photo in their new Barihunk t-shirts and giving the camera their best baritone claws.

This year's season included Verdi's Falstaff, Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Sondheim's Into the Woods, Schönberg & Boubill's Les Misérables, Andrew Duncan's The Ugly Duckling and a special guest appearance.

Seagle Music Colony, which was founded in 1915, is the oldest summer singer training program in the country.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Martin Achrainer featured on Austrian national TV

Martin Achrainer
Austrian barihunk Martin Achrainer was recently featured on Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), Austria's national public television station. He discusses his career and time at the Linz Landestheatre, where he has become a house favorite.

Watch the ORF feature on Martin Achrainer:

He returns to action at the Linz Landestheatre on September 19th, when he alternates the role of Baron Douphol in Verdi's La traviata with Till von Orlowsky. On September 20, he'll be singing very different music, as he will be the soloist in Hans Werner Henze's El Cimarrón – Der Weg ins Freie at the International Bruckner Festival in Linz. On October 10, he'll be one of the soloists in Bruckner's Missa solemnis with the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz.

Joel Herold back at LoftOpera in Mahler/Berlioz double-bill

The ever-innovative LoftOpera, whose goal it is to "[remove] barriers between the audience and the stage," will be presenting a staged double-bill of Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Berlioz's Les nuits d'été directed by John De Los Santos. The pieces will feature mezzo-soprano Rebecca Ringle and barihunk Joel Herold.

Herold was a national semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and participated in The Audition documentary that highlighted the competition.  Previous performances with LoftOpera include Gubetta in Donizetti's Lucretia Borgia, Fiorello in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Schaunard in Puccini's La Bohème. He participated in Opera Memphis' one-of-a-kind opera tour called #30daysofopera, which received buzz for it’s innovative approach to reaching new audiences. He has held a number of Young Artist positions at Fort Worth Opera, Saratoga Opera, and Connecticut Opera. Herold has sung additionally with the Santa Fe Concert Association, Opera Cleveland, Knoxville Opera, and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.

Performances of the Mahler/Berlioz double-bill are on August 28 and 29. Tickets are available online and they're only $20. 

Yuriy Yurchuk takes 3rd Prize at the Queen Sonja Competition

Yuriy Yurchuk (far left & right), Lise Davidsen, Queen Sonja and Elsa Dreisig
(Photo: Marius Nyheim Kristoffersen)
Soprano Lise Davidsen took the €40,000 top prize The Queen Sonja International Music Competition, making her the first Norwegian to win the competition since barihunk Audun Iversen in 2007. Although, three baritones made it to the Final 5, only Ukrainian Yuriy Yurchuk finished in the money, taking the €5,000 3rd Prize. French soprano Elsa Dreisig took the €10,000 2nd Prize.

For a limited time you can watch the finals online at NRK

Friday, August 21, 2015

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek joins Beauty and the Beast tour

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek
Barihunk Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek will be joining the national tour of Beauty and the Beast as Gaston. The entire tour schedule is available online.

He's not new to singing Broadway music, having sung Tommy in The Music Man at Ash Lawn Opera, John Wilkes Booth in ASSASSINS with Four Seasons Theater and “The Best of Opera and Broadway” with Opera Louisiane. He's also performed in a number of cabaret shows and recently performed a solo show at SubCulture, which included music by Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reader Submission: Jacob Scharfman

Jacob Scharfman (Photos by Scott Bump, left, and Alex Weick, right)
We love that the Reader Submissions are pouring in and the latest is American barihunk Jacob Scharfman, who was spotted by a reader at this last month's 2015 Handel Aria Competition in Madison, Wisconsin. Here's Scharfman's unedited, lighthearted bio:

Baritone Jacob Scharfman is making a splash in Boston, his home city, where he began singing in church-basement children’s operas at age seven. Though he loathed soccer, he loved frilly outfits, and the proscenium offered the only natural outlet for such “originality.” Selected for a Bohème children’s chorus at age ten, he famously told the conductor to “fix his downbeat.” Red (rainbow?) flags were everywhere.

Now taller, lankier, bearded, but still utterly tactless, he’s elbowing his way to stardom. The Boston Musical Intelligencer deems his voice “certain to gain popularity […] well-rounded and rich, maintaining clarity and precision throughout his entire range.” In June, the Boston Classical Review acclaimed his “rich, ringing” performance of Mr. Webb in Ned Rorem’s Our Town with the Boston Opera Collaborative. Other 2015 roles included Rugby in Vaughan William’s Sir John in Love with Odyssey Opera, Prince Yeletsky in Queen of Spades with Harvard’s Lowell House, and the Pilot (cover) in Rachel Portman’s Little Prince with Opera Fayetteville.

Honoring his type-A Jewish overachiever lineage, he’s got a packed concert season ahead. Upcoming engagements include the Henry Purcell Society of Boston, Boston Baroque, Exsultemus, and Schola Cantorum of Boston, in addition to several personal recitals and tapings in preparation for grad school auditions. Wish him luck. For further updates, find him at or the perennially incomplete

Reader Submission: Patrick Egersborg

Patrick Egersborg (on right in Handel's Orlando)
We've had a sudden uptick in Reader Submissions from Scandinavia while we've been covering the Queen Sonja Vocal Competition in Oslo (which wraps up on August 21st). The latest is Norwegian bass-barihunk Patrick Egersborg, who graduated with a masters degree from the National Opera Academy in Oslo. He has also studied at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler" in Berlin and in London on a scholarship. He is also was awarded a scholarship from Opera Grange Park to further his studies.

While at the Opera Academy, he sang in the full production of Cavalli's L’Ormindo, as well as excerpts from numerous operas. Last year he performed Don Alfonso' in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and in 2013 he sang The Operator in the world premiere of Mæland's Ad Undas at The Norwegian National Opera.

In 2010,  Egersborg sang the role of Spurio and The Executioner at the Grimeborn Festival in the first complete showcase of Jools Scott's jazz-opera Vice, which also played at the Soho Theatre. In 2012, he sang the role of Zoroastro in the Norwegian premiere of the Handel's Orlando at Åmot Operagard. In 2013, he sang Dottore Spinnelloccio/Notaro and Talpa in Puccini's Il Trittico at a Master Class at the Norwegian National Opera under the baton of Magnus Loddgard and last  year he appeared as Sam in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti at the Oslo Opera Festival.

He also sings regularly for the Oslo Opera Festival and has appeared in concert at Universitetets aula, the Romerike Symphony Orchestra and at the summer concerts on the balcony at the Norwegian National Opera. You can hear him singing Mozart's Se vuol ballare from Le nozze di Figaro HERE.

Upcoming performances include an appearance with OperaSalong in Ringsakeroperaen in September and Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen in November at the Ringsakeroperaen. He will also be appearing in our 2016 Barihunks Charity Calendar, which is due out on October 1st.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Barihunk Duo in Bregenz's Cosi fan tutte

Grigory Shkarupa and Maxililian Krumme (far right in Cosi fan tutte)
The Bregenzer Festspiele opened their production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte today and we received an enthusiastic email from an attendee alerting us to two barihunks in the cast, both of whom are new to us. Maximilian Krumme is singing Guglielmo and Grigory Shkarupa is singing Ferrando under the direction of Jörg Lichtenstein.

There are three performances remaining on August 18, 20 and 22 and tickets and additional cast information is available online. 

Maximilian Krummen
Maximilian Krumme was born in Fürth and raised in Radolfzell, Germany. He graduated from the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln with a Masters of Music.

Since the 2013-14 seaason, he has been a member of the International Opera Studio at the Staatsoper Berlin. At the Opera Studio he has performed Fiorello in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Baron Douphol in Verdi’s La Traviata, Kilian in Weber’s Der Freischütz, Sciarrone in Puccini’s Tosca, as well as the New Music Productions workshops.

He has also performed Papageno, Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Morales in Carmen at the Theater Aachen. He previously sung Guglielmo at Hamburg Theatre Academy. This is his second appearance in Bregenz, having appeared last season in the double-bill of Stravinsky's Le Rossignol and Szymon Laks Le Hirondelle inattendue.  

After the Festival, Krummen returns to the Staatsoper in Berlin to sing Ecclitico in Haydn's Il mondo della luna, Kilian in Weber's Der Freischutz and Sciarrone in Puccini's Tosca.  

Grigory Shkapura
Grigory  Shkarupa was born in St. Petersburg and studied at the Glinka Choral College and the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. At the Opera Studio of the Conservatory he performed Gurnemanz in excerpts from Wagner’s Parsifal, Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen and Panas in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Night before Christmas Eve. He is also a member of the International Opera Studio at the Staatsoper Berlin.

He's performed numerous roles at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, including the Prisoner in Verdi’s Nabucco, Patsyuk in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Night before Christmas Eve, Mityukha in Mussorgsky’sBoris Godunov, Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen, The Monk in Verdi’s Don Carlo and the Soldier in Berlioz’s Les Troyens

After the Festival, Shkarupa returns to Berlin to sing Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, Samuel in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera and Grenvil in Verdi's La traviata. You can listen to Shkarupa sing a Russian folk song HERE.

Listen to Benjamin Appl on BBC

Benjamin Appl
The young German barihunk Benjamin Appl, who was the last student of the late Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau, is rapidly emerging as one of the most sought after lieder singers in the world. Last month, he was named one of the European Concert Hall Organization's (ECHO) six outstanding young artists to become its Rising Stars and will have a piece commissioned for him by composer Nico Muhly.

Appl is also a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and they just recorded him singing Beethoven songs, which is available online until Sunday, August 22. He joins the world renowned accomanist Graham Johnson in performing the composer's Gesang aus der Ferne, WoO137 and Der Kuss, Op 128. The remainder of the program includes Beethoven's Rondo alla ingharese quasi un capriccio, Op. 129; CPE Bach's Sonata in A minor, Wq 62/21; and, Adolf von Henselt's Duo for Horn and Piano Op.14.

Benjamin Appl sings Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte:

On September 1st, he makes his debut at the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall in Brahms' Triumphlied with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the baton of Marin Alsop. The concert also included Cardiff winner Jamie Barton singing Brahms' Alto Rhapsody. On September 5, he returns to the Proms for Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with Keith Lockhardt and the BBC Concert Orchestra or Chorus.

On October 6th, he'll part of the closing concert at the 40th Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg, Austria, joining Angelika Kirchschlager, Mojca Erdmann, Juliane Banse, David Steffans, Graham Johnson and fellow barihunk Andrè Schuen.

Fans in Ireland will be thrilled to know that he'll be touring the country in November, with performances in Skibbereen, Clifden, Dublin, Tipperary, Cork, Dun Laoghaire and Down. The program will include lieder by Mendelssohn, Poulenc and Schubert, arias from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Magic Flute, and from Lehár’s The Merry Widow and Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.

You can now follow Appl at his Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

3 Barihunks in Final 5 of Queen Sonja Competition

Alexey Lavrov, Leon Košavić and Yuriy Yurchuk (L-R)
Barihunks Alexey Lavrov, Leon Košavić and Yuriy Yurchuk have advanced to the final round of the Queen Sonja International Music Competition along with sopranos Elsa Dreisig and Lise Davidsen.

The final will take place in The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage, Friday 21 August at 19:00. Her Majesty Queen Sonja will be present and award the prizes after the concert. The concert will be broadcast live on Norwegian television and radio.

You can watch today's concert below. We've listed the programs for the three baritones who advanced: 

Alexey Lavrov:
Piano: Ecaterina Deleu: Gounod: Roméo et Juliette-Mercutio: Mab, la reine des mensonges Rachmaninov: He has taken everything from me Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin -Onegin: Vy mne pisali Schumann: Geständnis

Yuriy Yurchuk:
Piano: David Gowland: Verdi: Falstaff-Ford: È sogno o realtà Bellini: I Puritani-Riccardo: Ah! per sempre Sviridov: The Virgin in the City Cardillo: Core Ngrato

Leon Košavić:
Piano: Erling Ragnar Eriksen: Bach: Matthäuspassion-Bass: Mache dich mein Herze rein Tosti: Non t'amo più Feldman: Yamshik, ne goni loshadei

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Making Dreams Come True: Introducing Joel Balzun

Canadian barihunk Joel Balzun
We noticed this Twitter exchange and couldn't resist posting it. After all, we're not about making dreams come true, than what is our purpose?

Calgary-based Cowtown Opera wrote, "All the best to our #Barihunk @jdeebizzle on his recital tonight in #yyc!" To which Canadian baritone Joel Balzun replied, "@CowtownOpera I've finally achieved my dream of being called a #barihunk - thank you. #lifegoals #operaproblems"

Balzun has performed Fiorello in their production of The Barber of Cowtown, which set Rossini's classic opera in the Wild, Wild, West. Other companies that he's appeared with include his 2011 professional debut with the California International Theatre Festival, Calgary Concert Opera Company, La Mirada Vocal Arts, the Rochester Oratorio Society and performing the Four Villains in Offenbach's Les contes d’Hoffmann at the Napa Music Festival. He made his Kennedy Center debut singing excerpts from Puccini's Turandot, representing the Eastman School of Music as a part of the Conservatory Project. At Eastman he performed Sid in Britten's Albert Herring.

Joel Balzun (photo: Alexander Timmons)
He holds a Bachelor's degree in Music Composition from Biola University and recently graduated with a Master's degree in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music. As a composer, he was named a finalist at the 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards, won the Grand Prize and Young Composers Prize in the National Broadcast Orchestra’s Galaxie Rising Star Composers’ Competition, and won the Dallas Wind Symphony’s 9th annual “Call for Fanfares.”

Joel Balzun is officially a barihunk!

Barihunks Comprise one-third of Queen Sonja finalists

(Clockwise from top left) Leon Košavić, Alexey Lavrov, Andri Björn Róbertsson & Yuriy Yurchuk
When the 12 finalists take the stage at the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Oslo, Norway on Sunday, August 16th, one-third of the competitors will be barihunks. Yuriy Yurchuk, Leon Košavić, Alexey Lavrov and Andri Björn Róbertsson will be joining soprano Florie Valiquette, tenor Joshua Owen Mills, soprano Anna Rajah, soprano Elsa Dreisig, mezzo Yulia Mazurova, soprano Lise Davidsen, soprano Annika Gerhards and tenor Petr Nekoranec.

The twelve finalists were chosen from 41 contenders. Each of the semifinalists will sing four works from opera and lieder given with piano accompaniment.

Barihunk Audun Iversen, who won the competition in 2007, will also give a recital with mezzo Ingeborg Schübeler Gillebo on Wednesday August 19th. will take place on Friday, August 21 with 5 finalists who will perform with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra on the Main Stage of the Oslo Opera House. The concert will be broadcast live by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

Yuriy Yurchuk
Ukrainian baritone Yuriy Yurchuk is a member of Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. In the 2015-16 season he will appear on Royal Opera stage as Blazes in Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, Baron Douphal in Verdi's La traviata and Johann in Massenet's Werther. In 2008. Yurchuk was a Salsa dance champion in his native Ukraine.

Leon Košavić
Leon Košavić began his vocal education at the age of twelveand continued with his studies at The Academy of Music in Zagreb. In 2011 he made his professional debut at The Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb as Papageno where he later performed as Moralés. This year,  Kosavic was named Young Musician of the Year by The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and the Emmerich Smola Award. In October, he will be performing Dr. Malatesta in Donizeetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki.

Alexey Lavrov
Russian native Alexey Lavrov studied voice at the Republican Art College and the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. A recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Lavrov made his Met company debut in the 2012-13 season as the Herald in Verdi's Otello and the Flemish Deputy in Verdi's Don Carlo and has since appeared as there as Count Dominik in Strauss' Arabella, the Huntsman in Dvorak's Rusalka and Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. He won 1st Prize at the 2014 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition and the 2010 Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition.

Andri Björn Róbertsson
Icelandic bass-baritone Andri Björn Róbertsson was born in Reykjavík and studied languages at Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík. He studied voice at The Reykjavík Academy of Singing and Vocal Artsand then the Royal Academy of Music in London. For the last year, he has been a member of the International Opera Studio in Zürich where he performed the Sprecher and Second Priest in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Der König in Iris Ter Schiphorst's Die Gänsemagd and Brabantische Edle in Wagner's Lohengrin. On September 30 and October 2, he performs the Fifth Jew and Cappadocier In Richard Strauss' Salome with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Last chance to watch Duncan Rock's shirtless Tarquinius

Duncan Rock in The Rape of Lucretia
This is your last chance to watch the broadcast of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera's production of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, as it ends at midnight GST on August 16th. The opera stars über-barihunk Duncan Rock as Tarquinius, who sings are ravishing "Within this frail crucible of light." He also gets a chance to show off his amazing gym-toned body! Richard Fairman in the Financial Times described Duncan Rock's Tarquinius as "Schwarzenegger-like."

Duncan Rock in The Rape of Lucretia
The Rape of Lucretia was first performed at Glyndebourne in 1946. It tells the story of Lucretia, who is raped by the tyrant Tarquinius Superbus, ruler of Rome. Unable to live with the shame, Lucretia  commits suicide. The action of the opera is commented on throughout by a Male and Female Chorus who occupy another dimension, at times narrating the story and at times voicing the thoughts of the different characters.

The opera was not particularly well received by audiences or critics at the time, but the chamber opera has grown in popularity in recent years, with Glyndebourne bringing it back just two years after they performed it for the Benjamin Britten centenary in 2013.  The broadcast also stars Kate Royal as the Female Chorus, Allan Clayton as the Male Chorus, Matthew Rose as Collatinus, Michael Sumuel as Junius, Christine Rice as Lucretia, Catherine Wyn-Rogers as Bianca and Louise Alder as Lucia.

Duncan Rock in The Rape of Lucretia
Duncan Rock can next be seen at the English National Opera singing Marcello in Puccini's La bohème from October 16-November 10. He's returning to the U.S. in April to sing Billy Bigelow in Carousel at the Houston Grand Opera with Stephanie Blythe as Nettie Fowler and Andrea Caroll as Julie.

Did you know that Duncan Rock started his musical career playing the bagpipes, and that he also played basketball as well as the bass?

The final Glyndebourne stream on the Telegraph website for 2015 will be the new production of Donizetti's Poliuto beginning on Sunday, August 16th with tenor Michael Fabiano (and it's not to be missed!). 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reader Submission: Andrei Venczel

Andrei Venczel
We'll admit that 30-year old Romanian Andrei Venczel isn't the usual candidate for Barihunks. He bills himself as a baritone/countertenor and we're not quite sure how serious he is about pursuing a professional career...but, oh, that BODY. We took one look at his pictures and figured he was worth bending the rules for.

He currently lives in Copenhagen, Denmark where he's been studying with Danish soprano Nina Bols Lundgren. His interest in singing began with Romanian folk music from Banat region.

Andrei Venczel
Venczel, who also has a degree in Child Psychology, has performed throughout his native Romania, Hungary, Germany and Denmark. He has specialized in medieval and baroque music, as well as  lieder and Romanian folk music. He's also a gifted pianist who won second prize at the Carl Filtsch International Festival-Competition for Pianists and Composers.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Reader Submission: Dean Murphy

Dean Murphy in Tender Land (center)
Our latest reader submission is Massachusetts native Dean Murphy, who is performing Top in Aaron Copland's The Tender Land at Opera North in Lebanon, New Hampshire. There is one remaining performance on August 15th and ticket and cast information is available online.

Murphy graduated in 2014 from the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance.  At Hartt, he performed Tobias in Thomas Pasatieri's The Hotel Casablanca, Frank in Strauss' Die Fledermaus, and Frank Maurrant in Weill's Street Scene.

In May 2014, Dean made his Connecticut Lyric Opera debut as Prince Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. In June 2013, he made his debut with Hartford Opera Theater as Gideon March/Mr. Dashwood in Mark Adamo's Little Women. In November 2013, he sang Brighella in Antonio Salieri's The Little Harlequinade with Connecticut Concert Opera, where he is a Resident Artist. Dean was a participant in Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance Young Artist Program, where he covered the role of Belcore in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Introducing Zachary Luchetti (and his very funny bio)

Zachary Luchetti
We get a lot of Reader Submissions at this site and we love them. They tend to range from the "What were they thinking?" to "Why isn't this guy a professional model?" Every so often, one catches your attention for a very different reason, as is the case with Pennsylvania native Zachary Luchetti. His biography is not only the funniest singer bios that we've ever read, but it perfectly lampoons the beefed up biographies that many performers post on their websites. 

Luchetti is about to open as Wagner in the Berks Opera Company's production of Gounod's Faust starring Jeremy Galyon as Mephistopheles and hunkentenor James Valenti in the title role. In partnership with the Caron Treatment Centers, this production was conceptualized to address the issue of addiction. The performance depicts the cycle of addiction and rehabilitation with supertitles that are faithful to the language of the modern drug culture. Performances are on August 14 and 16 at the Miller Center for the Arts in Reading, PA and tickets are available online.

Zachary Luchetti in Pirates of Penzance (left)
Here is Luchetti's unedited bio:

Zachary Luchetti, baritone, is an Appalachian trained singer. He has cut his teeth on the regional scene from the flats of southern Ohio, through the Laurel Highlands, to the almost Pocono Mountains of Berks County, PA, with the majority of his work being done in Pittsburgh, the area’s Parisian cultural equivalent. A barihunk of once uncommon beauty, he used to possess an almost flat stomach and rather strong jaw line. However, in 2011 one of his best friends became pregnant with her first child, and he ate through the pregnancy with her. Now the aforementioned features have lost most of their sharpness, yielding to a more softened distinction.

A gifted and versatile performer, Mr. Luchetti’s performances are usually reviewed using one word superlatives ranging from “arresting” to “impressive” to “fine” (Reading Eagle). The self-observed go-to-guy on the regional D-List circuit, he makes no pretense about his status in the business. While he isn’t exactly sought after, he has amassed an impressive resume of over 70 roles in his short career, notably including Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Silvio in I Pagliacci, Amonasro in Aida and the Big Bad Wolf in DePue’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, for which he was once on local radio. Although he maintains a day job, Mr. Luchetti still makes enough money singing for all of the contract work to eat up his tax refund when he enters his many 1099-Misc forms into Turbo Tax®.

Currently he is considering semi-retirement so that he can focus on a job that will yield enough net income to allow him to go out with friends when they call, take a vacation to a place not within a day’s driving distance and start a savings account without worrying about dipping below the minimum balance most banks require. When he is not singing, Mr. Luchetti relaxes by sitting in a lawn chair on the sidewalk outside his street level one bedroom apartment. There he enjoys blasting Whitney Houston ballads through the only window in his residence and sipping whatever almost decent discount wine he came across on the last chance wall at the liquor store, all the while waiting for the typical late afternoon bar fights to erupt at the local watering hole adjacent to his location where someone was allegedly shanked a couple years ago. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Waltteri Torikka named "Sexiest Man in Finland"

Waltteri Torikka: Finland's Sexiest Man
Waltteri Torikka has had quite a year. First he wins MTVs talent show Tähdet tähdet, which we covered extensively on this site and now he's been named "Finland's Sexiest Man" by the readers of the women's maagazine Eeva (Eve). Since winning the show, he's been dubbed the "Ricky Martin of Finland" and finds people staring at him on the street.

Torikka beat out Finnish actor Tommi Korpela and hockey player Pekka Rinne for the title. Readers who voted for Torikka offered all kinds of interesting reasons including comments about his "supple thighs" and "regal stature."

Waltteri Torikka offered this Finnish serenade to readers who voted him Sexiest Man:

Torikka will be performing Sibelius' Kullervo at the BBC Proms in London on August 28 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Next summer, he'll appear as Don Giovanni at the Savonlinna Opera Festival.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Reader Submission: Håvard Stensvold

Our latest reader submission is Norwegian barihunk Håvard Stensvold who made his debut at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen as Masetto in Don Giovanni in 1997. He has gone on to sing Masetto, Don Giovanni and the Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni.  He's made his mark in other Mozart roles, as well, including Papageno in the Magic Flute, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte. He sings primarily in Scandinavia, although he's performed in Belgium, Austria and Spain.

He started performing  as a boy soprano with the Norwegian boys choir Sølvguttene. He went on to study at the Royal Opera Academy in Copenhagen at the Royal Danish Music Conservatory, where one of his instructors was the famed baritone Håkan Hagegård.
Håvard Stensvold  sings "Ho capito" from Don Giovanni:
He's also made his mark in contemporary opera, singing the lead role Bo Berg in Knut Vaage's  Khairos at Norske Opera, Kjell Habbestad's The Maid Of Norway in Bergen, Nielsen's The Little Mermaid, Cecilie Ore's Dead Beat Escapement at Norske Opera, The Soldier in the world premiere of Palmar Johansen's Madonna Furiosa, and one of the leading roles in the world premiere of Anitra Tumsevica’s opera Red.

He also appears as Zebul on the CD of Handel's Jephtha under Fabio Biondi, as well as three recording with with pianist Tor Espen Aspaas, Winter Holidays, Schubert's Winterreise and a Brahms lieder recital.