Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Calendar Model Profile: Jason Chandler Duika

Jason Duika far left, right (and with Romain Dayez in the Barihunks calendar, center)
We featured Jason Chandler Duika in the months of January and May in our new Barihunks charity calendar. He was an instant sensation with readers, so we figured that we're share a few more photos, video and biographical information about the emerging American baritone. 

After a solid first year at Palm Beach Opera in 2015, he was invited back to sing the roles of Dancairo, and cover Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen, sing the family performance and cover Dr. Malatesta in Donizettis Don Pasquale, sing Paquiro in Goyescas, by Granados, and cover Harlequin, and sing the Wigmaker in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. In early April, he will return to his alma mater, Alma College in Michigan to sing the title role of Saul in Handel's oratorio.

Jason Duika sings Hamlet's "Ô vin dissipe la tristesse":

Jason entertains ambitions of singing throughout the world, particularly the repertoire of Donizetti, Mozart, Puccini, and eventually Verdi, whom he enjoys most.

"I am greatly honored to be featured as a part of the barihunks mission, to help, support, and maintain young operatic artists in their continuing journey to success."

The 2016 Barihunks Charity Calendar is now on sale and available online. For the past four years, the calendar has raised money for young artist programs and young artist projects. Proceeds from this year's calendar will fund the creation of the Foundation for the Advancement of Baritones (FAB), which will fund baritone and bass cash prizes at song competitions, commission music for baritones and basses, and be used to fund other projects featuring low male voices.

New York-based composer Clint Borzoni has already been commissioned to write two songs for string quartet and baritone, which will be performed by calendar model Marco Vassalli in January.

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

2016 Barihunks Calendar now on sale

Romain Dayez, Jason Chandler Duika, Marco Vassalli and Malte Roesner
The 2016 Barihunks Charity Calendar is now available for purchase. Now in its fifth edition, the calendar features eighteen of the hottest singers in opera and musical theater hailing from nine different countries.

For each of the last four years, the charity calendar has donated all of the profits to young artists, young artist programs and projects featuring baritones. Some of the previous beneficiaries have included the Portland Resident Young Artist Program, Seagle Music Colony, the production of the West Coast Premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's Green Sneakers featuring Jesse Blumberg, and a concert featuring bass Aaron Sørensen and tenor Jonathan Blalock.

This year the proceeds will be used to fund the creation of the Foundation for the Advancement of Baritones (F.A.B.), which will fund baritone and bass cash prizes at song competitions, commission music for baritones and basses, and be used to fund other projects featuring low male voices. New York-based composer Clint Borzoni has already been commissioned to write two songs for string quartet and baritone, which will be performed by Marco Vassalli in January.

The singers this year include Cyril Rovery and Romain Dayez from France; Malte Roesner, Eric Stokloßa and Marco Vassalli from Germany; Iurii Samoilov from the Ukraine; Tristan Hambleton from England; Duncan Rock from Australia; Patrick Egersborg from Norway; Jason Forbach, John Paul Huckle, David Adam Moore, Seth Mease Carico and Edward Miskie from the United States; Gianluca Margheri and Vittorio Prato from Italy; and, Iosu Yeregui from Spain. All of the singers are baritones or lower voices, except for Eric Stokloßa, who is the first tenor featured in the calendar (in a photo with baritone David Adam Moore from Peter Eötvös' Paradise reloaded.

Four of the singers were photographed this Summer in the Loire Valley in an official Barihunks photo shoot. 

The calendar is available at

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Andrew Lovato returns to Minnesota for role debut as Harlequin

Andrew Lovato as Harlequin at Minnesota Opera
Andrew Lovato is returning to the Minnesota Opera to make his role debut as Harlequin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. He made his Minnesota Opera debut as Sonora in Puccini's La fanciulla del West and subsequently performed Young Raymond in the world premiere of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell's The Manchurian Candidate and Le Dancaïre in Bizet's Carmen.

Performances of Ariadne auf Naxos will run from September 26-October 4 and tickets are available online. Lovato will be joined by Amber Wagner as Ariadne, Brian Jagde as Bacchus, Erin Morley as Zerbinetta and Hanna Hipp as The Composer. 

This summer, Lovato premiered the role of Harry Engel in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star in his Cincinnati Opera debut. He will be singing the role of Slim in Of Mice and Men with Austin Opera in January 2016. In March 2016, he returns to the Minnesota Opera to perform Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca.

NOW ON SALE: The 2016 Barihunks Charity Calendar

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

First photos of KC's film noir Don Giovanni

Daniel Okulitch with Samantha Gossard (left) and Joshua Bloom (right) Photo by Cory Weaver
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 opera is being done in a film noir theme set in the mid-20th century featuring snap-brim fedoras, trench coats and dimly lit speakeasies. Seville has been replaced by the mean streets of the big city as dark shadows hide mistaken identities.

“Film noir is about seduction and about mystery, and the lead character, Don Giovanni, is about seduction and about mystery,” said Deborah Sandler, general director and CEO of the Lyric Opera. The opera is directed by Kristine McIntyre. “There’s a lot that happens in this opera that we don’t see. It’s kind of in the dark. It’s about hints. The darkness and the shadows of film noir seem to be a very good lens with which to see this opera.” 

Lyric Opera of Kansas City's Don Giovanni Photo by Cory Weaver
Okulitch has sung the title role in Portland, Vancouver, Colón, Palm Beach, New York City Opera and will reprise it in Santa Fe next season with fellow barithunks Kostas Smoriginas as Leporello and Soloman Howard as the Commendatore.

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Introducing barihunks David Pichlmaier & Wolfgang Schwaiger

David Pichlmaier as Figaro in Darmstadt (right)

Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia opened at the Staatstheater Darmstadt with two barihunks rotating the role of the barber Figaro. Both German David Pichlmaier and Austrian Wolfgang Schwaiger are new to the site.

David Pichlmaier was born in Munich and began singing with the Stuttgarter Hymnuschorknaben (Boys Choir) and the Collegium Iuvenum Stuttgart. After completing his studies in Stuttgart and Weimar he was joined the Opera Studio of the Cologne Opera. He has also won numerous international singing competitions.

His career has taken him to opera houses in Bremen, Leipzig, Karlsruhe, Bonn and Dusseldorf and festivals such as the Operetta Festival Berlin or the Festival d'Haute Alsace. Since the 2008-09 season he has been an ensemble member of the Staatstheater Darmstadt, where he has performed Papageno in Mozart's Magic Flute,  Ottokar in Der Freishütz, Andrey in Boris Godunov, Orpée in Orpée aux Enfers, Peter in Hansel und Gretel, Schaunard in La bohème and critically acclaimed performances in the title roles in Berg's Wozzeck and
Wolfgang Rihm Jakob Lenz.

Wolfgang Schwaiger and Sophie Rennert sing Dunque io son from Barber of Seville:

After a successful run in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre, Wolfgang Schwaiger joined the Köln Opernstudio. He made his first performance on September 4th, as Madama Butterfly's uncle Yakuside at the Cologne Opera. On September 26th, he will sing the role of the King in Xavier Montsalvatge's children’s opera El gato con botas (Puss in Boots) and will also perform Papageno later this season on the main stage.
Wolfgang Schwaiger

Other roles at Opera Köln include Bognanovitch in Die Lustige Witwe, Count Dominik in Arabella and Moralés in Carmen

Performances of Il barbiere di Sivigila continue on October 2, 16, 21, 27, November 6 and 21, December 4, 12, 26, January 22 and February 5, 19. For tickets and additional cast information visit the Staatstheater Darmstadt website.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Reader Submission: CrossFit barihunk Cody Monta'

Cody Monta'
Our latest reader submission is barihunk and CrossFit enthusiast Cody Monta'. He is currently a fellow at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC.  He will be making his professional debut in the role of Marullo in Piedmont Opera’s production of Verdi's Rigoletto in Winston-Salem, NC on October 23, 25, 27, 2015. The cast includes tenor Rene Barbera as the Duke of Mantua. Barbera also graduated from the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. Tickets are available online.

Cody Monta sings "Questo amor vergogna mia" from Puccini's Edgar:  

The Maryland native holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University. His 2015-16 season includes performing the role of Emilio in Nino Rota's Il cappello di paglia di Firenze in February 2016 and Escamillo in Peter Brook's La tragédie de Carmen in April 2016 at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. 

He recently appeared as Mr. Gideon March in Northwestern University Opera Theatre’s recent production of Little Women.  Last summer, Monta' attended the Aspen Music Festival and School as a New Horizon’s fellow where he covered the role of James Vane (The Picture of Dorian Gray). He currently lives in Winston Salem, NC with his fiancée, Brandi and two dogs, Thriller and Vibrant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Baritone quartet in updated Don Giovanni

Baritone quartet in Venture Opera's Don Giovanni
Four of the hottest guys in opera are coming together to create a Barihunk Quartet in Mozart's Don Giovanni with New York's newest and highly innnovative opera company. Venture Opera was founded by Jonathon Thierer in 2014 and perform installation opera throughout New York City in venues that enhance their artistic vision.

Philip Cutlip will sing the title role and be accompanied by his sidekick Eric Downs as Leporello. Matthew Patrick Morris will sing Masetto and Christian Zaremba will sing the Commendatore. 
Philip Cutlip (left) and Matthew Morris (right)
Venture Opera's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni casts the serial seducer as a Catholic priest who abuses his power to have his way with women. Taking place in one of the oldest surviving gothic-revival religious buildings in New York, the adaptation revolves around the theological question of the Act of Contrition.

Performances will be on November 6, 8 and 10 at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in the heart of the Lower East Side. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Duncan Rock and Sarah Connolly to star in charity fundraiser

Sarah Connolly & Duncan Rock
Barihunk Duncan Rock with superstar mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly for a charity concert benefiting The Passage, an organization that provides resources to help people transition out of homelessness.

Rock will perform Butterworth's Loveliest of Trees (arranged by Lance Baker) and Is My Team ploughing?. Connolly will perform Handel's Largo, Dido's Lament and a special arrangement of Purcell's aria Fairest Isle done by composer Raymond Yiu. The concert, entitled "A Night Under The Stars" will take place at the Southbank Centre on the South Bank of the Thames on 27 October. Tickets are available online and you can also donate to The Passage online.

Duncan Rock can next be seen onstage as Marcello in La bohème at the English National Opera from 16 October 16 to 14 November. The cast includes Zach Borichevsky as Rodolfo, Corinne Winters as Mimi, Ashley Riches as Schaunard and Nicholas Masters as Colline.

Richard Rittelman in West Coast premiere of Menotti rarity

Richard Alexandre Rittelmann

Richard Rittelmann, who recently partook in our calendar shoot in France, will be appearing across the globe in the West Coast Premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Boy Who Grew Too Fast. Proceeds from  the opera will used to bring the anti-bullying message to the Marin County Schools. Performances with the Golden Gate Opera are on October 9 and 11 at the Marin Center’s Marin Showcase Theatre.

The story is about a nine-year-old boy who has just moved to town and is mocked by his classmates because of his immense size and his name, Poponel Skosvodomonit.  Miss Hope, his new teacher, tells the boy about a Dr. Schrink, who has invented a shrinking machine. The mother takes the boy to the doctor, who says he will be able to help Poponel reach a normal size but at a price – the boy must conform to everyone else’s actions. When Mad Dog, a terrorist, comes to the school and demands a hostage, only Poponel volunteers. His act makes him grow until he overwhelms the terrorist. 

We couldn't get the ticket link to work, but Golden Gate Opera can be reached at (415) 339-9546 or 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Barihunk quartet in Paris Opera's Don Giovanni

Alessio Arduini (left) & Fernaando Radó (center, right)
Four of the the hottest men in opera are performing together at the Paris Opera's Don Giovanni. Artur Ruciñski sings the title role, with Alessio Arduini singing Leporello, Fernando Radó performing Masetto and Alexander Tsymbalyuk as the Commendatore. Arduini and Radó have both created mini-sensations with their shirtless pictures on this site.

The all-star cast also includes Maria Bengtsson as Donna Anna, Karine Deshayes as Donna Elvira, Matthew Polenzani as Don Ottavio and Nadine Sierra and Gaëlle Arquez rotating as Zerlina. Performances run through October 18th and tickets are available online.

Joanna Jakubas & Artur Ruciński sing Là ci darem la mano:

After Paris, Alessio Arduini will head to the Vienna State Opera where he will appear as Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola, Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, the title role in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia and Marcello in La bohème. Tsymbalyuk will head to The Met to sing Timur in Puccini's Turandot and then to Munich for Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto. Radó will next sing Monterone in Verdi's Rigoletto at the Teatro Real in Madrid and then return to Masetto as the Dutch National Opera. Ruciñski will also head to The Met to sing Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly and then Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor an the Royal Opera in London.

Introducing Greek barihunk Georgios Iatrou

Georgios Iatrou
Georgios Iatrou is currently sing Kostandis in Bohuslav Martinů's The Greek Passion at the Aalto Musiktheater Essen, where he joined the ensemble last month. The Greek Passion is one of the last works of  Bohuslav Martinů and it was not premiered until after his death. The composition consumed him for the last five years of his life and is based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. 

This season he'll be performing Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème, Farfarello in Prokofiev's The Love for Three Orange, the Speaker in Mozart's The Magic Flute, the Marquis in Verdi's La traviata and Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

Martinů's The Greek Passion from Bregenz:

Iatrou was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1986 and studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Köln and the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf, where he performed Frank Maurrant in Kurt Weill's Street Scene. He was the top prize winner at the Schmolz und Bickenbach Competition and the Nei Stemmen International Competition in Luxemburg.

He has appeared as Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte at the Teatro Poliziano, Daniel in Turnage's Anna Nicole at Theater Dortmund, Tancredi in Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda at Theater Aachen and the apprentice in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg at the Cologne Opera.

Michael Todd Simpson to open Washington Opera season

Michael Todd Simpson in WNO's Carmen (Photo Credit: Scott Suchman)
 The Washington National Opera will open its 2015-2016 season on September 19th with a new staging Bizet's Carmen featuring barihunk Michael Todd Simpson as Escamillo.
Simpson is returning to the company after successful performances as Alvaro in Florencia in the Amazon and Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat. Simpson has sung Escamillo at The Met, Seattle Opera and the Glimmerglass Festival.

He'll be joined by thrilling heroic tenor Bryan Hymel as Don José. Clémentine Margaine as Carmen and Janai Brugger as Micaela. They will alternate with a cast that includes Aleksey Bogdanov as Escamillo, Rafael Davila as Don José, Géraldine Chauvet as Carmen and Jacqueline Echols as Micaela. Also in the cast is fellow barihunk Kenneth Kellogg who will sing Zuniga.

After his run as Escamillo, Simpson returns to his current home of Seattle to sing Cecil in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda. He then heads off to Dallas to sing Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat with the Dallas Opera. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Italian barihunk trio in Palermo's La bohème

Dario Russo
The Teatro Massimo di Palermo will be alternating casts in Puccini's La bohème, which opens on September 18th. The cast performing on September 19, 22, 25 and 27 will feature the Italian barihunk trio of Simone Alberghini as Marcello, Dario Russo as Colline and Italo Proferisce as Schaunard. Additional information is available online.

We introduced Simone Alberghini when he appeared as Don Giovanni in a production with and "18 and older" warning at the Perm Opera. The other singers are new to this site.

Dario Russo graduated with a degree in Foreign Languages ​​and Literatures, focusing on Russian and German. After finishing his studies, he became a member of the Opera Studio Nederland of Amsterdam and was part of the Opera Workshop as the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova. Recent performances have included Enrico in Anna Bolena in Catania, Count Walter in Luisa Miller at the Teatro di San Carlo.Demetrio in Rossini's Demetrio e Polibio at the Teatro San Carlo of Naples, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni at Opera Basel, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Teatro San Carlo of Napoli and Colline in Trieste. He next sings in Bari where he'll perform Colline with the Marcello of fellow barihunk Giorgio Caoduro.

Naples native Italo Proferisce studied piano and voice at the Conservatorio G. Martucci in Salermo and attended  the Accademia di Alta  Formazione del Teatro  del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. He was a finalist or winner in numerous vocal competitions between 2009-2011. He made his debut as Don Perizonio in Cimarosa's L'impresario in angustie in Budrio in 2011. He  performed as Figaro  in  Le nozze di Figaro and as the father in Fortunato's Falcone e Borsellino at the Teatro Verdi di Pisa, Marcello in La Bohème with Teatro Ammitato in Florence and Deputato Flamingo in Don Carlos  with Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dmitry Hvorostovsky returns to stage on September 25

Dmitry Hvorostovsky in Il Trovatore and the Anvil Chorus
Dmitry Hvorostovsky makes his return to the stage on September 25th in the Met's Il Trovatore  after being treated for brain cancer in London. He'll be joined by Anna Netrebko as the heroine Leonora, Dolora Zajick as the gypsy Azucena, Yonghoon Lee as Manrico and Štefan Kocán as Ferrando. He'll perform through February 13th when he'll be replaced by Vitaliy Bilyy for the remaining performances. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.
Dmitry Hvorostovsky in Il Trovatore
The October 3 performance will launch the tenth season of the Met’s Live in HD series when it is transmitted to more than 2,000 movie theaters in 70 countries around the world.  Hvorostovsky has sung Count di Luna in two previous seasons at the Met, including the premiere of  David McVicar’s staging. He made his Met debut in 1995 as Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades. Since then, he has sung over 170 performances with the company including Verdi roles such as Anckarström in Un Ballo in Maschera, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, the title role in Rigoletto, Germont in La Traviata, and Don Carlo in Ernani.

Later this season, he will sing a recital at Carnegie Hall and star as the title character in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Barihunk trio in Royal Academy of Music's Marriage of Figaro

Bozidar Smiljanic and Richard Walshe
The Royal Academy of Music will present Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro under the baton of noted conductor Jane Glover on October 31 and November 1 and 2. Barihunks Bozidar Smiljanic and Richard Walshe will rotate the role of Figaro, while Henry Neill takes on the Count. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

UPDATED POST: We have just learned that the Count is also double-cast with Haobin Wang performing on Saturday and Monday and Henry Neill on Friday and Sunday.

We introduced London born bass-barihunk Smiljanić back in March. He is currently studying opera at the Royal Academy of Music after gaining his degree in Law at the University of Nottingham.  In 2014, he made his debut at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera as A Captain in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. At the Academy, Smiljanić has worked on a variety of operatic roles including Leporello and Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Figaro in La nozze di Figaro, Monterone in Verdi's Rigoletto, Bartolo in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le Roi  in Massenet's Cendrillon and Superintendent Budd in Britten's Albert Herring.

Walshe was educated at the King’s School in Gloucester and graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2014 with first class honours. He is currently studying on a post-graduate Master of Arts degree at the Royal Academy.  During his time at the Royal academy, Walshe has performed Schumann’s Dichterliebe, Finzi’s Let us Garlands bring and Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel, as well as Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro and Amantio di Nicolai in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.  He recently performed Bach’s Cantata BWV 203 at the Royal Academy of Music, Mozart’s Mass in C at Chichester Cathedral, Bach’s St.Johns Passion with the Waverley Singers and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with St Neots Choral Society.

Henry Neill
Neill currently studies on the Royal Academy of Music Opera and previously held a choral scholarship at St John’s College, Cambridge.  He was recently awarded the Sir Thomas Armstrong Prize for English Song at the Royal Academy of Music, the Audience prize at the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, the Sacred Aria Prize at the Mozart Singing Competition and is generously supported by the Carr-Gregory Scholarship. With Royal Academy Opera he has performed as Marco in Gianni Schicchi and most recently the role of Smirnov in Walton’s The Bear. Last year he played the role of Friquet in Garsington Opera’s production of Offenbach’s Vert Vert.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Barihunk duo barge into cast of Pelleas & Melisande

Chris Herbert as Pelleas
Two barihunks will be features in the inaugural season of Floating Opera New York when they feature Debussy's Pelleas and Melisande on the water in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Christopher Herbert will sing Pelleas, while Sidney Outlaw takes on Golaud. Also in the cast are Aude Cardona as Melisande, Paul Goodwin-Groen as Arkel, Jasmin DeRice as Genevieve and Caroline Loeb as Yniold.

The opera will be set on the railroad barge, Lehigh Valley No. 79, also known as The Waterfront Barge Museum. It will will be sung in English and presented with Debussy's original 1895 piano score.

The railroad barge and Sidney Outlaw
Performances of Pelleas and Melisande are October 16, 17 and 18 at 8 pm. The barge is moored at 290 Conover in Red Hook. Directions and additional production information can be found online. Next Spring, the company will produce the New York premiere of John Cage's Europeras 3 & 4.

If you can't wait until October, you can hear Chris Herbert perform his doctoral recital at The Julliard School on September 22 at 6 PM. He'll perform songs by Britten, Bernstein, Rorem, Kaminsky and DeBlasio.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Baritones SWEEP top prizes at Wigmore/Kohn Song Competition

Low male voices swept the 2015 Wigmore/Kohn International Song Competition, walking away with almost trophy in site.

28-year-old Swiss bass Milan Siljanov took 1st Prize and was awarded £10,000. He performed songs by Bennett, Mahler, Sviridov, Poulenc, Schoenberg, Warlock and Wolf.

Samuel Hasselhorn took 2nd Prize and won £5,000. His program included Duparc, Schubert and Reimann.  22-year-old James Newby took 3rd Prize, as well as the Richard Tauber Prize given for the best interpretation of Schubert. His program included Finzi's Let us garlands bring and Schubert's An Sylvia?

Baritones have historically fared well at the competition, with Gavan Ring taking 2nd Prize in 2013 and Dominik Köninger winning the top prize in 2011. The competition is held in odd numbered years. 

The jurors including Iain Burnside, Wolfgang Holzmair, Graham Johnson, Angelika Kirchschlager, Sir Ralph Kohn, Christoph Prégardien, Thomas Quasthoff, Maxine Robertson, David Stern and Ailish Tynan.

Sexy Elixir of Love in Brussels

Armando Noguera and Aris Agiris alternate as Belcore
La Monnaie in Brussels has adapted Damiano Michieletto's sexy version of Donizetti's The elixir of love that was produced at the Palau de les Arts Reina and Teatro Real to a setting at Cirque Royal in Belgian capital. The production, which we've covered extensively, also has set designs by Paolo Fantin and costumes by Silvia Aymonino (which are often limited to bathing suits).

Armando Noguera and Aris Agiris are alternating the role of Belcore, who has to change out of his pants and into swim trunks on stage (all done discreetly behind a beach towel).  Olga Peretyatko and Anne-Catherine Gille rotate as Adina, Dmitry Korchak and Antonio Poli alternate as Nemorino and Riccardo Novaro and Simon Orfila switch nights as Dr. Dulcamara.

The "villagers" in La Monnaie's Elixir of Love
In this production, Adina is a sexy landlady of a Mediterranean beach bar, the lovelorn Nemorino is  a deckchair attendant, Belcore is a coastguard captain, Dulcamara sells baggies and wonder drinks from a jeep and the villagers are now half-dressed sun-worshippers partying on the beach.

Performances run through September 18th and tickets are available online.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Baritones dominate finals of Wigmore/Kohn competition

James Newby, Milan Siljanov and Samuel Hasselhorn (L-R)

Barihunks continue to dominate the competition at the 2015 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, as 3 of the 5 finalist will be baritones. The final round will be held at 6 PM on Thursday, September 10th at Wigmore Hall.

The finalist are baritone Samuel Hasselhorn and accompanist Renate Rohlfing, baritone James Newby and accompanist Panaretos Kyriatzidis, bass-baritone Milan Siljanov and Nino Chokhonelidze, soprano Aoife Miskelly and accompanist William Vann and tenor Spencer Lang and accompanist Dan K. Kurland.

 Samuel Hasselhorn & the Lazarus String Quartet perform Wolf's "Die Nacht":

Each finalist will give a recital lasting a maximum of 30 minutes, which may consist of songs in any language, but must include at least one song written after 1950. 1st prize takes home £10,000, follow by £5,000 for 2nd prize and £2,500 for 3rd prize.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Low voices dominating Wigmore Hall Song Competition

Samuel Hasselhorn, Dashon Burton and James Newby
Barihunks are dominating the semi-final round of the 2015 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, which will take place on Tuesday, September 9th at Wigmore Hall. Low voices among women and men seem to be dominating this year, as their are 5 baritone and bass-baritones joining 4 mezzo-sopranos in the final 12 singers.

The men include Samuel Hasselhorn, Dashon Burton, Will Liverman, Milan Siljano and James Newby. The sole tenor in the semi-finals is Spencer Lang. The women include mezzos Kate Howden, Rebecca Jo Loeb, Angharad Lyddon and Hagar Sharvit. The two sopranos reaching the semi-finals are Aoife Miskelly and Magali Simard-Galdes.

The program for the semi-final round must be a maximum of 20 minutes and must include songs in German (at least two of which must be by Schubert), songs in French and in English by a British composer. The final round will consist of four finalists, each of whom will give a recital lasting a maximum of 30 minutes, which may consist of songs in any language, but must include at least one song written after 1950. 1st prize takes home £10,000, follow by £5,000 for 2nd prize and £2,500 for 3rd prize.

Samuel Hasselhorn at the Hugo Wolf Song Competition:

Baritone Samuel Hasselhorn, born in Göttingen, Germany in 1990, won first prize in the 2013 International Schubert Competition, as well as the Prix de Lied in the 2013 Nadia and Lili Boulanger International Voice-Piano Competition. He was a fellow of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, and has performed in New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall as a participant in Marilyn Horne’s The Song Continues programme. Samuel’s first CD Nachtblicke with Lieder by Schubert, Pfitzner, and Reimann was released in December 2014. Recent debuts include concert appearances at Gewandhaus Leipzig and Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle.

Baritone James Newby is currently studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance under the tutelage of Alison Wells. He is winner of the Joyce Budd second prize at the junior Kathleen Ferrier Bursary awards, the Trinity Laban English Song Competition and the Trinity Laban Oratorio/Cantata award. James is a great lover of song and has performed in recital throughout the UK. He is also very fortunate to have performed in masterclasses with some of the world’s leading figures on Lieder and song: Graham Johnson, Wolfgang Holzmair and Ian Partridge.

Praised for his ‘nobility and rich tone’ by The New York Times Dashon Burton is a two time Grammy Award winner. In 2012, Burton won top prizes from the ARD International Music Competition in Munich and the 49th IVC in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Holland. These awards followed First Place wins in both the 2012 Oratorio Society of New York's Competition and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem’s Competition for Young American Singers. He studied with James Taylor at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and graduated with his Master’s Degree in Voice in 2011.

Philippe-Nicolas Martin to reprise French rarity

Philippe-Nicolas Martin (left) and Jacques Jansen (right)
On October 2, French barihunk Philippe-Nicolas Martin returns to the role of Octave in Henri Sauguet's comedy Les Caprices de Marianne (The Moods of Marianne) at Opéra de Vichy. He's quite familiar with the role, as he's performed it in Rouen, Bordeaux, Limoges, Reims, Metz, Marseilles, Tour and Avignon. The opera has been rarely performed otherwise, with productions in Compiègne in 2006 and Dijon in 2007.

Ten days after the opera debut in 1954, it was broadcast on French radio with the great French barihunk Jacques Jansen as Octave. Jansen was the reigning Pelleas of his day. Sauget originally wrote the leading female role for the French coloratura soprano Lily Pons, but it was Graziella Sciutti who premiered the opera at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.

Philippe-Nicolas Martin sings the Commisarie in Poulenc's Les Dialogues des Carmélites:

The opera is based on an 1833 play by the French dramatist Alfred de Musset. It served as the basis for Jean Renoir's 1939 film, The Rules of the Game. Despite being a comedy, the story revolves around a married woman who considers taking a lover, drives her husband to jealousy and no-one ending up happy in the end.

There are additional performances of the opera scheduled in Rouen in December 2015, Toulouse in January 2016, Bordeaux in February 2016 and Saint-Etienne in April 2016. The role of Octave will be sung by either Marc Scoffoni or Philippe-Nicolas Martin in those productions.

September 8th is also Philippe-Nicolas Martin's birthday!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Austrian barihunk Thomas Weinhappel to make debut as Hamlet

Thomas Weinhappel in Ostrava (right)
Austrian barihunk Thomas Weinhappel will sing music from Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet at a gala concert with the Ostrava Nationalorchester in the Czech Republic on September 6th. He will then debut the complete role in March and April next year at the Nationaltheater Ostrava, which is just a 3 hour drive from Vienna.

He joins an illustrious group of baritone who have sung the title role in recent years, including Sherrill Milnes, Thomas Allen, Thomas Hampson, Bo Skovhus, Simon Keenlyside, Liam Bonner, Wes Mason, and Franco Pomponi and Stéphane Degout (with their famous nude scenes).    

Thomas Weinhappel sings "Her die Hand es muß ja sein" from Johann Strauß's Zigeunerbaron: 

When Ambroise Thomas chose Shakespeare’s Hamlet as the subject of his new opera, France had been under the spell of the English bard for many years, and Ophelia had inspired romantic artists. The librettists Carré and Barbier distilled a straightforward story from Shakespeare’s abundant characters and situations. Many Anglo-Saxon critics have dismissed the opera because the libretto is so far removed from the original, despite Thomas having created a musical masterpiece. 

The opera is played out between the opposite poles of real and feigned madness, love and avenge. After the murder of his father, Hamlet opposes the marriage of his mother and his uncle, at the expense of his beloved and himself

Jonathan Estabrooks to portray Oilers Coach Bum Phillips

Jonathan Estabrooks

It was announced yesterday that Canadian barihunk Jonathan Estabrooks has been asked to step into the title role of Peter Stopschinski's Bum Phillips: All-American Opera, a one-night-only performance at the Stafford Centre on Thursday, September 24th. Proceeds from ticket sales will support the Bum Phillips Retreat, which supports many activities including Heart Sign Camp, a summer camp for hearing impaired children.

The opera premiered in New York last year at the Ellen Stewart Theater and chronicles Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips’ time as head coach of the Houston Oilers. The libretto is based on his autobiography, Bum Phillips: Cowboy, Coach, Christian. We posted about last year's performance, which starred barihunks Gary Ramsey and Amlami Shaw, a former pro track athlete who has done professional modeling.

The opera will be directed by Luke Leonard and also stars Victor Khodadad as the Color Announcer

Former Houston Oilers players Earl Campbell, Robert Brazile, Curley Culp, Elvin Bethea, Carl Mauck, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Mike Barber, Kenny Burrough Andy Dorris, Greg Bingham, Vernon Perry and Mike Renfro will be in attendance for a post-performance Q&A. 

Ticket prices for the charity event are $100.00 - $200.00. Tickets including the cocktail reception are $500.00. Tickets are available on the Stafford Centre website.

Estabrooks returns to his native country on November 9th to perform in Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. You can follow him on Twitter @JonEstabrooks.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Rare Barihunk Trio in Puccini's Madama Butterfly

Roderick Willams, Peter Brathwaite & Vitali Rozynko (L-R)
Today is another first for Barihunks, as we feature our first barihunk trio in Puccini's Madama Butterfuly, where Roderick Williams is singing Sharpless, Peter Brathwaite is performing Yamadori and Vitali Rozynko is portraying the Imperial Commissioner. The performances are at the De Nationale Reisopera in the Netherlands and runs through October 10th in the following cities: Enschede, Arnhem, Den Bosch, Apeldoorn, Rotterdam, Zwolle, Den Haag, Amstelveen, Heerlen and Amsterdam. The cast also includes Annemarie Kremer as Cio-Cio San and Eric Fennell as Pinkerton.
HRH King Willem-Alexander and the cast of Madama Butterfly
Opening night was attended by His Royal Highness King Willem-Alexander, who succeed his mother Princess Beatrix on April 30, 2013, becoming King of The Netherlands. There is some interesting  Dutch history with the opera. In 1877, King William III of the Netherlands announced that he as going to marry the French opera singer Eleonore d'Ambre.whom he ennobled as Countess d'Ambroise without the government's consent. Under pressure from society and the government, he abandoned their marriage plans.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Introducing Bastian Thomas Kohl & Étude Arts

Soloman Howard, Bastian Thomas Kohl and Sean Michael Plumb (L-R)
We'd like to introduce readers to the German bass-barihunk Bastian Thomas Kohl, as well as his management agency, Étude Arts.

The latter might seem unusual, but it's not often that we see a new agency, especially one that has two barihunks who we've featured, Soloman Howard and Sean Michael Plumb, and one that we somehow missed, Bastian Thomas Kohl. The agency was founded by IMG Artists Senior Vice President Bill Palant. He seems well-suited for the job, having worked in the business for 19 years after a career with the Metropolitan Opera’s Rehearsal Department and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood.  Most importantly, he has a degree in psychology from Oberlin College which will serve his well in this endeavor!

Bastian Thomas Kohl, began his musical career at the age of four and received his formal training at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipzig and in Vienna at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst.

His international career commenced at the age of nineteen as a member of the Opernchor Leipzig appearing frequently with Gewandhausorchester under the direction of Riccardo Chailly.  He joined the Opernhaus Zürich in the 2014-15 season as a member of the International Opera Studio and has been heard in productions of Lohengrin, Robin Hood, Fidelio and Fälle,  Upcoming performances in Zürich include roles in Iris Ter Schiphorst's children's opera Die Gänsemagd, Richard Strauss' Elektra, Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, and Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame.

Upcoming performances for Soloman Howard include Banco in Verdi's Macbeth at Kentucky Opera, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. in Philip Glass' Appomattox at Washington National Opera, Prince Gremin in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at North Carolina Opera and Fafner in Wagner's Das Rheingold at Washington National Opera.

Upcoming performances for Sean Michael Plumb include Marcello in Puccini's La bohème at Curtis Opera Theater, Olav Bjaaland in Miroslav Srnka's South Pole with fellow barihunk Thomas Hampson at the Bavarian State Opera and Der Graf in Richard Strauss' Capriccio at Opera Philadelphia.

Jason Hardy: From barihunk to impressario

Jason Hardy

American barihunk Jason Hardy has created quite the buzz on barihunks at least two times. Once when he appeared shirtless in the New York City Opera's sexy production of Don Giovanni (featuring fellow barihunks Kelly Markgraf and Daniel Okulitch) and again when he proposed to his now wife Carrie onstage after a performance of Le nozze di Figaro at Opera Birmingham.  

After creating a name for himself onstage, he's now moving backstage to be the new Managing Director of OperaDelaware, where he's served as Director of Development and Community Engagement since 2013. In his new and expanded role, Hardy will continue to oversee the company's fundraising efforts while taking on new responsibilities in the day-to-day operations of OperaDelaware including administrative and artistic functions.

Over his 18-year career as a singer, Hardy performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and The Kennedy Center. He has sung with the New York City Opera, Opéra de Montréal, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Hardy holds a bachelor's degree from Emory University in Atlanta. He also earned a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.

OperaDelaware's spring 2016 festival will feature performances of two fully staged productions at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, including the East Coast Premiere of Franco Faccio's Hamlet and Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff. Both are adapted by librettist Arrigo Boito, from William Shakespeare's plays.

Randal Turner in world premiere of operatic Bonfire of the Vanities

Randal Turner
Randal Turner, who recently had a successful run as Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes at the Theatre Koblenz, is now jumping into a completely different different English-language opera. He will portray Wall Street trader Sherman McCoy from Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, in a new operatic adaptation from composer Stefania de Kenessey and librettist Michael Bergmann.

The story takes on the universal socioeconomic tensions in 1980s New York City that is home to both Wall Street and Harlem. Turner's character is a successul bonds trader whose popularity propels him to the top of the financial world. But just as he meets the peak of his success, he collides with a scandal that brings all of New York City crashing down upon him. His former admirers and current problems include a ferocious Harlem reverend, played by fellow barihunk Keith Miller; a wealthy and sexually predatory femme fatale, sung by Yingzie Zhou; Sherman's cossetted housewife, sung by Anne-Carolyn Bird; and, an idealistic lawyer who demands better for her city, performed by Adrienne Danrich. 
Expect to see the gym-toned Turner show a little skin, because in Act 3 his character Sherman McCoy is in prison and the other prisoners know he is the one responsible for the hit and run that has put the young African-American kid Henry Lamb in a coma even though his mistress Maria Ruskin was driving and is thus far taking the rap for it. The prisoners strip him of his clothes and then Sherman sings his aria "Masters of the Universe."

The world premiere will be on October 9 and 10 at the El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio in New York City. Tickets are available online.