Saturday, April 30, 2016

TRIFECTA: André Courville wins his third major vocal competition

Chloe Moore, André Courville and Marie Natale
Bass-barihunk André Courville, won his third First Prize when he took home top honors at the 28th Annual Violetta DuPont Vocal Competition. He previously won the 2015 Loren L. Zachary National Vocal Competition and the 2014 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition. The competition was held at Lenfell Hall in the Mansion at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Courville took home $5,000 as the winner of competition. The $3,000 Second Prize went to soprano Marie Natale and the $1,500 Third Prize to soprano Chloe Moore. The winners were winnowed down from 114 candidates, which resulted in 18 finalists.

Each finalist performed an aria of his or her choice to be judged by a panel of renowned opera figures and jurists based on voice quality, technique, intonation, diction, interpretation, and stage presence. The judges included Gerda Lissner Foundation President Stephen DeMaio, Maestra Eva Quelar, Artist Manager Robert Lombardo, retired soprano Barbara Ann Testa, and arts patron James Thurmond Smithgall.

Last year's winner, tenor Alasdair Kent, performed "Fantaisie aux divins mensonges" from Leo Delibes' Lakme as the judges deliberated.
Courville can next be heard on May 6th as the bass soloist in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with The Cecilia Chorus of New York at Carnegie Hall. The West Coast can hear him on May 22 in concert with the Opera Associates of Los Angeles at the 36th Church of Christ, Scientist in Studio City, California.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Christopher Burchett in Edgar Allan Poe double-bill in Fort Worth

Christopher Burchett and Maren Weinberger in Buried Alive (photos: Brandon Wade)
Back in 2014, we posted about barihunk Christopher Burchett performing in composer Jeff Myers and librettist Quincy Long's Buried Alive at the Fargo Moorhead Opera. He's reprising the role, in which he appears in various states of undress, at the Fort Worth Opera Festival, which is currently underway.

Buried Alive was written specifically for Burchett, and he has been with the project since the first workshops with the American Lyric Theater in 2010. As part of the Poe Project, the goal was to create an opera that Poe himself might have written, although it's based on the author's The Premature Burial. The opera is directed by Lawrence Edelson, who heads up the American Lyric Theater.

The Fort Worth Opera is presenting Buried Alive at the Scott Theatre at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, which is a more intimate space than Bass Hall where they perform their standard repertory pieces. It's part of a double-header with Embedded, based on The Cask of Amontillado, and previewed at Fort Worth Opera's Frontiers showcase for new works in 2013. The stagings include twelve TV monitors with special effects and a large eyeball that ogles the crowd. Burchett also appears as the Producer in Embedded.

Christopher Burchett
Buried Alive tells the story of Victor, a painter whose nightmares of death begin to become real. Alternating realities are juxtaposed and culminate in a final gruesome ending. 

Embedded revolves around an aging American news anchor who finds herself on the wrong side of the headlines. Desperate to prove her value while being pushed out of her job by a young rival, she is tricked by a notorious terrorist into traveling to see him for an exclusive interview. The opera takes an unexpected twist and ends with a moment of triumph in face of death.

There are five remaining performances on April 26, 29 and 30, and May 3 and 7. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Reader Submission: Austrian Barihunk Rafael Fingerlos

Rafael Fingerlos
An eagle-eyed reader introduced us to barihunk Rafael Fingerlos, who he noticed was singing the world premiere of Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel at the Salzburg Festival this summer with fellow barihunk David Adam Moore, hunkentenor deluxe Ed Lyon and  the legendary baritone Sir Thomas Allen. The all-star cast also includes Anne Sofie von Otter, Sally Matthews, Charles Workman, Iestyn Davies, Eric Halvarson and Audrey Luna with performances running from July 28-August 8.  

The Exterminating Angel is inspired by the 1962 film El ángel exterminador by the famed surrealist Luis Buñuel. The Salzburg performances will be followed by productions at The Royal Opera in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 2017. Buñuel’s film, a parable on the ‘bourgeois condition’, sees a collection of society’s grandees trapped in a room; in no time at all their veneer of sophistication cracks.

Barihunk David Adam Moore and Hunkentenor Ed Lyon are both appearing in Salzburg
Fingerlos hails from Mariapfarr in the Salzburg region of Austria, so music is in his blood. In 2013, he graduated with honors from his master’s program in solo vocal performance at the private Conservatory of Vienna and won the “Musica Juventutis” auditions at the Wiener Konzerthaus in Vienna.

He also won the  Brahms singing competition and received first prize as well as the public’s choice prize at the International Franz Schubert Lied Competition held in Steyr. As a participant in the Young Singers Project at the 2015 Salzburg Festival, Rafael sang the part of Figaro in Der Barbier von Sevilla für Kinder. 

 Rafael Fingerlos sings Brahms' "Wie rafft' ich mich auf":  

This Fall, he will alternate the title role in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Vienna State Opera with fellow barihunk Alessio Arduini. His Rosina will be Isabel Leonard and Almaviva will be sung by hunkentenor Pavel Kolgatin. 

He has released a solo CD of romantic German Lieder and one of Bach’s cantatas.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

JFK opera debuts in Fort Worth with barihunk duo

Daniela Mack and Matthew Worth in JFK (Photo: Allison V. Smith NY Times)
The Fort Worth Opera, in collaboration with the American Lyric Theater, debuted JFK tonight, about the final twelve hours of President John F. Kennedy's life. The opera will star two of the world's most popular barihunks in the lead roles: Matthew Worth takes on JFK and Daniel Okulitch portrays LBJ. Worth shares both the good looks and New England charm of our 35th President, while Okulitch matches the Vice President's 6' 4" frame.

LBJ (left) and Daniel Okulitch in Brokeback Mountain
Joining them in the cast will be the amazing mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack as Jackie Kennedy, Talise Trevigne as hotel maid Clara Harris, hunkentenor Sean Panikkar as JFK's secret service agent and confidant Henry Rathbone, Cree Carrico as Rosemary Kennedy and Katharine Goeldner as Jackie Onassis. The opera was written by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, who collaborated on the critically acclaimed opera Dog Days in 2012. Additional performance will be on May 1 and 7 and tickets are available online.

 "Spin, Measure Cut" from a workshop for the opera JFK:  

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nederlandse Reisopera's tall order producing "Der Kaiser von Atlantis"

Wiard Witholt rehearsing Der Kaiser von Atlantis
They only time that Wiard Witholt has appeared on Barihunks was in 2010 when we were trying to figure out who the tallest barihunk was in the world. The Cardiff Singer of the World Competition listed him at 6' 7½" which is a little over 2 meters tall, making him the second tallest after Olivier Laquerre (but the tallest to ever compete at Cardiff).

He's now performing the title role in Czech composer Viktor Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis at the Nederlandse Reisopera from May 4-13 in Amsterdam, Enschede, Apeldoorn, Maastricht and Leiden. The Netherlands Opera presented the world premiere of the opera December 16, 1975, at the Bellevue Centre in Amsterdam. The opera was performed at Theresienstadt on May 25, 1991, fifty-one years after the initial rehearsal.The opera has had numerous performances worldwide in recent years, including in Kassel, Long Beach, Hamburg, Linz, Boston, Lyon, Vienna, Dijon and a U.K. tour. Other upcoming performances will be in Madrid with Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester and in Vienna with Matteo Loi.

Wiard Witholt studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the New Opera Academy in Amsterdam, graduating in 2005. In 2008, he made his debut at the Royal Theatre La Monnaie Brussels as Le Berger in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande. In the 2009-10 season, he became a full-time member of the Opera House in Dessau. He created Schemariah, the principal character in Hiob, Erich Zeisl's opera based on the novel by Joseph Roth. Last season he sang the Messanger in the world première of Pascal Dusapin's Penthesilea at the Royal Theatre La Monnaie and Dusapin's Passion at the Sydney Festival 2016.

Viktor Ullman and his librettist Peter Kien wrote Der Kaiser von Atlantis while interned at the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt (Terezín) around 1943. The opera received a rehearsal at Theresienstadt in March 1944, but the Nazi authorities interpreted the work's depiction of the character Kaiser Overall as a satire on Adolf Hitler and did not allow a performance.

Both of Viktor Ullmann's parents were from families of Jewish descent, but had converted to Roman Catholicism before his birth. Ullmann remained active musically at Theresienstadt, where he was a piano accompanist, organized concerts, wrote critiques of musical events, and composed, as part of a cultural circle including Karel Ančerl, Rafael Schachter, Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, and other prominent musicians imprisoned there. Both the composer and the librettist died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The Netherlands Opera presented the world premiere of the opera December 16, 1975, at the Bellevue Centre in Amsterdam. The opera was performed at Theresienstadt on May 25, 1991, fifty-one years after the initial rehearsal.

Barihunk quartet in Dutch National Opera's Don Giovanni

Iurii Samoilov and Christopher Maltman
The Dutch National Opera will be presenting the somewhat controversial and provocative production of Mozart's Don Giovanni that was created for the 2008 Salzburger Festspiele. That production featured the barihunk trio of Christopher Maltman as Don Giovanni, Erwin Schrott as Leporello and Alex Esposito as Masetto. Maltman and Schrott returned to Salzburg for two revivals with Adam Plachetka and Stefan Kocan as Masetto.

Stefan Kocanas Masetto in 2010.
The Dutch National Opera has brought Christopher Maltman back in the title role, with Adrian Sâmpetrean as Leporello, Iurii Samoilov as Masetto and Mika Kares as the Commendatore. This production will no doubt be a veritable feast for barihunk lovers. The modern-dress production features a dying and sympathetic Don Giovanni and a lovable, drug addicted Leporello, whose physical attributes are freely shown off by the director.

In the opera's first scene, the Commendatore manages to shoot Don Giovanni in the abdomen before expiring. Don Giovanni spends much of the remainder for the evening trying not to die of his wound, first in desperation and eventually with wry resignation.

Christopher Maltman sings "Deh, vieni alla finestra" in Salzburg's Don Giovanni:

Erwin Schrott sings Leporello's catalog aria in Salzburg's Don Giovanni:

We've not featured the Finnish bass Mika Kares before, who was an ensemble member at the Baden State Opera from 2005-2010. Active off the stage, as well, he founded a children’s songwriting competition, serves as the Artistic Director of a Rauma Chamber Music Festival and the Eurajoki Bel Canto Festival. He also runs his own blog.

Christopher Maltman is returning to the Dutch National Opera where he had a successful and highly-acclaimed run as Rodrigo in Verdi’s Don Carlo in 2012. He'll be singing Don Giovanni again in the Fall at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. In between Dons, he'll be at Covent Garden as the Count di Luna in Verdi's Il Trovatore. He returns to the Metropolitan Opera later this year in both Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Puccini's Manon Lescaut.

Iurii Samoilov, who appears in this year's Barihunk calendar, returns to his home base at the Oper Frankfurt, where he'll appear in Berg's Wozzeck and Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Adrian Sâmpetrean can next be seen at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden as Ferrando in Verdi's Il trovatore. He makes his U.S. stage debut in October as Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Performances of Don Giovanni run from May 7-28 and tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Christopher Herbert in revolutionary Wall Street concert

Christopher Herbert
On April 21st, Barihunk Christopher Herbert will return to Trinity Wall Street for a concert that's part of a series called "Revolutionaries: The late works of Beethoven & Ginastera." He will be the baritone soloist along with NOVUS NY, Trinity Wall Street's contemporary music orchestra, in both the Ginastera Cantata Bomarzo and Faure's Requiem.

Ginastera played a key role in the unrest that led to the Argentine Revolution of the 1960s and '70s. Having lost an early teaching position for protesting the dismissal of his colleagues, he went on to lose his directorship of the conservatory that he himself had founded, for resisting orders to name it for Eva Perón. Several of his works were banned in his homeland, and he spent much of his life in self-imposed exile.

Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1916 to a Catalan father and an Italian mother. In 1934 he won 1st prize of the musical society El Únisono for his Piezas Infantiles for piano. His next piece of importance was Impresiones de la Puna. As a young professor,  Ginastera taught at the Liceo Militar General San Martín. In 1946-1947 he traveled to the USA on a Guggenheim fellowship and studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood. Returning to Argentina, he co-founded the League of Composers and served as director of the Conservatory of the province of Buenos Aires in La Plata. He then taught at the Argentine Catholic University and also was a professor at the University of La Plata. Among his notable students was Ástor Piazzolla.

Christian Gerhaher sings the baritone solo from Fauré's Requiem:

Five of the seven sections of the Fauré Requiem were completed by January 1888 and performed that month at the Madeleine for the funeral of the architect Joseph Lesoufaché. Fauré continued to work intermittently on the Requiem, and by 1893 he judged the score ready to be published. For the 1893 version a baritone solo, two bassoons, four horns and two trumpets are added to the original scoring. When possible Fauré employed a mixed choir and a female soprano soloist, partly because the soprano lines, particularly the solo in the Pie Jesu, are difficult to sing and demand excellent breath control, easier for adult women than for boys.

You can see the entire Revolutionaries concert schedule HERE. The concert will be available online.

NSFW: Bernard Lang's new Der Golem with barihunk duo

A scene from Der Golem & Raymond Ayers
The world premiere of Bernhard Lang's new opera Der Golem took place at the Nationaltheater Mannheim on April 16, 2016 with barihunks Steven Scheschareg and Raymond Ayers joined by the sexy countertenor Alin Deleanu. The opera, which features nudity, is breaking traditional norms of the genre, with experimental film (or video libretto) taking the place of a written libretto. Lang didn't want the piece defined by literary parameters, but by optical mechanisms.

The opera is punctuated by two nude men in cone shaped hats and a nude character who crawls out of the prompter's box. Along the way, the 80-minute opera deals with dissociative identity disorder and mirroring, artificial intelligence and reincarnation. The piece is written for soloists, chorus, jazz trio and orchestra.

The video libretto by Peter Missotten for Bernhard Lang's Der Golem

In Gustav Meyrink's fantastic novel, the Golem is a kind of Doppelgänger of the people and completely derails the life of the Jewish jeweler Athanasius Pernath, sung by Raymond Ayers. Almost all of the soloists perform multiple roles (except for Ayers and soprano Marie-Belle Sandis as Miriam).
Countertenor Alin Deleanu

Nicolae Bretan, John Casken and Eugen d'Albert have also written operatic versions of the Golem legend. There is also a German silent film called Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came into the World), which is worth watching.

There are additional performances on April 21 and 28.Tickets and additional information is available online.

Monday, April 18, 2016

André Morsch in sex-themed REIGEN in Stuttgart

André Morsch in REIGEN
Oper Stuttgart is reviving Philippe Boesmans’ REIGEN in celebration of the Belgian composer's 80th birthday. In 1993, he paired up with director Luc Bondy and turned Arthur Schnitzler’s controversial drama into an opera.

The 1900 play La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler's created a bit of a scandal when it was first published. The play depicts men and women of various social classes through ten sexual encounters that work their way like a relay back to the same prostitute who is seen in the first encounter. Although the play spoke about class and society in turn-of-the-century Vienna, it is also a universal story about the attitudes, tensions and relationships between the sexes. The circular narrative speaks first the prostitute and the soldier, then the soldier and the chambermaid, the chambermaid and a young man, until finally the Count meets up again with the prostitute.  

Oper Stuttgart's trailer for REIGEN:

The Count in this production is sung by André Morsch, who only appeared briefly on this site on a post about Don Giovanni. The German singer began his studies in Austria before moving on to the Amsterdam Conservatory and The New Opera Academy in The Hague. He was the winner of the prestigious 'Internationaler Wettbewerb für Liedkunst' in Stuttgart where he also received the Hermann- Reutter- Prize after previously winning the Prix Bernac at the Ravel Academie in Saint Jean de Luz.

André Morsch sings Schumann, Fauré and Ravel:

Since September 2011, he has been a member of the ensemble at the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where he has sung Figaro in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Harlekin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola. In 2005 he was part of Le jardin des Voix, led by William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. He appears on a number of CDs and DVDs, including a performance of title role in Lully’s Cadmus et Hermione at the Opera Comique in Paris, which won the 2009 Diapason d'Or as DVD of the year.

You can watch REIGEN online beginning on May 6 at The Opera Platform. Live performances run from April 24 through June 6 and tickets are available online.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Introducing Aussie barihunk Christopher Tonkin in operatic rarity

Aussie barihunk Christopher Tonkin
Australian barihunk Christopher Tonkin, who is new to this site, will be singing the role of Hans in Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky's rarely performed Der Traumgörge (Görge the Dreamer) at the Staatsoper Hannover. The 2-act opera was originally intended to be performed at the Vienna State Opera where Gustav Mahler, a mentor of Zemlinsky's, was Musical Director.

Mahler had encouraged Zemlinsky to compose the opera following the success of Es war einmal which Mahler had premiered in 1900. In 1907, the same year Der Traumgörge was scheduled for its premiere, Mahler hired Zemlinsky to be an assistant conductor. However, Mahler abruptly resigned and his successor, Felix Weingartner, dropped Der Traumgörge from the schedule as rehearsals were underway. Zemlinsky himself then resigned in protest.  Zemlinsky moved on to other compositional projects and made little effort to further promote it. 

The original performance materials were discovered in the archives of the Vienna State Opera in the 1970s, a period of renewed interest in Zemlinsky's music. This led to the opera's belated premiere in Nuremberg, Germany on October 11, 1980. The opera was performed at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2008 with Markus Brück as Hans and has been recorded twice.

Tickets for the Hannover performance, which runs from April 16-May 28, are available online

Tonkin is a resident principal baritone with Hannover Staatsoper, where he's performed Marcello in Puccini's La bohème, Ottokar in Weber's Der Freischütz, Maximilian in Berstein's Candide, Pollux in Rameau's Castor et Pollux, Albert in Massenet's Werther, the Count in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and other roles.

He grew up in Geelong, Australia, before moving to Melbourne, where he completed a Bachelor of Music Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts. In his native country he performed the Count in Richard Strauss' Capriccio and the Novice’s Friend in Britten's Billy Budd for Opera Australia, the Black Minister in Ligetti's Le Grand Macabre at the Adelaide Festival, and the roles of Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Chou En-Lai in Adam's Nixon in China and Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore for the Victorian Opera, for which he received a Green Room Award nomination.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"That it should come to this" Hamlet appears simultaneously in Sweden and Czech Republic

Thomas Weinhappel as Hamlet
Thomas Weinhappel is back in Ostrava in the Czech Republic singing the title role in Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet on April 16, May 10 and 17, and June 2 and 15. Performances are at the Antonín Dvořák Theatre and tickets are available online.

In between performances of Hamlet, Weinhappel heads to the Opéra Massy in Paris to sing Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte on March 31, and April 1,2 and 3, which then plays at the Théâtre Montansier in Versailles on April 5, at the Théâtre Alain Joneman in Le Vésinet on April 6 and at the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas in Saint Germain on April 8. He'll return to Ostrava in the Fall for more performances of Hamlet.
Thomas Weinhappel as Hamlet
Thomas Oliemans as Hamlet
Barihunk Thomas Oliemans is also performing the role at the Göteborgs Opera through May 21 with fellow barihunk Paul Whelan as Claudius. In this production, on different nights they will present the two alternate endings that Ambroise Thomas wrote. At the very first performance in Paris the opera concluded with Hamlet being crowned King, and Queen Gertrud entering a nunnery. For the premiere at Covent Garden in England, Thomas composed a more Shakespearean ending in which Hamlet takes his own life. Tickets are available online.

Weinappel and Oliemans join an illustrious group of baritones who have sung the title role in recent years, including Sherrill Milnes, Thomas Allen, Thomas Hampson, Bo Skovhus, Simon Keenlyside, Liam Bonner, Wes Mason, Franco Pomponi and Stéphane Degout.

Thomas Weinhappel sings Hamlet's Drinking Song:

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.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Barihunk duo in Komische Oper's Don Giovanni

Evan Hughes as Leporello in Don Giovanni
Last night, bass-barihunk Evan Hughes made his Komische Oper debut as Leporello in Herbert Fritsch's colorful, whimsical and provocative production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. He'll be singing along side Günter Papendell, who is singing the title role. Performances with the barihunk duo run through June 4th when Philipp Meierhöfer takes over as Leporello.

Fritsch has drawn on the core of Don Juan story by bringing him to life as a malicious harlequin – a loser, audacious, side-splittingly funny and irresistible all at once.

Günter Papendell as Don Giovanni
Papendell, who has become a fan favorite at the Komische Oper, has been with the company since 2007 scored a huge success in this production last year. He can be see this season  as Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen, Pollux in Rameau's Castor and Pollux, Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Jason in Cherubini's Medea and Fritz in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. You can watch his Onegin performance online for free by clicking HERE

Hughes is currently a fest member at the Semperoper Dresden where he can be seen as the Marchese d'Obigny in Verdi's La Traviata, Masetto and Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème, Cesare Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca and Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte. 

Gianluca Margheri to sing Alidoro in Palermo

Gianluca Margheri as Don Giovanni & Apollo (photo right ©Giancarlo Malandra)
Gianluca Margheri will be singing Alidoro in Rossini's "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella) at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo on April 19, 22 and 24. He'll be joined by the amazing tenor René Barbera as Don Ramiro, Chiara Amarù as Angelina, Paolo Bordogna as Don Magnificio, Riccardo Novaro as Dandini, Marina Bucciarelli as Clorinda,  and Annunziata Vestri as Tisbe. The role of Alidoro replaces the Fairy Godmother from the original story of Cinderella. Tickets are available online.

In Act 1, Alidoro sings "Là del ciel nell'arcano profondo" in disguise as one of the King's officials. He is with Cenerentola who cannot attend the Prince's ball at her father's insistence. Alidoro realizes the goodness in Cenerentola and tells her that he will bring her to the ball himself. She believes that he is making fun of her. To show her that he means what he says, he throws off his cloak to reveal his noble clothes beneath and sings to her that God himself has looked down upon her and shows favor upon her and thus, she should not be afraid of going to the ball. He then goes on to say that his carriage is coming and, although she must be confused and upset, she will soon be in happier days.

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo sings "Là del ciel nell'arcano profondo":

Rossini composed La Cenerentola when he was 25 years old, following the success of The Barber of Seville the year before. Throughout most of the 19th century, its popularity rivaled that of the Barber of Seville, but as the coloratura contralto, for which the title role was originally written, became rare it fell slowly out of the repertoire.

The opera contains some of his finest writing for solo voice and ensembles. Perhaps the most popular aria from the piece today is Cenerentola's "Nacqui all'affanno ... Non piu mesta," which is often used be singers to end recital programs or as an encore. Other popular pieces include Don Magnifico's "Miei rampolli femminini, Dandini's "Come un'ape ne' giorni d'aprile" (a popular audition piece for young baritones), Prince Ramiro's "Si, ritrovarla io giuro" and the ensemble "Questo è un nodo avviluppato."

After Rossini's La Cenerentola, Margheri will head to the Hungarian State Opera from June 17-23 to perform Purcell's The Fairy Queen and then he's off to St. Gallen to sing the title role in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro running from September 17 through November 25.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Buff Ramin Karimloo singing in Evita at Vancouver Opera

Ramin Karimloo (photos by Matthew Murphy)

Ramin Karimloo will be performing Che in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita from April 30-May 8th at the Vancouver Opera. He'll be joined by Caroline Bowman as Evita and John Cudia and Perón in a full-scale production of the musical.

Last Fall, Karimloo was performing Jean Valjean in Les Misérables eight times a week at the Imperial Theatre in New York City and was buffing up at the Columbus Circle Equinox. That's when these photos were taken by Matthew Murphy and his assistant Mitch Dean.

Ramin Karimloo sings Bring Him Home from Les Misérables:

Karimloo, who is classically trained, has spent most of his career singing Broadway musicals. He considers himself a "high baritone" and reviewers have commented that he's a lyric baritone with an easy reach into the tenor range. The closet Karimloo has gotten to an opera performance is a few gigs on stage singing Gilbert & Sullivan. He remains one of the most popular singers on our site based on reader views.

Tickets for Evita at the Vancouver Opera are available online.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brandon Cedel wins Annenberg Fellowship Fund career grant

Brandon Cedel before Met's Manon Lescaust & stretching before Barber of Seville
Bass-baritone Brandon Cedel was one of nine early-career artists awarded a grant from the prestigious Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts. The Fund  awards $50,000 a year for up to two years to help promising artists make a breakthrough in their careers, broaden their skills, and achieve professional success.

In addition to Cedel, fellowships totaling $450,000 were awarded to violinist Robyn Bollinger; actors Jeremie Harris, Miriam Hyman and David Pegram; cellist and conductor Nico Olarte-Hayes; visual artist Nyugen Smith; ballet dancer Devon Teuscher; and musician and musicologist Daniel Walden.

The Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund has paid or pledged more than $5.5 million in career-development grants to artists, including the current group, over the last nine years. The funding has enabled promising artists with world-class talent to film a movie, record new music, experiment in performance, afford studio time or training, buy materials, pay for living expenses and pay down student debt. The fellows, selected in consultation with partners such as The Public Theater, American Ballet Theatre, and the Perlman Music Program, work with mentors chosen by the partners and the Leonore Annenberg Fund.

Cedel just appeared in the Pittsburgh Opera production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville with his husband, fellow barihunk Jonathan Beyer. Upcoming performances include Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at Opera Philadelphia, Masetto in Don Giovanni at the Münchner Opernfestspiele, and Leporello at Glyndebourne.

Cedel will join Oper Frankfurt in 2016 when he completes his third year of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, which sponsored him. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Cedel won a Grand Prize at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2013) and a Richard Tucker Career Grant (2015). The New Yorker's music critic Alex Ross wrote of Cedel: "Capable of singing anything from Cavalli to Wagner, he may be destined for stardom."  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Luca Pisaroni makes Canadian Opera debut as Maometto II

Luca Pisaroni and Leah Crocetto in Rossini's Maometto II in Santa Fe (Photo: Ken Howard)
Italian bass-barihunk Luca Pisaroni will be making his debut with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto from April 29 to May 14 in the title role of Rossini's Maometto II.  He had a huge success in this David Alden-directed production at the Santa Fe Opera in 2012 with Leah Crocetto as Anna, who will be joining him in these performances. They will be joined by tenor Bruce Sledge as Erisso  and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as Calbo.

The Venetian love story contains some of the Italian composers greatest music, but has somehow never entered the standard repertory, even in its reworked version Le siège de Corinthe. The only U.S. performance in recent years in addition to Santa Fe was the 1988 production at the San Francisco Opera, which was produced as a showcase for Simone Alaimo and June Anderson. Other performances internationally have included a 2008 performance in Pesaro, Italy with Michele Pertusi and a 2014 production in Rome with bass-barihunk Mirco Palazzi.

Luca Pisaroni sings Maometto's aria "All'invito generoso" in Santa Fe:

The best known pieces of music from the opera are sung by the mezzo character Calbo "Non temer: d'un basso affetto," the soprano Anna's "Giusto Cielo, in tal periglio," the duet between Maometto and Anna "Anna... tu piangi" and Maometto's thrilling aria "All'invito generoso."

Pisaroni next heads to Los Angeles to perform the Mozart Requiem under LA Philharmonic Gusavo Dudamel's baton on May 19, 20, 21 and 22.  He'll be joined by soprano Lucy Crowe, tenor Paul Appleby and mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu. Tickets are available online.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hunky Rinaldo with New York's operamission

Randall Scotting and Franco Pomponi
New York's operamission is continuing its ongoing series of presenting all 39 of Handel's complete  operas with Rinaldo on June 14 and 16 at Merkin Concert Hall. Conductor Jennifer Peterson will lead a full baroque orchestra from the harpsichord in a concert performance of the opera, which is based on Torquato Tasso's La Gerusalemme liberata

Barihunk Franco Pomponi will sing Argante and hunken-countertenor Randall Scotting will sing the title role of Rinaldo. They'll be joined by soprano Christine Arand as the Queen Armida, soprano Malia Bendi Merad as Almirena and countertenors Nicholas Tamagna as Goffredo and Andrew Rader as Eustazio.

Franco Pomponi sings Hamlet's drinking song (at the 2:00 mark):

Pomponi will be singing Prospero in Thomas Adès' The Tempest at the Hungarian State Opera from May 19-June 1. After he's done performing Rinaldo, Scotting will continue to work out at the gym in preparation for his first bodybuilding competition (and providing further proof that we need a Hunken-Countertenor site). 

Tickets for Rinaldo are $55 and $75 ($45 for students and seniors) and are available online

John Paul Huckle appearing in Giordano's "other opera" Fedora

John Paul Huckle poses in the beautiful Teatro di San Carlo
Umberto Giodano's Fedora is often dubbed his "other" opera  (referrring to hit Andrea Chenier) or it's remembered for the Loris's Act 2 aria Amor ti vieta, which has become a favorite of tenors worldwide.

The opera has hung around because the story, based a play by Victorien Sardou, packs some emotional punch. After all, he was the author of the play that became Tosca, which Puccini later made into his successful opera.

A number of great sopranos have taken on the title role, including Magda Olivero (who recently died at age 104) and Maria Callas, who performed it at La Scala (where is that recording?). More recently Mirella Freni Angela Gheorghiu, Renata Scotto, Daniela Dessì, Eva Marton, Virginia Zeani and Katia Ricciarelli have sung the role. You'd be hard pressed to find a tenor who hasn't performed Amor ti vieta at some point in his career, and great recordings (both live and studio) exist from Franco Corelli, Mario Del Monaco, Beniamino Gigli, Jussi Bjorling, Placido Domingo, Roberto Alagna, Giuseppe di Stefano, Nicolai Gedda, Tito Schipa, Jose Carreras, Roland Villazon, Jonas Kaufmann and Luciano Pavarotti.

Renata Scotto and Placido Domingo perform Fedora:

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples will present the opera from May 3-11 with an all-star cast headed by Fiorenza Cedolins in the title role and Giuseppe Filianoti as Count Loris. Bass-barihunk John Paul Huckle will take on the dual assignment of Cirillo and the doctor Boroff. Tickets and cast information is available online.

The Teatro di San Carlo will also be presenting a double-bill of Granados' Goyescas and Puccini's Suor Angelica from May 28-June 28 with barihunk César San Martin as Paquiro in the first half of the program. Tickets and cast information is available online.

César San Martin appears in Goyescas
The story of the Giordano opera revolves around Fedora Romazoff, a Russian princess engaged to wed Count Vladimir, who is shot before the opera starts. Fedora sets out to avenge his death and she extracts a confession from Count Loris, who is enamored with her.  She denounces Loris in a letter before realizing that he shot Vladimir not for political reasons, but because Vladimir was having an affair with his lover Wanda. As could only happen in verismo opera, Fedora then tells Loris that she loves him and they run off to Switzerland together. While there, Loris finds out that his brother died in jail after being accused of complicity in Vladimir's death, which prompts his mother to drop dead. Loris realizes that the "mystery woman" who had denounced him and killed both his brother and his mother was Fedora. He then flies into a fit of rage. Overcome with guilt and grief, Fedora drinks poison from a hollow crucifix hanging around her neck. As she dies, Loris forgives her, but it is too late, and she dies in his arms as the song of a shepherd boy is heard from the Alpine foothills.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Opera Omaha delivers "endless pleasure" in new Semele with Aubrey Allicock

Dancers surround Somnus (Aubrey Allicock), god of sleep
Regular readers will remember that our "Barihunks Best of 2014" featured Opera Omaha for the "Hottest Cast in Opera" for their production of Handel's Agrippina. The cast was led by two of the sexiest barihunks in the business, Hadleigh Adams as the emperor Claudio and Doug Williams as Pallante.

Opera Omaha is bringing back the director of Agrippina, James Darrah and his creative team Chromatic, to take on another Handel opera, Semele. Barihunk Aubrey Allicock will sing the role of Somnus, the god of sleep. He'll be joined by countertenor Ray Chenez as Athamas, soprano Mary Feminear as Semele, mezzo Peabody Southwell as Juno, tenor William Ferguson as Jupiter and soprano Liz Lang as Iris. Early music specialist Stephen Stubbs will also return to conduct Semele.

Samuel Ramey sings "More Sweet is That Name" from Semele:

Performances at the Orpheum Theater will be on April 8 and 10 and tickets are available online. There will be a pre-performance talk 40 minutes before each performance in the Grand Lobby, where James Darrah will share insights into this new production.

Handel’s Semele is a darkly comic mythological story of a mortal woman’s tryst with a dangerous god. It's the tale of two worlds, the immortal and the mortal. Swept off to a celestial love nest by the besotted Jupiter, the still-discontented princess is easily manipulated by the jealous Juno into demanding more, and is destroyed. The opera includes some of Handel's most popular arias, including Semele's "Endless pleasure, endless love." Jupiter's "Where'er you walk" and the most egotistical aria in all of opera, Semele's "Myself I shall adore."

Countertenor Ray Chenez & Barihunk Aubrey Allicock
Opera Omaha, which began in 1958 as the Omaha Civic Opera Society, is the only professional opera company in Nebraska, It became a fully professional opera company by 1970 and is known for highlighting gifted young singers from the area as well as nationwide. The company is known for both its innovation and educational outreach programs. They had produced eight world premieres and four American premieres.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sexy, sexy pictures of Damian Pass and the Men of Agrippina

Damian Pass and the Men of Agrippina
Last week, we posted about the sexy production of Handel’s Agrippina from the Theater an der Wien featuring barihunk Damian Pass as Pallante and hunken-countertenor Jake Arditti as Nerone.

The production was live streamed on Sonostream, but is now available on YouTube or right here on Barihunks.

The new production from director Robert Carsen casts a satirical eye on Ancient Rome, with political and sexual machination as Agrippina schemes to place her son, Nerone (Nero), on the throne and the seductive Poppea juggles with three lovers.  Handel, who many musicologists presume was gay, would undoubtedly have LOVED this production.

Damian Pass strips down in Agrippina
In addition to enough supernumerary beefcake to fill an issue of Men's Fitness, the cast also includes the stunning Danielle de Niese as Poppea, Patricia Bardon in the title role, Fillippo Mineccia as Ottone, Mika Kares as Claudio, Tom Verney as Narciso and Christoph Seidl as Lesbo.

We figured that it was worthwhile to share some of the pictures from the production. 

Damian Pass, Patricia Bardon and the Men of Agrippina
In 1707-1708, Agrippina gave the young Handel his big chance to establish his reputation as an opera composer in Italy. The commission came from the famous Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice, which was funded by the influential Grimani family. The Venetians were extremely demanding when it came to music, but Handel succeeded in creating a wise, gripping and entertaining opera on the basis of the humorous libretto about lust for power and sexual desires in Ancient Rome. The success was overwhelming.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Barihunk trio in successful Pop-Up Opera in San Francisco nightclub

Hadleigh Adams at SF Opera's Lab Pop-Up Opera in San Francisco
For years, opera companies have been trying innovative ways to attract younger audiences to the artform. The San Francisco Opera may have figured out the formula, as their Pop-Up concert at The Chapel, an old mortuary converted into a 1914 nightclub, drew a packed audience of 500 rowdy attendees to the heart of San Francisco's hip Mission District.

Hadleigh Adams sings "Come un'ape ne'giorni d'aprile" from La Cenerentola:

Barihunk Hadleigh Adams was the perfect emcee, eliciting shouts from men and women to take off his shirt (which he didn't do!). He was joined by fellow barihunks Anthony Reed and Brad Walker, tenor Pene Pati, mezzo Laura Krumm and soprano Amina Edris. All are alums of the prestigious Merola Opera Program, who went on to become Adler Fellows with the San Francisco Opera. They were joined by Ronny Michael Greenberg at the piano, who recently accompanied barihunk Marco Vassalli for his U.S. debut recital.

The SF Opera Lab explores innovative programming that celebrates the power of the human voice theatrically in intimate spaces beyond the War Memorial Opera House. They are also intended to be informal and drinks are allowed at the performance.

Hadleigh Adams & Laura Krumm sing "Dunque io son" from The Barber of Seville:

 The next SF Opera Lab production opens tonight with seven performances running through APril 10th. Michael Cavanagh will direct Ana Sokolović's Svadba-Wedding and audience members will be part of the action with actual champagne served at the wedding. Additional information is available online.

Hadleigh Adams will be performing Falke in Die Fledermaus with the Cincinnati Opera in June. Anthony Reed can be seen this season at the San Francisco Opera in Jenufa, Andrea Chenier, Aida and Madama Butterfly. Brad Walker will be appearing with the San Francisco Opera this season in Carmen, Andrea Chenier and The Makropulos Case.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Sexy pictures of Mike Nyby from Isis and Osiris

Mike Nyby in Togni's Isis and Osiris (Michael Barrett, left; Lucia Nesrallah, right)
Earlier in the week we posted about Canadian barihunk Mike Nyby singing Seth in the world premiere of award-winning composer Peter-Anthony Togni's "Isis and Osiris." The new Canadian opera, concludes the 2016 season of Toronto's Opera in Concert program with performances on April 1st and 3rd.

We now have a couple of photos from the rehearsals, so we wanted to share them with our readers. His character isn't exactly the nicest guy in the world. In the photo on the left he's about to dismember Osiris's body and in the photo on the right he's raping Isis.

Isis and Osiris, Gods of Egypt is based on the major myth of ancient Egypt, telling their love story in a larger-than-life tale of sibling jealousy, lust for power, fratricide and the quest for immortality. Togni collaborated with Toronto poet Sharon Singer on the piece.

The remainder of the cast includes Lucia Cesaroni as Isis, Michael Barrett as Osiris, Julie Nesrallah as Nepthys, Stuart Graham as Grand Vizier Khamet, Leigh-Ann Allen as Sennefer and Christopher Wattam as Imhotep.

Upcoming performances for Nyby include Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen with the Huronia Symphony and Gounod's St. Cecilia's Mass with the Toronto Korean-Canadian Chorale. 

Florian Spiess' sexy selfie for Rameau's Les Indes galantes

Master of the selfie: Florian Spiess as Bellone (left) and in Fanciulla (right)
We introduced Austrian bass-barihunk Florian Spiess back in 2014 when he was performing in Handel's rarity Almira in Hamburg. He's returning to the 18th century again on Sunday, April 3rd as Bellone in Jean-Philippe Rameau's Les Indes galantes at the Staatstheater Nürnberg. We had to share his backstage selfie that he posted on Facebook and encourage readers to LIKE his fan page, where he frequently shares sexy selfies.

The ballet/opera is having a bit of revival in recent years and this premiere is a co-production with 
the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse and the Opera National de Bordeaux. Regular readers will remember our post about a rather risque production at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse that involved a bit of nudity and a shirtless Vittorio Prato. The Munich Opera Festival will present the opera this summer with barihunk Tareq Nazmi as Osman and Goran Juric as Bellone.

The piece will be directed and choreographed by Laura Scozzi who returns to Nürnberg After successful production of Mozart's The Magic Flute and  Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims. The opera will be conducted by French baroque specialist Paul Agnew. Tickets are available online.

Florian Spiess sings Colline's aria Vecchia zimarra from La Bohème:

Spiess' vocal training began at the Tyrolean Conservatory where he performed in Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods and as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni. He continued his studies at the Vienna Music University including one year on a German-Austrian Richard Wagner Foundation scholarship.

He was a member of the ensembles at the Landestheater Linz and Volkstheater Rostock, but joined the Hamburg State Opera during the 2013-14 season. In Hamburg, he has performed Colline in Puccini's La Bohème, Biterolf in Wagner's Tannhäuser, Radames in Verdi's Aida, Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen and Raymondo in Handel‘s Almira.