Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ryan McKinny's sexy (but controversial) Amfortas

Ryan McKinny in Bayreuth's Parsifal
Bass-barihunk Ryan McKinny recently made his role debut as Amfortas in Wagner's Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival. We'll reserve commentary about the costumes and production (which was set in the Islamic world), as we don't do reviews, but these pictures will give you a sense of it. News reports say that the production was booed on opening night and security was heightened.

Rather that set the piece in Montsalvat, the castle of the knights of the Holy Grail, director Uwe Eric Laufenberg, reset the production in a bomb-outed church in the Middle East. Ryan McKinny shared  his own thoughts about the opera on Slipped Disc, which you can read in its entirety HERE. We were particularly struck by these words:

Ryan McKinny in Bayreuth's Parsifal
"I frequently feel distressed that this art form is too often reserved for the wealthy and powerful. But in this case, I think the wealthy and powerful are maybe the ones that need to hear this music the most...I hope this music reaches us. I hope we can feel compassion for our own suffering, for Amfortas’ suffering, for the suffering of the world. And through that compassion, gain some understanding."
Tickets for Parsifal are available online and the production runs through August 28th. McKinny returns to the United States from September 22-October 2 to perform the title role in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Washington National Opera. He then returns to the role of Amfortas with the Dutch National Opera from December 6-29. It will be directed by Pierre Audi.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Brad Baron singing, directing, writing, blogging (and posing)

Brad Baron and some of his selfies from social media
We finally got some video from barihunk Brad Baron's graduation recital at the Louisiana State University School of Music's Recital Hall on April 22, 2016. Baron graduated from Princeton University with an AB in English and Certificates in Theatre and Vocal Performance recently received his Masters of Music at Louisiana State University. 

Brad Baron sings Finzi's "Let Us Garlands Bring":

Brad Baron sings Schubert's "Erlkönig":

Brad Baron sings Poulenc's "Hôtel":

The multi-talented singer, also works as an actor, writer, playwright, blogger (Life of a Gay Pirate), gamer commentator, librettist and now director.

His play Last Ditch Playlist, which he's been developing for three years will be presented in a fully staged production at the Dixon Place MainStage in New York City on August 18th at 7:30 pm. He'll be directing the piece, as well. According to the theater website, "Last Ditch Playlist is an ode to the memory of a unraveling gay romance. Aaron and Wes’ joy and pain are evoked with sweeping sincerity in this new stage work, peeling away layers of the relationship as it is replayed ‘on shuffle’ in gripping scenes of intimacy, recollections, phone calls, internet chats, and lyricism."

The men of Brad Baron's play Last Ditch Playlist
In recent years he has contributed works to the New Jersey One Minute Play Festival, the Rainbow Festival with the La Strada Ensemble Theater, Luna Stage’s Annual Short Play Festival, the New Playwrights Series at The Villagers Theater, and the Gay Play Series with the Ringwald Theatre, where his work Homochondria was presented. He is currently working on a short comic libretto for Coffee Companion with composer Marc Hoffeditz and collaborators Esha Datta and Jennifer Peterson.

As a singer, he was an Encouragement Award winner in the Violetta DuPont Competition, a finalist in Classical Idol 8, a semi-finalist in the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition, and a semi-finalist in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition. He has performed at the Des Moines Metro Opera, Bronx Opera Company and Ohio Light Opera. He will be joining Opera Memphis this Fall as an Artist in Residence, where he will be performing Antonio in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and The Pirate King in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance during their 2016-2017 season.

We first got to know Brad Baron through Twitter and his entertaining tweets @BaronAsInRed.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Timothy McDevitt and Corey Crider together in South Pacific

Timothy McDevitt and Corey Crider
We got some great photos of barihunks Timothy McDevitt and Corey Crider together, who are performing in Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific at Ash Lawn Opera.

McDevitt is performing the role of the courageous Lt. Cable and Crider takes on the dashing leading man Emile de Becque. They're joined by Sharin Apostolou as Nelli Forbush, Daryl Freedman as Bloody Mary and Clayton Brown as Luther Billis. The production is directed by John de los Santos and conducted by Andy Anderson.

Timothy McDevitt in South Pacific
Tickets for the remaining shows on July 29 and 30 are available at the Paramount Theater website.

Crider will reprise his role with Opera Roanoke on October 7 and 9 at the Shaftman Performance Hall.Upcoming shows for McDevitt include Vasco Mendonca's The House Taken Over at the National Sawdust from October 7-9 and Thou Swell with the New York City Ballet, where he'll sing music by Richard Rodgers. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Douglas Williams stars in Mascagni's Iris at Bardscape

Douglas Williams and Talise Trevigne in Iris
Bass-barihunk Douglas Williams portrays the villainous Kyoto in Mascagni's opera Iris with Bard Summerscape at the Fisher Center. He's joined by soprano Talise Trevigne as the vulnerable Iris, Matt Boehler (who has appeared on this site) as Il Cieco and tenor Gerard Schneider as the fickle Osaka.

Williams has previously collaborated with Iris director James Darrah on Agrippina for Opera Omaha, which we wrote about in 2014 for having the "Hottest Cast in Opera." He has also worked with Darrah on Jonathan Dove’s monodrama, The Other Euridice for Bay Chamber Concerts. On August 21, he'll perform Escamillo with the director at the Rockport Opera House in the Bizet/Brooks version of La tragédie de Carmen.

Composed by Puccini’s friend Pietro Mascagni, who composed the better known opera Cavalleria rusticana, Iris debuted in Rome in 1898, ushering in a wave of fin-de-siècle exotic opera. Mascagni’s dreamlike score provides the backdrop for Luigi Illica’s haunting libretto recounting the tragic story of Iris, an innocent young girl tricked into abandoning her elderly blind father and lured to a brothel in Tokyo’s notorious red-light district.

Remaining performances on July 27, 29 and 31. Tickets are available online.

On August 25, Williams will sing Scarlatti's La Gloria di Primavera with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and conductor Nicholas McGegan at Tanglewood. On September 17 and 18, he makes his Mozart debut as Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with the Milwaukee Symphony and conductor Edo de Waart. He'll be joined by fellow barihunk Gordon Bintner as Count Almaviva. Tickets are available online.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Benson Wilson wins 2016 Lexus Song Quest

Benson Wilson
Benson Wilson has won the Lexus Song Quest at today's Grand Final Gala at the Auckland Town Hall. Benson will receive a cash prize of $20,000 and a Study Scholarship of $27,000, plus economy international travel up to the value of $3,000. Benson said he was “blessed to receive this honor and was ready to step up to the challenge.”

Second place was awarded to Auckland tenor Filipe Manu, third place went to Hamilton soprano Madison Nonoa, and Auckland bass-baritone Tavis Gravatt took fourth place. The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation scholarship ‘for the singer who shows the most promise’ was also awarded to Madison Nonoa.

The four finalists each performed three pieces in front of a live audience, one accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis, and two arias alongside the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Edo de Waart.

Reader Submission: Aussie Barihunk Nathan Lay

Baritone Nathan Lay (Photo on right by Leesa Needham)
Australian barihunk Nathan Lay is currently singing Mr Mayor in Richard Mills' opera The Pied Piper at the Victorian Opera in Melbourne. The children's opera is based on Robert Browning’s classic poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin. There are performances on July 28, 29 and 30 and tickets and additional cast information is available online.

He has been a regular at the Victorian Opera where he recently completed his second year in their young artist program. During his time with the company, he has performed Baron Douphol in Verdi's La traviata, the Father in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, Sir Riccardo Forth in Bellini's I Puritani and the quartet in Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins.

Lay recently won the 2016 Australian International Opera Award Scholarship, which is valued at $54,000. The prize includes all of the expenses for one year of full time academic study at the Wales International Academy of Voice under the guidance of its internationally tenor and director Dennis O’Neil CBE. He will commence his studies in September 2016.

Nathan Lay sings Britten's "Look! Through the port..." from Billy Budd:

Nathan completed his Bachelor of Music at the Melba Conservatorium of Music in 2008. He has since established his career in the Melbourne opera and oratorio scene. In 2010, Nathan won the National Liederfest, and Australian Music Events’ “Opera Scholar of the Year”. In 2013, he won the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria competition, and also received 3rd Place in the prestigious Herald Sun Aria competition at Hamer Hall.
In 2013, he made his first appearances with Opera Australia in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera and Aida. He also played Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte for Melbourne Opera.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Introducing German Barihunk and Model Roman Grübner

Roman Grübner
Roman Grübner began his musical studies at age seven at the the Balettausbildung Staatstheater Schwerin studying piano and voice. At 16, he won the second prize of an all-German youth competition. He continued his studies at the Academy of Music "Hans Eissler" and the Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach Gymnasium of Music in Berlin.

From 2007 to 2009, Grübner was an ensemble member at the Mecklenburg State Theatre in Schwerin, where he sang Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Mercutio in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Morales in Bizet’s Carmen. He been a featured guest artist at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and part of the ensemble at the Stadttheater St Gallen, where he performed Harlekin an Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, Roberto in Mozart's La finta giardiniera, Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Pappacoda in Johann Strauss’ Eine Nacht in Venedig.

Roman Grübner
In 2009, he made his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio conducted by Roy Goodman. The following year, he returned to perform Bach’s St Matthew Passion. At the Berlin Philharmonic, he’s performed Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Puccini’s Messe di Gloria and Mendelssohn’s Paulus.

His songs repertoire includes more than 350 songs by Schubert, Wolf, Richard Strauss, Mahler and Grieg. He can be seen on the DVD of  Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos starring Renee Fleming and conducted by Christian Thielemann.

Grübner has also worked as an actor and model. He'll also be appearing in our 10th Anniversary "Barihunks in Bed" commemorative calendar.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Barihunk Sextet in Lakes Area Music Festival's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Barihunk sextet Eric Broker, Andrew Lovato, Sam Parkinson, John Taylor Ward, Rodolfo Nieto and Benjamin Sieverding (Clockwise from top left)
Last year we had our first barihunk sextet posting when Hamstead Garden Opera in the U.K. double cast Mozart's Don Giovanni with six barihunks. Now we have our first barihunk sextet all performing on the same night in the Lakes Area Music Festival's production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream on August 13 and 14.

The "dream" cast includes John Taylor Ward as Bottom, Andrew Lovato as Demetrius, Rodolfo Nieto as Theseus, Benjamin Sieverding as Quince, Eric Broker as Starveling and Sam Parkinson as Snug. John Taylor Ward not only performs in the opera, but he serves as Associate Artistic Director of the company and he wrote the program notes.

John Taylor Ward sings Schumann's "Du bist wie eine Blume"

On August 11, there will be an open rehearsal at the Tornstrom Auditorium, which includes a discussion with soprano Abigail Dueppen and countertenor Daniel Moody at 1:30 PM. The will also be a pre-concert lecture 30 minutes before each performance featuring Minnesota Public Radio host John Birge, conductor Andrew Altenbach and director JJ Hudson. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

The Lakes Area Music Festival was founded in 2009 and puts on six free concerts annually, which include chamber music, symphonic works and opera. They utilize 140 artists from ensembles and conservatories such as the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Metropolitan Opera, Minnesota Opera, Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music and the Curtis Institute.

Italian Barihunk Franco Cerri at Torre del Lago Festival

Italian Barihunk Franco Cerri
Barihunk Franco Cerri is at the Torre del Lago Festival through August 13th in Puccini's hometown where he's performing Sciarrone in the composer's Tosca, as well as Tartaglia in the Ferruccio Busoni version of Turandot. Last season, he performed Guccio in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at the Festival. 

Busoni’s Turandot is based on same subject that Puccini set to music by Puccini, but has a more ironic fairytale style than the better known work. Busoni has been fascinated by the fairy tale by Carlo Gozzi before Puccini and wrote his own libretto. Busoni’s Turandot, premiered at the Municipal Theatre in Zurich on May 11, 1917 and remains among one of the most significant works of his rich artistic productions  It took Busoni 100 days to write the Turandot score, a record time but, needed to not miss the opportunity that the Theatre of Zurich had offered him to host his composition.

There are various oddities in Busoni's libretto which recall the play's Commedia dell'arte roots: characters with Italian names like Truffaldino,  Pantalone and Cerri's character Tartaglia; Allah is praised in China; and there are references to Venice, St. Mark's, and gondolas. The spoken dialogue harks back to Mozart's operas, especially The Magic Flute. In comparison to Puccini's opera on the same subject, Busoni retains the intimate, unreal atmosphere of Gozzi's pla.y Busoni's princess Turandot is not quite so implacable; her heart is readier to melt.

Barihunk Franco Cerri backstage at Torre del Lago (left) and in rehearsal (far right)
The opera is often performed as part of a double bill with Busoni's earlier one-act opera Arlecchino, a tradition which began at the premiere (the Festival is not performing Arlecchino). The first performance in Italy (without Arlecchino) was on November 29, 1936 in Rome, conducted by Fernando Previtali. Previtali, a Busoni champion, who went on to conduct performances in other Italian cities and conducted the premiere of the opera at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 1964.

Tickets for Tosca and Turandot are available online.

Born in Genoa, Italy, Cerri  began his studies with piano, drama and ballet dancing. While at the Conservatory, he studied singing with the great Italian baritone Silvano Carroli. In 2012, he won the Città di Alcamo International Singing Competition.  

Franco Cerri sings Rossini's "Resta immobile" from William Tell:

He made his professional debut as a bass, singing the Bonze in the Puccini's Madame Butterfly and the title role in Rossini's Mosè in Genoa. His debut as baritone was with the role of Marcello in Puccini's La boheme followed by the role of Silvio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.

He has performed Riccardo in Bellini's I Puritani in Licata, Madama Butterfly and The Barber of Seville at the Arena Alpe Adria of Lignano, Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata at the Trentino Opera Festival, Manzitti’s Les Invisibles at the Great Palazzo Ducale in Genoa and Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Festival Illica Castell'Arquato.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Introducing "Foxy" Barihunk Scott Ballantine

Scott Ballantine
Barihunk Scott Ballantine will be singing the title role in Tobias Picker's Fantastic Mr. Fox at the Emerald City Opera in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado on August 12 and 13. He'll be joined on the podium by the equally foxy conducter Andres Cladera, who also led a performance with barihunk John Brancy in San Antonio. Tickets are available online.

Ballantine received his Master’s of Music in Voice Performance from The Boston Conservatory in 2015 and a Bachelor’s of Music in Voice Performance from Northern Arizona University in 2013. Previous credits at NAU include the title role in Gianni Schicchi and Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte. He was most recently seen as the Mercutio Gounod's Roméo et Juliette with Opera51 in Concord, MA.

Other recent credits in Boston include, John Brooke in Mark Adamo's Little Women with MetroWest Opera, Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème with NEMPAC Opera, Oreste in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, Taddeo in Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri and Junius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia with The Boston Conservatory and Sid in Britten's Albert Herring with Boston Opera Collaborative.

Ballantine placed first in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Vocal Competition four years consecutively and was a finalist in the Classical Singer Competition. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Zachary James in free performance of "the little match girl passion"

Zachary James, Karim Sulayman, Anne-Carolyn Bird and Brennan Hall
Bass-barihunk Zachary James will be featured in R. B. Schlather performance installation of American composer David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion at Jack Shainman Gallery in Kinderhook, N.Y. He'll be joined by soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird, countertenor Brennan Hall, tenor Karim Sulayman, percussionist Michael Zell and music director Amanda Crider.

Composer David Lang earned the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for the little match girl passion. The ground-breaking piece is scored for four solo voices and percussion, and tells Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a poor young girl struggling with abuse and poverty, but retaining faith, hope, and ultimately redemption. The story is suffused with opposites; a beautiful past with a bitter present, the struggles of poverty and the redemption of hope.

The performance is a continuation of R.B. Schlather’s practice of installing opera and vocal chamber music as an exchange between visitor, musician, and architecture, investigating questions about presentation, duration, and access.

This August 20th performance is free and open to the public. It begins and noon and runs for five hours.

Barihunk Hadleigh Adams featured in Opera News

Hadleigh Adams in Opera News (photo by Dario Acosta)
Barihunk Hadleigh Adams, who will open on July 31 as The Duke in Thomas Adès' "Powder Her Face," is the August feature in Opera News' Sound Bites. The performance in Oakland's historic train station with West Edge Opera has proven so popular with ticket buyers, that the innovative company has just added a fourth performance. The production also includes hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock.

We will be posting a more extensive piece on the production next week. Tickets are available online.

David Adam Moore to make Salzburg debut in new Adès opera

David Adam Moore
On July 28th, barihunk David Adam Moore will be making his Salzburger Festpiele debut in the world premiere of Adès’ The Exterminating Angel.  He will be creating the role of Colonel Alvaro and will be joined by fellow barihunk Rafael Fingerlos as Enrique and hunkentenor Ed Lyon as Eduardo. The remainder of the all-star cast includes Alice Coote, Frederic Antoun, Amanda Echalaz and Audrey Luna, Charles Workman, Frédéric Antoun, Sir Thomas Allen, John Tomlinson and Anne Sofie von Otter.  

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 Buñuel 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 from April 24-May 8, 2017, New York's Metropolitan Opera in the Fall of 2017 and eventually at the Den Kongelige Opera in Copenhagen.
Rafael Fingerlos
Adès was inspired by Luis Buñuel’s surrealist film El ángel exterminador, which deals with the social rituals of an elite upper class, stating, “It’s territory that I like very much because it looks as though the people are in a room, but it’s not really about the room, they’re actually trapped in their own heads.“  

Performances will run from July 28 through August 8th and tickets are available online.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Introducing barihunk Michael Maliakel

Michael Maliakel
Michael Maliakel, who stands at 6'4", was this year's winner of the American Traditions Competition in Savannah, Georgia and is new to the site. He also took first place in the 2014 National Music Theater Competition, 3rd Prize at the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition and was a finalist in the Philadelphia Orchestra Albert M. Greenfield Competition.

A native of New Jersey, Maliakel received his earliest vocal training as a treble in the American Boychoir before pursuing a BM from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. He currently lives in New York City.

Last June, he performed an evening of Kurt Weill at Feinstein’s/54 Below with the Light Opera of New York. Other opera credits include Monsieur Presto in Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias, the Shoe Salesman in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, Raimondo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and the baritone in Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox.

Maliakel’s concert appearances have included the baritone solos in Handel's Messiah, Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, Fauré’s Requiem, Rossini's Petite messe solennelle, Bach's Magnificat, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

In addition to his solo pursuits, Maliakel teaches voice privately and performs regularly with some of New York City-based vocal ensembles.

The American Traditions Competition is currently taking applications for singers over the age of 21to compete in their 2017 competition. You can apply HERE. In addition to Maliakel, other barihunk winners of the competition include Andrew Garland in 2003 and Douglas Carpenter in 2011.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Introducing British Barihunk and Model Matthew Thistleton

Matthew Thistleton
British barihunk Matthew Thistleton caught our eye as José Castro in the Grange Park Opera production of Puccini's La fanciulla del West that closed over the weekend. This season, he was also one of the monks in Verdi's Don Carlo that featured. Clive Bayley as Filippo II, David Stout as Rodrigo, Stefano Secco in the title role, Ruxandra Donose as Eboli and Virginia Tola as Elisabetta.  During the 2014 and 2015 summer seasons he was a member of the Grange Park Opera chorus in Britten's Peter Grimes, Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, Saint-Saens' Samson et Delilah (where he also sang the Second Philistine) and Puccini's La Boheme (where he covered Colline).

The Wilmslow native finished his Master’s at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) where he was the recipient of The Riga Heesom Award and was supported by the Laurison School Trust. He made his operatic debut in the RNCM’s production of Monteverdi's Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria. He went on to sing in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Opera on Location as Snug the Joiner, scenes from Smetana's The Bartered Bride, Massenet's Cendrillon and Rossini's L’italiana in Algeri and Il Turco in Italia.
After performing in the Italian Cultural Institute's Pinocchio as Geppetto Matthew has recently finished the 2016 season with Grange Park Opera where he performed as Castro in la Fanciulla Del West and as one of the six monks in Don Carlo.

He is also a model with Maverick Models

Rodney Earl Clarke to perform at historic Tatton Estate

Rodney Earl Clarke to appear at Tatton Park
Barihunk Rodney Earl Clarke will be appearing with the Hallé Symphony Orchestra on the grounds of the spectacular Tatton Park Estate on July 30th. For nearly 400 years the 1,000 acre estate was the property of the Egerton family until it was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1958.

Along with soprano Ashleigh Gray, he'll be performing some of the most beloved songs and arias from musicals and opera. Among the selections that Clarke will be singing are "Some Enchanted Evening" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, the Torreador Song from Bizet's Carmen, and "Ol' Man River" from Jerome Kern's Show Boat.


Clarke is also a member of the male singing quartet Vox Fortura, a classical crossover group who were semi-finalists on Britain's Got Talent.

Tickets for the outdoor concert are available online.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lucas Meachem wins San Francisco Opera's Emerging Artist Award

Lucas Meachem in Marriage of Figaro (left) and showing off his "guns" in Dresden

Barihunk Lucas Meachem has won the San Francisco Opera inaugural "Emerging Star of the Year" competition. The competition was made possible by The Emerging Stars Fund, established through a three-year, multi-million dollar gift from San Francisco Opera sponsors Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem. Meachem will be awarded $10,000.

The goal of the Emerging Stars Fund is to engage the community in the thrill of experiencing artists on the cusp of greatness, and to build awareness among the broader opera-going public of San Francisco Opera's leadership in nurturing and showcasing new talent.

Meachem is a former participant in the Merola Opera Program and Adler Fellows, both programs associated closely with the development of young artists at the company. He has appeared with San Francisco Opera in the title role of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Mozart's Papageno in Die ZauberflöteMozart's Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro and Fritz/Frank in Korngold’s Die tote Stadt.

Lucas Meachem sings "Sois immobile" from Rossini's William Tell:

He returns to the company this year as Doctor Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, which he performs on September 28 and October 2, 12, and 15. He will rotate the role with another emerging artist from the company, barihunk Edward Nelson, who also has been part of the Merola Opera Program and is a current Adler Fellow. Nelson performs on October 4 and 7. Tickets and cast information is available online.

The voting was conducted online and through social media. Other singers who were considered included soprano Malin Byström, mezzo Sasha Cooke, soprano Leah Crocetto, tenor Michael Fabiano, tenor Brian Jagde, mezzo Daniela Mack, baritone Brian Mulligan, tenor Alek Shrader and soprano Heidi Stober.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Stéphane Degout shows his bod for Claude

French barihunk Stéphane Degout, who we have seen nude before on the opera stage in Thomas' Hamlet, is now back in his birthday suit for Claude Debussy’s only complete opera Pelléas et Mélisande at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. The opera is returning to the company after a 40-year absence and is available as video on demand for those in Europe.

Festival d’Aix-en-Provence's resident director Katie Mitchell provided a literal interpretation of the dreamlike piece. The opera starts with Mélisande in a wedding dress where she falls asleep and the story is her dream and a reflection of her reality.  Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra, with Barbara Hannigan and Mélisande and Laurent Naouri as Golaud completing the trio.

You can catch it live on July 13 and 17 and tickets are available online.

Degout will next be appearing as the Count in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the De Nationale Opera in Amsterdam and them as Olivier in Richard Strauss' Capriccio at La Monnaie in Brussels.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Barihunk Trio in Ash Lawn's Summer Season

Andrew Garland sporting his Barihunk shirt and showing off his "bari-guns"
Mozart's Così fan tutte just opened a run at the Ash Lawn Opera featuring barihunk Andrew Garland. After an opening night show at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech, it now heads to the Paramount Theater for performances on July 10, 13, and 15.

The cast also includes Kristopher Irmiter as Don Alfonso, Mireille Asselin as Despina, Cassandra Velasco as Dorabella, Melinda Whittington as Fiordiligi and Joshua Dennis as Ferrando.  The production is being directed by Andrea Dorf McGray and conducted by Steven Jarvi.

On July 16 and 17, Garland will be back in his native Massachusetts for recitals of music by Schumann, Obradors, Cole Porter and others at the Federated Church in Charlemont. He'll be joined by accompanist Estela Olevsky.

Timothy McDevitt
Barihunks Timothy McDevitt and Corey Crider will be featured in their other production, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, which will run at the Paramount from July 23-30. McDevitt will perform the role of the courageous Lt. Cable and Crider takes on the dashing leading man Emile de Becque.

Matthew Morrison sings "Younger Than Springtime" from South Pacific:

They'll be joined by Sharin Apostolou as Nelli Forbush, Daryl Freedman as Bloody Mary and Clayton Brown as Luther Billis. The production will be directed by John de los Santos and conducted by Andy Anderson.

Tickets for both shows are available at the Paramount Theater website.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Waltteri Torikka & Tapani Plathan in Don Giovanni at Castle Olavinlinna

Tapani Plathan and Waltteri Torikka
Barihunks Waltteri Torikka and Tapani Plathan will sing Don Giovanni and Leporello in Mozart's masterpiece at the Savonlinna Opera Festival on July 9, 20 and 25. The opera will be performed in the Castle Olavinlinna, a 15th-century three-tower castle located in Savonlinna, Finland. The Savonlinna Opera Festival has been held annually at the castle each summer since 1912. They'll be alternating their roles with Kartal Karagedik and Arttu Kataja, who perform on July 18 and 22.

Regular readers will recall that Waltteri Torikka won the Finnish MTV competition Tähdet, Tähdet (Stars, Stars), which is similar to America's X-Factor or American Idol. He performed a variety of different musical genres, including Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loca, Whitesnake's Still of Night, a country version of "Ring of Fire," the punk rock song "Hei hei mitä kuuluu," a Finnish tango, and even an Ozzy Osbourne-esque version of Scarpia from Tosca!

Waltteri Torikka sings "Deh, vieni alla finestra":

Finnish bass-barihunk Tapani Plathan is currently an ensemble member at Saarländisches Staatstheater Saarbrücken in Germany. He has performed Leporello in Don Giovanni, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and Sparafucile in Rigoletto with the company. Plathan began his classical studies with oboe and piano but switched to voice at age 23, when he was admitted to Sibelius Academy. He made his debut at the Finnish National Opera in August 2012 as Strojnik in Janacek's Makropulos Affair and later also performed  Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and Masetto in Don Giovanni.

Tickets and additional cast information for Don Giovanni is available online.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Anatoli Sivko beefs up before Bavarian Ballo

Anatoli Sivko beefing up for Bavarian Ballo
Anatoli Sivko, who is singing Naroemov in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin tonight at the Netherlands Opera, appears to have buffed up since we watched him win 1st Prize at last year's Neue Stimmen Vocal Competition and 1st Prize at International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition, Warsaw, Poland.

After he wraps up in Holland, he heads to the Bayerische Staatsoper to make his house debut as Samuel in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera in an all-star cast headed by Piotr Beczala as Riccardo and Anja Harteros as Amelia. He will return to the company to sing the Mandarin in Puccini's Turandot and Schmidt in Giordano's Andrea Chenier with Jonas Kaufmann in the title role.

Anatoli Sivko sings Borodin's "Ni sna, ni otdikha":

Other recent highlights for the Belarus native include his Royal Opera House Covent Garden debut in Un ballo in maschera, Chamberlain in Stravinsky's Le Rossignol at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Farfarello in Prokofiev's L’Amour Des Trois Oranges for Latvian National Opera, Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto in Rennes, the title role in Verdi's Attila in Tallinn, Gaspar in Donizetti's Rita in Graz and Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen in Zürich.

Other upcoming engagements include the King in Verdi's Aida with Opéra de Montréal and Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Barihunks heat up Des Moines Opera's Summer Season

Brent Michael Smith in Orphée et Eurydice
One of our favorite summer opera festival's recently kicked off, as the Des Moines Metro Opera kicked off their 44th season with a number of barihunks in the cast. Last season, we even featured a barihunk group photo from their production of Puccini's La fanciulla del West, which made our 2015 Best of Barihunks feature in addition to Brad Baron, who was an apprentice artist with the company and our Best Twitter discovery of the year (@BaronAsInRed).

This summer, the company is featuring full-scale operas along with a black box production. The full-scale productions are Verdi’s Falstaff, Massenet’s Manon and Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, which will be running until July 17th at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola Iowa. The black box opera will be Philip Glass’ Galileo Galileo, which will be performed on July 7 and 10 at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines.

Edward Parks sings Ford's aria from Verdi's Falstaff:

We can always rely on the company featuring some of the most talented barihunks on the scene and this season is no exception, as Verdi’s Falstaff will feature Wayne Tigges in the title role and Edward Parks, a recent Operalia finalist, in his debut as Ford. The gifted soprano Kelly Kaduce will sing the role of Alice Ford. Massenet’s Manon will feature the rising young talent Michael Adams making his debut as Lescaut and Troy Cook taking on de Brétigny. While none of three main characters in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice are baritones, the cast includes the hot young bass Brent Michael Smith as one of the Furies. The rest of the cast includes Jennifer Johnson Cano in the title role, soprano Susannah Biller as Eurydice and Honorary Barihunk Cree Carrico as Amor. Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei will feature Troy Cook as the Younger Galileo.

DMMO young artists Nate Mattingly, Brent Michael Smith & Charles Eaton
There are a number of baritones and basses in the Des Moines Opera Appretice Artist Program this season, including Tyler Alessi, Joshua Conyers, Charles Eaton, Reuben Lillie, Brent Michael Smith, Spencer Reichman, Nate Mattingly, Connor McDonald, Ben Schaeffer and Reuben Walker.  The young artists will be performing scenes on July 8, 13 and 16.

We are thrilled that Brent Michael Smith will appear in our 10th Anniversary "Barihunks in Bed" calendar. He can next be seen back at the Michigan Opera Theater, where he is a young artist. From October 15-23 he'll be singing Zuniga alongside the Morales of fellow barihunk Harry Greenleaf in Bizet's Carmen. From November 12-20, he appears as the British Major in Kevin Puts' Silent Night alongside fellow barihunk Gabriel Preisser's Lt. Gordon and tenor Chad Johnson's Nikolaus Sprink. Tickets for all performances can be found online.

We plan on featuring some of the DMMO young artists and we'll start with Charles H. Eaton, who recently received his Master of Music degree from the University of Minnesota.  In his second year of studies, he was a participant of the ECCO Program, which facilitates hours of coaching and exchange between promising young artists in the School of Music and the music staff at Minnesota Opera.  Charles will cover Lescaut in Des Moines Metro Opera's production of Manon and participate in the chorus of Falstaff as an apprentice artist.  He is a Rocky Mountain District winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Council Auditions.