Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Donovan Singletary to perform in honor of Leontyne Price's 90th birthday

Donovan Singletary and Leontyne Price (from the National Portrait Gallery)
Barihunk Donovan Singletary will perform a concert in honor of Leontyne Price's 90th birthday on February 9th at the International House in Manhattan.

Leontyne Price, who became one of the first African Americans to perform in a lead at the Metropolitan Opera, is one of opera's most beloved and acclaimed singers in recent times. A lirico spinto soprano, she was considered especially well suited to the roles of Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Wolfgang Mozart and premiered Samuel Barber's Antony & Cleopatra at the newly built Met. After her retirement from the opera stage in 1985, she continued to appear in recitals and orchestral concerts until 1997. Price, who won 19 Grammy Awards, is also a recipient of the  Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Leontyne Price sings Ritorna vincitor! from Verdi's Aida:

Other African-Americans had preceded Price in leading roles at the Met. However, Price was the first African American to build a star career on both sides of the Atlantic, the first to return to the Met in multiple leading roles, and the first to earn the Met's top fee. In 1964, according to the Met archives, Leontyne Price was paid $2,750 per performance, on par with Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. At the time, Birgit Nilsson, who was unique in singing Italian and Wagnerian roles, earned the Met's highest fee, $3,000 a performance. Price was briefly married to bass-baritone William Warfield.

Price had a long relationship with the International House, having lived and worked there in the 1950s, as well as serving on the Board of Trustees for more than 30 years. She gave a benefit concert at the International House in 1992 to support resident programs. Donovan Singletary was also a recent resident of the International House.

Singletary will be joined by current International House residents in program that will include selections from “Porgy and Bess” and “Aida,” as well as such personal favorites as the spiritual “I Will Overcome,” “The Boy Next Door” from “Meet Me in St. Louis” (which Price enjoyed performing at resident recitals), and Samuel Barber’s “Sure on This Shining Light.” Tickets for the concert are available HERE

Singletary has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in Macbeth, Don Carlo, Salome, Pelleas and Melisande and The Bartered Bride. He recently performed as Zuniga in Carmen and Jake in Porgy and Bess with the Seattle Opera and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and Achilla in Giulio Cesare with Fort Worth Opera. Donovan is also a Certified Personal Trainer, a recently signed fitness model, and a health and fitness enthusiast with more than 15 years of sports, fitness, and wellness experience under his belt. He received his NCCA-accredited personal training certification from the National Academy of Science and Medicine and will be a new addition on the SMART Model Management roster. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Q&A with barihunk Kenneth Mattice

Kenneth Mattice
We briefly introduced American barihunk Kenneth Mattice to readers way back in 2008, when we were still pretty new on the scene. He was a resident artist at Opera San José where he was singing Mercutio in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute. He has since moved to Germany where we "rediscovered" him as Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. He graciously agreed to answer some questions and tell us about his career path since we first posted about him.

1. What drew you to a career in opera? 
Partially, Uncle Joey.  He was always the family singer and entertainer who led all the silly campfire sing-alongs.  Partially, Mr. Scheer.  He gave a freshman a leading role in the school musical.  And then another, and another; shaping my first attempts at finding my voice and making music.  Partially, Aussies. A sophomore music-education major decided to do a study abroad and came back a voice major; having made his professional debut in Australia.

2. What are your thoughts about being featured on Barihunks?
Thrilled!  Barihunks has been awesome at marketing both itself and a lot of handsome, talented men for some years now.  Back in 2008, when I was a principal artist with Opera San José, I actually got my first shout-out from Barihunks.  That was a nice ego boost for a young singer, especially with the title, "Opera San José shows up San Francisco Opera"!  Since then I've lived and worked in many states and countries, but it seems you've tracked me down again!

Kenneth Mattice & soprano Veronika Haller (photo right: Klaus Lafebvre)
3. What do you do to stay in shape? What are your thoughts about singers taking care of their bodies as well as their voices?
I lift, brah.  No, seriously.  I do, but I'm not OCD about it.  I go to the gym 3-4 times a week and play pick-up basketball with some German locals one-two times a week, when I can.  I hate running though; unless it's after my wife or a ball/frisbee, in that order!

Singers, like any athlete, need to condition their entire bodies.  We're talking cardio, even when it sucks.  It's not just about singing long beautiful phrases anymore, but whether or not you can do it after running down a staircase shirtless.  And a baritone that isn't working toward being half-naked on stage at some point, is in danger of losing Barihunk status.  Beautiful singing should always come first, but it's bonus to give the director the option of a shirtless (or more) Billy Budd, Giovanni, Silvio, Escamillo, etc...  I just may have an opportunity coming up with Die Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald in Hagen in June.

Kenneth Mattice (photo: Klaus Lafebvre)
4. How did you end up in Germany and what's it like being on a fest contract?
Germany: I wish I had come here sooner.  That being said, I'm here now.  I'm working.  I'm doing what I love every day, I have some job security and my wife has the same situation at her theater with only an hour commute from where we live.  What more could I ask for?  After a couple of years free-lancing in the US, I knew I had to change course.  If I wanted to stay in the biz, it was either stay in the NYC temp world and keep hashing it out with the regional companies or jump ship.  So, I started making short audition trips over here.  I met agents, old singer friends, new singer friends and saw a lot of operas.  The best investment I made in my German adventure, however, were two summers of immersion-style language training at Middlebury College in Vermont.  After seven weeks of living non-stop in the language, I lost the fear I had felt standing on an German operatic stage for an audition; never really certain that my introduction was spoken correctly or, God forbid, they ask me a question other than my name!  In most regional theaters here, ours having over 47 different nationalities represented, German is the rehearsal/work language.

Being fest, for those that don't know, generally starts with a two-year contract to work at one theater, singing all the roles that are appropriate for your voice-type.  Depending on the size of the soloist-ensemble, you may be double-cast or have a show off from time to time.  Our ensemble is not very large, so for the last three seasons I've been singing all of the leading baritone roles at our house.  This has included some very rewarding debuts (Onegin, Valentin, Edwin in Csárdásfürstin, Jonny in Jonny Spielt Auf) and revisiting some roles I've previously done (Almaviva, Papageno, Sharpless, Enrico).

Being on a fest contract is also like finding a second home, at least for me.  It's a very loving, supportive environment at Theater Hagen.  I've been encouraged/pushed to find my dramatic limits and given the freedom to try new roles that may be a stretch.  The depth to which I've gotten to know my colleagues here in different roles and situations has also allowed me to open up more and push those walls of insecurity aside, leaning on them for support when needed.  We often have gatherings on holidays or after shows that are much more like Sunday dinner with the family, rather than just hanging out with work colleagues.

Kenneth Mattice (photo: Klaus Lafebvre)
5. You're singing some rep that one doesn't see in much in the US, particularly some operetta. Do you enjoy these roles?
Absolutely!  Much of the rep done in the US is still full of the "old chestnuts" and for good reason.  They're heart-warming, soul-searching masterpieces.  What's nice about companies in Germany and the rest of Europe is the sheer number of operas being performed.  By that reason alone, they're forced to and have a desire to present both new works and revive old ones.  I enjoy the challenges that come with unusual or complicated roles.  That being said, I'd prefer to have a few of the "chestnuts" thrown in there for variety/sanity.  Csárdásfürstin, while not often performed in the US, is actually one of the Austrian/German/Hungarian "chestnuts" of operetta.  Edwin is a new for me; one that many would call a bari-tenor role.  Much like Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, he has a lot of high notes (going up to A), but the part doesn't live up there.  It's one of my stretch roles this season (both with the tessitura and also with the amount of German dialogue), but one that now fits me perfectly.

6.  Any limits on what you'd do at a stage director’s request?
On stage, very little, IF I can understand and come to grips with the reasoning behind it.  I'm not an exhibitionist by any means, but I strive for realism and believability on stage.  If there's going to be a love scene or a shower scene, then there should be some skin showing. One brief example; in the locker room scene in Trouble in Tahiti, Sam sings, "There's a law about men".  In our staging, we had a shower set up with a frosted panel in front, but open on the sides.  Once we were in stage rehearsals, it was obvious that a limited number of people sitting on the sides would see me in the shower without any visual barriers.  I made the decision at that point to not only be shirtless, but to strip down to only a nude dancebelt.  If I were doing a piece that requires nudity to be believable, like The Fly - sung by fellow Barihunk Daniel Okulitch, however, I'd go all-in.

7. Are there any roles in particular that you really hope to get to perform someday?
Billy Budd is hands-down the dream role for me.  I've been singing his aria for years in concerts and auditions.  I can't wait to sing a role in my native tongue that has so many colors, strengths and weaknesses with which to play.

Carina Sandhaus and Kenneth Mattice (photo: Klaus Lafebvre)

8. Do you prefer singing standard operatic repertory or newer pieces?
I prefer to mix it up and have both.  Singing in a fest contract does that automatically for you.  I like the different hats it allows me to wear.

9. What other passions do you have aside from music?
I love doing anything and everything that has to do with nature.  Growing up on a Wisconsin farm, I always had the option (and often responsibility) to be outside; hunting, fishing, biking, bonfires, swimming, gardening - you name it!

10. What do you listen to other than opera?
I'm constantly listing to either a variety of podcasts or cooking to jazz/classic rock.

Kenneth Mattice and wife sopranoEmily Newton
11. The best advice anyone has ever given you?
Stick with it if you love it.  Failure does not determine your fate, it's the first step to having real success.

12. Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with opera.
Waushara County Fair Champion Swine Showman - 5 years in a row!  Yeah, so growing up, the summer county fair and 4-H were very influential.  I learned about parliamentary procedure, public speaking, nature, animals and experienced the selfless, giving community that surrounded it.  I used to actually put Swine Showmanship Champion down under "other talents" on my resume.  It was my wild card.  I don't think I ever landed a job because of it, but I would often be asked about it at auditions.  It gave me a chance to stand out from the other talented singers because it was different and completely unrelated.  It led to some interesting discussions and, hopefully, left a memorable impression.

Teatro Real's sexy, "100% Masculine" Billy Budd

Jacques Imbrailo and Borja Quiza in Billy Budd at the Teatro Real
The advertisement for Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd at the Teatro Real in Madrid looks like it was written by Bariunks: "100% Masculine, 8 baritones, 1 bass-baritone and 3 basses..." [and some tenors, etc.].  The production, which is part of their bicentenary celebration, includes a veritable "who's who" of barihunks, including Jacques Imbrailo as Billy Budd, Thomas Oliemans as Mr. Redburn, Duncan Rock as Donald, Torben Jürgens as Lieutenant Ratcliffe and Borja Quiza as The Novice's Friend.

Teatro Real's sexy ad for Billy Budd
The libretto is based on the novel with the same name by Herman Melville and takes place aboard a ship of the British Royal Navy. The opera tells the story of the sailor Billy Budd: a beautiful youth who is loyal, generous, strong, naive and kind. Billy’s physical attributes and charisma disarm the ship's master-at-arms who is incapable of controlling the situation and in the end, he sacrifices the innocent lad without compunction. 

The Teatro Real certainly plays up these aspects in their production, which runs through February 25. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Simon Keenlyside's Don Giovanni coming to PBS

Simon Keenlyside
Barihunk Simon Keenlyside's riveting Don Giovanni from the Metropolitan Opera will be broadcast on PBS on Sunday, February 19th.  Fabio Luisi conducts Tony Award-winner Michael Grandage's staging of Mozart's masterpiece.

The international cast also includes Hibla Gerzmava as Donna Anna, Malin Byström as Donna Elvira,Serena Malfi as Zerlina, Paul Appleby as Don Ottavio, Adam Plachetka as Leporello, Matthew Rose as Masetto, and Kwangchul Youn as the Commendatore.

Check local listings for times. In some cities, the opera will be rebroadcast on February 26th.

Keenlyside is currently singing Don Giovanni at the Vienna State Opera with fellow barihunk Erwin Schrott as his sidekick Leporello. There is one performance remaining on January 29th, when the duo turns over the roles to Adam Plachetka and Jongmin Park. Performances are on March 2, 5 and 9.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ryan McKinny reprises sexy Stanley Kowalski at HOT

Ryan McKinny (photo Ronen Zilberman)
The Hawai‘i Opera Theatre (HOT) opened Andre Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire tonight, which will also be performed on January 29, and 31st at the NBC Concert Hall in downtown Honolulu. The cast is led be barihunk Ryan McKinny in the role of Stanley Kowalski, which was made famous by Marlon Brando in the 1951 movie version. McKinny performed the role with the Los Angeles Opera to great acclaim in 2014.

He'll be joined by soprano Jill Gardner  as Blanche DuBois and Victoria Livengood as Eunice Hubbell. Tickets are available online.

Ryan McKinny (photo Ronen Zilberman)
The production will be directed by Brad Dalton who mounted the London premiere of the opera with the composer.  He also directed the piece at Carnegie Hall, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The production comes from New Orleans where the story takes place. Mark Morash will conduct.

Next up for McKinny is another American opera classic, John Adams' Nixon in China with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on March 3 and 5. He then returns to his specialty as a Wagnerian, singing Gunther in Götterdammerung at the Houston Grand Opera and Amfortas in Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Stéphane Degout and Cédric Tiberghien join forces at Wigmore Hall

Stéphane Degout and Cédric Tiberghien
Barihunk Stéphane Degout will join forces with equally sexy accompanist Cédric Tiberghien at Wigmore Hall on January 29th. The two will perform two of Ravel's epic song cycles, Chansons madécasses and the Histoires naturelles. They will also perform some of Poulenc's most notable songs, Le bestiaire, Montparnasse, Hyde Park, Calligrammes, Quatre poèmes de Guillaume, Apollinaire and Banalités.

The duo will be joined by Matteo Cesari on flute and Alexis Descharmes on cello for Chansons madécasses, a collection of three chansons written in 1925 and 1926 for voice, flute, cello and piano. They chansons were originally dedicated to the American musician and philanthropist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. The composer combined twentieth-century musical experimentation and exoticism with the late nineteenth-century style characteristics present in the vocal elements and instrumentation.

Stéphane Degout performs Chansons madécasses with Alexis Descharmes on cello:

The 1906 song cycle Histoires naturelles is set to five poems by Jules Renard for voice and piano. The cycle was originally dedicated to the mezzo-soprano Jane Bathori, who gave the first performance, accompanied by Ravel at the piano, on January 12, 1907. The chansons are about a peacock, a cricket, a swan, a kingfisher and a guinea fowl. The unusual text of the pieces created a bit of a controversy at the opening performance.

Both song cycles are generally performed by either baritone or mezzo-soprano.

The French composer Francis Poulenc composed songs throughout his career, with his most prolific output in the 1930s and 1940s. He took most of his texts from his favorite poets, who included Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Éluard, Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, and Louise de Vilmorin. His songs have been praised for how the melodic line perfectly matches the text.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Introducing Michael Honeyman in Opera Australia's sexy King Roger

Michael Honeyman and dancers in King Roger at Opera Australia
Opera Australia isn't exactly known for their sexy performances, so we were thrilled to see their stunning performance of Karol Szymanowski's King Roger starring Michael Honeyman in the title role and tenor Saimir Pirgu as the Shephard. Pirgu has sung the role with the most famous King Roger of all time, Mariusz Kwiecien. This is a co-production with the Royal Opera House directed by Kasper Holten.

The opera is about struggle between conservatism and sensuality, between Christian orthodoxy and pagan abandon, portrayed onstage by the church and the sexually tempting shepherd.

Honeyman worked in banking at the Commonwealth Bank before joining the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir and eventually deciding on taking formal training as a singer. He began his vocal training at the Australian National University, graduating with First Class Honours and was immediately accepted on scholarship to 2 years full-time practical performance training at the Australian Opera Studio, Perth. He has performed Amonasro in Verdi's Aida, for which he received a nomination for a Green Room Award for Best Male in a Supporting Role, Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen, Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, Di Luna in Verdi's Il Trovatore and a New Year’s Eve Gala for Opera Australia. He has also worked with West Australian Opera and State Opera of South Australia.

Szymanowski is best known for his wonderful piano music, which includes the famous Étude, Opus 4, No. 3, his four symphonies, two violin concertos, the ballets Harnasie and Mandragora, two string quartets, a sonata for violin and piano, his famous Stabat Mater and a number of orchestral songs.

The production opened tonight at the Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House where it will run through February 15, when it moves to Melbourne, where it will run from May 19 – 27,.

Counter-Inaugural "Hillary Speeches" LIVE online now

Kyle Ketelsen performing The Hillary Speeches by Glen Roven
Barihunks steers clear of politics and sticks to opera, but we had to share this amazing collection of barihunks performing composer Glen Roven's The Hillary Speeches.

Some of operas greatest deep-voiced men will be performing, including David Adam Moore, Kyle Ketelsen, Nathan Gunn, Sidney Outlaw, Daniel Sumegi, Lester Lynch, Andrew Garland and Michael Kelly. They will be joined by Isabel Leonard, Patricia Racette, Lawrence Brownlee, Matthew Polenzani, Carin Gilfy, Laquita Mitchell, Glenn Seven Allen, Dominic Armstrong, Jonathan Blalock and others.

Trailer for "The Hillary Speeches":

The concert film will be streamed from National Sawdust today (January 20, 2017) in conjunction with the presidential inauguration ceremony.  The two speeches that have been set to music are Mrs. Clinton's first announcement of her candidacy on January 7, 2007, and her presidential concession speech on November 9, 2017. 

Glen Roven has some history with the Clintons, having conducted the concerts at the Lincoln Memorial at both of Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration ceremonies. He was slated to conduct had Hillary Clinton won.

You can watch the concert online at noon EST/9 AM PST by clicking HERE. The concert film is directed by James Gray, Warren Elgort, and Larry Robbins. 

Barihunk Gerd Grochowski dies day after singing Wotan

Death notice from Gerd Grochowski's website
German barihunk Gerd Grochowski died of a heart attack 17 hours after performing Wotan at the Wiebaden Opera. He had received a rousing ovation from the audience and no one noticed anything unusual with his health.

Gerd Grochowski sings "Wo du bist?" from Tristan und Isolde:

Grochowski was a Wagner specialist who had performed Telramund and Heerrufer in Lohengrin, the title role in The Flying Dutchman, Wotan in The Ring, the Wanderer in Siegfried, Gunther in Götterdämmerung, Kurwenal in Tristan and Isolde and Amfortas and Klingsor in Parsifal. His breakthrough came with his debut at New York’s Metropolitain Opera as Kurwenal in Tristan and Isolde led by Daniel Barenboim. He performed at many of the world's greatest opera houses and festivals including the San Francisco Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, La Scala, Festival Aix-en-Provence, Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Salzburg Festival.

After Sunday's performance, he told his daughter "Nur eines will ich noch, das Ende," which translates to: "There is but one thing left I desire, the end."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Update on Dmitri Hvorostovsky's health

Dmitri Hvorostovsky
We continually get asked if we have any update on the health of über-barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who was one of the original inspirations for this site.

The little news that we have comes from Russian media, who report that he continues to be hospitalized with pneumonia. In mid-December, he announced to his fans that he was withdrawing from all staged performances for the "foreseeable future" due to balance issues caused by a brain tumor.

Russian media claims that he still plans on resuming his concert schedule. His schedule shows recitals in Kaliningrad on February 26, Vienna on March 7 and a concert with Anna Netrebko in Toronto on April 25.

A message on his website states, "I will continue to give concerts and recitals as well as make recordings. Singing is my life, and I want to continue bringing joy to people worldwide.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bari-hunky Bizet in Met's Carmen

Kyle Ketelsen and Michael Todd Simpson as Escamillo
Bizet’s Carmen opens at the Met on January 19 with mezzo Sophie Koch making her role debut as the title character. But the big news for barihunk lovers is that both Escamillos, Moralès and Dancäire are all singers who have been featured on this site.

Barihunks Kyle Ketelsen and Michael Todd Simpson will take on the role Escamillo, while John Moore will sing Moralès and Malcolm MacKenzie will perform Dancäire. John Moore just set the opera world abuzz with his stunning (and nude) performance as Jan Nyman in Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek's Breaking the Waves in both Philadelphia and New York.

Performances will run on January 19, 23, 27, 31 and February 3, 7, 11, 15 and 18. Tickets are available online.

Kyle Ketelsen sings the Torreador's Song from Carmen:

Michael Todd Simpson stepped in on Christmas Eve at The Met as Jaufré Rudel for Eric Owens in Kaija Saariaho’s critically acclaimed L’Amour de Loin. He is becoming a regular with the company, performing in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Lescaut in Massenet’s Manon and Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From April 7-9, he'll perform the Pirate King in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance in a cast that includes Stephanie Blythe as Ruth, Andrew Stenson as Frederic and barihunk Tobias Greenhalgh as Samuel.

This Fall, Ketelsen will return to the role of Escamillo at the Teatro Real in Madrid. In between New York and Madrid, he'll sing Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and Nick Shadow in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress in Aix-en-Provence, France

Watch Johan Reuter as The Flying Dutchman

Johan Reuter as the Flying Dutchman and buffing up at the gym
You can currently watch barihunk (bear-a-hunk) Johan Reuter in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman from the Finnish National Opera on the OperaPlatform. We recently featured the Danish singer buffing up in preparation for this role. The video will be available until February 12, 2017.

In this production, director Kasper Holten interprets the opera without four-masters, hawsers and nautical romanticism. Instead, the errant sailor becomes an artist, trapped in the world of international jet set. A man, driven by his inspiration and forced to live without ever finding a place called home. Holten draws attention to Senta as well, wondering who is this girl that is willing to sacrifice herself through devotion and is it really selflessness that drives her?

In 2017, Reuter will make two role debuts. On January 21, he debuts in a new production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at the Royal Danish Opera. In May, he'll make his role debut in Hans Werner Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers at the Theater an den Wien.

Reader submission: Bass-barihunk Christopher Besch

Christopher Besch
A reader alerted us to bass-barihunk Christopher Besch, who will be appearing as Nourabad in Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) with Opera in the Heights from February 3-12 in Houston, Texas.

Besch perviously performed with the company in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Opera and he created the role of Peter Gray in John L. Cornelius II and Janine Joseph's Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline with Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco, which commissions new chamber operas and song projects about contemporary life. He also portrayed Theseus in Britten's A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Rice University.

Besch is in his second year of studies for the Doctorate of Musical Arts program at Rice University, where he is the Malcolm W. Perkins Teaching Fellow. He was a semi-finalist for the 2012 Eleanor McCollum Competition at the Houston Grand Opera, one of the Rocky Mountain and Gulf Coast Regional Finalists for the Metropolitan National Council Auditions, and placed in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition, and was awarded the Harold Norblum Award through Opera Colorado.

Besch has lots of Bach on his agenda this season, including motets with the Bach Society Houston in February, the St. John Passion with the Bach Society Houston in April, Herr Gott, dich loben wir (BWV 16) and Der Geist hilft (BWV 226) in June with the same ensemble and an appearance at the 2017 Leipzig Bach Festival in Germany in June.

Christopher Besch sings Hahn's A Chloris:

The Pearl Fishers will be directed by John De Los Santos, who staged the Fort Worth Opera's stunning production in 2014. The cast also features the real-life husband and wife team of Eric Bowden and Lindsay Russell as the romantic leads Nadir and Leïla, as well as Octavio Moreno as Zurga.

Tickets are on sale online. Opera in the Heights presents affordable, staged performances for emerging artists in the Greater Houston Area.

Friday, January 13, 2017

America's hottest barihunks to sing in "Counter-Inaugural Concert"

David Adam Moore, Kyle Ketelsen, Nathan Gunn, Sidney Outlaw, Andrew Garland & Michael Kelly (clockwise)
Those of you who follow Barihunks know that we steer clear of politics and stick to opera. However, when an amazing collection of barihunks is assembled to sing at a Counter-Inaugural concert, we have to post about it. Composer Glen Roven has set two of Hillary Clinton's speeches to music for the concert.

Some of operas greatest deep-voiced men will be performing, including David Adam Moore, Kyle Ketelsen, Nathan Gunn, Sidney Outlaw, Daniel Sumegi, Lester Lynch, Andrew Garland and Michael Kelly. They will be joined by Isabel Leonard, Patricia Racette, Lawrence Brownlee, Matthew Polenzani, Carin Gilfy, Laquita Mitchell, Glenn Seven Allen, Dominic Armstrong, Jonathan Blalock and others.

Hunkentenors Jonathan Blalock and Glenn Seven Allen
The concert film will be streamed from National Sawdust on January 20, 2017, in conjunction with the presidential inauguration ceremony.  The two speeches that have been set to music are Mrs. Clinton's first announcement of her candidacy on January 7, 2007, and her presidential concession speech on November 9, 2017. 

Glen Roven has some history with the Clintons, having conducted the concerts at the Lincoln Memorial at both of Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration ceremonies. He was slated to conduct had Hillary Clinton won.

You can watch the concert online on January 20th beginning at noon EST/9 AM PST by clicking HERE. The concert film is directed by James Gray, Warren Elgort, and Larry Robbins.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

John Viscardi to star in Elvis Costello's The Juliet Letters

John Viscardi
American barihunk John Viscardi, who recently won the Tosti International Vocal Competition, will star in Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters as part of Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Explorations Series.

Costello’s The Juliet Letters was written in 1992 and is a set of 20 songs for voice and string quartet, including a few quartet-only interludes. Costello was inspired to write the piece when he heard that the lovelorn actually write letters to Shakespeare’s Juliet and leave them at her supposed ‘balcony’ in Verona, Italy.  Costello came up with his own stylized "letters" and set them to music, using the idea as a platform for the exploration of young love.

Musically the material lies somewhere between that of his pop albums and his 2004 Shakespearean orchestral ballet Il Sogno, one of his more classical works.

Viscardi will be joined by his fellow Lyric Opera Resident Artists, including soprano April Martin, mezzo-soprano Samantha Gossard and tenor Casey Candebat. They will be accompanied by the Fry Street Quartet in a special scenic environment created for the performance. 

Performances are on Saturday, January 28 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 29 at 2 p.m. at the Ginger Frost Production Arts Building in Kansas City. Tickets are available online.

Viscardi will perform the role of the Motorcycle Cop in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City from March 4-12 with fellow barihunk David Adam Moore as Joseph de Rocher.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mark Diamond to perform Borzoni world premiere

Mark Diamond
American barihunk Mark Diamond will join Musica Marin for the world premiere of Clint Borzoni's new arrangement of the aria, "Two Nooses" from his opera "When Adonis Calls” for baritone, viola, cello and piano. The New York-based Borzoni is the composer-in-residence for the California chamber music organization. Last year, they presented the world premiere of his two works for Baritone and String Quartet, Stufen and Magere Kost.

The program is a collaboration with San Francisco's Merola Opera Program, where Diamond was part a participant in 2011. He'll be joined by mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm, who was also in Merola in 2011 and accompanist Ronny Greenberg, who was in the program in 2014.

There will be additional song by Borzoni set to poets John Grimmett, Sally M. Gall, Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, and Judith G Wolf.

Musica Marin presents concerts in beautiful private homes and tickets include wine, hors d'oeuvres and mingling with the poets, composer and artists. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

Diamond is a graduate of the Studio of Houston Grand Opera where he performed Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Marcello in Puccini's La bohème and the Marchese d’Obigny in Verdi's La traviata. At the Houston Grand Opera he has sung Count Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music and Wilbur in the world premiere of  David Hanlon’s opera After the Storm. He has also appeared throughout France, performing in Limoges, Caen, and Reims.

He is the 1st Prize Winner of the 2010 Eleanor McCollum Competition at the Houston Grand Opera and the 2011 Sun Valley Opera Competition in Seattle. Diamond was twice a  Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was awarded 2nd  Prize in the Charles A. Lynam Competition in North Carolina.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Barihunks Calendar presented to Eva-Maria Westbroek on Dutch TV

Eva-Marie Westbroek & Karin Strobos (left); Tenor Frank van Aken and Thomas Oliemans
The 2017 Barihunks in Bed calendar made quite a splash on Dutch TV's Podium Witteman broadcast, which presents famous musicians and emerging talent on their show. This week, the show featured Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek and the rising young mezzo Karin Strobos. 

Host Paul Witteman and his sidekick Floris Kortie presented the two divas with their very own copies of the 2017 Barihunks in Bed calendar. Westbroek seemed particularly impressed with March, featuring barihunks Malte Roesner, Zach Altman and Brandon Cedel with dogs. Westbroek brought her own dog (and her tenor husband Frank van Aken) to the show. Also on the show was Dutch barihunk Thomas Oliemans who performed the Neapolitan song "Dicitencello vuie."

The 2017 Barihunks in Bed calendar on Podium Witteman
Also appearing on the show were jazz singer Kim Hoorweg with pianist Mike Boddé and members of the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra. Dutch barihunk Robert Brouwer was featured in this year's calendar, as well. Karin Strobos performed "My Man's Gone Now" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, while Westbroek performed

Thomas Oliemans will open on January 31 as Mr Redburn in Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd at the Teatro Real in Madrid with Jacques Imbrailo in the title role. Eva-Maria Westbroek will be singing Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre at the Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden.

You can watch the hour-long broadcast online.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Introducing Welsh bass-barihunk (and harpist) John Ieuan Jones

John Ieuan Jones (photos by Sarah Foubert)
John Ieuan Jones, who hails Rhos-on-Sea in North Wales, is new to our site and was suggested by a colleague at the Royal Northern College of Music, where the Welsh barihunk is in his fourth year. Jones will be performing  Count Almaviva from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in operatic scenes presented at the Royal Northern College of Music Opera Theatre on January 26th. Admission is free and no tickets are required.

Jones won the James Martin Oncken Song Prize in 2015 and received 2nd place in the Musical Theatre category at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in 2015 and 2016.

 John Ieuan Jones sings "If I were a rich man" in Welsh:

In 2015, he performed the role of Harry Easter in the Royal Northern College of Music's production of Kurt Weill's Street Scene. In 2016, he took on the role of Lord Ellington in his school's production of Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne. He also performs musical theater, having sung Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat and the role of Charles Clarke in Titanic: The Musical.

John Ieuan Jones
Additional upcoming performances include the bass soloist at Manchester Welsh Society's annual St.David's Day concert on February 24 and as the bass soloist in Gounod's St Cecilia Mass at Chester Cathedral on May 19th.

Jones is also a harpist, who has performed at the Welsh Rally Championship, Welsh Youth Excellence Awards and Conwy Business Awards.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Schmopera interviews Barihunks

Anthony Reed, Malte Roesner and Marco Vassalli
Jenna Douglas, founder of the site Schmopera, which takes an insider look at the industry and its artists, interviewed Jack Michaels from our Barihunks team. Here is what she wrote:
"If you're a fan of opera and opera singer, you likely know about Barihunks. For nearly 10 years, Barihunks has been glorifying the beautiful voices - and abs - of opera's smooth-voiced baritones. Any baritone who claims that he's not tickled to be featured on Barihunks is a modest fibber; the cream of the crop even make it into the 10th-anniversary "Baritones in Bed" calendar.

We spoke with Barihunks blogger Jack Michaels, about the sultry appeal of low voices, the blog's focus on health and fitness, and the respect and admiration he has for all working opera singers."


Monday, January 2, 2017

Barihunks Andrew Garland and Craig Irvin in Bolcom world premiere

Craig Irvin and Andrew Garland
Minnesota Opera is presenting the world premiere of William Bolcom's Dinner at Eight as part of their New Works Initiative. The initiative was launched in 2008 with a goal of invigorating the opera repertoire with an infusion of new and contemporary works. The opera, which has a libretto by Mark Campbell is based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. It will have its world premiere on Saturday, March 11, 2017.

Dinner at Eight caught our eye as it has six baritones and basses in the cast, including two of our regularly featured barihunks, Andrew Garland and Craig Irvin. They'll be joined by baritone Stephen Powell, soprano Brenda Harris, soprano Susannh Biller, tenor Richard Troxell, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, soprano Siena Forest, bass Benjamin Sieverding, baritone Thomas Glass II, baritone William Lee Bryan, mezzo-soprano Nadia Fayad, soprano Alexandra Razskazoff and soprano Mary Evelyn Hangley.

The opera is set in Manhattan during the Great Depression and centers on the tension between a husband coping with financial problems and his wife who is planning an elaborate dinner party for visiting British nobility.

CAST CHANGE: Riccardo Fassi replaces Robert Gleadow as Don Giovanni

Riccardo Fassi
Barihunk Riccardo Fassi will replace Robert Gleadow in the upcoming performances of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Theater Basel. This will complete a role trifecta for the singer, as he has previously performed the role of Masetto in Don Giovanni at Teatro Municipale Valli di Reggio Emilia and the Teatro Fraschini and Leporello at the Circuito Lombardo in Italy.

He'll be joined in Basel by Biagio Pizzuti as Leporello, Nicholas Crawley as Masetto, Kiandra Howarth as Donna Anna, Anna Rajah as Donna Elvira, Maren Favela as Zerlin, Simon Bode as Don Ottavio and Michael Hauenstein as The Commendatore. There are upcoming performances on January 27 and 29, as well as February 5, 10, 12 16, 16 and 25.

Riccardo Fassi sings Aprite un po'quegli occhi from Le nozze di Figaro:

The Milan native, who studied chamber music and voice at the Verdi Conservatory, is new to this site.  In 2014, he won the Associazione Lirica Concertistica Italiana competition for young European opera singers.    

He recently debuted the roles of Conte Rodolfo in Bellini's La Sonnambula and Samuel in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera at the Teatro Jovellanos in Gijon, Spain. He recently performed Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff at the Vienna State Opera and the title role in Le nozze did Figaro at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

Dominik Köninger's riveting Orpheus viewable online

Dominik Köninger
We've been following German barihunk Dominik Köninger at the Komische Opera ever since he joined their esnsemble after winning the 2011 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. His riveting performance in the Monteverdi/ Elena Kats-Chernin Orpheus in their Monterverdi Trilogy is currently available for viewing on the Opera Platform. Check him out singing and dancing in Act 2 and then giving a tour de force shirtless performance in Act 5.

Dominik Köninger in Orpheus
The production is by Barrie Kosky, who took the world by storm with his innovative production of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Komische Oper, which has gone on to be performed worldwide, including at the Los Angeles Opera and Minnesota Opera.

In Orpheus, Köninger is asked to sing, dance, act and even perform in water. It's evident why he's one of the most talked about young baritones in the business. He also made our Barihunks Best of 2016 list for a completely different performance, pulling off last year's best comedic turn as the Roman Officer in Oscar Straus' The Pearls of Cleopatra, which is also viewable on viewable on the OperaPlatform. Both Orpheus and Pearls are worth watching to appreciate the full range of Köninger's talent.

Dominik Köninger in Orpheus
Orpheus is part of a Monteverdi adapted by the Uzbek composer Elena Kats-Chernin, which also includes Odysseus and Poppea. Kat-Chermin has integrated jazz, klezmer, tango, and ragtime into the scores. Additional live performances of Orpheus are on June 23 and 26, and July 1, 3 and 9. Tickets are available online.