Saturday, February 25, 2017

Alex Esposito and Joyce DiDonato in Live Stream of Semiramide

Alex Esposito and Joyce DiDonato
Rossini's Semiramide will be live streamed from the Bavarian State Opera on Sunday, February 26th at 5 p.m CET/11 AM EST/8 AM PST. The production stars Honorary Barihunk Joyce DiDonato and barihunk  Alex Esposito along Daniela Barcellona and Lawrence Brownlee. The broadcast will be available HERE.

The new production by David Alden sets the action in a modern, generic Middle Eastern dictatorship, rather than in ancient Babylon.  Both Alex Esposito and Joyce DiDonato are making their role debuts, as Semiramide and Assur respectively. The role of Semiramide was written for Rossini's mistress Isabella Colbran, an alto with great extension. In recent years the role has been sung primarily by sopranos including Joan Sutherland, Angela Meade, Laura Aikin, Elena Mosuc. Leah Crocetto, Montserrat Caballé, June Anderson and Edita Gruberová, Perhaps the most famous Assur of our generation was Sam Ramey, who recorded the role and performed it on stage.

The libretto by Gaetano Rossi is based on Voltaire's tragedy Semiramis, which in turn was based on the legend of Semiramis of Assyria.

In the opera, Queen Semiramide is haunted by the ghosts of her past. Together with her lover Assur, she once murdered her husband King Nino; a deed which ever since has weighed heavily upon her. With her marriage to Arsace, she hopes her soul will at last find solace. Her love, however, is misplaced. Arsace not only loves another, he is also, as is later revealed, the son Semiramide and Nino believed to be dead. He is faced with a decision: should he avenge the death of his father – and thus become his mother's killer?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Robin Adams in sexually charged Quartett at Liceu

Robin Adams and Allison Cook in Quartett
Barihunk Robin Adams is singing Luca Francesconi's two-person opera Quartett along with soprano Allison Cook a the Liceu Opera Barcelona. The opera is a re-reading of Heiner Müller's play based on Les liaisons dangereuses and reflects on the decadence of certain classes of society.

The libretto revolves around two ex-lovers who get caught up in a game of seduction that can only end in death. The Marquise de Merteuil challenges the Viscomte de Valmont to seduce her niece Cécile, who is a virgin, but he opts instead to lead Madame de Tourvel, a faithful wife, astray.

Francesconi’s score calls for a massive sound design, and demands two distinct orchestras – one of which is pre-recorded and electronically treated, the sound sent flying over the heads of the audiences.

The composer once said of this piece, "Don’t dare to come if you can't accept that you need to analyse what you do and who you are. This piece is violent, it’s sex, it’s blasphemy, it’s the absence of mercy. The only two characters in the opera are the definition of cynical, they have made a pact that they don’t have to love any more. Love and sentiment are banned, the only thing that’s left and that matters is a kind of chess game with people's souls and bodies. So don’t come if you have problems in your relationship, you might discover something you might not want to! But do dare to come if you can face the reality of how dried up your heart is, how little space there is in your feelings for anything that doesn’t come from being self-defensive, from being totally scared by the world. We are prisoners of our fears. That’s the real last message of this piece, that we can no longer hide our problems – and that we shouldn’t."

The opera runs through March 3rd and tickets are available online.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Michael Kelly grooms to play androgynous Edward Kynaston

Michael Kelly, who appeared in our very first Barihunks calendar, had to do a little grooming for his latest performance as an actor known for playing female characters in the 17th century. 

Set in Restoration England during the time of King Charles II,  composer Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players follows the story of Edward Kynaston, a Shakespearean actor famous for his performances of the female roles in the Bard's plays. Samuel Pepys once called Kynaston "the loveliest lady that ever I saw in my life" and a performance of his was once delayed when he was playing the Queen, as he "was not shav'd."

In the opera, when the King grants permission for women to appear onstage, and forbids male actors from continuing to appear in female roles, Kynaston must relearn his entire craft or face the end of his career. 

Adapted from Jeffrey Hatcher’s play A Compleat Female Stage Beauty and the subsequent 2004 film Stage Beauty, the opera was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera. It received its world premiere this past March 2016 at the HGO Studio. Since the performances in Houston the composer made a few small revisions, which will be heard for the first time in this production by the little OPERA theatre of ny at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. Kelly will perform on February 23 and 25, alternating the role with Shea Owens, who performs on February 24 and 26.

On March 17th you can catch Kelly as Count Gil in Wolf-Ferrari’s one-act comic intermezzo Il segreto di Susanna with The Orchestra Now at Carnegie Hall.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Francesca Zambello directs five barihunks in Dead Man Walking

Michael Mayes as Joseph de Rocher in Dead Man Walking
We generally credit director Francesca Zambello with coining the term "barihunk," so it should come as no surprise that she's directing five of them in a new production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at the Washington National Opera from February 25-March 11.

The cast will be led by Michael Mayes, who the composer dubbed the definitive Joseph de Rocher, the accused killer at the center of the story. Mayes is making his company debut with this performance, although he's performed the role with the New Orleans Opera, Central City Opera, Tulsa Opera, San Francisco's Opera Parallèle, Madison Opera and Eugene Opera. He'll be joined by barihunks Wayne Tigges as Owen Hart, Timonty J. Bruno as George Benton, Michael Adams as the Motorcycle Cop/Prison Guard and Andrew Bogard as the other Prison Guard. Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will sing Mrs. de Rocher and Kate Lindsay will sing Sister Helen.

Barihunks Andrew Bogard, Michael Adams and Timothy J. Bruno

Wayne Tigges
The opera is based on Sister Helen Prejean’s acclaimed 1993 memoir, which tells of her time working with death row inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary and of a particular relationship she developed with one of the inmates. The opera explores the human conflicts posed by society’s demands for vengeance and the Christian imperative for forgiveness and love.

Dead Man Walking is one of the most performed of new American operas. Since its world premiere at San Francisco Opera in 2000, it has been staged internationally in more than 40 productions on five continents; it has also received two live recordings. 

The company will also present Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer’s Champion starring barihunk Audrey Allicock from March 4– 18.

Both operas explore the theme of social justice which is often associated with John F. Kennedy and are presented as part of JFKC, the Kennedy Center’s season-long celebration of President Kennedy’s centennial. Using many of the same designers and scenic elements, the directors of each opera have worked collaboratively to create two distinct worlds in each new production to showcase the issues of Justice, Courage, and Freedom at the heart of these two compelling stories.

Terence Blanchard uses jazz as the basis for a cinematic and groundbreaking operatic score filled with bluesy harmonies and Afro-Caribbean beats; Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cristofer’s libretto tells the true story of Emile Griffith, a professional boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands who threw a fatal punch in the boxing ring in 1962 after being taunted for his sexuality by his rival.

Aubrey Allicock, who created the role of the Young Emile at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2010, will be making his Washington National Opera debut with this performance. Singing the role of Emile’s mother, Emelda Griffith, is mezzo- soprano Denyce Graves, while tenor Victor Ryan Robertson is Emile’s rival Benny Paret, baritone Wayne Tigges is Howie Albert and contralto Meredith Arwady peforms Kathy Hagan.

Discounted ticket information for both shows is available online.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Four barihunks take prizes at George London Competition

(Clockwise top left) Will Liverman, Brian Vu, Cody Quattlebaum and Shea Owens
Four barihunks walked away with awards at the 46th annual George London Foundation Awards Competition for young American and Canadian opera singers at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.

After three days of preliminary auditions, 18 were selected as finalists and a total of $75,000 was given in awards. Five were selected as winners of George London Awards of $10,000, including Will Liverman. Three singers received $5,000 awards, including Cody Quattlebaum and the remainder received $1,000 each, including Shea Owens and Brian Vu.

Barihunk Richard Stilwell in his singing days
his year's panel of judges included soprano Harolyn Blackwell, mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias, former Metropolitan Opera administrator Alfred F. Hubay, George London Foundation President Nora London, mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, tenor and voice professor George Shirley, and barihunk Richard Stilwell (who won a George London Award at the first competition in 1971). The competition pianist was renowned collaborative pianist Craig Rutenberg.

Other $10,000 prize winners included tenor Aaron Blake, soprano Michelle Bradley, tenor Errin Duane Brooks and soprano Lara Secord-Haid.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Opéra de Montréal's new season includes barihunk duo in JFK

Daniel Okulitch as LBJ and Matt Worth as JFK
Opéra de Montréal just announced their new season, which will included David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's JFK, which premiered last Spring at the Fort Worth Opera. Much of the cast will remain the same, with barihunks Matthew Worth and Daniel Okulitch reprising their roles as JFK and 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. Daniela Mack will return as Jacqueline Kennedy and John Mac Master will take on the role of Nikita Khruschev.

The opera delves into the final hours that President John F. Kennedy spent in Fort Worth, Texas immediately before his assassination in Dallas. The piece explores the inner life of the President and Mrs. Kennedy during their final moments together. The opera uses dreams to create an imaginary time and space, allowing the couple to revisit those who helped to shape their personal and political lives. Jack travels to the moon with his sister Rosemary, where he spars with political rivals, and relives his courtship of the demure Jacqueline. Jackie sings a duet with her future self, Jacqueline Onassis, who dresses her in her iconic pink Chanel suit, assuring her that she has a part to play in the day’s proceedings.

Performance will run from January 27-February 2, 2018. Other operas for their new season includ Puccini's Tosca, Gounod's Romeo & Juliette, Rossini's La Cenerentola and Sokolovic's Svadba.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

LA Opera's Ghosts of Versailles wins 2 GRAMMY® Awards

Christopher Maltman as Beaumarchais
The Los Angeles Opera's critically-acclaimed recording of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles walked away with both GRAMMY® Awards that it was nominated for: "Best Opera Recording" and "Best Engineered Recording, Classical."

The cast includes two barihunks, led by Christopher Maltman’s Beaumarchais and Lucas Meachem as Figaro. The cast also includes Patricia Racette as Marie Antoinette, Renée Rapier, Guanqun Yu, Joshua Guerrero, Lucy Schaufer and conductor James Conlon and the LA Opera Chorus & Orchestra.

Also winning was classical music producer David Frost, whose many recording included Ildar Abdrazakov's recording of Shostakovich's Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Thomas Weinhappel nominated for Thalia Award (and sports Barihunk tee shirt)

Thomas Weinhappel in his Barihunk tee shirt
Austrian barihunk Thomas Weinhappel was nominated for a Thalia Award for his portrayal of the title role in Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet at the National Opera of Ostrava. Weinhappel was nominated in the category "Best Opera Singer" for a performance at a Czech opera company in 2016.

The Thalia Awards are presented by the Czech Actors' Association and are named after the muse of comedy. Awards are given out for theater, opera, musicals and ballet. Past winners have inlcuded Eva Urbanová, Dagmar Pecková and Kate Aldrich.

The award ceremony will be broadcast on Czech television and radio from the Czech National State Opera on March 25.

Thomas Weinhappel as Joseph Calicot in Madame Pompadour
He also took some pictures for us in his Barihunk tee shirt during rehearsals for Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at the National Opera of Ostrava. He will be performing the role of Tarquinius with fellow barihunk Lukas Barak as Junius. Performances run from February 16-April 19. During March, he'll also be singing the role of Joseph Calicot in Leo Fall's Madame Pompadour in Baden.

First pictures from eagerly awaited Edward II in Berlin

Agneta Eichenholz, Jarrett Ott, Michael Nagy and Ladislav Elgr (© Monika Rittershaus)
Back in May, we posted about barihunk Michael Nagy would perform the title role in Swiss composer Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini  new opera about Edward II at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The production opens on February and we have some photos from the rehearsals, which are going on now.

The opera will have five performances between February 19-March 9, hunkentenor Ladislav Elgr singing the role of his alleged lover Piers de Gaveston and barihunk Jarrett Ott as the Angel.

Two scenes from Edward II (© Monika Rittershaus)
The libretto by Thomas Jonigk focuses entirely on the role of the outsider Edward II and looks at society’s attitude towards homosexuals both then and now. Whether the close bond between Edward and Gaveston in the early 14th century was sexual in nature remains a contested issue, but among art circles Edward II has long been an icon of the gay movement. Gaveston was decapitated for being gay and King Edward II was executed in 1327 by having a red hot roasting spit shoved into his anus.

Michael Nagy in Edward II (© Monika Rittershaus)
The subject matter inspired Christopher Marlowe’s bloody 1593 play about the self-assertive strivings of the hapless English king, the 1923 version by Bertolt Brecht of the same name and Derek Jarman’s 1992 famous film adaptation “Edward II.” 

Scartazzini most recent operatic work was The Sandman, which premiered in 2012 at the Theater Basel with Christof Loy directing. Tickets for Edward II are on sale now online.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Watch Attila with John Paul Huckle and Carlo Colombara

John Paul Huckle as Leone (far left) and backstage (right)
The Teatro Comunale di Modena is celebrating the anniversary of two major operatic baritones this season. The first is Leo Nucci, who made his company debut in 1967 in the title role of Rossini's The Barber of Seville. The second is Carlo Colombara, who is celebrating 30 years with the company.

Colombara just sang the title role in Verdi's Attila, which was live-streamed on YouTube and is still available for viewing HERE. The cast also includes John Paul Huckle as Leone, Vladimir Stoyanov as Ezio and Svetlana Kasyan as Odabella.

We've featured a number of barihunks on this site as Attila, including Ildar Abdrazakov, Erwin Schrott, John Relyea, Samuel Ramey, Homero Pėrez Miranda, Nmon Ford and Alberto Gazale.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

David Adam Moore makes KC debut in Dead Man Walking

David Adam Moore as Joseph de Rocher in Des Moines
Barihunk David Adam Moore will be making his Lyric Opera of Kansas City debut in the role of Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. Moore sang the role with the Den Moines Metro Opera in 2014, which was broadcast on public radio. He'll be joined by fellow barihunk Daniel Belcher, who will make his role debut as the grieving parent Owen Hart.

Dead Man Walking has become one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas in recent years. It is the story of a profound spiritual journey taken by a nun and a convicted killer about to face the ultimate sentence. Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, the opera delves into the conflict between the act of murder, society’s demand for retribution and redemption, and forgiveness. 

Performances are on March 4, 8, 10 and 12 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Moore will be making two major house debuts in 2017, one as Col. Alvaro Gomez in Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel at The Royal Opera in London, opening on April 24 April and a second at the Metropolitan Opera (which has not been officially announced).

Belcher will continue to sing contemporary American opera, as he takes on the role of Brian Castner in Jeremy Howard Beck's The Long Walk at Utah Opera from March 13-April 2.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Johannes Stermann and a chorus of shirtless men in Der fliegende Holländer

Johannes Stermann and a chorus of shirtless men
The Theater Magdeburg current run of Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer not only features the imposing barihunk of Johannes Stermann as Daland (in his role debut), but it opens with a chorus of shirtless men. That's the kind of "Gewitter und Sturm" we like on our open seas!

Stermann was born in Hamburg where he was a member of Hamburger Knabenchor St. Nikolai. He studied singing at the High School of Music and Theatre Munich and at the University of Music an Performing Arts Vienna. He has been a member of the ensemble of Theater Magdeburg since 2012 where he has performed the Gran Inquisitor in Verdi's Don Carlo, Osmin in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, King Marke in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde), among other roles.

Johannes Stermann and a chorus of shirtless men
Wagner based his opera on Heinrich Heine's satire "The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski," in which the narrator watches a performance of a fictitious stage play on the theme of the sea captain cursed to sail forever for blasphemy. In Heine's version the idea that a man can only be redeemed by the love of a faithful woman is presented as ironic humor, however Wagner took this theme literally and Senta must be faithful until death.

Other cast members include Vladimir Baykov as the Flying Dutchman, Liine Carlsson as Senta, Jonathan Winell as the Steersman, Timothy Richards as Erik and Lucia Cervoni as Mary. Performances of Der fliegende Holländer run through May 11th.