According to the Associated Press, the Vienna State Opera says Siberian barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky has
canceled all performances for the coming season due to “severe illness.”
was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. He has continued performing
since them but has occasionally been forced to pull out of scheduled
roles. His website currently lists no upcoming performances.
He was due to play leading roles in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Otello and Rigoletto in Vienna this year and next. A statement yesterday says
replacements will be announced later.
Wallis Giunta and Quirijn de Lang in Trouble in Tahiti
The U.K.'s Opera North is presenting a new series dubbed "Little Greats," which are six operas that run about an hour each and are presented as a double-bill. To entice new opera attendees, tickets start for as little as £10. The series will include Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, Janáček's Osud, Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial by Jury and will run from September 16 to October 21.
Dutch barihunk Quirijn de Lang will be featured in both L'enfant et les sortilèges as the Grandather Clock and Tom Cat and in Trouble in Tahiti as Sam, one half of a bickering married couple.
Quirijn de Lang
The operas will be performed in Leeds starting on September 16, Kingston starting on October 26, Nottingham starting on November 1, Newcastle starting on November 8 and Salford Quays starting on November 15. Ticket information is available online.
Quirijn de Lang can currently be seen as Selim in Rossini's Il Turco in Italia at the Garsington Opera through July 15. On July 29, he'll be featured in "A Night at the Opera," a concert with full orchestra with Opera North featuring soprano Jeni Bern.
Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photo courtesy of Des Moines Metro Opera)
American barihunk Craig Verm is returning to the role of Billy Budd at the Des Moines Metro Opera on July 1, 9, 11 and 14. Verm has become a popular singer of Benjamin Britten's title character. Verm performed Billy to great acclaim at the
Teatro Municipal de Santiago in 2013.
The production will feature a number of other singers familiar to readers, including Zachary James as the evil John Claggart, Michael Adams as Donald, Emmett O'Hanlon as the Novice's Friend and barihunk turned hunkentenor Chris Carr as Maintop.
In 2007, Verm first
appeared in the opera as the Novice's Friend in Pittsburgh opposite the Billy Budd of Nathan
Gunn and the thrilling Claggart of Greer Grimsley. The production was
directed by the woman who inspired Barihunks, Francesca Zambello.
Emmett O'Hanlon, Zachary James as Claggart and Michael Adams
Billy Budd had its world premier at London’s Royal Opera House on
December 1, 1951 conducted by the composer with the role of Captain
Vere sung by
Britten’s partner Peter Pears. In 1966, in preparation for a
television broadcast, Britten cut the score from four acts to two with a
prologue and epilogue, which has become the standard version for the
The libretto was written by the English novelist E. M. Forster and Eric
Crozier, and is based on the short novel Billy Budd by Herman Melville.
The book was first published posthumously in London in 1924. Melville
began writing the work in November 1888, but left it unfinished at his
death in 1891. The novella was discovered in manuscript form in 1919 by
Weaver, who was studying Melville's papers as his first biographer.
Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photos courtesy of Des Moines Metro Opera)
The first production of the opera Billy Budd in Russia occurred 100 years after the birth of Britten at St. Petersburg’s
Mikhailovsky Theatre in 2013. Billy Budd received its United States premiere in 1952 at the Indiana University Opera Company with Jack Gillaspy in the title role.
Britten originally intended the title role for Sir Geraint Evans, but he
felt that the role sat to high for his voice, so he switched to the
role of Mr. Flint. Britten then opted for barihunk Theodor Uppman to
replace Evans in the title role. The performance launched Uppman's
international career and he went on to become one of the definitive
Billy Budd's off all-time. Uppman sang in an acclaimed performance in
1970 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which included Sir Geraint Evans as
Claggart and Richard Lewis as Vere.
A number of famous barihunks have sung the role of Billy Budd, who many
believe was secretly desired by the evil Claggart. Famous barihunk Billy
Budd's include John Chest, Simon Keenlyside, Richard Stilwell, Nathan
Gunn, Rod Gilfry, Bo Skovhus, Thomas Hampson, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Peter
Mattei, Lauri Vasar, Lucas Meachem, Jacques Imbrailo, Daniel
Belcher, Roderick Williams, Iurii Samoilov and Liam Bonner.
Dashe Cellars in Oakland and German bass Malte Roesner
Malte Roesner, who is making his U.S. stage debut with West Edge Opera in Vicente Martín y Soler's The Chastity Tree (see our post), will also be making his U.S. concert debut at Dashe Cellars on July 22 performing lost Soler songs along with his wife soprano Aurora Perry, hunkentenor Sam Levine and accompanist Bob Mollicone on fortepiano.
The concert tickets also include wine from Oakland's Dashe Cellars, a premiere California winery that uses traditional and natural winemaking techniques, including
small-lot fermentation, the use of indigenous yeasts, and little-to-no
fining or filtration. Their wines frequently score 90+ points in leading wine magazines. Click HERE to purchase tickets.
The concert will feature music by Soler and his Viennese contemporaries Mozart, Antonio Salieri, Franz Xaver Süßmayr and the blind, female composer Maria Theresia von Paradis. The concert will explore the musical landscape of 18th century Vienna, where all of the composers on the program either knew each other or inspired each other. Another common thread will be texts by the famed librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.
Roesner is performing two sets of music that have not been heard since the 18th century: Soler's "Songs and Duets for the Princess of Wales," which he found in an archive in London, and a set of songs by Süßmayr that he unearthed from the Austrian National Library. Perry will be singing Soler's "Songs for Miss Miller" and selections from Mozart, while Levine will sing Paradis' "Songs for the Duchess of Saxony" and songs by Salieri.
Despite being born in New York City, Roesner was raised in Germany and
has focused his career in Europe. During his decade as a fest singer at
the Staatstheater Braunschweig he portrayed more than fifty roles in the
baritone repertory. He took some time off to retrain as a basso
cantante and auditioned in the United States last year, eventually
landing one of the few principle roles for a bass, Doristo in The Chastity Tree at West Edge Opera. Tickets are on sale HERE.
Roesner, who also trained as a musicologist, was hugely responsible for unearthing many of the lost manuscripts for this program.
Mathias Hausmann (left) and Günter Papendell (right)
Barihunks Günter Papendell and Mathias Hausmann are rotating the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich, Germany through July 12th. The production is being guided by the Viennese actor and director Herbert Föttinger, who is mostly associtate with the Theater in der Josefstadt. His concept is to look at Don Giovanni as a conglomerate of freedom, anarchy, seduction and sex; one who women desire and men desire to be.
Papendell will be joined by Levente Páll as Leporello, Christoph Filler as
Masetto, Sergii Magera as the Commendatore, as well as Jennifer O'Loughlin
as Donna Anna, Lucian Krasznec as Don Ottavio, Camille Schnoor as
Donna Elvira and Sophie Mitterhuber as Zerlina. Papendell, can still be seen at his home base at the Komische Oper, where he's simultaneously performing Jason in Reimann's Medea on July 2 and 15. He'll be perfoming Don Giovanni in Munich on June 27 and July 6, 8, 9 and 12.
Günter Papendell in Don Giovanni in Munich
Mathias Hausmann will be singing Don Giovanni on June 26 and July 1, 2, 5 and 8. He'll be joined by Matija Meić as Leporello, Christoph Filler as Masetto, Christoph Seidl as the Commendatore, as well as Sophia Brommer as Donna Anna, Szabolcs Brickner as Don Ottavio, Nadja Stefanoff as Donna Elvira and Mária Celeng as Zerlina. On July 16, he'll perform in Händel's Alexander's Feast with the company. This Fall, he heads to the Oper Leipzig where he'll take on the role of Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlo.
22-year-old Austrian barihunk Roman Ruckhofer was suggested to us after he performed in Kurt Weill's Silbersee at the Theater im Palais at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.
Ruckhofer started his career as a leading performer with choirs he graduated with distinction.He started with the HIB.art.chor of Liebenau, one of Austria’s leading high school choirs, which has won numerous prizes worldwide. He was awarded a First Prize in the Youth Vocal Solo Competition with Green Guys at the Golden Gate International Choral Festival in 2015.
Since 2014, he has been studying voice at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. His repertoire ranges from sacred music to musical theater and contemporary music from the 21st century. He has already performed on international stages in Croatia, Norway, Canada and the United States. He recently was awarded a full scholarship to attend the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz in 2017.
When he's not focused on music he is busy studying law.
As we wrap up the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, we're recalling the most famous show down of all, which was the 1989 "Battle of the Baritones" between Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Bryn Terfel.
The Siberian barihunk went on to win the competition and, of course, both men have gone on to sensational international careers. Hvorostovsky sangs two pieces from Verdi, Rodrigo's aria "O Carlo, ascolta" from Don Carlo and "Eri tu che macchiavi" from Un ballo in maschera, "Ja vas lyublyu" from Tchikovsky's Queen of Spades.
The late, great soprano Elizabeth Soderström, who was one of the judges in 1989, famously marked a series of exclamation marks on her scorecard as she listened to Hvorostovsky sing. The performance wasn't as easy as it looked, as Hvorostovsky has just listened to Bryn Terfel over the speakers and, for the first time, realized that he could lose the competition. When he went out on stage, he was determined to give it 110%, but almost fainted when he took, not one, but two long phrases in Rodrigo's aria on a single breath. The gambit obviously paid off and the singer is still known 28 years later for his ability to float long Verdian phrases on a single breath.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky's 1989 performance at Cardiff:
The win also came with a bid of levity, as an excited Hvorostovsky grabbed the crystal trophy from the Lord Mayor before she could hand it to him. He also won more than the trophy and prize money, as Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave him a huge apartment in the middle of Moscow as a prize for his win.
He later moved from Moscow to London after his family felt threatened by the Russian mafia.
The "Battle of the Baritones" has never been repeated, although many believed that this year's competition might have been the year, with its rich crop of top notch low voices. However, in 2013, there was a "Battle of the Mezzos" when Jamie Barton squared off against Daniela Mack, Barton grabbing the crystal trophy.
Lovers of low voices in the San Francisco Bay Are area in for a real treat this summer, as their local PBS station KQED has announced that both Verdi's Attila and Boito's Mefestofle will be aired.
Attila will feature a veritable feast of Verdi low voices, led by the legendary Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role, Quinn Kelsey as Ezio and Samuel Ramey as Pope Leo I. The 1846 masterpiece about the legendary warrior who is tormented by internal doubts will air on Thursday, August 3 on KQED Channel 9.
1846 masterpiece about a legendary warrior who is tormented by internal
doubts, will air on Thursday, August 3 on KQED 9 - See more at:
Boito’s Mefistofele will feature barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role accompanied by Ramón Vargas and Patricia
Racette. The retelling of the Faust legend will be telecast on Thursday, August 24th. Adventurous opera goes can also see Abdrazakov as Attilla, as he will be singing the role in April at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Barihunk afficionados will recall that Samuel Ramey attained barihunk status before the word was even coined, when he sang Mefistofele at the San Francisco Opera in 1989 in a cast that included Daniel Harper as Wagner, Gabriela Benacková as Margherita and Dennis O'Neill as Faust. He secured his barihunk status as Attila in 1991 with the company, in a cast that included Elizabeth Connell as Odabella, Vladimir Chernov as Ezio, Philip Skinner as Pope Leo I and Craig Estep as Uldino.
Zachary Gordin sporting his Barihunk tee shirt at the gym
Barihunk calendar model Zachary Gordin is replacing fellow barihunk Hadleigh Adams in the Festival Opera's double-bill on Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins.
Gordin will sing Nedda's lover Silvio, whose affair with Canio's wife leads to the play-within-a-play's tragic turn. He'll be joined by Hope Briggs as Nedda, Alex Boyer as the jealous husband Canio and Laura Bohn as Anna, who will be led by Michael Morgan in the pit.
The Seven Deadly Sins is a satirical ballet chanté in seven scenes. Setting out on a journey across America to aid her poverty-stricken family, Anna I - manifested as two facets of one personality, one who sings and one who dances - finds herself on a seven-year, seven-city quest where she ultimately encounters each of the seven deadly sins. Anna I will be sung by Laura Bohn, who will be joined by Gordin, Kirk Eichelberger, Jonathan Smucker and Robert Norman, with Bryan Nies conducting.
With a libretto by Bertold Brecht, The Seven Deadly Sins was an artistic triumph at its premiere in Paris, but was not performed in the United States until twenty-five years later in 1958, with Lotte Lenye singing the role of Anna I.
There will be two performances of the double-bill on Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, just a short train ride from both San Francisco and Oakland. Tickets are available online.
The founder of Barihunks was interviewed by Kevin Clarke for the gay German blog Queer.de. You can read the entire interview in German HERE or read the English translation below.
You started the blog Barihunks 10 years ago, in
2007. It’s dedicated to hunky baritones representing a sexy, sportive and
youthful vision and version of opera. What inspired you to create your blog,
where did the initial spark come from? (And how long did it take from the
initial spark to the actual website?)
The inspiration for
Barihunks started as a conversation between a friend in New York and me in San
Francisco. By coincidence, we had both just seen Dmitry Hvorostovsky and
Mariusz Kwiecien in different performances. Director Francesca Zambello had
recently coined the term “barihunk” in reference to Nathan Gunn performing
shirtless in The Pearl Fishers. We joked around that it would be fun to create
a tribute blog, believing that perhaps a handful of people would look at it.
Within a few weeks we noticed a huge surge in traffic and realized that we had
tapped into something with the opera crowd.
Was there anything like Barihunks around
before? Or was this a complete novelty in the world of classical music/opera?
I don’t know of anything
like Barihunks before it appeared on the scene.
I was personally put
off by a number of bitchy opera blogs and felt like opera needed a more
positive and fun portrayal of the artform. In fact we’ve posted the following
under our Mission Statement: “Keep opera positive! No bitchiness allowed! This
industry is tough enough.”
There have been a
number of copycat sites, like “Sexy Sopranos,” but none have really taken off.
There is something so unique about a gorgeous man with a low voice singing the
most beautiful music ever written that just can’t be copied.
Many people don’t
realize that we also use the site to raise money to support young artists and
new compositions for baritones and basses through our sale of the Barihunks
calendar and our tee shirts. Our goal is to truly be a positive force in opera.
There’s a famous saying, “It’s not over till
the fat lady sings.” Most people do not associate opera and opera performances
with well-build singers. Yet you present a never-ending army of them: where do they
all come from suddenly? Did something in opera change around 2007? Has sex
appeal become important in a business so exclusively focused on “voice” alone
for so many years? Is there a historic precedent from sexy singers – back in
the 17th or 18th century? Are you rediscovering something
that was an original appeal of the art form opera?
This is a complicated
question and I will answer it in the affirmative and the negative.
Yes, something did
change, which is the omnipresence of TV and movies that made appearance more
important. I had a singer say to me once, “Being on your site has given me the
edge. If ten of us are going in for an audition for Don Giovanni and we all sing
pretty much at the same level, but I may look better shirtless or in a closeup
that is being broadcast on TV or on a movie screen, then I’ll probably get the
role.” We talk about singers taking care of BOTH their voices and their bodies,
as directors are demanding more physicality on stage and broadcasts are making
appearance more important, whether one likes it, or not.
No, sexy singers are
not new and that goes back to the earliest days of opera. The castrati singing
in the 18th century European courts were often gorgeous and made up
as beautifully as any woman. More recently, there have been barihunks around
who we can still watch on old TV broadcast and videos on YouTube. We’ve
featured many of them as “Historical Hunks,” including Gérard Souzay, Justino
Diaz, Theodor Upmann, Paul Robeson (who famously posed nude!),Ettore Bastianini, Mario Sereni and the German
Roland Hermann. I still think for both voice and looks, Ettore Bastianini is
one of the sexiest singers to ever grace the stage.
Why baritones and not tenors or basses? What is
it about baritones that makes them physically hunkier than others? (Do they
have to make up for the sex appeal tenors have in climactic high notes with
pumped up torsos? Is the baritone sound in itself hunkier than other sounds…..
are there any historic baritones you would describe as hunks, vocally or
physically? And what about the basses, not sexy at all?)
If you look at our
Mission Statement on the site, it reads “To promote the baritone to bass voice
range, especially emerging talent.” We LOVE basses and feature them all the
time. As for tenors, or hunkentenors as they’ve been dubbed, I’ll leave that to
someone else. We do sneak a few onto our site and even into our calendar. Tenor
Glenn Seven Allen is one of our sexiest photos in this year’s calendar. There
was a Hunkentenor site that briefly appeared and went dark pretty quickly.
I do believe that the
baritone has a special appeal. The great composer Ricky Ian Gordon said that
the baritone is the voice of the “All-American man.” Both he and Jake Heggie
compose many, if not all, of their lead roles for baritones. The tenor as the
lead may be an artifact of the past. Baritones and basses are no longer always
the villain and are becoming more sympathetic characters.
As for basses, I would
argue that some of the sexiest singers on our site are basses, including the
German Malte Roesner, who is the seventh most viewed singer on our site of all
time and a regular in our calendars.
How do you select the barihunks you feature?
How do you get the photos? (How many photos or messages a day do you receive?
How strong is the increase in numbers since 2007 and 2017? From any region in
I receive photos and
“barihunk tips” on a daily basis, for which I am grateful. When I first started
the site, I had to hustle for content, but now it shows up in the in-box.
Content comes from a variety of sources. Some are not surprising, like from
singers, colleagues, boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, opera marketing
departments and agents.
However, my favorites
come from mothers! Not a month has gone by without a submission from a mother
and it usually comes with a note that says something like, “I know I’m biased,
but I think my son is beautiful and definitely a barihunk.” I have one mother
who gives me monthly updates on her son’s career. I simply adore her for
it.What’s more beautiful than a
mother’s love and pride for her son?
As for regions, I’d
say 80% of my content comes from the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia
and the United Kingdom. Sadly, for someone who loves Latino men, the most
underrepresented area is Central and South America.
You are a gay man living together with another
man. How much has your sexuality influenced your fascination for hunky
baritones? Do you think a heterosexual male opera lover would have ever thought
of creating such a blog? (Are there any heterosexual equivalents with gorgeous
sopranos or mezzos, or is that not necessary because it’s how the current
mainstream opera business works anyway, Miss Netrebko showing her décolleté and
selling a million more CDs/concert tickets?)
This is a fascinating
question, because intuitively I would say that my sexuality totally influenced
me to create the site. However, I’ve learned so much from the straight
barihunks on the site about self-esteem and fitness. A number of singers,
including Keith Miller and Kasey Yeargain, have created fitness sites and
businesses which are an outshoot of what we’ve created. Therefore, I would say
that a straight man could have created the site, but I would argue that
Barihunks probably had to happen first.
I find mezzos to be
the female equivalent of barihunks. There are a ton of sexy mezzos out there on
the world’s opera stages. We’ve had Joyce DiDonato on our site in an “Honorary Barihunk”
tee shirt. There is a young mezzo named Laura Krumm who is both sexy and has
the most seductive voice I’ve heard in years.
Jan Rekeszus (Bild: Dennis König Photographie)
Is it an act of gay liberation to be able to
openly admit and discuss ones fascination for attractive singers today, without
feeling ashamed about it? (And how do the singers react to being thus admired?)
I wouldn’t call it an
act of gay liberation. Directors have made the fascination with attractive and
even naked singers a pretty ordinary occurrence (especially in Germany!). Most
singers love being admired. After all, anyone who walks out onto a stage is
seeking approval and admiration.
I was surprised by a
conversation with a barihunk on my recent visit to Germany, who said to me, “I
don’t mind being admired for being shirtless on stage, but I am uncomfortable
with posing for a calendar.“ He said being admired as beefcake made him feel
like a woman who is sexualized simply for being attractive and not for her other
Traditionally, “opera queens” as Wayne
Koestenbaum describes them or Terrence McNally portrays them worship sopranos.
Are you the next step in the opera queen evolution?
I started as the
quintessential “Diva worshipper,” which comes out of that old stereotype of gay
men idolizing strong, passionate, over-the-top female femme fatales. I find it
a bit passé today. What I love about the barihunk phenomenon is that it appeals
equally to men and women, as well as straight or gay.
Considering the homoeroticism of many barihunk
photos: are the visitors of your blog only gay men? (Do you ever have to deal
with homophobia? Do you discuss sexual orientation with your barihunks? Is it
an issue for baritones today whether they are admired by gay men or
heterosexual women? Are there regional or age differences?)
From what we can tell
from analytics and sales of our merchandise, we’re almost 50-50 male to female.
As I mentioned earlier, many of our male readers are straight men obsessed with
fitness and exercise. We’ve done some Bari-Chunk to Bari-Hunk features which
have generated ten times our usual traffic. Most of the email about those posts
comes from straight guys thanking us for inspiring them to get in shape and to
improve their self-esteem.
As for homophobia,
we’ve experienced virtually none in ten years of posts. We did have one singer
ask us to remove a post because it violated his religious beliefs.
We’ve had a series of
“Barihunk Lunches” where we gather a group of low voices and discuss a variety
of topic over a meal. I’m so impressed with how easily straight and gay men in
this business get along, tease each other and even toss around sexual
innuendos. I believe there has been a true generational shift around sexual
orientation. Fortunately, the opera world is miles ahead of everyone else.
What do you think attracts heterosexual women
to barihunks? And is the opera industry fully responding to the needs these
women have? Any suggestions for improving the image of opera, in general?
I love that Barihunks
has allowed women to not only talk about, but brag about, their attraction to
men. Some of the most provocative comments and emails that I receive are from
women – and they know what they like! It is interesting to me that gay men and
straight women tend to be attracted to completely different men. For instance,
Nathan Gunn and Thomas Hampson seem to be total magnets for women, but don’t’
generate the same level of intensity from men.
If you look at an
average opera audience, the majority is made up of gay men and women. We both
clearly love beautiful men with gorgeous, resonant low voices. More of that
would go a long way! I’m proud that a positive image of healthy, virile men has
become the new stereotype for opera, rather than the antiquated idea of an
oversized Wagnerian soprano with horns and a spear.
Where do your followers come from, mostly?
The United States,
Germany, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, with a huge increase coming
from Russia and Eastern Europe.
You mentioned that one of your most successful
posts was on a red headed singer. Why are red heads such an item?
I follow my analytics
closely, as they dictate who I post (or don’t post). Certain types seem to have
particularly passionate followers and red-heads fall into that category, as do
hairy men, hairless men, Asian singers and men in tuxedos.
Puerto Rican Xavier Edgardo
Talking of red heads: how much desire for
diversity do you see among your followers? Are there any Asian, Arab, black or
any other people of color barihunks?
We are very cognizant
about diversity and truly try to put as much of it on display as possible.
We’ve featured numerous black and Asian singers on the site, but there aren’t
many Arab baritones in the world today. If your readers know of some, send them
our way at Barihunks@gmail.com.
Do your followers ever discuss vocal aspects,
or do they focus only on exterior body elements?
You can’t have an
opera blog and not discuss the voice. It’s still first and foremost about the
After 10 years of barihunks: what has changed
in the opera world, for you? Has barihunks influenced these changes? What do
you wish should happen in the future, what happens in the US that Germany could
learn from or vice versa?
The biggest change in
opera has been its accessibility. I’m sitting in California as I respond to
your questions from Germany while watching Semiramide on my laptop from France. The barihunks
phenomenon cannot be separated from the fact that opera is showing up on
people’s TV screens, laptops and in movie theatres. It has become as much a remote
VISUAL MEDIA artform as a LIVE VOCAL artform.
Your focus on sexy singers is very pop culture
orientated, it corresponds to what most teen magazines do with pop stars. Why
are traditional opera magazines like Opernwelt completely ignoring the trend you
sent and why are most opera magazines so unsexy and stuffy? (While opera
companies lament the lack of interest from young audiences.)
I think part of the
success of Barihunks is that we’re not stuffy, don’t take ourselves too
seriously, yet still respect the artform and remain informative.
I’m fascinated by the
marketing of opera in Europe, which often features an 80-year-old conductor,
while in the U.S and Canada the focus in on the singers. Even US opera
magazines like Opera News are doing Hollywood-style photoshoots with singers
and featuring young, often attractive, rising stars of opera. I open some
European music magazine and I feel like I should be blowing dust off of the
Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen"
What’s the most inappropriate mail you ever received
from a barihunk (or singer)?
Oh Lord! I had a
British baritone (of some note) who delighted himself by sending me the most
inappropriate dick pics. I never knew if he was serious, or not, but he claimed
he did it because he was obsessed with getting on the site. We don’t ever post
random nudity and only post it if it’s related to a performance.
I also receive
“revenge photos,” which really upset me and which I DO NOT TOLERATE. I had a
soprano send me a series of nude photos of her barihunk ex-boyfriend, begging
me to post them. I finally threatened legal action against her with the help of
an attorney, as this is both illegal and inappropriate.
Would it bother you if a barihunk did porn? Does
porn stop you from having a serious opera career, as it did years ago in
Hollywood? Has the opera business become more tolerant about sex videos, too?
Has opera embraced porn as a topic in the same way Hollywood has? Or is this
the next cross-over frontier?
Well, there has been Gordon Beeferman’s The
Enchanted Organ: A PornOpera featuring a character named Avery Dick that was done in New York and Pornographi,
which was donein the
Netherlands. I suspect that if
there is an audience, it will get performed.
I know of a
singer who seriously considered doing porn to supplement his income, but wisely
decided against it. I suspect that it would adversely effect one’s career. I
knew of an amateur video of a barihunk that made the rounds and it created some
serious problems for his agent and almost cost him a major debut.
Will you ever publish a book about your time as
“Mr. Barihunks”? And did you ever think you ever think your blog would become
such an era defining thing?
I’m not sure that a
book would be of much interest, but I have seriously explored shutting down the
site and turning it into a foundation to support young artists and new
Sam Ramey and Giorgio Zancanaro in the Attila duet:
(What’s your favorite baritone aria? Sung by
I love two low voices
together, so two duets stand out for me:
Attila-Ezio duet “Tardo per gli
anni" by Verdi with Sam Ramey as Attila!
·The King Philip and Grand Inquisitor duet from
Verdi’s Don Carlo with Ferruccio Furlanetto and Sam Ramey.
As for a solo aria,
there are far too many to chose from, but I’m a sucker for Don Giovanni’s “Deh,
vieni alla finestra” sung by Mariusz Kwiecien or Dmitry Hvorostovksy, Wotan's
Farewell “Leb' wohl” and Hamlet’s drinking song “O vin, dissipe le tristesse”
sung by Stépane Degout or Simon Keenlyside.
My personal contemporary
favorite is Marco Vassalli singing Clint Borzoni’s song “Stufen,” with text by
Hermann Hesse, which is viewable on YouTube.
Barihunk Paull-Anthony Keightley has been named one of five finalists at the 2017 IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. He'll be joined by Damian Arnold, Daniel Carison, Filipe Manu, and Shikara Ringdahl.
The finalists will compete for over $200,000 in prizes at the July 15th Finals Concert.
Paull-Anthony Keightley made his principal debut with West Australian Opera in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi while he was the 2016 Wesfarmers Young Artist. He recently appeared as Sciarrone in company’s production of Puccini's Tosca while continuing as a member of the Young Artist Programme. Upcoming engagements include the baritone soloist in Faure’s Requiem with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, bass soloist in Bach’s Cantata BWV. 147 with the Perth Symphonic Chorus, Colline in Puccini's La bohème with Freeze Frame Opera and Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
The Tanglewood Festival press office sent out the following notice today:
"Bass-baritoneSir Bryn Terfelwill replace baritoneDmitri Hvorostovskyin the Boston Symphony Orchestra'sSaturday, August 26, opera gala program at Tanglewood. Led by BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons, the program will feature Sir Bryn, soprano Kristine Opolais, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in an evening of opera and song. Further program details will be announced at a later date. Mr. Hvorostovsky withdrew from the concert in May for reasons of health."
Hvorostovsky was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the summer of 2015 and
subsequently cancelled concerts in Kaliningrad, Minsk and Vienna, as
well as performances in the Met's production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, where he was replaced by fellow barihunks Peter Mattei and Mariusz Kwiecien. In April, he did make an appearance in Toronto with Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov.
His website lists two concerts at the Grafenegg Festival on June 22 and 23 titled "Hvorostovsky and Friends."
A quartet of barihunks are appearing in the Grange Festival's production of Carmen, which is currently running through July 8th. Two of them, Grigory Soloviov and Toby Girling, have appeared on the site, while Phillip Rhodes and Tiago Matos are new to the site. Joining this sexy quartet of low voices is hunkentenor Leonardo Capalbo. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.
Tiago Matos(left)andPhillip Rhodes (right)
Portuguese barihunk Tiago Matos, who is singing Le Dancäire, was a member of the Atelier Lyrique at the Opéra national de Paris, where he performed Fiorello in Rossini's Il barbiere di Sivigila, Un Chevalier in Chaussson's Le Roi Arthus, and Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto. He will return to the Opéra national de Paris to perform a number of roles over the next few seasons.
New Zealand native Phillip Rhodes, who is singing Escamillo, was briefly mentioned on our site when he sang Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd with barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes in the title role. He recently peformed Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca and Pere Germont in Verdi's La traviata with Opera New Zealand. This Fall, he will sing the roles of Alfio in Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Silvio and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci with Opera North.
Renee Fleming and Grigory Soloviov(left)and Toby Girling in Trouble in Tahiti (right)
Bass-Barihunk Grigory Soloviov is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory and a former member of the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist’s Program. He has already performed with a number of major opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Gran Teatro La Fenice, Dallas Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Opéra National de Lyon, Opéra de Tours and the Opéra De Montréal.
British barihunk Toby Girling is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and former member of the Glyndebourne Opera Festival Chorus. His most current and future engagements include Nicomedes in Zemlinsky's Der König Kandaules and Pallante in Handel's Agrippina with De Vlaamse Opera, Belcore in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore at the Scottish Opera and Sam in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti with the Oper Leipzig tour in Bolzano, Italy.
Wayne Tigges, Aaron Blake, Andrew Garland and Michael Weyandt(l-r)
The new New York City Opera closes its season with the New York Premiere of Péter Eötvös's Angels in America, distilling the two-night, seven-hour play into a single, powerful evening of opera. The cast includes the barihunk trio of Andrew Garland as Prior Walter, Michael Weyandt as Joe, Wayne Tigges as Roy Cohn and hunkentenor Aaron Blake as Louis. The opera comes with a warning of "strong sexual content, nudity, mature themes and language."
The opera was originally written for the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris
where it premiered in 2004. The cast included barihunks Daniel Belcher
and Omar Ebrahim, as well as Barbara Hendricks, Roberta Alexander, Derek
Lee Ragin and and Topi Lehtipuu.
Angels in America received its West Coast premiere in 2013 at the
Walt Disney Concert Hall with barihunk David Adam Moore and Nikolas
Nackley as Joe. Moore has also sung the role at the Fort Worth Opera Festival and the Opera Wrocławsa in Poland.
The opera is based on Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the
same name and will be sung in English with supertitles. There will be
four performances running from June 10-16 and additional cast information and tickets are available online.
Barihunk Jérôme Varnier made his role debut as Méphistophélès tonight in Gounod's Faust at Opéra Grand Avignon. There will be one additional performance on June 11th.
The cast in this new production includes Nathalie Manfrino as Marguerite, Florian Laconi as Faust and Lionel Lhote as Valentin. Tickets are available online. Varnier will repeat the role of Méphistophélès with Opera Massy on November 10 and 12, with Ludivine Gombert as Marguerite, Thomas Bettinger as Faust and fellow barihunk Régis Mengus as Valentin.
Varnier has also performed the role of Brander in the Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, based on the same German legend.
Simon Keenlyside will kick of the 2017/2018 Opéra de Paris recital series this year along with acompanist Malcolm Martineau. The British barihunk will perform music by Sibelius, Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Somervell, Warlock, Warlock and Poulenc. The recital is on September 17th, but tickets go on sale on June 8th and are available online.
The series will continue with Sophie Koch on October 15, Mattias Goerne on April 22, Angela Gheorghiu on June 17 and Pietr Beczala on July 8.
Simon Keenlyside sings Francis Poulenc's "Hôtel":
Keenlyside can next be seen as Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande at the Vienna State Opera from June 18-30. The cast includes Adrian Eröd as Pelléas, Olga Berzsmertna as Mélisande, Bernarda Fink as Geneviève and Franz-Josef Selig as Arkel. Tickets and additional information is available online.
Germany will have musical celebrations of Martin Luther's Reformation, which occurred 600 years ago this year.
One of our favorites will have its world premiere at an open air concert in Tecklenburg in September with additional performances at the Stadtkirche Westerkappeln on October 14th and 15th, and then in Seligenstadt and Aschaffenburg. The concerts will feature barihunks Marco Vassalli and Malte Roesner in a new piece written by composer Thomas Gabriel and librettist Eugen
Eckert called "Bruder Martin" (Brother Martin). The two singers will be
part of a four soloists backed by orchestra and a massive chorus, which will tell the life
story of Martin Luther in an oratorio-style piece.
is in the midst of a month long celebration of the Reformation
featuring a number of barihunks. On June 12, Felix Schwandtke will
perform music by Johann Rosenmüller at the Nicolaikirsche, Jochen
Kupfer will perform Mendelssohn's Paulus at the Thomaskirsche on June
15th, and on June 18th, Luca Pisaroni will perform Bach's Mass in B-minor at the Thomaskirsche. The entire program is available here.
On June 17th, barihunk Roman Trekel will perform the debut of
composer Daniel Pacitti and librettist Christian Meißner's new work
"Luther Oratorio" under the baton of Helmuth Rilling at the Berliner
The Reformation happened when Martin Luther
rejected several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
He strongly disputed the Catholic view on indulgences as he understood
it to be, that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased
with money. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and
efficacy of indulgences in his 95 Theses of 1517. Luther taught that
salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds
but are received only as the free gift of God's grace through the
believer's faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology
challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the
Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God.
translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it
more accessible to the laity, an event that had a tremendous impact on
both the church and German culture. It fostered the development of a
standard version of the German language, added several principles to the
art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English
translation, the Tyndale Bible. His hymns influenced the development of
singing in Protestant churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora, a
former nun, set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing
Protestant clergy to marry.