Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Alexander Elliott takes on Barber in Santa Barbara

Alexander Elliott as the Barber of Sevile
Barihunk Alexander Elliott will perform the title role in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at Opera Santa Barbara, which hasn't performed the audience favorite since 2001. The American baritone will be joined by mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoé Velasco, tenor Andrew Bidlack and Nathan Stark as Basilio. Opera Santa Barbara’s Artistic & General Director Kostis Protopapas conducts the production.

Performances are on March 2nd and 4th and tickets are available online

The Barber of Seville premiered in Rome in 1816 with the title Almaviva, o sia L'inutile precauzione (The Useless Precaution). Rossini's opera recounts the events of the first of the three plays by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais that revolve around the clever and enterprising character named Figaro, the barber of the title. Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro, composed 30 years earlier in 1786, is based on the second part of the Beaumarchais trilogy.

Other operas based on the first play were composed by Giovanni Paisiello (1782), Nicolas Isouard (1796) and Francesco Morlacchi (1816). Though the work of Paisiello triumphed for a time, only Rossini's version has stood the test of time and continues to be a mainstay of operatic repertoire.

Elliott next heads to the Orlando Philharmonic to sing Manuel De Falla's Master Peter’s Puppet Show. The one-act opera combines puppets and real characters adapted from one of the episodes of Don Quixote. There is a single performance on April 7th and tickets are available online.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Brandon Cedel in world premiere of "A Wintery Spring"

Brandon Cedel
American barihunk Brandon Cedel will sing in the world premiere of Jordanian-born German composer Saed Haddad’s dramatic lament "A Wintery Spring," which premieres on February 22nd at the Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt. It will have six performances in Frankfurt as part of a co-production with Ensemble Modern and the Frankfurt Opera. It will have one performance in Köln on April 8th.

The piece deals with the current political, social structures and attitudes in the Middle East – without attempting to portray a concrete story about the Arab Spring, but rather searching for paths which might unite people and traditions.

The lament is based on aphorisms by the Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran, who emigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States in 1895. Gibran’s central motifs are life and death, and love as their uniting element.

Michael Porter & Brandon Cedel in A Wintery Spring (Photos: Monika Rittershaus)
The premiere will be combined with the first staged performance of the baroque cantata "Il Serpente di bronzo" (The Bronze Serpent) by the Bohemian baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka, in which God punishes the doubts of the people of Israel with a plague of snakes, making the people realize the errors of their ways.

The composer wrote several outstanding spiritual works for the court in Dresden. This unconventional orchestral vocal work enjoyed a Renaissance in the last third of the 20th century.

Cedel will sing the unnamed bass-baritone role in A Wintery Spring and God (Dio) in The Bronze Serpent. Tickets and additional cast information for the double-bill are available online. Click HERE for the Köln performance.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Classic Meets Fetish heads to Antwerp

Georg Kroneis (photo: Hausmeingott) and Peter Trautwein
Back in August 2017, we posted about the Classic Meets Fetish concert in Berlin, who annually assemble a small group of professional international musicians. The ensemble performs in black leather and other fetish outfits and raises money for local non-profits. 

Classic Meets Fetish will be performing in Antwerp, Belgium on February 23rd, as part of Leather & Fetish Pride Belgium.

Bernard Du Mortier
Part of the proceeds from the Antwerp concert will be donated to Antwerp’s Vreak Theatre to help them stage their new production about PrEP. The remainder will go to support the travel funds for their community ambassadors, including Mr Leather Belgium 2018, Mr Puppy Europe 2018, Mr Superhero Fetish 2018, and Mr Rubber Europe 2018.

The concert includes baritone Bernard Du Mortier singing selections from Handel, Haydn and Bizet, as well as Peter Trautwein singing Bizet, Franck and Verdi. Also on the program, is one of our favorite hunks, cellist Georg Kroneis, performing his own music, as well as music from Abel and Hume. 

Tickets and additional information is available online.  

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Barihunks Lawson Anderson and Benjamin Taylor win George London top honors

Benjamin Taylor and Lawson Anderson
Barihunks Lawson Anderson and Benjamin Taylor shared top honors at the 2018 George London Foundation Awards Competition for young American and Canadian opera singers. The two singers will receive $10,000 each, along with fellow winners Raehann Bryce-Davis, Rihab Chaieb, Emily D'Angelo and Lauren Margison.

The George London Foundation and George London Awards are named for the great American bass-baritone (1920-1985), who devoted much of his time and energy in his later years to the support and nurturing of young singers. The announcement of the winners was made by George London's widow, Nora London.

The George London Foundation's 2017-18 season concludes with a duo recital featuring past winners Heidi Melton and Kyle van Schoonhoven on March 4th at The Morgan Library & Museum.

Benjamin Taylor and Lawson Anderson
Lawson Anderson can next be seen as Rocco in Beethoven's Fidelio on March 16th and 18th with the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional de México.

Benjamin Taylor is a first-year Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist, where is scheduled to perform Sciarrone in Puccini's Tosca, Brian in Jeremy Howard Beck's The Long Walk, and Captain Gardiner in Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick.

Bass-Barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov in Semiramide broadcasts

Ildar Abdrazakov and Ryan Speedo Green in Semiramide
Bass-Barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov will be performing King Assur in  Rossini’s Semiramide, which is presented being presented at the Met for the first time in 25 years. He'll be joined in the all-star car by Angela Meade in the title role, Elizabeth DeShong as Arsace, Javier Camarena as Idreno and Ryan Speedo Green as the High Priest Oroe.

The opera opens on  February 19th under the baton of Maurizio Benini and will be transmitted to 2,000 movie theaters in 73 countries as part of the Met’s Live in HD series on March 10th. The broadcast will be hosted by barihunk Christopher Maltman.

If you can't make it to The Met or to your local movie, you can catch the audio broadcast on February 19th and March 6th on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 75 or on the Met website's live stream.

Samuel Ramey sings Assur's scene and aria from Semiramide:

Ildar Abdrazakov was most recently seen on stage at the Met in the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro, reprising his performance from the production premiere in 2014. The Russian bass’s other credits with the Met include Escamillo in Carmen, Henry VIII in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, the title character in Borodin’s Prince Igor, and Dosifei in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina.

Additional live performances of Semiramide are on February 24, 28; March 3, 6, 10 (mat), 14, 17. Visit the Met website for additional information and tickets.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three barihunks to join forces at Carnegie Hall

Jarrett Ott, Tobias Greenhalgh and Steven LaBrie.
Three of the greatest young singers and hottest barihunks singing today will be performing in the "Three Baritones" concert together at Carnegie Hall on May 22nd.

Tobias Greenhalgh will perform Glen Roven's Four Surreal Songs with poetry by Paul Éluard, Steven LaBrie will sing Benjamin C. S. Boyle's Le passage des rêves with poetry by Paul Valéry and Lori Laitman's The Joy of Uncreating, and Jarrett Ott will perform Jake Heggie's Of Laughter and Farewell and Jennifer Higdon's Lilac with poetry by Walt Whitman.

The trio will also join forces for a medley of baritone aria greatest hits arranged by Glen Roven.

Tickets go on sale on February 22nd, so mark your calendars.

Jarrett Ott sings Glen Roven's After Great Pain:

Tobias Greenhalgh will be singing Maximilian in Bernstein's Candide with Palm Beach Opera from February 23-25 and Demetrius in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Theater an der Wien from April 15-25.

Steven LaBrie is singing Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen at Sarasota Opera from February 17 to March 24 and Riolobo in Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas at Florida Grand Opera from April 28 to May 5.

Jarrett Ott is singing the title role in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City from April 28 to May 6.

Happy Birthday, John Adams!

Composer John Adams
John Adams is one of the best known and most often performed of America's composers. Adams was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 15, 1947. During his youth, growing up in Vermont and New Hampshire, he was strongly influenced by the intellectual and cultural institutions of New England. He received both his BA and MA degrees from Harvard University, where he was active as a conductor, clarinetist, and composer. His principal teachers included Leon Kirchner, David Del Tredici and Roger Sessions.

In 1971, Adams began an active career in the San Francisco area, teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (1972-83) and serving as new music adviser and composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Symphony (1978-85). 
Adams coined the term “post-minimalism” starting with his piece for string septet Shaker Loops (1978). This style is characterized by greater dynamic contrasts and a more fluid and layered sound. The completion and premiere of Harmonium in 1981 was well-received by critics and the public, establishing Adams as a major American composer. He was the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer prize.
Barihunk Ryan McKinny (left) and tenor Paul Appleby in Girls of the Golden West
His latest opera, "Girls of the Golden West," premiered at the San Francisco Opera on November 21, 2017 to decidedly mixed reviews. The cast included the barihunk trio of Ryan McKinny, Elliot Madore and Davone Tines and, like many of Adams' pieces, dealt with a slice of actual history. 
A number of his pieces have leading roles for baritones, including J. Robert Oppenheimer in Dr. Atomic, Nixon in Nixon in China and the critical roles of the captain, terrorist (Rambo) and Klinghoffer in The Death of Klinghoffer. His oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary was written for tenor, soprano, mezzo-soprano and three countertenors!

Thomas Hampson sings a selection from The Wound-Dresser:
He also wrote the Walt Whitman-inspired piece The Wound-Dresser, which is scored for baritone voice, 2 flutes (or 2 piccolos), 2 oboes, clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, trumpet (or piccolo tpt), timpani, synthesizer, and strings.
Upcoming performance of operas by John Adams include Nixon in China at the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg in May/June 2018 and Dr. Atomic at the Santa Fe Opera in July/August 2018 with Ryan McKinny and Daniel Okulitch.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

Baritones dominate first ever Glyndebourne Opera Cup

Clockwise top left: Dmytro Kalmuchyn, Cody Quattlebaum, Denis Milo and Hubert Zapiór
Baritones landed seven of the 24 slots for the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup on March 22. The field will be narrowed to 10 finalist for the March 24th competition, which will be broadcast on Sky Arts.

The Glyndebourne Opera Cup focuses on a different single composer or strand of the repertoire. In 2018 the featured composer is Mozart and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will accompany the singers at the final.

The field includes some popular barihunks led by Cody Quattlebaum (US), Hubert Zapiór (Poland), Dmytro Kalmuchyn (Ukraine), Denis Milo (Germany), as well as Jorge Espino (Mexico), Jake Muffett (UK), Carl Rumstadt (Germany), Charles Sy (Canada), Jack Swanson (US), Jacquelyn Stucker (US), Anita Rosati (Austria), Emily Pogorelc (US), Eléonore Pancrazi (France), Alexandra Nowakowski (US/Poland), Gemma Ní Bhriain (Ireland), Diana Newman (US), Mirjam Mesak (Estonia), Aurora Marthens (Finland), Elbenita Kajtazi (Kosovo), Samantha Hankey (US), Adriana Gonzalez (Guatemala), Francesca Chiejina (US) and Adèle Charvet (France).

Hubert Zapiór sings the Count's aria from the Marriage of Figaro:

The winner will receive £15,000 and the guarantee of a role within five years at one of the top opera houses represented on the competition jury.

The international jury for The Glyndebourne Opera Cup includes representatives from top international opera houses. Among them are Barrie Kosky, Artistic Director of Komische Oper Berlin, Sophie de Lint, Artistic Director of Zurich Opera and Director Designate of Dutch National Opera, David Devan, who runs Opera Philadelphia, Fortunato Ortombina, Sovrintendente of Teatro La Fenice in Venice, and Joan Matabosch, Artistic Director of Teatro Real in Madrid. 

Acting as the competition’s honorary president is Dame Janet Baker, whose own early career was fostered by Glyndebourne. As well as presenting the prizes, she will adjudicate at the live final.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Barihunk Alex Esposito featured in two Rossini anniversaries

Alex Esposito
Italian barihunk Alex Esposito will be featured in two Rossini anniversaries within 30 days of each other.

The first will be a (slightly premature) celebration of the 150th anniversary of the composer's death with a performance of his Petite Messe Solennelle. The actual date of death of Rossini is November 13, 1868.

The first will be on February 19 at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, followed by a performance on February 20 with the Berliner Philharmonie. Both casts include soprano Lauren Michelle, countertenor Bejun Mehta and tenor Francesco Demuro under the baton of Marc Minkowski.

Alex Esposito sings "Quoniam tu solus sanctus" from Petite Messe Solennelle:

Petite Messe Solennelle was written in 1863, thirty years after the composer's official retirement and thirty-four years after his last opera. The piece was originally composed for twelve singers (four of them soloists), two pianos and harmonium, but he later created an orchestral version. That version was never performed in his lifetime because he could not obtain permission to perform it with female singers in a church.

The bass solo aria in the piece is "Quoniam tu solus sanctus" (For You alone are Holy) from the Gloria, which after a short introduction, marked adagio, leads to an extended section, marked Allegro moderato with contrasts in dynamics.

Esposito has also recorded Petite Messe Solennelle with Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

Alex Esposito sings "Cade dal ciglio" from Mosè in Egitto:

Esposito will then head to the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples for the 200th anniversary of Rossini's Mosè in Egitto, which premiered at the theater on March 5, 1818. He will perform the role of the Pharoah. There will be four performances between March 15-20 and the cast includes hunkentenor Enea Scala as Osiride and barihunk Mirco Palazzi as Mosè, for the March 17th performance. The Barihunks team will be in attendance! Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

The opera is loosely based on the Exodus from Egypt of the Israelites led by Moses. It opens as the plague of darkness is dispelled by Moses' prayer, and it ends with the spectacle of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh's host. Billed in 1818 as an azione tragico-sacra, the sacred drama with some features of the oratorio circumvented proscriptions of secular dramatic performances during Lent.

Rossini slightly revised the opera in 1819, when he introduced Moses' prayer-aria "Dal tuo stellato soglio", which became one of the most popular opera pieces of the day and which inspired a set of variations for violin and piano by Niccolò Paganini.

Mirco Palazzi and Enea Scala
The opera has only had sporadic performances outside of Italy and France. In the U.K. it was performed for 142 years after its premiere in 1822, and then not revived again until 1994. The Welsh National Opera staged it again in 2014 in Cardiff and on tour. This is the production that will be seen in Naples next month.

In the U.S., Mosè in Egitto had not been heard in Chicago since 1865, but it was presented in that city by the Chicago Opera Theater in 2010 and subsequently by the New York City Opera in April 2013.

In 1827 Rossini revised the work with a new title, Moïse et Pharaon, ou Le passage de la Mer Rouge for performances in his adopted home of Paris. 

Mike Nyby to sing first Scarpia with Opera Ithaca

Mike Nyby
Canadian Mike Nyby will be making his role debut as the evil police chief Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca with Opera Ithaca. Nyby will be replacing fellow barihunk Zachary James, who had to withdraw for personal reasons. Nyby has previously performed with the company as Demetrio in Kristin Hevner Wyatt's Il Sogno and as Falke in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus.

Jake Stamatis (Photo: Joshua Bernard)
The cast also includes barihunk Jake Stamatis as Angelotti, Megan Nielsen as Floria Tosca and Paola Buffagni as Mario Cavaradossi. The semi-staged production will be performed at the Community School of Music & Arts in Ithaca on February 16th and at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn on February 18th. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

This is Nyby's fourth Puccini role, have previously performed Pinellino in Gianni Schicchi and both Schaunard and Marcello in La bohème. This is a homecoming of sorts for Nyby, who graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Music.