Thursday, March 29, 2018

Gregory Gerbrandt to reprise his sexy Stanley Kowalski

Gregory Gerbrandt as Stanley with Opera Santa Barbara
Barihunk Gregory Gerbrandt will reprise his portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in André Previn's operatic version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. The American baritone sang the role two years ago and Opera Santa Barbara and now takes it north to Opera Idaho.

The company is presenting a cast that would be the envy of most major opera houses, with 2014 Metropolitan Opera Audition winner Julie Adams as Blanche, Met Audition finalist Casey Candebat as Mitch, Micaëla Oeste as Stella and Alasdair Neale conducting. Tickets are available online for both the April 6th and 8th performances.

A Streetcar Named Desire was premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 1998 with Rod Gilfry as Stanley and its become one of the most popular contemporary American operas in the repertory. It has gone on to see performances in New Orleans, Kentucky, San Diego, Washington D.C., San Francisco (Merola Opera), Cleveland, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Honolulu and Virginia Opera. It had it European premiere in Strasbourg in 2001 and its U.K. premiere in 2003, with subsequent performances throughout Europe and in Tokyo.

Sexy Stanley's: Rod Gilfry, Ryan McKinny, Dan Kempson and David Adam Moore
Gerbrandt is part of a veritable Who's Who of barihunks who have taken on the role of Stanley Kowalski made famous by Marlon Brando in the movie. They include Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Dan Kempson, Wes Mason, Ryan McKinny, David Adam Moore and Philip Cutlip.

Gerbrandt is waiting long to sing the role again, as he'll perform the opera with the Opera Company of Middlebury in Vermont from June 1-9.  He'll be joined by soprano Cree Carrico as Stella, who is rapidly being recognized as one of the most compelling actresses in opera. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Jeremy Kleeman takes "Albert the Pudding" on the road

Jeremy Kleeman in The Magic Pudding (Photos: Charlie Kinross)
Celebrating the centenary of Norman Lindsay’s children story The Magic Pudding, the Victorian Opera is taking its much-loved adaptation to regional Victoria, with performances on April 5th at The Cube in Wodonga and April 27th at the Ulumbarra Theatre in Bendigo.

Barihunk Jeremy Kleeman, who created the role of Albert the Pudding at the premier in 2016 and recently performed it in Victoria, returns for the two city tour. Kleeman's character is joined by the walking, talking, never-ending Pudding, the penguin Sam Sawnoff, sailor Bill Barnacle and koala Bunyip Bluegum.

Following the scent of pudding, Bunyip Bluegum, the koala, comes across Bill Barnacle, the sailor, and Sam Sawnoff, the penguin. They are the owners of a rather ill-tempered Puddin’ called Albert, who magically replenishes no matter how many slices are cut. Bill and Sam are being followed by Possum and Watkin Wombat who want to steal the Puddin’ for themselves. The young audience finds out if the three friends are able to thwart the thieves and hold onto their magic Puddin’.

Jeremy Kleeman sings Papageno's Suicide Aria from The Magic Flute:

Jeremy Kleeman, is a graduate of Victorian Opera's Developing Artist Program and holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance and a Bachelor of Music from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. He has been a regular on the Victorian Opera stage since his debut with the company in 2008. He has performed Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods, Marquis D’Obiginy in La traviata, Badger and Parson in The Cunning Little Vixen, Lord Valton in I puritani, Magus in the world premiere of Voyage to the Moon, as well as Albert the Pudding.

Last year Kleeman made his company debuts with Sydney Chamber Opera as Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia and with Pinchgut Opera in The Coronation of Poppea. On June 23, he'll be the baritone soloist in Nielsen's Symphony No.3, "Sinfonia Espansiva," with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Gordon Bintner leads (almost) all-male cast of "From the House of the Dead"

Gordon Bintner (left and right), Gal Fefferman and Brandon Cedel (Photo: Barbara Aumüller)
Oper Frankfurt is presenting Leoš Janáček's From the House of the Dead from April 1-29 with a cast led by Canadian barihunk Gordon Bintner and an array of barihunks familiar to readers of this site, including Barnaby Rea, Mikołaj Trąbka and Brandon Cedel. Bintner portrays the main character, Alexandr Petrovič Gorjančikov, a well-born political prisoner who is dismayed by his new surroundings in a Siberian prison camp.

Leoš Janáček completed his revolutionary opera From the House of the Dead in May 1928, which became his final and, arguably, most powerful work. 
The work was first performed posthumously in 1930 and is based on Dostoyevsky’s semi-autobiographical novel describing life in a Siberian gulag. Janáček does not soften that harsh reality at the heart of his tale, but imbues the work with compassion in its honest depiction of humanity’s difficult truths. 

Barnaby  Rea, Mikołaj Trąbka and Brandon Cedel
He used a radically new music language to convey the epic demands of the work. The astonishing score includes eruptive elements, piercing dissonances, laconic, short motifs, rhythmical ostinati and language as "instant photography of the soul," as the composer called it. He also uses folk music, which often embued his works, to show how the prisoners create a sense of community even in bleak surroundings.

The brief appearance of a prostitute is the only female figure in a world of men whose movement is governed by constant monotonous repetition and whose symbolic expression is found in a wounded eagle. 

The piece was initially deemed by some to be too pessimistic, but the opera eerily foresaw the totalitarian era that was on the horizon and has new-found resonance in today's geo-politcal world.

Tickets and additional cast information is available online

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tributes to Dmitri Hvorostovsky in New York and Cleveland

Dmitri Hvorostovsky
On April 22, Talents of the World will honor the late Dmitri Hvorostovsky with two upcoming recitals. The first will be on April 22nd at Zankel Hall in New York City, followed by one at Cleveland's Europa Concert Hall on April 25th.

The concert will consist of Hvorostovsky's favorite repertoire, including opera arias, operetta, Russian romances and crossover pop songs. Featured performers include soprano Veronika Dzhioeva, mezzo-soprano Nino Surguladze, tenor Raúl Melo, baritone David Gvinianidze, soprano Olga Lisovskaya, tenor Giovanni Formisano, baritone Junhan Choi and baritone Oleksandr Kyreiev. 

Talents of the World produces unique projects, showcasing the vocal talents of world-renowned artists, as well as extraordinary young vocalists. It's president and founder is David Gvinianidze, a world-renowned baritone, a recipient of the United Nations’ medal for promoting arts and culture and a visionary for world peace through music and art.

The concert’s proceeds will go to organizations, seeking to find cure for children with cancer.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky passed away on Nov.. 22, 2017.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Luca Pisaroni named Brand Ambassador for Via Luca

Luca Pisaroni (photo:Catherine Pisaroni)
Italian bass-barihunk Luca Pisaroni has been named the Brand Ambassador for Via Luca, a leading distributor of high-end authentic Italian men's fashion.

The company's website states, "The partnership between Via Luca and Luca Pisaroni could not be a better fit, considering not only the same name “LUCA” but more importantly the origin of both being proud of having an Italian heritage."

Under the terms of the deal, Luca Pisaroni will wear garments exclusively from the brands sold on Via Luca wear custom Italian textile suits during his performances. He will also help promote the Made in Italy initiative and the family traditions of many of the company's brands, which include the knitwear brand Alessandro Simoni, Bruli sportswear, Equipage trousers, Marfin grooming products, Laboratorio Del Carmine shirts, and Zamparini shoes.

Pisaroni can next be seen on March 25th at Carnegie Hall, where he will sing Argante in Handel's Rinaldo. The English Concert under Harry Bicket will lead an all-star cast that also includes Iestyn Davies as Rinaldo, Jane Archibald as Armida, Joélle Harvey as Almirena, Sasha Cooke as Goffredo and the amazing countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński as Eustazio. Tickets are available online.

Stunningly beautiful Gianluca Margheri in Alceste

Gianluca Margheri as the High Priest of Apollo
Italian barihunk Gianluca Margheri just opened in the dual roles of the High Priest of Apollo and Apollo at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Gluck's Alceste. He has three remaining performances, which run through March 30th. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Christoph Willibald Gluck, who was largely self-taught as a composer, became known as one of opera's most historically signifigant reformers. His three "reform operas" were Orfeo ed Euridice, Alceste and Paride ed Elena, which eliminated many of the standard practices of the day, which Gluck felt impeded the drama.

''When I undertook to write the music for Alceste,'' Gluck wrote, ''I resolved to divest it entirely of all those abuses, introduced into it either by the mistaken vanity of singers or by the too great complaisance of composers, which have so long disfigured Italian opera and made of the most splendid and most beautiful of spectacles the most ridiculous and wearisome. I have striven to restrict music to its true office of serving poetry by means of expression and by following the situations of the story, without interrupting the action or stifling it with useless superfluity of ornaments ...Simplicity, truth and naturalness are the great principles of beauty in all artistic manifestations.''
Gianluca Margheri as Apollo
Alceste exists in two principal versions: the Italian original written for Vienna in 1767 and the French revision prepared for the Paris performances of 1776. The Teatro del Maggio Musicale is using the Italian version.

In Greek legend Alcestis, daughter of Pelias, was the wife of Athnetus, King of Pherae in Thessaly. She was the only person willing to die in place of her husband, but was brought back from the Underworld by Hercules. Gluck's opera is based on the play by Euripides, with Alcestis saved by the god Apollo. 

Gianluca Margheri backstage as Apollo
The story appears in varied forms, from Chaucer to Rilke and T. S. Eliot. Among the operatic versions of the legend are the tragedie en musique by Lully and Quinault, Alceste, ou Le triomphe d'Alcide (Alcestis, or The Triumph of Hercules) and the treatment of the myth by Wieland with the composer Anton Schweitzer, staged in Weimar in 1773. Alcestis herself is generally taken as the type of female virtue and conjugal love.

Margheri can next be heard as Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari in June and July. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Barihunk-fest at Minnesota Opera concert

Christian Zaremba, Rudy Nieto and Kelly Markgraf
The Minnesota Opera's upcoming Mixtape Concert will feature a veritable feast of barihunks (and hunkentenors) performing selections from opera, musical theater, jazz and pop. The concert is highlighting past and current members of the company's Resident Artist Program and will be held on April 8 at 2 p.m. at the Ordway Concert Hall.

The featured baritones and basses include Kelly Markgraf, Rudy Nieto, Christian Thurston, Matt Boehler, Benjamin Sieverding, Wm. Clay Thompson and Christian Zaremba. The tenor lineup is pretty impressive as well, featuring Andres Acosta, Chris Colmenero, Daniel Montenegro, James Valenti and David Walton!

The concert pays tribute to the 20th season of Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist Program and is “pay what you want” with a suggested donation of $20 per ticket. Tickets can be reserved online.

The unique, eclectic program includes  and features selections from Les Miserables, Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath, as well as music from Wagner, Puccini, Rossini and Richard Strauss. 

The Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist Program offers a full season of employment for talented artists beginning their professional careers. From late August through April, Resident Artists gain valuable experience in assignments ranging from ensemble, understudy, comprimario to leading roles in main stage performances.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Barihunk duo in AVA's French recital program

Ethan Simpson (left) and Brent Michael Smith (right)
The final recital in the Academy of Vocal Arts Recital Series will include barihunks Ethan Simpson and Brent Michael Smith in a program of French repertoire.  They'll be joined by Gabriela Flores, Hannah Ludwig, Matthew White and Timothy Renner, with AVA vocal coach Audrey Saint-Gil accompanying them on piano.

Ethan Simpson will be singing Nadia Boulanger's "J'ai frappe" and "Chanson," as well as Henri Duparc's Testament.

Brent Michael Smith will be performing Stravinsky's "Un sommeil noir" and the Act 1 bass aria from Paul Dukas' Ariane et Le Barbe Bleu.

Performances are on April 3 and April 5 and tickets are available online

Cody Quattlebaum to make U.K. debut in St John Passion

Cody Quattlebaum and his mane of Biblical proportions
After competing in the Glyndebourne Cup this month, Cody Quattlebaum will make his official U.K. debut with the Academy of Ancient Music as Christus and the Bass Soloist in Bach's Johannespassion (St John Passsion) at the Barbican Centre on March 30th.

Quattlebaum is one of seven of the 24 singers selected 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 St John Passsion will also feature James Gilchrist as the Evangelist, countertenor Iestyn Davies, soprano Lydia Teuscher and the rising tenor sensation Ilker Arcayurek, all under the baton of  Riccardo Minasi. Tickets are available online

The St John Passion was written during Bach's first year as director of church music in Leipzig and was first performed on April 7, 1724 at Good Friday Vespers. The anonymous libretto draws on existing works and is compiled from recitatives and choruses narrating the Passion of Christ as told in the Gospel of John, ariosos and arias reflecting on the action, and chorales using hymn tunes and texts familiar to a congregation of Bach's contemporaries.

Quattlebaum, who has already gained a following in the U.S., will also be making his German debut this year. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Barihunks star in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Rising Stars" Concert

Patrick Guetti, Emmett O'Hanlon and Takaoki Onishi
The Lyric Opera of Chicago will showcase their amazing young artists on Saturday, April 7th at the Lyric Opera House in their annual "Rising Stars" concert. Featured in the concert is a trio of singers who have been featured on Barihunks, including baritones Emmett O'Hanlon and Takaoki Onishi, along with bass Patrick Guetti. The three singers are also concluding their tenure with the company's Ryan Opera Center, a training program for young artists.

After leaving the program, Guetti has performances with Wolf Trap Opera as Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto and Bernstein's Songfest; Takaoki Onishi will perform Tchaikovsky's Iolanta with the Russian National Orchestra at Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and, Emmett O'Hanlon will wrap up a run as Wagner in Gounod's Faust at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Lyric tenor star of the future, Josh Lovell
The concert will feature music by Tchaikovsky, Offenbach, Massenet, Mozart, Verdi, Handel, Bernstein, Puccini and Rossini. Other artists include the gifted young lyric tenor Josh Lovell (keep your eyes and ears on this one!); sopranos Whitney Morrison, Diana Newman and Ann Toomey; mezzo-soprano Lindsay Metzger; contralto Lauren Decker; tenors Alec Carlson and Mario Rojas; and, bass-baritone Alan Higgs.

The concert will also be recorded for broadcast on 98.7WFMT the following day, Sunday, April 8, at 6 PM CST.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Asheville Opera lands world premiere of highly anticipated Borzoni premiere; Second performance in Chicago

Joshua Jeremiah and Trevor Martin
We've always maintained that the smaller houses and festivals are where the best new operas are being performed. So kudos to the Asheville Lyric Opera for landing the highly anticipated world premiere of composer Clint Borzoni and librettist John de los Santos' "When Adonis Calls" on May 11th. Asheville is also the home of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, whose poetry was refashioned into the libretto.

The opera, which was work-shopped at the Fort Worth Opera Festival's Frontiers series of new works in 2015, chronicles the tumultuous correspondence between an established writer and an eager young admirer.

"Two Nooses" from the Fort Worth Opera Festival

The piece is scored for two baritones, string quartet, percussionist and two dancers (and comes with an adult content warning). When Adonis Calls features a low and high baritone, and Asheville Lyric Opera will feature two amazing performers in Trevor Martin and Joshua Jeremiah, as well as two local dancers. The opera will have additional performances on March 12 and 13 and is expected to sell out in the 110 seat Masonic Temple. Tickets are available online.

Composers and opera administrators will tell you that a second performance of a work is often more difficult than the premiere. Remarkably,  Adonis already has a second performance scheduled in Chicago with the Thompson Street Opera Company this Fall. Details are forthcoming. Our site has also learned that discussions are underway for a West Coast premiere.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's beautiful "Stufen" with Musica Marin:

Borzoni, along with Jake Heggie, has become particularly associated for writing major roles and works for low male voices. He has written a song cycle for bass-baritone Tim Hill, several songs for bass-baritone Randal Turner, penned two pieces for String Quartet and baritone for Marco Vassalli, and is currently working on a commission for bass Malte Roesner to be premiered at Musica Marin this year. Turner’s songs appear on his CD, “Living American Composers” and were performed at the 9/11 tribute at the U.S. embassy in Switzerland. He also wrote a two act opera titled “Antinous and Hadrian,” which features a baritone lead. His opera The Copper Queen, also to a libretto by John de los Santos, won Arizona Opera's Sparks Competition for new works in a runaway. The opera is based on a true story about the alleged ghost of a prostitute haunting a historic hotel in Bisbee, Arizona.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Robin Adams in first German production of Eötvös' Angels in America

Robin Adams as Prior Walter in Angels in America
British barihunk Robin Adams is the latest singer to portray the role of Prior Walter in Péter Eötvös' operatic adaptation of Angels in America. The show opened on March 10th at the Theater Freiburg and runs through June 3rd. This is the first performance of the opera in Germany.

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.  

Robin Adams as Prior Walter in Angels in America
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. Barihunk Andrew Garland sang Prior Walter at the New York City Opera last year to great acclaim, in a cast that included Michael Weyandt as Joe.

Additional cast information and tickets are available online.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Royal Opera to present Dmitri Hvorostovsky tribute

On Sunday, March 18th,  The Royal Opera in London will present a memorial concert in honor of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who died on November 22, 2017.

The concert will feature many of his friends and colleagues and will be conducted by Antonio Pappano with the Royal Opera Chorus. Tickets will go on sale on Monday, March 12th and will be limited to four per person. A cast list has not been posted as of this date.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky made his Royal Opera debut as Riccardo in I puritani in 1992 and appeared in nearly every season from 2001 to 2015. His roles included the great Verdi baritone roles such as Rigoletto, Count di Luna in Il trovatore and Giorgio Germont i La traviata, as well as Valentin in Faust and Tchaikovsky’s dashing Eugene Onegin (the role in which he made his final appearances with the Company in 2015.)

Hvorostovsky considered The Royal Opera his home company, and was much-loved for his glorious voice, big heart and generosity of spirit. He died at his home in London with his wife Florence by his side.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Malte Roesner gets devilish in rarely performed Schwanda the Bagpiper

Malte Roesner
On March 18th, bass-barihunk Malte Roesner will appear as the Devil in Jaromír Weinberger's rarely performed Schwanda the Bagpiper (Švanda dudák) at the Stadttheater Gießen. The opera, which has been translated into 17 languages, will be performed in its more common German translation as Scwhanda, der Dudelsackpfeiffer. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

The two act opera was written in 1926 to a Czech libretto by Miloš Kareš and is based on the drama Strakonický dudák aneb Hody divých žen (The Bagpiper of Strakonice) by Josef Kajetán Tyl, who was a leading figure in the Czech National Revival movement. Schwanda the Bagpiper became highly successful after its premiere, with over 2,000 performances, including at the Metropolitan Opera in 1931 with a cast that included the legendary Friedrich Schorr in the title role and the great Wagnerian contralto Karin Branzell as Queen Iceheart.

The opera fell from the repertory when the composer's music was banned by the Nazi regimes of Austria and Germany during the late 1930s

Michael Eder and Christoph Pohl in Dresden's Schwanda

Jaromír Weinberger (1896-1967) was a Czech born composer, who was naturalized as an American citizen in 1948. He was born into an Austria-Hungarian family of Jewish origin. In 1922, he moved to the United States where he taught at Cornell University and was professor of composition at was is now Ithaca College. During the 1950s, Weinberger moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. In later life, he developed cancer of the brain. This, together with money worries and the neglect of his music, prompted him to take a lethal sedative overdose in August 1967.

The opera tells the fantastical story of a simple farmer who is a notoriously gifted bagpiper.  He and his wife are visited by a thief, Babinski, who is on the run.  His tales of adventure lure Schwanda to agree to play his pipes for a mysterious Queen vexed with melancholy.  Happy again, her spell broken, she proposes to Schwanda, who agrees and gives her a kiss. The original wife arrives and is understandably unhappy, and Schwanda swears that if he kissed the Queen, he would go directly to hell.  Hell obliges, of course, and there Schwanda is tricked into giving the Devil his soul.  The thief Babinski then arrives to save the day, bringing Schwanda his pipes, beating the Devil at cards, and trading his winnings for Schwanda’s soul and triumphant release.

The "Polka and Fugue"from the opera are often heard on symphony concert programs.