Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hadleigh Adams in sexy, controverial Quartett at West Edge Opera

Hadleigh Adams and Heather Buck (photo: Cory Weaver)
Bass-barihunk Hadleigh Adams will headline this year's West Edge Opera Summer Festival in Luca Francesconi’s Quartett, directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer. The enigmatic and controversial opera is based on the play by the [East] German playwright Heiner Muller, which emphasized the author's abiding concerns, including the inherent cruelty of human existence, the way all relationships ultimately come down to struggles for possession and defeat of "the other."

Elkhanah Pulitzer will direct three performances of the opera on August 11, 16 and 19 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California, which is a former Ford assembly plant on the  San Francisco Bay designed by the legendary industrial architect Albert Kahn. West Edge Opera has become renowned for their choice of unusual and interesting locations to stage their operas.

Hadleigh Adams will perform the role of the Vicomte de Valmont, joined by soprano Heather Buck as the Marquise de Merteuil. The Marquise de Merteuil and the Viscount de Valmont are trapped in a salon having renounced all sense of love and play seductive mind games taking on the roles of the lovers Tourvel and Volanges. Hence, the title Quartett.

The Seduction Scene from Quartett at La scala:

Composer Luca Francesconi described the piece as a challenge to our ideas of opera, of society, of the dominance of Western thinking: “Don’t dare to come if you can't accept that you need to analyze what you do and who you are. This piece is violent, it’s sex, it’s blasphemy, it’s the absence of mercy.”

The opera was originally commissioned by La Scala and has since been performed at the Royal Opera in London, Vienna, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Rouen, and at the Spoleto Festival. The score features two orchestras: a live chamber orchestra with electronics, and a recorded full orchestra and chorus created for the La Scala Premiere.

The remainder of the season includes Claude Debussy’s lone opera Pélleas and Mélisande, with tenor David Blalock and Kendra Broom in the title roles, along with Efrain Solis as Golaud, contralto Malin Fritz as Geneviéve, and bass-baritone Philip Skinner singing the role of King Arkel. Performances are on August 4, 12 and17

The final offering is Matt Marks and Paul Peers’ Mata Hari, which originally premiered at the New York’s Prototype Festival in January of 2017. The cast includes mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney as Sister Leonide,  tenor Samuel Faustine as Vadime, and Daniel Cilli, Nikolas Nackley and Jason Sarten as the military men that become Mata Hari’s lovers and targets. Performances are on August 5, 10 and 18.

Tickets for all three shows are available online.

After Quartett, Hadleigh Adams returns to his home base at the San Francisco Opera to sing Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca this Fall with Carmen Giannattasio in the title role and tenor Brian Jagde as her lover. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Gianluca Margheri opens Spoleto Festival as Minotaur

Gianluca Margheri as Minotaur (photo: Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds)
Italian barihunk Gianluca Margheri will open the Spoleto Festival in Italy today as the title character in composer Silvia Colasanti's Il Minotauro (The Minotaur). The libretto was inspired by the story from Friedrich Dürrenmatt, in which the Minotaur cannot at once appreciate both his world’s coherence and its richness, either oversimplifying what he perceives or being baffled by it.
Gianluca Margheri (photo Roberto Viccaro)
Il Minotauro is a lyric opera in 10 scenes where the myth is centered on the terrifying monster transforming into a "human" drama reflected in the mirrors of the labyrinth. In addition to the three leading voices – Minotaur, Arianna and Teseo – the Chorus of the Birds provides a modern version of the Greek chorus who comment on the action.

Performances are on June 29 and July 1. Tickets and cast information is available online.  

Margheri will next appear as Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Ente Luglio Musicale Trapanese on July 30 and 31.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Evgueniy Alexiev takes on Jakob Lenz in Bielefeld

Evgueniy Alexiev as Jakob Lenz in Bielefeld (Image_ Theater Bielefeld)

Evgueniy Alexiev is the latest baritone to take on the challenging title in Wolfgang Rihm's "Jakob Lenz." He's performing the piece at the Theater Bielefeld on July 3 and 7. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

The one act chamber opera Jakob Lenz is based on the novella "Lenz" by Georg Büchner which deals with an incident in the life of the German poet. Lenz, who along with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, formed the “Sturm und Drang” (Storm and Stress) movement in German literature which made German authors the cultural leaders of Europe during the 18th century. 
Evgueniy Alexiev as Jakob Lenz in Bielefeld
(Image_ Theater Bielefeld)

The source of Büchner's material comes from the diaries of the social reformer and priest Johann Friedrich Oberlin, which detail the activities of his house guest, who was clearly suffering from mental illness at the time.  The suicidal poet stayed with Oberlin in a small village in the Vosges Mountains near the German-French border in the hope of recovering from his depression.

Büchner's opening pages describing the mountain landscape and hinting at Lenz's inner state with the single sentence "he did not feel at all tired, only it sometimes annoyed him that he could not walk on his hands instead of his feet" are reduced to a stage direction, but the rest of the libretto roughly follows Büchner's outline. A key element of the libretto deals with his trauma around the death of a small child whom was he was unable to resuscitate.

Evgueniy Alexiev as Jakob Lenz in Bielefeld
(© Bettina Stöß, Theater Bielefeld)
The opera was first performed at the Hamburg Staatsoper in 1979 with the late English baritone Richard Salter in the title role. It has subsequently been performed at the Wiener Festwochen and at Oper Stuttgart with Georg Nigl, Teatro Comunale di Bolgna with Tomas Möwes and the English National Opera with Andrew Shore.

At the end of Lenz's life he lived with Goethe's brother-in-law, Johann Georg Schlosser, where he lived in poverty.  After years of increasingly poor physical health and debilitating mental problems, Lenz died on the streets of Moscow 1792.

French-Bulgarian baritone Evgueniy Alexiev studied at the Lycée Français and the Superior National Conservatory of Sofia. He was a finalist at the 1995 Luciano Pavarotti International Competition of Singing in Philadelphia and won first prize in the Alès Opera Competition. As part of the ensemble in Bielefeld, he has performed Don Giovanni, Escamillo, Rossini's Figaro, Marcello and Athanaël. He also performs regularly in France, including at the Opera of Strasbourg, Opera of Saint Etienne, Opera of Dijon and at the Opera of Montpellier

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Barihunks prominent in Boston Lyric Opera's new season

Duncan Rock as Tarquinius
The Boston Lyric Opera has announced their 2018-2019, which focuses on operas about strong women, inspired by stories of women, and led by women directors. They also add a few barihunks to the mix!

The season kicks off from October 12-21 with Rossini's classic opera The Barber of Seville, directed by Rosetta Cucchi and starring barihunk Matthew Worth in the title role alongside the amazing mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack as Rosina. The cast is rounded out by Jesus Garcia as Almaviva and David Crawford as Basilio.

Next up is the world premiere of Tod Machover’s and Simon Robson’s Schoenberg in Hollywood, part of the company's New Works commissioning series. The opera is about the composer’s struggle to assimilate into American culture after fleeing Nazi Europe and maintaining his artistic integrity amidst the lure of celebrity.

Brandon Cedel and David Cushing
That will be followed by Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, a timely opera for the #MeToo era, as rape and issues about male sexual aggression were not discussed when the composer wrote the piece. For that reason, the opera’s sensitivity to Lucretia’s experience, and her husband’s response is both prescient and uncomfortably familiar. The opera will feature the barihunk trio of Duncan Rock as Tarquinius, Brandon Cedel as Collatinus, and David McFerrin as Junius. They'll be joined by Kelley O’Connor as Lucretia, Nancy Maultsby as Bianca and Jesse Darden and Antonia Tamer as the Male Chorus and Female Chorus. Performances run from March 11-17, 2019.

Duncan Rock sings Tarquinius' aria from The Rape of Lucretia:

The season ends with Poul Ruders and Paul Bentley adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid’s Tale directed by Anne Bogart and with new orchestrations. The story centers around Offred, one woman out of many who were stripped of her name, identity, and personhood by a cruel and oppressive government regime. The seem also seems prescient for today's political climate.

The piece features bass-barihunk David Cushing, along with Jennifer Johnson Cano as Offred, Caroline Worra as Aunt Lydia, Maria Zifchak as Serena Joy and Matthew DiBattista as The Doctor.

Additional information about the season can be found at

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Levent Bakirci in revealing Il Prigioniero at Maggio Musicale

Levent Bakirci in Il Prigioniero
Levent Bakirci, who we recently featured starring in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Teatro Municipal Santiago in Chile, just made his debut at the Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Bakirci is singing the difficult title role in Luigi Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero and spends much of the opera in little more than a pair of briefs. 

Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero is a 7-part, 50-minute opera which was first performed on May 3, 1948 for the XIII Maggio Festival, and was considered one of the cornerstones of 20th century musical theater. It was first broadcast by the Italian radio station RAI on December 1, 1949.

The opera has two remaining performances on June 21 and 23. Tickets are available online and start at only € 10. 

Levent Bakirci in Il Prigioniero
The work is based on the short story La torture par l'espérance ("Torture by Hope") from the collection Nouveaux contes cruels by the French writer Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam and from La Légende d'Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak by Charles de Coster. Some of the musical material is based on Dallapiccola's 1938 choral work Canti di prigionia. After ruminating on the idea, he started work on the piece in 1939 at the suggestion of his wife Laura.

Bakirci, graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara before pursuing his career as a singer, including studying at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

He has performed Don Giovanni at the Staatstheater Nürnberg, where he is an ensemble member, as well as the Theater Bremen, where he was a member of the ensemble from 2008-11. He has appeared at some of the leading opera houses of the world, including the Theatre du Caputole Toulouse, Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Oper Stuttgart, as well as with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester and with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie Orchestra (NDW).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Christopher Bolduc takes on Don Giovanni in new concept

Christopher Bolduc (right) as Don Giovanni in Wiesbaden
Christopher Bolduc continues to make his mark at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden in Germany, where he has performed Belcore in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore, Lescaut in Massenet's Manon, Wolfram von Eschenbach in Wagner's Tannhäuser, Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème and Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte.

His latest performance will be in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni in Nicholas Brieger's new concept where the Don's conflict is as much with growing older, as it is with women. The current run goes from June 17-29 and includes Netta Or as Donna Anna, Ioan Hotea as Don Ottavio, Young Doo Park as the Commedatore, Heather Engebretson as Donna Elvira, Shavleg Armasi as Leporello, Benjamin Russell as Masetto and Katharina Konradi as Zerlina. The production returns later this year in September and October, as well next year from January 30-February 23. Tickets are available online.

Christopher Bolduc sings Britten's "O Waly, Waly":

Bolduc will take a break from playing Mozart's most famous seducer in November to sing the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin opening on November 10th.

Regular readers will remember his recent sexy debut at the National Theatre (Národní divaldo) in Prague in the title role of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd. The photos are worth checking out HERE.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

John Brancy wins 5 AWARDS at Concours musical international de Montréal

John Brancy
American barihunk John Brancy may need a Brinks truck to haul all of his winnings back to the United States from Canada. He took home five prizes at the prestigious Concours musical international de Montréal, including the $30,000 Léopold Simoneau’ First Prize for Art Song (along with frequent collaborator Peter Dugan, the $50000 James Norcop Career Development Grant, the $2,500 Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity Prize, the $5,000 French Mélodie Award and $2,000 for being a finalist in the Aria Division.

John Brancy appears at the 1:33:00 mark in the French Mélodie competition:

Other winners included baritone Julien van Mellaerts for the German Lied Award, mezzo Rihab Chaieb and mezzo Emily D'Angelo for Best Canadian Artist, mezzo Clara Osowski and mezzo Emily D'Angelo for the Radio-Canada People's Choice Award, tenor Mario Bahg for the Aria Division, and tenor Andrew Haji for the Oratorio Award.

This summer, John Brancy will appear as the baritone soloist at the 2018 Carmel Bach Festival, performing Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and Bach's St. Matthew's Passion. In the Fall, he will appear in the lead role of Pete in Olga Neuwirth's setting of David Lynch's movie "Lost Highway".

Monday, June 4, 2018

Listen to Simon Keenlyside's return as Don Giovanni

Michael Adams (left) and Simon Keenlyside as Don Giovanni in Genève
Simon Keenlyside fans will be thrilled to learn that they'll be able to hear his Don Giovanni from the Grand Théâtre de Genève on June 30th at 8 PM GMT/2 PM EST/11 AM PST on Espace2, the French-speaking Swiss radio station.  

The opera is the final part of director David Bösch's trio of Mozart/Da Ponte operas, which began in Amsterdam with the Marriage of Figaro in 2016 and continued at the Grand Théâtre de Genève with Così fan tutte in 2017. In his 1950s-era production Keenlyside is a hyperactive Don Giovanni who is fueled by cocaine. He takes pictures of his conquests on a Polaroid camera and gives them to his sidekick Leporello to paste into a photo album.
upcoming  performances on June 8, 11, 13, 15 and 17. Tickets are available online.

The opera also features American barihunk Michael Adams as Masetto.

After Genève, Keenlyside heads to London to sing Ford at the Royal Opera opposite Bryn Terfel's Sir John Falstaff. He will return to Don Giovanni in March 2019 at the Bavarian State Opera.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Opera isn't dying, but you can find it at Green-Wood Cemetery

Andrew Bogard and Samantha Hankey
Opera isn't dying, but it will be at the Green-Wood Cemetery starting on June 6th and making a ghostly reappearance on June 8 and 10.

The world premiere of David Hertzberg's chamber opera The Rose Elf will be presented in the catacombs of the historic cemetery, which was founded in 1838. The opera will be directed by the visionary director R. B. Schlather and features bass-barihunk Andrew Bogard, along with the amazing, award-winning mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, as well as lyric soprano Alisa Jordheim and hunkentenor Kyle Bielfield.

The Rose Elf, which is based on Hans Christian Anderson's 1839 story The Elf of the Rose,  tells the tale of two lovers torn apart by a senseless act of violence; and of a strange and sensuous being, at once near and distant, who witnesses this tragedy and is transformed.

Andrew Bogard (left) and Kyle Bielfield (right)
When the "rural cemetery" movement started in the 1830's and burials moved from churches to park-like settings, cemeteries became gathering places for the public. They were often designed by noted landscape architects like Frederick Law Olmsted and included Victorian gardens, beautiful statues, fountains and gathering areas.

Opera companies are also seeking out more original spaces to perform operas, with West Edge Opera performing in an abandoned train station and an old pipe and steel factory, On Site Opera put on a production at Madame Tussauds Wax museum as well as the Bronx Zoo, and an interactive opera was performed at the old Los Angeles Train Station complete with headphones and unsuspecting passengers as part of the "cast".

The amazing young mezzo Samantha Hankey:

For The Rose Elf, spectators will be placed in long single rows along the sides of the central space, with a nine-piece orchestra at the far end and the singers moving up and down. The catacombs, which were built in the 1850s are normally closed to the public. Ticket information is available online.

Andrew Bogard has a Master of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School. He won first place in the 2014 Mario Lanza Scholarship Competition, second place and audience choice in the 2015 Cooper-Bing Opera Columbus Competition, and was a Mid-Atlantic regional finalist and encouragement award recipient in the 2015 MET Competition. Last season he joined the Washington National Opera's Young Artist Program, where he sang the title role in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Leporello in Don Giovanni.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Hadleigh Adams to star in Fellow Travelers at Minnesota Opera

Hadleigh Adams
New Zealand-born barihunk Hadleigh will take on the role of Hawkins Fuller in Gregory Spears' Fellow Travelers at the Minnesota Opera opposite hunkentenor Andres Acosta.

Fellow Travelers, which was written in collaboration with librettist Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury, was developed in a 2013 Opera Fusion workshop. Barihunk Joseph Lattanzi sang the world premiere in Cincinnati in 2016 and reprised the role in Chicago.  

The opera is set in Washington D.C. against the backdrop of the McCarthy-era "lavender scare" and tells the story of Timothy “Skippy” Laughlin, an aspiring young journalist, and Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller, a handsome, profligate State Department official. A chance encounter with Hawk leads to Tim's first job in the Nation's capital, and his first love affair. As his involvement deepens, Skippy struggles to reconcile his political convictions, his religious beliefs, and his love for Fuller – an entanglement that will end in a stunning act of betrayal. The libretto is based on the novel by American novelist, essayist and critic Thomas Mallon.

Performances will run from June 16-26 and tickets and additional cast information is available online. The gay-themed opera will overlap with Twin Cities Pride, which takes place June 23-24.

Later this summer, Hadleigh Adams can be seen at West Edge Opera as Vicomte de Valmont in Francesconi's Quartett. He then heads to the mainstage of the San Francisco Opera for Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca.