Friday, August 31, 2018

Three barihunks advance to Operalia finals; No sopranos!

Sean Michael Plumb, Simon Shibambu and Johannes Kammler
Three barihunks have made it to the finals of the Operalia competition in Lisbon, Portugal. South Afrian bass Simon Shibambu, American baritone Sean Michael Plumb and German baritone Johannes Kammler are among the final 12 singers who will compete on September 2nd.

In a bit of shocker, not a single soprano made it to finals. Readers of Barihunks may recall the "Baritone Blackout" in 2014 when not a single baritone made it to the finals despite some amazing low voice talent in the competition.

Bass Simon Shibambu graduated from the Royal College of Music, and in 2017 entered his second season as a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He next appears at the English National Opera in Richard Strauss' Salome, which opens on September 28.

Johannes Kammler is a former Samling Artist and Britten-Pears Young Artist and a member of the Opera Studio at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He next appears in Trier in the title role of Mendelssohn's Elias on October 3. He then heads to the Canadian Opera Company to sing Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte.

Johannes Kammler sings Pierrot's Lied:

Sean Michael Plumb was graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music and made his national television debut in the HBO documentary “Renée Fleming: A YoungArts MasterClass.” He is currently a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper ensemble. He next appears as Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with the Kentucky Opera opening on September 21.

The other finalists are the brilliant American mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, Russian tenor Migran Agadzhanyan, Candian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, Canadian/Italian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, Portuguese tenor Luis Gomes, Chinese tenor Long Long, Belarus tenor Pavel Petrov, Swiss/French mezzo-soprano Marina Viotti and Russian tenor Arseny Yakovlev.

The competition's five Zarzuela finalists are mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, tenor Luis Gomes, tenor Pavel Petrov, Brazilian mezzo-soprano Josy Santos and Colombian/American soprano Vanessa Vasquez.

The September 2nd finals will be streamed on Medici.TV and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Justin Hopkins takes on Beethoven, Glass and holiday standards

Justin Hopkins (photo on right: Ellen Appel, Ft Worth Opera)
The sexy, shirtless photo of Justin Hopkins that we posted on Facebook yesterday drew a lot of praise, as well as comments about his glorious voice. For those who would like to experience this amazing talent live, he has some upcoming performances on both sides of The Pond. 

On September 15 and 16, he'll be joining the Dayton Opera for their season opening performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. He'll be joined by soprano Kasia Borowiec, mezzo-soprano Noragh Devlin and tenor John Pickle. Tickets and additional program information is available online

He then heads to Opera Vlaanderen, where he'll sing Lord Krishna and Parsi Rustomji in Philip Glass' Satygraha in an all-star cast headed by the fearless tenor Peter Tantsits, the lush voiced mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, Rihab Chaieb, Denzil Delaere and Tineke Van Ingelgem. This will be Hopkins' debut with the Belgian company. Performances run from November 18-December 2. Tickets and additional information is available online.

He then returns to his native shore, for a Holiday Pops concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony on December 6, 7, 8 and 9. The concert includes Hopkins singing holiday standards along with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. Tickets are available online.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Waltteri Torikka in world premiere of "Sanatorio Express"

Waltteri Torikka (Image: Finnish National Opera)
Regular readers may recall our posts about Finnish barihunk Waltteri Torikka being named "Sexiest Man in Finland" and for winning MTV's singing competition Tähdet, Tähdet (Stars, Stars) with his hip swinging rendition of Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loca.  

He is currently slated to appear in the world premiere of Iiro Rantala and Minna Lindgren's  Sanatorio Express, a comic opera about today’s neuroses and relationships. The opera plays on the spirit of 19th century comic opera, including catchy melodies, plot twists, and troubled, if not complicated, romantic relationships. The opera deals with more modern issues of weight loss, peacefulness/mindfulness, social media, as well as the timeless issues of deception and addiction.

Waltteri Torikka sings Don Giovanni's serenade:

Torikka plays Sports Addict, the husband of the female lead, who has fallen in love with Meditation Addict while at a sanatorium where she's trying to lose a few extra pounds.

The opera opens on September 27 and runs through January 11. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sam Roberts-Smith sings "Nessun dorma" like you've never heard it before

Sam Roberts-Smith on mix94.5 in Perth

Check out Aussie barihunk Sam Roberts-Smith singing on Perth's mix94.5’s The Big Breakfast with Clairsy, Matt & Kymba morning show. He joins comedian/host Matt Dyktynski on his Hits From Ya Hood for a revised rendition of Puccini's "Nessun dorma," which has both revised lyrics and transposed down a bit!

You can check it out HERE.

Sam Roberts-Smith just wrapped up a run as Moralès in Bizet's Carmen at the West Australian Opera.

Happy 100th Birthday, Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, and pianist. His special gift of bridging the gap between the concert hall and the world of Broadway made him one of the most glamorous and popular musical figures of his day.

As a composer Bernstein was a controversial figure. His large works, including the symphonies Jeremiah (1943), Age of Anxiety (1949), and Kaddish (1963), are not considered masterpieces. Yet they are skillfully shaped and show his sensitivity to small changes of musical variety. He received more praise for his Broadway musicals. The vivid On the Town (1944) and Wonderful Town (1952) were followed by Candide (1956), which, though not a box-office success, is considered by many to be Bernstein's most original score. West Side Story (1957) received international praise. Bernstein's music, with its strong contrasts of violence and tenderness, determines the feeling of the show and contributes to its special place in the history of American musical theater.

Sir Thomas Allen sings "Dear Boy" from Candide:

In works that could be dubbed operas, his most notable roles for low male voice are the philosopher Dr. Pangloss in Candide who sings "Dear Boy" and Sam in Trouble in Tahiti who sings "There's a Law." Perhaps his most popular and frequently recorded work for baritone is "Simple Song" from Mass.

His role as an educator, in seminars at Brandeis University (1952–1957) and in teaching duties at Tanglewood are legendary and still watched by students today.  He found an even larger audience through television, where his animation and distinguished simplicity had an immediate appeal. Two books of essays, Joy of Music (1959) and Infinite Variety of Music (1966), were direct products of television presentations.

Sebastià Peris sings "There's a Law" from Trouble in Tahiti:
Bernstein had his greatest impact as a conductor. His appearances overseas—with or without the New York Philharmonic—brought about an excitement approaching frenzy. These responses were due in part to Bernstein's energy and emotion. It is generally agreed that his readings of twentieth-century American scores showed a dedication and authority rarely approached by other conductors of his time. His performances and recordings also ushered in a revival of interest in the music of Gustav Mahler.
There was some surprise when, in 1967, Bernstein resigned as music director of the Philharmonic. But it was in keeping with his nature and the diversity of his activities that he sought new channels of expression. After leaving the Philharmonic Bernstein traveled extensively, serving as guest conductor for many of the major symphonies of the world, including the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic. He became something of a fixture in those cities in the last few decades of his life.

Theo Hoffman's amazing rendition of "Simple Song":

Bernstein also became caught up in the cultural upheaval of the late 1960s. He angered many when he claimed all music, other than pop, seemed old-fashioned. Politically, too, he drew criticism. When his wife hosted a fund-raiser for the Black Panthers in 1970, charges of anti-Semitism were leveled against Bernstein himself. Press reports caused severe damage to his reputation. Bernstein also brought criticism with his stance against the Vietnam War. His activism ultimately led J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI to monitor his activities and associations.

Thomas Hampson sings "Lucky to be Me" from On the Town:

In 1971 Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It was, according to biographer Humphrey Burton, "the closest [Bernstein] ever came to achieving a synthesis between Broadway and the concert hall." The huge cast performed songs in styles ranging from rock to blues to gospel. Mass debuted on Broadway later that year.

He died in New York City, on October 14, 1990, of a heart attack brought on by emphysema and other complications.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Benjamin Appl to replace Piotr Beczala

Tenor Piotr Beczala had to cancel his August 25th Schubertiade Schwarzenberg recital due to laryngitis. Barihunk Benjamin Appl has been tapped to replace him and will perform a program of Schubert, Schumann and Grieg. Accompanist Helmut Deutsch, who was scheduled to play piano for Beczala, will perform with Appl. Tickets are available online.

Appl has other upcoming recitals on September 9th in Köln and on September 21 in Bad Kohlgrub. He then heads to Tokyo to perform Orff's Carmina Burana with soprano Olga Peretyatko and countertenor Max Emanuel Cenčić.

On September 7th, Appl will release his solo album of Bach with Concerto Köln for Sony Classical. The album includes music from the St. Matthew Passion, as well as lesser known pieces selected by Appl.

Sexy photos of Davide Luciano's wildly popular Barber; Reprising role throughout Europe

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Photo: ©Studio Amati Bacciardi)

Davide Luciano's shirtless Figaro in The Rossini Opera Festival's "The Barber of Seville" pretty much stole the show for every reason imaginable. During his crowd-pleasing "Largo al factotum" he not only hit all the right comic and musical notes, but strutted around wearing only a pair of tight black pants. The crowd at the August 22nd closing performance at Pesaro's Adriatic Arena showered their approval with a nine minute round of wild applause at the curtain call. Later in the show he accompanied the Count Almaviva's "Se il mio nome" on guitar.

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Image: Pesaro Rossini Festival)
Since word spread pretty quickly in operatic circles about Davide Luciano's performance, we figured that we'd share a few images from the production.

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Image: Pesaro Rossini Festival)

Davide Luciano as Figaro (Image: Pesaro Rossini Festival)
If you missed Luciano's performance of the Barber, you'll have a number of chances to catch him in the next year. He'll sing it at the at the Dutch National Opera opening on November 10, then at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on December 30 and January 2,  and finally at the Semperoper Dresden opening March 9, 2019. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Zachary Gordin in concert celebrating Reynaldo Hahn (and his new CD)

Zachary Gordin
Barihunk Zachary Gordin and accompanist Bryan Nies will perform a recital in celebration of the release of their CD “Amour sans ailes” on the MSR Classics label. The concert is at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in California on Saturday, August 25th at 7:30pm.

The concert is presented by Michael Morgan, Music Director of the Oakland Symphony and features a program of music by Hahn, Massenet, Fauré and Duparc.

The concert tells the story of the relatively unknown composer Reynaldo Hahn through his music, teachers, and musical contemporaries. The recital follows his path from a child prodigy and star of La Belle Époque, his return to a changed France post-WWI, and his struggles to find a new musical identity. 

Tickets are available online.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Watch Quirijn de Lang as Sam in Trouble in Tahiti on OperaVision

Quirijn de Lang as Sam in Trouble in Tahiti (Image courtesy Opera North)
You can watch Dutch barihunk Quirijn de Lang in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti with Opera North on OperaVision from August 25-September 11. He will be joined by the Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as the other half of the argumentative couple.

Bernstein wrote the libretto and music for Trouble in Tahiti and directed and conducted the premiere himself in June 1952 at the University of Brandeis, Massachusetts. Eager to make his one-act satirical opera seem as realistic as possible, Bernstein set it in the aftermath of World War II, a time when consumerism was spreading through society. His work had a number of autobiographical references and the male protagonist, Sam, shares his name with Bernstein’s father who left Russia to find the 'American Dream'.

The opera opens with a jingle performed by a musical trio who sing into the microphone of a recording studio. Bernstein wanted this trio to "never stop smiling". The jazz rhythms evoke the radio commercials of the time and the trio is reminiscent of an ancient Greek choir that satirically comments on the story.

Quirijn de Lang will be performing Danilo in Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow with Opera North beginning on September 29th and running through November 17th.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Luis Alejandro Orozco reprising El Payador at Arizona Opera

Luis Alejandro Orozco as El Payador (Photo right: C. Stanley)
Barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco will be reprising the role of El Payador (the gaucho minstrel) in Astor Piazzolla's tango infused opera Maria de Buenos Aires at the Arizona Opera. Orozco will be joining forces with director John de los Santos, both of whom have become closely associated with this opera. Orozco has performed the lead role in Lexington, Miami, New Orleans, Fort Worth, Mill City Summer Opera and Nashville.

Performance in Phoenix will be on September 28, 29 and 30, with additional performances in Tucson on October 6 and 7. Tickets are available online.

The opera opens with Duende (the Narrator) who relates the story of Maria, a prostitute born in the slums “one day when God was drunk … with a curse in her voice.” Maria is seduced by the rhythms of the tango and soon becomes “the most sorcerous singer and lover” in Buenos Aires. However, her “fatal passion” arouses the wrath of robbers and brothel madams who shoot her to death, and bury her in an unmarked grave. In death, Maria is pulled into a dreamlike Hell where she encounters the choral circus of psychoanalysts who dissect her to the core. She makes a resurrection of sorts when the Duende summons her to return as a Shadow, give birth to a new Maria, and haunt the sordid streets of Buenos Aires which she once walked.

The opera has become popular in Germany, where is has been performed in apparently every city that starts with the letter "B": Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Biel, Bremen and coming to Bremerhaven in April 2019.

A clip of Luis Alejandro Orozco as El Payador:

Unlike most who contributed to the origins and development of the tango, Piazzolla came from a different background. He was a classically trained, refined musician and composer. Piazzolla undoubtedly made tango available to a wider audience and helped extend its boundaries, both stylistically and geographically. For that, he was equally admired and criticized, but it is almost universally recognized that Piazzolla’s style lent tango worldwide cultural legitimacy, even in what is known as the realm of “classical” music.

Luis Alejandro Orozco and Catalina Cuervo (Photo: Jeff Roffman)
Besides being an extraordinarily talented composer, he was also an exceptional bandoneon player. Piazzolla drew from classical and contemporary sources as well as from the deep roots of tango, creating a powerful synthesis that propelled it from being in some regards a thing of the past to a contemporary language, reinvigorating the style. 

Luis Alejandro Orozco was born in El Paso Texas, but raised in Juarez, Mexico for most of his life. He has performed with such companies as Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, El Paso Opera and the Seoul International Opera Festival in South Korea.

Friday, August 17, 2018

John Brancy in German premiere of Lost Highway

John Brancy
American barihunk John Brancy will star as Pete Dayton in the German premiere of Olga Neuwirth and Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek's Lost Highway at Oper Frankfurt featuring Ensemble Modern. Performances will run from September 9-October 3.

Lost Highway is a 2003 opera adaptation of the 1997 David Lynch film of the same name. It premiered in Graz in 2003 at the Steirischer Herbst Festival of New Music and made its American premiere at Finney Chapel in Oberlin, Ohio and at the Miller Theater in New York City in February 2007 featuring barihunk Michael Weyandt and students from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. The UK premiere in 2008 at the ENO featured barihunk Quirijn de Lang as Pete Dayton.

Olga Neuwirth's Lost Highway Suite:

Lost Highway is a composition that lives from the transformation of physical spaces, diverse inner and outer spaces, into sound spaces. In performance, this is achieved through various, three-dimensional sound projections, which surround the audience with playing, live-electronics, and virtual acoustics, resulting in different experiential relationships from within and without, close by, and from a distance

The Frankfurt performances also feature Elizabeth Reiter, Hugo Armstrong, and David Moss in leading roles.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

David Diston posts funny bio for upcoming Winterreise

David Diston
We've been meaning to post about Canadian David Diston for at least a year, but his bio for his upcoming bio for the 24-baritone Winterreise-fest was the best motivation to get this done. Regular readers may recall barihunk Zachary Luchetti's hysterical and epic biography that we posted about in 2015 and Diston's is shorter, but every bit as clever.
"David Diston’s rapidly developing artistry is quickly gaining him recognition as a ‘sonorous baritone’ (Huffpost Alberta) with ‘full-throated and characterful singing’ (Calgary Herald). Also hailed as 'the best baritone ever' (Dave's Mom), Mr. Diston recently performed a most dramatic rendition of Don Giovanni, in his shower. Critically acclaimed for his coffee consumption abilities, David becomes a bigger fan of coloratura with each additional cup. Don't miss David in his upcoming appearances as 'King of the Night' in his living room, and 'passenger' on the 11:43pm Lakeshore West from Union."
You can hear (and see) Diston live in the Tongue In Cheek Productions performance of twenty-four basses and baritones singing Schubert's Winterreise on Wednesday, September 5, 8pm at Lula Lounge in Toronto. Some of the singers include Jason Howard, Doug MacNaughton, Dion Mazerolle, Alexander Hajek, Cairan Ryan, Aaron Durand, Michael Nyby and Olivier Laquerre. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Joshua Bloom to premiere solo opera for bass; Role debut at Bluebeard

Joshua Bloom (Photo: Kim Hardy)
There aren't many solo works for bass, so we were thrilled when we learned that Joshua Bloom would be starring in the world premiere of Richard Ayres' The Garden at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek opening on September 5th. The work will be paired with two musical compositions, William Kuo's In flieht wie ein Schatten and William Dougherty's The new normal.

The one-man, semi-staged opera with video is a cyclical tale about a man who, dissatisfied with his life, starts digging from his garden down to the center of the earth. He then climbs a tree and is transported through clouds and flocks of birds, ever higher up into the heavens, only to land up in the very same tree in his garden. 

Tickets are available online.  

After The Garden, the Australian singer will head to the Irish National Opera for a piece with double the cast, Béla Bartók's two singer masterpiece, Bluebeard's Castle. This will be Bloom's role debut in the one-act opera based on the French literary tale "La Barbe bleue" by Charles Perrault. Bloom will be joined by soprano Paula Murrihy as his ill-fated wife Judith.

The piece didn't receive its U.K. premiere until 1957 at the Rudolf Steiner Theatre, which was 39 years after the opera debuted.

Performances are on October 12, 13 and 14 and tickets are available online.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Marco Vassalli returns to reprise acclaimed American debut program

Marco Vassalli's Barihunk photo shoot in France
German barihunk Marco Vassalli will be back in the United States to reprise his stunning U.S. debut with Musica Marin two years ago. In 2016, he premiered two works by composer-in-residence Clint Borzoni based on German poetry.

The first song is based on Hermann Hesse's Stufen and the second text Margere Kost is by the contemporary poet Hilde Domin. These are the first German language texts set by Borzoni. The premiere was so popular two years ago that a second performance had to be added. Demand has been so high that Vassalli has agreed to repeat the performance along with Samuel Barber's Dover Beach, which he also performed in his U.S. debut.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen" with over 16k views on YouTube!

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Magere Kost" with over 8k views on YouTube!

This year, Musica Marin is presenting their first festival setting and it will kick off on September 21st with Vassalli performing on a yacht on San Francisco Bay with food and wine prepared by “Best of the Bay” Chef Mark Furr. On the following day, Vassalli will repeat his performance of the Barber and Borzoni piece, all of which are set for string quartet and baritone, along with Johannes Brahms' String Sextet No. 2 in G Major Op. 36.

The Musica Marin International Chamber Music Festival performs masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire in various settings in the San Francisco Bay Area along with gourmet food and wines from Napa and Sonoma counties.

Tickets and additional information is available online. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sexy photos of Hadleigh Adams in Quartett; Opening today at West Edge Opera

Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
Bass-barihunk Hadleigh Adams is headling 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 1982 play by the [East] German playwright Heiner Muller (itself based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liasions dangereuses), 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 is directing three performances, which opens tonight and has additional performances on August 16 and 19 at the Craneway Conference Center 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.

Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
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.

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.”
Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
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 West Edge Opera's 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. Remaining performances are on August 12 and17
Heather Buck and Hadleigh Adams (Photo: Cory Weaver)
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. There is one remaining performance on August 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. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Watch Erwin Schrott as Offenbach's four villains from DNO

Erwin Schrott as 2 of 4 Offenbach villains (Images: Dutch National Opera)
Conductor Carlo Rizzi and German director Tobias Kratzer have created a revised version of Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, which may upset some purists. Using a variety of versions of the opera, the duo reduced some of the spoken dialogue and left out some popular numbers, including the villain’s aria “Scintille, diamant” and the septet.

This means that you won't get to hear barihunk Erwin Schrott sing the famous aria in his Dutch National Opera debut, as well his first staged performance of the four villains.

You can watch the complete broadcast HERE. And so you don't miss out on hearing Schrott sing Dapertutto's famous aria, here is the version from his album.

Schrott can currently be seen as Escamillo at the Arena di Verona in Bizet's Carmen from August 9-25. He then takes the torreador to the Vienna State Opera, where he'll perform the role from Septemeber 6-12.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

ENO presents its first-ever production of Britten's "Paul Bunyan"

Paul Bunyan by Rick Meyerowitz and Matthew Durkan (photo: Pablo Strong)

The English National Opera (ENO) will mount their first-ever performance of Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall in East London as part of their Studio Live series, which presents opera in more intimate environments.

Paul Bunyan, with its libretto by one of England’s greatest poets W.H. Auden, is a retelling of the great American folk tale featuring the titular giant. It is one of Britten’s most eclectic scores, with blues, folk and hymns incorporated into a story of civilization's destructive relationship to the ecology around it, and the dangers of the American Dream.

Matthew Durkan talks about his time at ENO:

Barihunk Matthew Durkan, a Harewood Young Artist at ENO, will sing the antagonistic foreman Hal Helson, while. Olivier Award-winning actor Simon Russell Beale will provide the offstage voice of Paul Bunyan. The rest of the cast includes tenor Elgan Llŷr Thomas as the bookkeeper Johnny Inkslinger, soprano Rowan Pierce as Tiny and tenor William Morgan sings Hot Biscuit Slim. 

Durkan, a recent graduate of the National Opera Studio, was a winner of the 2014 Stuart Burrows International Voice Award and a finalist in the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Competition. His roles at ENO have also included Ormonte Partenope, Malcolm Fleet Marnie, Marullo Rigoletto, Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fiorello The Barber of Seville and Yamadori Madam Butterfly. 

Performances are on September 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8. Tickets and additional cast information is available online