Monday, November 26, 2018

Introducing Swedish barihunk Sebastian Durán

Sebastian Durán (Photo left: Malin Arnesson)
Swedish barihunk Sebastian Durán will be singing Kråkan (the Crow) in Benjamin Staern's Snödrottningen (The Snow Queen) at the Malmö Opera. Performances run from December 15 through January 19.

The 29-year-old singer studied at the Malmö Academy of Music and the University College of Opera in Stockholm. Shortly after graduating, he took on the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni on the Malmö Opera tour and at the Copenhagen Opera Festival. He went on to sing in Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vadstena Academy.

Sebastien Durán sings Hamlet's drinking song:

The Snow Queen was commissioned by the Malmö Opera and was premiered in 2016 with Durán in the cast. The opera is based on the 1844 story by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. 

There is a operatic link between Andersen and opera, as it is believed that he was in love with the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, although she did not have the same feeling for him. According to his biographer Carole Rosen, Andersen modeled the cold-hearted Snow Queen on Lind after she rejected him as a suitor.

You can listen to the entire opera on SoundCloud featuring Durán.

Nicolas Courjal getting downright devilish in 2019

Nicolas Courjal (left) and Méphistophélès
The role of Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust will be a main feature of French bass-barihunk's 2019 season, as he takes on the devilish role twice in the first part of the year.

From February 10-21, he'll perform the role at Opéra de Marseille with fellow barihunk Étienne Dupuis as Valentin. The cast also includes Nicole Car as Marguerite, Jean-François Borras and Jean-Pierre Furlan rotating the role of Faust, Philippe Ermelier as Wagner and Kévin Amiel as Siebel.

Then from May 22-28, he travels 159 kilometers down the road to Opéra de Nice where he'll be joined by Armando Noguera as Valentin, Stefano Secco as Faust, Nathalie Manfrino as Marguerite, Philippe Ermelier as Wagner and Camille Tresmontant as Siebel.

The final scene from Faust with Nicolai Ghiaurov, Joan Sutherland and Franco Correlli:

Gounod's libretto is based loosely on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Part One. It debuted at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on March 19, 1859. After its successful debut, it traveled to Germany, Belgium, Italy and England.

The opera opened the original Metropolitan Opera on October 22, 1883 and went on to become one of the most popular operas in the house, having received 753 performances to date.

In between performances, of Gounod's Faust, Courjal will sing the role of Bertram in Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable at La Monnaie with an all-star cast headed by soprano Lisette Oropesa and tenor Dimitry Korchak.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Barihunk duo in Beijing's "Don Giovanni"

Vittorio Prato
Two of Europe's hottest barihunks will be singing Don Giovanni and Masetto at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. Italian Vittorio Prato will take on Mozart's title character alongside Austrian Thomas Tatzl's Masetto.

The theatre is rotating a European cast on November 27, 29 and December 1 with an all-Chinese cast on November 28 and 30. Tickets and additional cast information is available online. The Chinese cast includes the amazing bass-baritone Ao Li as Leporello, who won the 2014 Operalia competition and has become a fixture at the San Francisco Opera.

Ao Li performs at the Mt Fuji Vocal Competition:

The National Centre for the Performing Arts was founded in 2010 and features European and Chinese artists performing both Western and Chinese opera. Chinese operas have included  Guo Wenjing's Rickshaw Boy, Qing Yin's The Long March, Meng Weidong's FANG Zhimin, Lei Lei's The Jinsha River and Visitors from the Snow Mountain.

Alexander Birch Elliott takes over remainder of Met "Pearl Fishers:

Met's Pearl Fishers and Alexander Elliott
The Metropolitan Opera has announced that Alexander Birch Elliott will sing the remaining performances of “Les Pêcheurs de Perles,” replacing fellow barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien as Zurga. The Polish singer was struggling to make it past the first act, prompting Elliott to step in for at least two performances, the first night being his Met debut.

There are three performances of the opera remaining on November 28, December 1st and 8th. Pretty Yende is set to sing all of them except for the December 8th showcase when Amanda Woodbury wil sing. Javier Camarena will appear as Nadir for all of the shows.

Tickets are available online

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Roberto Tagliavini makes his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut tonight

Roberto Tagliavini (Photos courtesy of Arena di Verona)
Italian bass-barihunk Roberto Tagliavini will make his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Verdi’s Il trovatore as Ferrando, which opens today and runs through December 9th.

He'll be joined by another singer making his house debut, the amazing Polish baritone Artur Ruciński, who is sing the Count di Luna. The rest of the all-star cast includes tenor Russell Thomas as Manrico, soprano Tamara Wilson as Leonora, and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as the tortured gypsy Azucena,

Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances for Tagliavini include Pagano in Verdi's I Lombardi at Opera de la ABAO  in January, Zaccaria in Verdi's Nabucco at the Bavarian State Opera and Basilio in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia in Parma.

Another famous singer with the same last name, Ferruccio Tagliavini, who was one of the greatest tenors of his era, made his U.S. debut in Chicago as Rodolfo in 1946.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Alexander Birch Elliot makes unexpected Met Opera debut

Alexander Birch Elliott (Photo from artist's website)
American barihunk Alexander Birch Elliot wasn't expecting to make his Metropolitan Opera debut on Wednesday night. However, there he was on stage for Act 2 of Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles after fellow barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien could not perform after the first act.

By all accounts it was a successful debut. New York Times music critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote, "Mr. Elliott tore into the music with heated intensity, his voice a beguiling timbre of mahogany carried by boyish ardor. When he was done, the audience cheered."

The blog Humbled and Overwhelmed, which covers the arts, wrote, "Alexander Birch Elliot was the type of cover that had everyone googling him by the time the curtain came down. What a triumph for him."

There are six remaining performance of Les Pêcheurs de Perles running through December 8th. The cast also includes Pretty Yende, Javier Camerena and Nicolas Testé. Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances for Alexander Elliott include Belcore in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore at Virginia Opera and Laura Kaminsky's As One at Portland Opera.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Justin Hopkins making Opera Vlaanderen debut as Lord Krishna

Justin Hopkins (Photo @Ellen Appel) and Satygraha (photo @Koen Broos)
American bass-barihunk Justin Hopkins is at Opera Vlaanderen this month, where he'll make his company debut singing 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, Tineke Van Ingelgem and barihunk Robin Adams as Mr. Kellenbach. 

Satyagraha (Sanskrit for “truth force”) is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s early years in South Africa, where he developed his groundbreaking ideas about nonviolent political resistance. Loosely based on the life of Gandhi, it forms the second part of Glass's "Portrait Trilogy" of operas about men who changed the world, which includes Einstein on the Beach and Akhnaten

The text is taken from the Bhagavad Gita and is sung in the original Sanskrit

Performances run from November 18-December 2. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Barihunk switch for Brahms Requiem

Samuel Hasselhorn
Barihunk Samuel Hasselhorn will be replacing fellow barihunk James Newby for the Brahms Requiem with Marin Alsop and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment this weekend.

The first concert is at Basingstoke’s Anvil concert hall on Saturday, November 10th followed by a second concert at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday, November 11th at 7pm. Sunday’s concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Monday, November 13th at 7.30pm. 

 Samuel Hasselhorn sings Brahms' "O Tod, wie bitter bist du":

After the Brahms Requiem, he will appear at Cambridge for a recital of Schubert’s Winterreise with Malcolm Martineau for Camerata Musica at the Peterhouse Theatre. Tickets are available online.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Christian Van Horn only ninth bass to get devilish at The Met

Christian van Horn as Mefistofele (courtesy of the Metroploitan Opera)
On November 8, 2018, Christian Van Horn will become just the ninth bass to sing the title role in Boito's Mefistofele at the Metropolitan Opera. He was preceded by some of the great singers of the last two centuries,  including Giovanni Mirabella who sang the role in 1883,  followed by Eduard de Reszke, Pol Plançcn, Fyodor Chaliapin, Adamo Didur, José Mardones, Dean Peterson and most famously Samuel Ramey.

Samuel Ramey sings "Ecco il monde" from Mefistofele:

The Robert Carsen production will feature an all-star cast that also includes tenor Michael Fabiano as Faust and soprano Angela Meade as Margherita. Mefistofele is the only completed opera by Arrigo Boito, who is best remembered for writing Verdi's librettos for Otello and Falstaff.  The composer was working on his opera Nerone when he died in 1918. The great conductor Arturo Toscanini led a three person team in completing the opera, which finally premiered posthumously in 1924.

Performances of Mefistofele will run through December 1st and tickets are available online.

This will be the opera's first performance at The Met since 2000. Of the 67 performances of Mefistofele, all but 13 came before 1927. Much of the recent interest in the opera is because of Samuel Ramey's devilishly sexy performances at the San Francisco Opera, which were captured on video.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Watch Alex Esposito as Assur in Semiramide

Alex Esposito as Assur (Image courtesy of Culturebox)
Alex Esposito, who is probably the preeminent interpreter of Assur from Rossini Semiramide in the world today, reprised his successful portrayal at La Fenice. He previously performed the role on three occasions at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. Esposito remains one of the few low voices around today who can flawlessly maneuver Rossini's coloratura to great effect.

Fortunately, a video of the October 25, 2018 performance is being shown on Culturebox with a cast that includes the formidable hunkentenor Enea Scala as Idreno, Jessica Pratt in the title role and Teresa Iervolino as Arsace.

Alex Esposito and Jessica Pratt (Photo: © Michele Crosera)
The production by Cecilia Ligorio is set in a timeless space with the chorus in shimmering gold and white costumes (including some shirtless eye candy along the way) The priests are costumed in black, while Semiramide is decked out in a black and white gown with golden accents.

The video is available until October 30, 2019 and can be viewed HERE.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Barihunk duo in Montrèal's Das Rheingold

Ryan McKinny and Soloman Howard
Opèra de Montrèal's upcoming performance of Wagner's Das Rheingold will feature the barihunk duo of Ryan McKinny as Wotan and Solomon Howard as Fafner.  The cast also includes Nathan Berg as Alberich, David Cangelosi as Mime, Aidan Ferguson as Fricka and Caroline Bleau as Freia. The production is directed by Brian Staufenbiel.

Performances are on November 10, 13, 15 and 17 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Montrèal. This is the first performance of the opera in the city in twenty years. Tickets are available online.

Watch Soloman Howard transform into Fafner:

The season will continue with barihunks Aubrey Allicock in Terence Blanchard's Champion and Nathan Keoughan in Ricky Ian Gordon's 27.

Upcoming performances for McKinny include reprising the role of Clarence in John Adams Girls of the Golden West at the Dutch National Opera and singing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Houston Grand Opera.

Upcoming performances for Soloman Howard include the role of the Lion in Jeanine Tesori's The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me at the Washington National Opera and The King in Verdi's Aida at The Met.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Gary Griffiths makes Oper Frankfurt debut in double bill of one-act operas

Gary Griffiths (photo from Oedipus Rex, Barbara Aumüller -left)
Welsh barihunk Gary Griffiths is making his Oper Frankfurt debut in a double bill of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, both of which deal with suppressed fears. He is singing Creon in Oedipus Rex and Robert in Iolanta. Fellow barihunk Brandon Cedel will perform the Messenger in Oedipus Rex.

Iolanta was Tchaikovsky's last opera and was first performed in 1892, the same year his Nutcracker ballet exploded onto the scene, keeps Iolanta's process of realization very focused on a musical level – in a one act work with a vivid, brightly colored, shimmering musical language.

Stravinsky and Jean Cocteau, on the other hand, fully intended to reach monumental heights in two acts. They created a mixture of music stereotypes and patterns: fateful, pulsating rhythms combine with harmonies, influences drawn from the Middle Ages, Russian orthodox church music and folk music, classic and jazz.

Griffiths was the winner of the Welsh Singers Competition in 2012 and a finalist representing Wales in the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where, in 2009, he won the Gold Medal Competition.

Performances run through November 25 and tickets are available online.

Robert Sims joins Oakland Symphony for Ghost Ship memorial concert

Robert Sims (photo: Christian Steiner)

Barihunk Robert Sims will perform the Brahms German Requiem with the Oakland Symphony on November 16th. He will be joined by soprano Patricia Westley under the baton of Michael Morgan.

The piece will be paired with the premiere of Richard Marriott's Ghost Ship Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, which has nothing to do with the ghost ship at the center of Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. Instead, it memorializes the 36 people who were killed on December 2, 2016 at the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland where a house music party was being performed.

In the late 1850’s, Brahms began a cantata of mourning, possibly influenced by Robert Schumann’s death in 1856. By 1861, he had selected several biblical texts and arranged a four-movement cantata.

After his mother’s death in 1865, he took up the work again and during the next two years the Requiem began to take its final shape.  Brahms did not take his text from the Roman Catholic Mass of the Dead, as had other composers before him. His intention was to select Old and New Testament texts that not only mourn the dead but also give comfort to the living. The texts he chose were taken exclusively from Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible; hence the title, A German Requiem, to distinguish it from the Latin Requiem of the Catholic liturgy. However, Brahms later mentioned that he would gladly have left out the word “German” and put “Mankind” in its place.

Tickets are available online.