Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Opera returns to historic Philly opera house with André Courville

Ezio Pinza and André Courville (photo: Dario Acosta)

Opera will return to the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia for what is believed to be the first time since 1934 when the Academy of Vocal Arts presents the BrAVA Philadelphia! concert on March 28, 2020.

The partial list of singers includes bass-barihunk André Courville along with sopranos Angela Meade, Latonia Moore, and Vanessa Vasquez; tenors Michael Fabiano, Bryan Hymel, and Taylor Stayton; and mezzo-soprano Hannah Ludwig.

The recently restored 3,100 seat theater opened in 1908 with a production of Carmen and was the site for the U.S. premiere of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck in 1931with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra.

New York's Metropolitan Opera used to perform regularly in Philadelphia and many of the most famous baritones and basses of the early 20th century performed there, including Fyodor Chaliapin, Edouard de Reszke, Antonio Scotti, Pasquale Amato, Giuseppe De Luca, Lawrence Tibbett, George Cehanovsky and Ezio Pinza.

The building has been used as a movie house, ballroom, sports venue, and church. After decades of neglect and deferred maintenance, it reopened in December 2018 with a special appearance by Bob Dylan following a reported $56 million renovation. Now called Met Philadelphia, it hosts more than a dozen shows a month as a Live Nation venue.

Tickets to the concert are available online.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Barihunk bliss in Seattle's Eugene Onegin

Michael Adams, John Moore and David Leigh
If you want to start off the new year with some barihunk bliss then you might want to head to the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Opera will be rotating barihunks as the title character in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin running from January 11-25 with John Moore and Michael Adams both taking on the charming, but jaded character.

Also in the cast will be bass-barihunk David Leigh as Prince Gremin, who sings the beautiful aria "Lyubvi vse vozrasty pokorny," where he tells Onegin how love can change a life at any age, and how he is madly in love with Tatiana.

The remainder of the cast includes Colin Ainsworth as Lenski, Marjukka Tepponen and Marina Costa-Jackson as Tatyana, Melody WIlson as Olga, Meredit Arwady as Filipievna, Margaret Gawrysiak as Larina and Martin Bakari and Triquet. Tickets are available online.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Eugene Onegin at The Met:

Tchaikovsky based his opera on Alexander Pushkin's s novel, which was written in verse and is considered a classic of Russian literature. The idea of setting the story to music was suggested to the composer by the great Russian mezzo-soprano Yelizaveta Lavrovskaya. Tchaikovsky arranged much of the verse himself into the libretto with help from his friend Konstantin Shilovsky.

The opera was first performed in Moscow in 1879 and has remained popular since its premiere.

A number of barihunks have sung Onegin to great acclaim, including Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Mariusz Kwiecien, Nathan Gunn, Simon Keenlyside, Artur Rucinski, Peter Mattei, Paulo Szot, Tobias Greenhalgh, Christopher Maltman, Günter Papendell and Franco Pomponi.   

Other companies performing the opera in 2020 include the Norwegian Opera, Rome Opera, Finnish National Opera, Israeli Opera, Semperoper Dresden, Munich Opera Festival and Opera Australia.        

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Barihunk duo in Sibelius' The Tempest

Philip Stoddard and Tobias Greenhalgh
Tobias Greenhalgh will sing Caliban and Philip Stoddard will take on Ferdinand in Sibelius' rarely performed The Tempest with the Oregon Symphony on November 23, 24 and 25. The piece is more often heard in suites that the composer extracted from the complete work.

Caliban is the son of a witch-hag who insists that Prospero stole the island from him, of which he is the only native resident in the play. Ferdinand is the son and heir of Alonso, who.  seems to be as pure and naïve as Miranda. He falls in love with her upon first sight and happily submits to servitude in order to win her father’s approval.

The idea for music for The Tempest was first suggested to Sibelius in 1901 by his friend Axel Carpelan. In 1925, his Danish publisher Wilhelm Hansen again raised the idea, as the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen was going to stage the work the following year. Sibelius composed it from late 1925 through early 1926.  The Tempest and Tapiola were to be his last great works, and he wrote little else for the remaining 32 years of his life, which came to be known as "The Silence of Järvenpää."

The Tempest  was first performed in Copenhagen on March 15, 1926. The first night attracted international attention but Sibelius was not present. Reviews noted that "Shakespeare and Sibelius, these two geniuses, have finally found one another", and praised in particular the part played by the music and stage sets. Only four days later Sibelius set off for an extended trip to work on new commissions in Rome. He did not hear the music for the first time until the autumn of 1927 when the Finnish National Theatre in Helsinki staged the work.

Shakespeare's story has inspired 50 operas including Thomas Adès' and Lee Hoiby's The Tempest, Fromental Halévy's La Tempesta, Zdeněk Fibich's Bouře, Frank Martin's Der Sturm and Michael Tippett's The Knot Garden. Incidental music based on The Tempest has been written by Arthur Sullivan, Ernest Chausson, Malcolm Arnold, Lennox Berkeley, Arthur Bliss, Engelbert Humperdinck, Hector Berlioz, Willem Pijper and Henry Purcell.

Tobias Greenhalgh can next be seen as Valentin in Gounod's Faust, Ottakar in Weber's Der Freischütz and Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Aalto Theater in Essen, Germany. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A history of baritones and basses in Pelléas et Mélisande at the Metropolitan Opera

Kyle Ketelsen as Golaud at the Met
When barihunk Kyle Ketelsen took the stage at the Metropolitan Opera as Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas and Mélisande earlier this year, he stepped into some big shoes. The role had been performed by Pavel Ludikar, John Brownlee, Kim Borg, Thomas Stewart, Gabriel Bacquier, Victor Braun, Willard White (in his Met debut), Gerald Finley and some other very notable singers mentioned below. In fact, the opera has featured some of the greatest singers in Met history in the three main roles for low male voices, Pelléas, Arkel and Golaud (as well as the Shepherd!). The role of Pelléas has been sung by both tenors and baritones at the Met.

The opera premiered at the Met on March 21, 1925 with Lucrezia Bori as Mélisande, future Met General Director Edward Johnson as Pelléas and Clarence Whitehill as Golaud. Bori faced the enviable task of performing the role after the legendary soprano Mary Garden had already performed the role in New York. If it was any consolation, Bori's costumes were designed by the Russian-born French artist and designer Erté. Whitehill, was a prominent Wagnerian bass, who also sang in the Met premiere of Gustave Charpentier's Louise in 1921.

The opera was performed regularly at the Met and on tour, but a legendary figure joined the cast in 1933 when Ezio Pinza  took the stage as Golaud. America go to hear Acts 2 and 3, which were broadcast on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast. A Wall Street Journal review criticized Pinza's French.

A 1944 cast included three of the most glorious low male voices, as Lawrence Tibbett sang Golaud, Alexander Kipnis took on Arkel and Pelléas was cast with baritone Martial Singher. They were joined by the ravishing Mélisande of Brazilian soprano Bidú Sayao. Olin Downes, the reviewer for the New York Times said, "The performance was a triumph unprecedented for this work in American operatic history."

Jacques Jansen as Pelléas:

A 1949 performance was hailed for the Met debut of French baryton-martin Jacques Jansen, who was particularly associated with the role of Pelléas in Europe. Jansen's recording of the opera with Irène Joachim as Mélisande and Roger Désormière conducting the Opéra-Comique from 1941 is to this day considered the definitive recording by many French opera connoisseurs.

In 1953, one of the era's true barihunks, Theodor Uppman, stepped into the role. Famed composer and critic for the New York Herald Tribune Virgil Thomson wrote, "Theodor Uppman, a high barytone, sang Pelléas with a warmth of feeling and a spontaneity of expression all unusual these days; and his appearance was so charming, his grace so unaffected that one believed him at every moment. He was singing Pelléas and being Pelléas." The great bass Jerome Hines sang Arkel. Uppman reprised his performance in 1959 with a stellar cast that included Victoria de los Angeles as Mélisande, George London as Golaud, Giorgio Tozzi as Arkel and Regina Resnik as Geneviève. A 1962 performance with Uppman is notable for the appearance of Teresa Stratas as Yniold, who 15 years later would sing Mélisande on the Met stage with José Van Dam as Golaud.

A 2010 performance, which was broadcast worldwide, featured a cast headed by Stéphane Degout as Pelléas, Gerald Finley as Golaud, Willard White as Arkel, Magdalena Kozená as Mélisande and barihunk Donovan Singletary as the Shepherd.

Ketelsen is currently performing Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Staatsoper Hamburg through November 9. He then heads to the Zurich Opera House to perform Selim in Rossini's Il Turco in Italia from December 10-January 3. He then returns to the U.S. for more Leporellos, this time with the Washington National Opera from February 29-March 22.

Upcoming performances of Pelléas et Mélisande are at Opéra de Dijon with barihunk Laurent Alvaro as Golaud, the Marinsky Theatre, Hamburg State Opera with Simon Keenlyside slated to sing Golaud and at the  Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe with Guillaume Andrieux as Pelléas.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Barihunk Trio in New England premiere of Fellow Travelers; Coming to Arizona and Madison

Jesse Darden as Timothy Laughlin and Jesse Blumberg as Hawkins Fuller (Photo by Liza Voll)
The Boston Lyric Opera is presenting the New England premiere of Gregory Spears' Fellow Travelers from November 13-17. The cast will included the barihunk trio of Jesse Blumberg as Hawkins Fuller, David McFerrin as Senator Joe McCarthy and Simon Dyer in multiple roles. 

The remainder of the cast includes Jesse Darden as Timothy McLaughlin, Chelsea Basler as Mary Johnson, James Maddalena as Senator Charles Potter, Vincent Turregano as Tommy McIntyre, Brianna Robinson as Lucy and Michelle Trainor as Miss Lightfoot. Tickets are available online

Simon Dyer and David McFerrin
Fellow Travelers, which is set in Washington D.C. against the backdrop of the McCarthy-era "lavender scare," 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 DC, and his first love affair. As his involvement deepens, Tim 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.

Joseph Lattanzi as Hawkins Fuller and Jonas Hacker as "Skippy" McLaughlin
The opera is also being performed on the other side of the continent at the Arizona Opera with Joseph Lattanzi reprising the role of Hawkins Fuller, which he created at the Cincinnati Opera in 2016. The cast includes Marcus DeLoach as Senator Joe McCarthy, Thomas Cannon as Senator Charles Potter, Jonas Hacker as Timothy McLaughlin, Katherine Beck as Mary Johnson, Cadie Jordan as Lucy and Kaitlyn Johnson as Miss Lightfoot. Tickets are available online

The opera will also be performed next year at the Madison Opera with Ben Edquist as Hawkins Fuller, Sid Outlaw as Tommy McIntyre and Andy Acosta as Hawkins Fuller. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Barihunks galore in Hamburg's Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy; Livestream of Don Giovanni from Rome

André Schuen and Kyle Ketelson in Don Giovanni (© Brinkhoff/Mögenburg)
The Hamburg State Opera kicked off its Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy of opera with the premiere of Don Giovanni on October 20th featuring the barihunk trilogy of Andrè Schuen in the title role, Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello and Alexander Tsymbalyuk as the Commendatore. Additional performances are on October 23, 26, 29 and November 3, 6 and 9.

On October 22, they will add Così fan tutte to the rotation with barihunk John Chest as Guglielmo.  Additional performances will be on October 22, 27, 31 and November 2. The final opera will be Le Nozze di Figaro, which opens on November 1, with additional performances on November 5, 8 and 12. The cast features barihunks Christoph Pohl as the Count and Wilhelm Schwinghammer as Figaro.

Tickets for all three operas are available online.

Alessio Arduini as Don Giovanni in Rome
If you can't make it to an Hamburg or another opera house featuring Don Giovanni, you can watch a performance from the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma on Oct. 26, 2019 on OperaVision. The cast includes barihunk Alessio Arduini in the title role, along wtih Vito Priante, Emanuele Cordaro, Antonio Di Matteo, Juan Francisco Gatell, Maria Grazia Schiavo, Salome Jicia, and Marianne Croux. The livestream may not play in some countries.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Barihunk switch in Lyric Opera of Chicago's Don Giovanni

Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni
Lucas Meachem will replace Ildar Abdrazakov in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni from November 14 - 30. He has previously performed the role with the Semperoper Dresden, Cincinnati Opera and Santa Fe Opera.

The Lyric Opera of Chicag production was recently featured on this site and you can read about it HERE.

Meachem will return to Lyric in February to portray Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades. He is no stranger to Lyric audiences, having perfomed Oreste in Gluck's Iphigenée en Tauride, Valentin in Gounod's Faust, Demetrius in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream , Marcello in Puccini's La bohème and most Chorebus and the Ghost of Chorebus  in Berlioz's Les Troyens.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Hvorostovsky's hometown to honor late singer on his birthday

Statue of Dimitri Hvorostovsky in Krasnoyarsk (Photos: TASS)
On October 16th, the city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia will hold a celebration of the life of Dmitri Hvorostovsky on what would have been his 57th birthday.  The celebration will occur at the monument which was erected in his honor in the park near the Siberian Institute of Art, where the artist studied.

Hvorostovsky was born and educated in Krasnoyarsk and lived there until the mid-1990s. The 11 1/2 foot (3.5 metres) tall sculpture at the site was designed by Moscow sculptor Vladimir Usov. Hvorostosky sang a farewell concert in his hometown in June 2017. 

According to Hvorostovsky’s last will, his body was cremated and the ashes were placed into two urns. One was buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery (the final resting place of the most outstanding artists, cultural personalities, scientists, politicians, and military heroes), and the other was flown to Krasnoyarsk for burial. The airport in Krasnoyarsk was also named in his honor. 

Dmitri Hvorostovsky performs in Krasnoyarsk:

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor in June 2015, Hvorostovsky died on November 22, 2017 in London.  There were memorial concerts in his honor at The Royal Opera in London and at Zankel Hall in New York City.

He was born on October 16, 1962 and shot to fame in 1989 when he won the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in a legendary showdown with Bryn Terfel. Hvorostovsky sang two arias from Verdi, Rodrigo's aria "O Carlo, ascolta" from Don Carlo and "Eri tu che macchiavi" from Un ballo in maschera, as well as "Ja vas lyublyu" from Tchikovsky's Queen of Spades. The late, great soprano Elizabeth Soderström, who was one of the judges in 1989, famously marked a series of exclamation marks on her scorecard as she listened to Hvorostovsky sing. The music world was instantly abuzz with stories about a baritone who looked as beautiful as he sounded.

After his brain cancer diagnosis, he cancelled concerts in Kaliningrad, Minsk, the Georges Enesco Festival, Tanglewood and Vienna, as well as the Met's performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, but made a brief return for a concert in Toronto and appeared at the Met Gala to a rousing ovation.

His extensive discography includes 30 recitals, numerous complete operas on CD and DVD, and the award-winning film "Don Giovanni Unmasked" where he performed the dual roles of Don Giovanni and Leporello. On November 10, 2017, five days before his death, his first recording of Verdi's Rigoletto was released, on which he sings the title role.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Barihunk duo in Spontini's rarely perfomed "Fernand Cortez"

Gianluca Margheri as Moralez in Fernand Cortez
Spontini's rarely performed opera Fernand Cortez is being performed at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with barihunks Gianluca Margheri as Moralez and André Courville as the Mexican High Priest.

Following on from the triumph of Gaspare Spontini's opera Vestale, he was asked to compose a new opera for the Paris Opèra. The request came from Napoleon, whose favorite composer was Spontini.

André Courville as the Mexican High Priest in Fernand Cortez
The choice was for the story of Fernand Cortez, a legendary 16th-century Spanish captain involved in the conquering of Mexico. Well aware of the power of art as a vehicle for propaganda, Napoleon aimed to obtain public support for his military campaign in Spain. The protagonist of the opera, a wise and magnanimous man, whose only desire was to free the Mexican people from the slavery imposed by the superstitious indigenous religion, in fact represented the perfect match for Napoleon, who - like Cortez - wanted to appear as a representative of civil and liberal values.

Fernand Cortez made its debut at the Opèra on November 28, 1809. The sumptuous staging, grandiloquent orchestra, spectacular special effects - such as the charging of real horses on the stage - war-like choirs, barbarous dances and even a sentimental touch provided by the love between Cortez and the young indigenous Amazingly, guaranteed the opera its hoped-for success.

Gianluca Margheri rehearsing Moralez in Fernand Cortez
The glory of Napoleon was greatly exalted, and Fernand Cortez became the symbolic opera of his empire. The popularity of the piece declined with the waning of the French army's fortunes in Spain and Portugal.

The opera was last performed at the Theater Erfurt in 2006. It had its premiere in the United States during the 1887-88 season at the Metropolitan opera with the Wagnerian tenor Albert Niemann and Swedish bass Johannes Elmblad. Remaining performances at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino are on October 16, 20 and 23. Tickets are available online.

A new production of the opera will be performed at the Theater Dortmund from May 21 through June 12, 2020.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Barihunk Quartet making Lyric Opera of Chicago debuts in Don Giovanni

Ildar Abdrazakov, Brendon Cedel and Davide Luciano
Four barihunks will be making their Lyric Opera of Chicago debuts in the upcoming production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, which opens on November 14. Russian bass-barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov will alternate the title role along with Davide Luciano, while Brandon Cedel sings Masetto. Finnish basso Mika Kares also makes his debut with the company as the Commendatore after an impressive performance in Mozart's Requiem earlier this year with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

They will be joined by Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Donna Anna, Ben Bliss as Don Ottavio, Amanda Majeski as Donna Elvira, Matthew Rose as Leporello and Ying Fang as Zerlina.

Mika Kares
Don Giovanni was the first opera that the company produced in early 1954 in an effort to gauge Chicago's support for a new opera company. Needless to say, it was quite a success, considering the cast included Nicola Rossi–Lemeni as Don Giovanni, John Brownlee as Leporello, Eleanor Steber as Donna Anna, Léopold Simoneau as Don Ottavio and Bidú Sayão as Zerlina. The debut season also included Maria Callas performing her signature role of Norma.

The current production will be the company's eleventh performance of the season. There will be nine performances from November 14 through 8. Tickets are available online. David Luciano will perform on December 3 and 8, while Ildar Abdrazakov sings on all other dates.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Craig Verm stars in "film noir" version of Don Giovanni

Craig Verm and Rachelle Durkin (Photo: David Bachman)
The Pittsburgh Opera is kicking off its new season on October 12 with barihunk Craig Verm in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Director Kristine McIntyre has reinvisioned the opera in the style of film noir. Film noir was popular in the 1940s and 1950s and explored dark stories of crime, sexual motives and deceit. What could be darker and more deceitful than the noted Lothario Don Giovanni, the charming sexual predator who preys on women of all social classes, including the vengeful Donna Anna, leading to a fight that results in her father’s death?

Some of the greatest film noir movies included Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, Otto Preminger's Laura, Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep, Charles Vidor's Gilda and Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. Film noir was a response to World War II and at the dawn of the Cold War, which generated stories of espionage and betrayals.

Verm will be joined by Musa Ngqungwana as Leporello, Tyler Zimmerman as Masetto, Brian Kontes as the Commendatore, Rachelle Durkin as Donna Anna, Corrie Stallings as Donna Elvira, Kang Wang as Don Ottavio and Antonia Botti-Lodovico as Zerlina. Performances are on October 12, 15, 18 and 20. Tickets are available online.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Zachary James prepares for Met debut with a little Cabaret

Zachary James (Photos courtesy of the artist)
Barihunk Zachary James made quite a splash with his super sexy, scantily clad performance of Sally Bowles' "Maybe this time" from Cabaret at the Bearded Ladies’ Late Night Snacks Cabaret, part of Opera Philadelphia’s O19 festival and FringeArts. The lineup also includes the legendary gender bending performer Justin Vivian Bond, as well as opera legends Stephanie Blythe and Anthony Roth Costanzo. There a couple of remaining shows before the festival closes on September 29 and tickets are available online.

The festival came with the following disclaimer; "Late Night Snacks ingredients may include artistic experimentation, adult content, consensual touch, ear worms, nudity, jubilation, great selfie material, rampant queerness, and many repeat visits."

You can see Zachary James' performance HERE.

He said this of the festival. "Several of the singers from Opera Philadelphia’s O19 festival were invited to participate in Late Night Snacks Cabaret in South Philly produced by The Bearded Ladies, a month long nightly event included in this year’s Opera Philly O19 festival and Philly FringeArts festival. We love what we do as opera singers but also all have cravings to step outside of the box and explore our versatility. Late Night Snacks hosted Stephanie Blythe screlting rock and busting out Carmen with ukulele, Anthony Roth Costanzo singing jazz in a smooth baritone, Alissa Anderson belting You Don’t Own Me, Will Liverman singing gospel accompanying himself on piano like a beast, and many more stunning turns. This was a time and space to let our hearts out and explore our hidden desires as artists."

Zachary James in Akhnaten (Photo: Jane Hobson)
James will also be making his Met debut alongside his Late Night Snacks co-stars Anthony Roth Costanzo and Will Liverman, when he reprises his performance as Amenhotep III in Philip Glass' Akhnaten, which runs from Noevember 8-December 7. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Marco Vassalli swashbuckling in Germany before making only U.S. appearance in 2019

Marco Vassalli and Vikrant Subramanian
German barihunk Marco Vassalli is performing Count Mondego (Graf von Mercerf) in Frank Wildhorn's The Count of Monte Cristo at the Stadtheater Bremerhaven with Vikrant Subramanian taking on the title role. Performances run from September 29 through June 10 and some shows are already sold out, so get your tickets online.

Lyricist and librettist Jack Murphy took his influences from the Alexandre Dumas père book of the same name, as well as the popular movie starring Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris and Henry Cavill.

The musical was first work-shopped in New York City in 2008 with many of the cast members of Broadway's A Tale of Two Cities. The American professional premiere was produced by the Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City in May 2016. The German language version (Der Graf von Monte Christo) premiered at the Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland on March 14, 2009.

Vassalli will take advantage of a break in the schedule between his October 13 and 26 performances to make his only U.S. appearance. He will be reprising Clint Borzoni's Stufen with the Festival String Quartet, which was written for him and has proved to be immensely popular with audiences and on YouTube. He will also perform works by Leonard Bernstein and Franz Schubert along with the Piano Quintet in Eb major by Robert Schumann. Tickets are available online.

Cleveland Orchestra to perform 5 operas with 5 barihunks

Simon Keenlyside, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Eric Owens, Bo Skovhus and Ludwig Mittelhammer (center)
The Cleveland Orchestra announced that it is extending the contract of Music Director. Franz Welser-Möst’s for five years until 2027, which would be his 25th anniversary with the company.

They also announced five operas for upcoming seasons, each featured a noted barihunk.

First up will be Berg's Lulu, which runs from May 16-22, 2020 and features Bo Skovhus as Dr. Schön. The all-star cast will feature Barbara Hannigan in the title role, Jennifer Johnson Cano as Countess Geschwitz and John Tomlinson as Schigolch.

Next up will be a performance of Verdi's Otello in the 2020-21 featuring barihunk Simon Keenlyside making his role debut as the evil Iago. No other cast information was available.

The 2021-22 season will also include Wagner's Parsifal featuring barihunk Hanno Müller-Brachmann as Amfortas, along with tenor Piotr Beczala in the title role, mezzo-soprano Okka von der Damerau as Kundry and bass Peter Rose making his role debut as Gurnemanz.

The 2022-23 will undoubtedly feature a slew of barihunks in Puccini's almost all-male cast in  La Fanciulla del West. Bass-barihunk Eric Owens and soprano Tamara Wilson will both be making role debuts as Jack Rance and Minnie respectively.

The 2023-24 season will feature an all to rare U.S. appearance by Ludwig Mittelhammer, who will be features as Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. He'll be joined by tenor Julian Prégardien as Tamino and bass Peter Kellner as Sarastro.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Buon Compleanno, Ettore Bastianini (September 24, 1922 – January 25, 1967)

It is no secret that one of our favorite barihunks of all-time is Ettore Bastianini. We feature him whenever we have an excuse, but what's better than his birthday. Like the German tenor Fritz Wunderlich, we lost him long before his artistry was fully realized. Bastianini died of throat cancer at the age off 44, long before many baritones celebrate their greatest successes.

Bastianini was considered one of the finest Verdi and verismo voices of his day. He made his recital debut as a bass in Siena in 1945 and his stage debut later that year in Ravenna as Colline in Puccini's "La bohème." He later moved into the baritone range where he voice seemed better suited. His top notes thrilled audiences throughout his career for their ringing splendor.

He was a regular at La Scala between 1954-1963 and the Vienna State Opera between 1958-1964. In the United States, he performed regularly at Metropolitan Opera between 1954-1957 and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago between 1955-1958.  

In 1962, he was diagnosed with a throat tumor. He struggled with the disease until his death in 1967 singing his final performance on December 1, 1965, at the Metropolitan Opera. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Erwin Schrott's Don Giovanni to be screened worldwide

Erwin Schrott in Don Giovanni (Photo: Mark Douet, ROH)
Erwin Schrott is currently performing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House in London, which runs through October 10th. If you can't make the performance, you're in luck, as it will be shown in theaters in 53 countries encompassing 1,000 movie houses. Screenings will be on October 6 and 13.

Schrott will be joined by barihunks Roberto Tagliavini as Leporello and Leon Košavić as Masetto, along with Malin Byström as Donna Anna, Daniel Behle as Don Ottavio, Christine Rice as Donna Elvira, Louise Alder as Zerlina and Peter Magoulas as the Commendatore. 

Roberto Tagliavini and Leon Košavić
Kasper Holten’s production casts Don Giovanni as an artist who thrives on an audience enticed by his creative gifts. 

Schrott next heads to the Teatro Real in Madrid to perform Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore from October 29-November 12.  Tagliavini heads off to the Opéra de Lyon to sing de Silva in Verdi's Ernani opening on November 8th. Košavić will head to the Opera Vlaanderen to sing Herzog Alba in Schreker's rarely performed Der Schmied von Gent.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Mikhail Timoshenko wins Wigmore Hall Song Competition

Elitsa Desseva and Mikhail Timoshenko at Wigmore Hall
25-year-old Russian bass-barihunk Mikhail Timoshenko won the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition, taking home the £10,000 prize money.

Timoshenko performed Holst's Ushas, Vaughan Williams' Let Beauty Awake, Copland's The Boatmen's Dance, Tchaikovsky's Podvig and Mahler's Ich hab' ein glühend Messer.

The £5,000 second prize place was awarded to 29-year-old British soprano Harriet Burns, while third place, with a prize of £2,500, went to British mezzo-soprano Beth Taylor. British tenor Kieran Carrel took home fourth place. Michael Pandya, the 25-year old British pianist who partnered Harriet Burns, won the £5,000 Pianist’s Prize.

The Wigmore finals. Timoshenko appears at 2:03:00

 Baritones have historically fared well at the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. In 2017, three baritones swept the top honors, including Julien Van Mellaerts, John Brancy and Josh Quinn. In 2015, barihunks Samuel Hasselhorn and James Newby took Second and Third Prize respecively. In 2013, Gavan Ring walked home with the Second Place Prize. In 2011, Dominik Köninger launched his career by winning the top prize.

Timoshenko studied at the Mednogorsk Conservatoire and the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, Weimar. He has won numerous competitions including first prize at the Franz Schubert und die Musik der Moderne Competition in Graz, first prize at the Médoc International Singing Competition in Bordeaux, the Opera Prize by the Cercle Carpeaux, first prize at the Maria Callas International Competition and first prize at the Hugo Wolf Competition.

He joined the Paris Opera Academy in September 2015 and during the 2015-16 season he participated in several of the Academy’s concerts and recitals at the Bastille Amphitheatre. He sang in the French premiere of Joanna Lee’s Vol Retour and performed the role of Plutone in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo

Friday, September 6, 2019

Georg Nigl stars in premiere of "Macbeth Underworld"

Georg Nigl as Macbeth (photo: Hugo Segars)

Just four years after the premiere of composer Pascal Dusapin's Penthesilea, he back at the La Monnaie with his newest opera, Macbeth Underworld. The opera is being described as "...a bloodstained Gothic opera, in which the ill-fated couple is condemned to relive its own tragedy, haunting their memory and ours."

Dusapin was less inspired by Shakespeare and Verdi than the cinematic versions of Macbeth for his latest creation, which runs from September 20-October 5. A major inspiration was Roman Polanski’s 1971, a commercial failure that was criticized for its depictions of graphic violence and nudity.

Dusapin knew immediately that he wanted barihunk Georg Nigl for the title role, commenting, "For Macbeth himself it was all much more straightforward. I wanted Georg Nigl. It is my fifth production with him and he can take on anything, from incredible expressiveness through tenderness to absolute folly. The short description on his score just says ‘Macbeth est fou’ – Macbeth is mad. He doesn’t need more than that.”

Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth:

For Lady Macbeth, he drew inspiration from Judi Dench's performance in the 1979 film version. Dusapin said, "Judi Dench was a great model for the scene in which Lady Macbeth washes her hands. The rhythm of her words is spot-on. I copied them out and used them in Macbeth Underworld.”

The remainder of the cast includes Magdalena Kožená as Lady Macbeth,  Graham Clark as Porter and Kristinn Sigmundsson as the Ghost. Tickets are available online.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Watch Quirijn de Lang's Hamlet online

Quirijn de Lang as Hamlet (Image: OPERA2DAY)
Add Quirijn de Lang to the list of barihunks who have made their mark in the title role of Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet, which includes Thomas Weinhappel, Thomas Oliemans, Franco Pomponi, Stéphane Degout, Edward Nelson, Régis Mengus, Bo Skovhus, Simon Keenlyside and Liam Bonner.

You can watch the Dutch baritone's performance on OperaVision on September 13th. The broadcast will start at 7 PM CET/1 PM EST/10 AM PST.

The performance is with OPERA2DAY in Den Haag, a company founded to bring opera to new audiences by presenting old standards in contemporary settings. The opera has been reduced to 2 hours from the standard 3 1/2 running time by eliminating the ballet and streamlining the story, including an ending that combines the two existing versions of the opera.

The cast also includes Lucie Chartin as Ophélie, fellow barihunk Martijn Sanders as Claudius, Martina Prins as Gertrude, Jan Willem Schaafsma as Laërte  and Patrick Pranger as Horatio. The opera is a co-production with the New European Ensemble.

If you want to see de Lang live, he can be seen in Kurt Weill's Street Scene with Opera North from January through March in Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester and Nottingham. He will also be singing the Count in Mozart's​ The Marriage of Figaro with the company during the same period.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Lotte Lenya Competition taking applications next week

Justin Hopkins and Doug Carpenter
The Lotte Lenya Competition will begin taking applications on September 3rd. The competition seems to attract the best barihunk talent, many of whom have walked away with the top prize, including John Brancy, Trevor Martin, Lucas Meachem, Liam Bonner and Jonathan Michie, Doug Carpenter, as well as hunkentenor Noah Stewart. Bass-barihunk Justin Hopkins took away second prize in 2012.

The Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes talented young singer-actors, ages 19 to 32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, and emphasizes the acting of songs within a dramatic context. It was founded in 1998 by foundation President Kim H. Kowalke, who is the Richard L. Turner Professor in Humanities at the University of Rochester and professor of musicology at the Eastman School.

John Brancy's 2018 winning set:

Singers are required to sing one theatrical selection by Kurt Weill, one song from the pre-1968  “Golden Age” of American musical theater, one song from the American musical theater repertoire of 1968 or later, and one aria from the operatic or operetta repertoire

Applicants will be required to upload an audition video that includes all four of the required repertoire selections. Applications can be found online. The competition will hand out $75,000 in prize money this year, including $20,000 for the Grand Prize.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Robert Gleadow is Mozart's Figaro of choice this season

Robert Gleadow (photo: Hugh Wesley)
Canadian bass-barihunk Robert Gleadow has become the Figaro of choice in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro for many of the world's leading opera houses. He'll be singing the role at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia from September 27-October 6. The cast will include Andrzej Filończyk as the Count, María José Moreno as the Countess, Sabina Puértolas as Susanna, Cecilia Molinari as Cherubino, Susana Cordón as Marcellina and Valeriano Lanchas as Bartolo. Tickets are available online.

He then takes the role to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris from November 26-Decmeber 7 with fellow barihunk Stéphane Degout as the Count, the legendary Jennifer Larmore taking on Marcellina, Sabine Devieilhe as Susanna, Vannina Santoni as the Countess and Mathias Vidal as Basilio. Tickets are available online.

He then flies to the La monnaie in Belgium for more of Figaro from February 18-March 21 with fellow barihunk Björn Bürger as the Count, Simona Šaturová as the Countess, Alexander Roslavets as Basilio, Ginger Costa-Jackson as Cherubino and Rinat Shaham as Marcellina. The company is doing the entire "Mozart-Da Ponte" series this season, with Gleadow's Leporello making up a "barihunk trio" in Don Giovanni that includes Björn Bürger in the title role and Iurii Samoilov as Masetto. Samoilov also appears as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. Tickets are available online.

Marie-Adeline Henry as Donna Elvira & Robert Gleadow as Leporello (Photo: Mats Bäcker)
In Bordeaux, it will be Gleadow who sings roles in each of the "Mozart-Da Ponte" operas in May 2020, taking on Leporello, Figaro and Guglielmo. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

We asked Gleadow about the role of Figaro and he had this to say, "I'd say he's one of the most loveable characters in the operatic repertoire. He's big-hearted, hot-blooded, quick-witted, overconfident; who's easy to root for and wears his heart on his sleeve (when the Count is out of the room anyway....). We see the entire spectrum of emotion throughout his "Folle Journée". Happiness, love, naiveté, jealousy, anger, humour, finding his parents, winning the girl, and defeating a rival. A true jack of all trades!"

Robert Gleadow and Serena Malfi sing Così fan tutte

Robert Gleadow was born in Toronto and was a member of the Opera Studio of the Canadian Opera Company of Toronto and the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme of the Royal Opera House in London.

Mozart has played a big role in his career, having performed the aforementioned roles, as well as Publio in La clemenza di Tito and the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte.

He can be heard as Lorenzo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Anna Netrebko on Deutsche Grammophon.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Gregory Gerbrandt and Cree Carrico team up for "Broadway to Boonville"

Gregory Gerbrandt in A Streetcar Named Desire (right)

Barihunk Gregory Gerbrandt will join the charismatic soprano Cree Carrico in “From Broadway to Boonville — With Love!” accompanied by Michael Sakir at the the Missouri River Festival of the Arts in Boonville, Missiouri. The town is located halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City.

The concert will be at Thespian Hall, which opened in 1855 and is the oldest continuously running theater west of the Allegheny Mountains. The festival is in its 44th year. Tickets are available online.

Some of the Broadway songs on the program include "If I Loved You" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, "An old Fashioned Wedding" from Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, "The Next 10 Minute from Anna Kendrick & Jeremy Jordan's The Last Five Years and
"All I Ask of You" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.

Cree Carrico and Gregory Gerbrandt
The three day festival is under the artistic direction of David Halen, concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony and Artistic Director of the Aspen Music Festival. 

The town is named after Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone, who were the sons of the pioneer explorer Daniel Boone and who established their salt business near the community in the early 1800s, delivering their product from salt licks to St. Louis. Because of this, the town is sometimes known as Boone's Lick.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Introducing American barihunk Tim Murray

Tim Murray preparing for his Merola Grand Finale (right)
Wisconsin-born barihunk Tim Murray will perform in the Grand Finale concert at the prestigious Merola Opera Program in San Francisco tonight. He'll be performing the Act III mother-son duet  from Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet with Alice Chung. He also recently performed the role of Paul with Merola in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s new opera If I Were You.

The concert is the final event in the Merola Opera Program's intensive summer training program for some of the world's most promising operatic talent. Tickets for the August 17th concert are available online.

In March, Murray made his debut with the Arizona Opera as William Dale in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night. He has already appeared three times with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City where he was part of their Resident Artist Program, performing Marullo in Verdi's Rigoletto, Guy in Talbot's Everest and the Captain in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.

Harve Presnell, Edward Laurenson and Thomas Hampson
Also appearing tonight will be New Zealand born baritone Edward Laurenson, who we introduced to readers back in 2014 and featured again when he took off for the Guildhall School of Music and again when he first came to San Francisco to study.

A number of the world's greatest baritones have come through Merola, including Broadway legend and film star Harve Presnell (1957), Thomas Hampson (1980), Mark Delavan (1985), David Malis (1982, 83),  John Del Carlo (1977), Lucas Meachem (2003), Allan Monk (1966), Burak Bilgili  (2001), John Chest (2009), Richard Paul Fink (1983, 84), Ao Li (2010), Daniel Okulitch (2002), John Relyea (1995), Philippe Sly (2011) and Hadleigh Adams (2012).  

Friday, August 16, 2019

Andrew Potter Makes a Splash as Vodnik

Andrew Potter as Vodnik
Bass-barihunk Andrew Potter is making his role debut as the water nymph Vodnik in Antonín Dvořák's Rusalka at Opera Steamboat in Colorado's beautiful Yampa Valley. From the look of his costumes, he'll be making quite a SPLASH

For those unfamiliar with Dvořák's opera, Vodník is the frog king and father of all the water, who can be both terrifying and playful.

Rusalka is based on the fairy tales of Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena Němcová. A rusalka is a water sprite from Slavic mythology, usually inhabiting a lake or river. The plot contains elements which also appear in The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen and in Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, which also became an opera by the German composer Albert Lortzing.

Andrew Potter as Vodnik
The opera was first performed in Prague on March 31, 1901 and along with Janáček's Jenůfa has become the most popular Czech opera worldwide. 

The remainder of the Opera Steamboat cast includes former Miss America contestant Christie Conover in the title role, Renée Rapier as Ježibaba, Ben Gulley as the Prince and Lauren Frey as the Princess. There is one remaining performance on Saturday August 17, 2019 and tickets are available online.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Teddy Tahu Rhodes to tour "From Broadway to La Scala"

Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Méphistophélès and in The King and I
Australia's popular show "From Broadway to La Scala" is back and hitting the road with Kiwi barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes in the cast. The national tour, which runs from September 14-28, will stop in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne before culminating at the Sydney Opera House.

Rhodes will be heard in selections from Carousel, The Sound of Music, The Pearl Fishers, Sweeney Todd, Fiddler of the Roof, Carmen and West Side Story. He'll be joined by hunkentenors Alexander Lewis and David Hobson, soprano Emma Matthews, Caroline O'Connor and Genevieve Kingsford.

Tickets are available online.

After the tour, Rhodes can be seen as Lord Sidney in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims and Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust at Opera Australia.

Rhodes is the recipient of several major awards. In 2004, he received an ARIA award for Best Classical Recording for his CD The Voice, and in 2006 he was the winner of the Limelight Award for Best Performance by a Soloist with an Orchestra for his Australian tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In 2008 he won a Helpmann Award for Best Male Performer in an Opera for his role in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking and the Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Veritable feast of barihunks in San Francisco Opera's Billy Budd

John Chest as Billy Budd at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Photo: Marcus Lieberenz)
In celebration of Herman Melville's bicentennial and the 100th anniversary of the posthumous discovery of the author's unfinished manuscript of Billy Budd, the San Francisco Opera will present Benjamin Britten's operatic version from September 7-22.

This will be only the fourth time that the opera has been performed in the company's history. It was last performed during the 2004-05 season with barihunks Nathan Gunn as Billy Budd, Philip Skinner as Mr. Ratcliff, Mel Ulrich as Donald, Daniel Okulitch as the Gunner's mate, Lucas Meachem as the Novice's Friend, Troy Cook as Mr. Flint and Joshua Bloom as the First Mate.   

Nathan Gunn  as Billy Budd at the SF Opera (Photo: Merkle)
The all-male cast of 75 principle artists and choristers, will be led by barihunk John Chest in the title role. Chest returns to San Francisco, where he was a member of the Merola Opera Program. Chest has performed the role twice with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2014 and 2017.

The cast also include a veritable feast of barihunks and bass-barihunks, including Christian van Horn as the evil John Claggart, Hadleigh Adams as Arthur Jones, Christian Pursell as Lieutenant Ratcliffe, Wayne Tigges as Mr. Flint, John Brancy as Donald, Edward Nelson as Bosun, Sidney Outlaw as First Mate, Kenneth Overton as Second Mate, Eugene Villanueva as the Novice's Friend and Philip Skinner as Dansker. The critical role of Captain Vere will be sung by tenor William Burden.   

The production will be by Tony Award-winning director Michael Grandage, who unveiled this staging at the 2010 Glyndebourne Festival and revived it at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music  in 2014. 

Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

No Barihunks on CBC's list of "30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians," so we added two

The CBC recently ran a feature called "30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30." They surveyed Canada's conservatories, music competitions and professional training programs to come up with their list. Although we at Barihunks take the word "HOT" to mean sexy, it appears that they are going for a double meaning, with "HOT" also meaning "musicians with talent to keep an eye on."

This year they didn't manage to come up with a single barihunk, despite having included them in past years, including Philippe Sly and Gordon Bintner. So we decided to add two to the list.

Micah Schroeder
Canadian-American baritone Micah Schroeder will be appearing as Harlekin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos with the Highlands Opera Studio in Haliburton, Ontario on August 24 an 26. He is a 2018 graduate of the Vancouver Opera Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program and an alumni of the Aspen Opera Centre, as well as The Banff Centre of Arts and Creativity. He recently completed a Diploma in Operatic Performance from the University of Toronto and holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Opera from the University of British Columbia.
Dimitri Katotakis
Toronto native Dimitri Katotakis studied at McGill University and Juilliard, before being accepted into the prestigious Merola Opera Program in San Francisco. Last year, he was part of Steven Blier's New York Festival of Song concert "Protest." He was the Second Prize winner at the Canadian Opera Company's vocal competition.