Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Barihunks star in NY premiere of Britten's Owen Wingrave

Michael Weyandt and Robert Balonek
Barihunks Robert Balonek and Michael Weyandt will alternate the title role in Benjamin Britten's Owen Wingrave at The Little Opera Theatre of New York from May 9-May 12. The performance is being billed as the New York premiere of the opera. Performances will be at the GK Arts Center in Brooklyn and tickets are available online.

Owen Wingrave, which premiered in 1970, tells the story of a committed pacifist born into a renowned military family.  Despite strong disapproval over his beliefs and desperate to maintain the love of his would-be bride, Owen Wingrave is determined to prove his inner strength – even if it leads to his own demise.

Britten was a deeply committed pacifist, which traces back to his early life, particularly during his years at Gresham’s, his public school in Holt, Norfolk. He was know as a sensitive young boy who abhorred violence and bullying. World War I had cast a huge shadow over Britten’s generation and it was felt nowhere more keenly than at Gresham’s.  Britten was born a year before the onset of WWI  where the U.K. and its colonies saw 887,711 killed in action between 1914 and 1918. 100 boys from Gresham’s alone lost their lives.  His school formed one of the first branches of the League of Nations Union, which was designed to foster peace and prevent future conflict. The school also banned corporal punishment.

Britten's most famous pacifist composition is his War Requiem.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Barihunk duo in Oper Köln's "Street Scene"

Timothy McDevitt as Harry Easter (right)
Barihunk Timothy McDevitt will be singing the role of the sleazy boss Harry Easter and fellow barihunk James McOran-Campbell will sing the alcoholic husband George Jones in Kurt Weill's Street Scene at Oper Köln.  The production is a co-production with the Teatro Real and Opéra de Monte-Carlo. The Madrid performance featured barihunk Paulo Szot, hunkentenor Joel Prieto and soprano Patricia Racette.

The current production in Cologne features Kyle Albertson and Oliver Zwerg as Frank Maurrant, Jack Swanson as Sam Kaplan and Allison Oakes as Anna Maurrant. Performance run from April 28 through May 16 and tickets and additional cast information is available online.

In 2010, McDevitt won the Lys Symonette Prize at the Lotte Lenya Competition for his outstanding extraordinary artistic promise. Lenya was the widow of Kurt Weill and competitors are judged on their ability to interpret Weill's music.

An overview of Street Scene from the Madrid production:

Street Scene is an American opera with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Langston Hughes, which was written in 1946. It was the composer's first opera composed during his American exile years and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Elmer Rice.  Weill referred to the piece as an "American opera." intending it as a groundbreaking synthesis of European traditional opera and American musical theater. He received the first Tony Award for Best Original Score for his work, after its Broadway premiere in 1947.

The story tells of a series of anonymous lives in a big city from a brutally realistic viewpoint. The score contains operatic arias and ensembles, including Anna Maurrant's "Somehow I Never Could Believe" and Frank Maurrant's "Let Things Be Like They Always Was." It also has jazz and blues influences in "I Got a Marble and a Star" and "Lonely House". Some of the more Broadway-style musical numbers are "Wrapped In a Ribbon and Tied In a Bow," "Wouldn't You Like To Be On Broadway?" and "Moon-faced, Starry-eyed," an extended song-and-dance sequence.

James McOran-Campbell (photo: Jane Hobson)
After his run in Street Scene, McDevitt moves on to the music of Leonard Bernstein, when he performs Maximillian in Candide on June 20th with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin with tenor Alex Shrader and soprano Erin Morley. He sticks with Bernstein for his Mass with the Chicago Symphony on July 20th under the baton of Marin Alsop at Ravinia.

James McOran-Campbell will sing Dr. Falke in a re-imagined version of Strauss' Die Fledermaus with Baseless Fabric Theatre in London from August 1-14.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Paul La Rosa stars in "grave" performance of Dido & Aeneas

Barihunk Paul La Rosa (Headshot by Nick Granito)
Barihunk Paul La Rosa will star as Aeneas in an adaptation of Henry Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas" at the historic catacombs at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The performance is part of The Angel’s Share, a new series of opera and chamber music concerts presented by Death of Classical at the cemetery. The series takes its name from the distiller’s term for whiskey that evaporates while maturing in the barrel, thus going to the angels.

La Rosa will be joined by the rising star Daniela Mack as Dido, along with Molly Quinn as Belinda, and Vanessa Cariddi as the Sorceress. The opera will be directed by tenor Alek Shrader, and will incorporate spoken dialogue from Christopher Marlowe’s play “Dido, Queen of Carthage." Shrader and Mack are one of many husband and wife teams currently singing on the opera stage. The couple participated with La Rosa in San Francisco's Merola Opera Program for young artists.

Performances are slate for June 4, 5, 7, and 8 and tickets are available online. The catacombs are normally not open to the public.

We previously posted about The Angel’s Share performance of the Red Elf featuring bass-barihunk Andrew Bogard and hunkentenor Kyle Bielfield.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Ryan Kuster to close Opera Colorado season as Figaro

Ryan Kuster
Bass-barihunk Ryan Kuster will star in the title role of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, which closes the 2018-19 Opera Colorado season. The singer previously appeared as Escamillo with the company in Bizet's Carmen.

Kuster will be joined by soprano Maureen McKay as Susanna, bass-baritone Simone Alberghini as Count Almaviva, soprano Ellie Dehn as Donna Anna,  mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala as Cherubino, mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak as Marcellina and bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo making his Opera Colorado debut as Dr. Bartolo.
Also joining the the cast are members of Opera Colorado's 2018-19 Artist in Residence Program, including tenor Aaren Rivard, as both Don Basilio and Don Curzio, baritone Eric McConnell as Antonio and soprano Rebekah Howell as Barbarina.

The production opens Saturday, May 4, and runs through Sunday, May 12. For tickets and information, visit the Opera Colorado online.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ryan McKinny to make role debut as Don Giovanni in Houston

Kasper Holton's Don Giovanni (left) and Ryan McKinny at the Los Angeles Opera (right)
Bass-barihunk Ryan McKinny will make his role debut as the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Houston Grand Opera from April 20 through May 5. The cast includes Paolo Bordogna as Leporello, Ailyn Pérez as Donna Anna, Melody Moore as Donna Elvira, Ben Bliss as Don Ottavio, Dorothy Gal  as Zerlina, Daniel Noyola as Masetto and Kristinn Sigmundsson as The Commendatore.

The new production by Kasper Holten will be on a rotating set with projections to let the audience delve into the mind of the serial philanderer. Set designer Es Devlin has designed sets for Beyoncé, Jay Z, U2 and Adele, as well as the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Tickets are available online.

Ryan McKinny sings Schubert's "Gute Nacht":

If you can't make it to Houston, McKinny will return to the role at the Washington National Opera from February 29-March 22. The cast includes fellow barihunk Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello,  Vanessa Vasquez as Donna Anna,  Keri Alkema as Donna Elvira, Alek Shrader  as Don Ottavio and Peter Volpe as The Commendatore. Tickets are available online.

Other upcoming performance for McKinny include Mahler's 8th Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, his role debut as Joseph De Rocher in Heggie's Dead Man Walking a the Lyric Opera of Chicago and a Mahler concert with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the San Francisco Symphony.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Barihunks take prizes at 2019 Lotte Lenya Competition

Trevor Martin and Jeremy Weiss

Barihunks Trevor Martin and Jeremy Weiss both walked away with prizes at the 2019 Lotte Lenya Competition.

Jeremy Weiss won the $3,500 prize that comes with the Carolyn Weber Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding creativity in the design of a diverse program and exceptional sensitivity to text/music relationships.

Trevor Martin walked away with the $10,000 3rd Place Prize. On April 26, Martin will join mezzo-soprano Caitlin Powell and soprano Sandra Lopez for the Opera North Spring Fling performing operatic music inspired by Shakespeare. He then joins the Modern Opera Company on May 4th where he is performing the title role in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

Barihunk John Brancy, winner of the 2018 Competition:

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

First Prize went to Daniel Berryman and Second Prize was awarded to Andrea Wozniak. The
Marc Blitzstein Award went to Katherine Riddle for “Mr. Right” and Nyla Watson won the Lys Symonette Award for “Beautiful.”

Friday, April 12, 2019

Barihunk duo in Opera Santa Barbara's “The Crucible”

Wayne Tigges and Colin Ramsey
Bass-barihunks Wayne Tigges and Colin Ramsey will close out the Opera Santa Barbara season in Robert Ward's operatic rendition of “The Crucible.”

Tigges joins mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock as the husband and wife John and Elizabeth Proctor, who are at the center of the story. Colin Ramsey sings the role of doctrinaire, calculating witch hunter Reverend John Hale.

Robert Ward composed the English language opera based on Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. The opera won the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Music and was originally commissioned by the New York City Opera.

Barihunk Peter Bording in The Crucible:

Miller was involved in selecting Ward to adapt the play for an opera. The Crucible is a classic American drama written as an allegory for McCarthyism and the US Government’s persecution of suspected communists inspired by the 17th century Salem witch trials. Miller himself had been questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities. The story is about a community confronting mass hysteria and dangerous ideology and the repercussions and costs of reputation and integrity.

Performances are on April 26 and April 28 at the Lobero Theatre Opera, with an additional performance on April 29 for middle and high-school age students. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Barihunk duo in DNO's "bare" Tannhäuser

Tannhauser at the Dutch National Opera
The barihunk duo of  Björn Bürger as Wolfram and Kay Stieferman as Biterolf are part of director Christof Loy’s first Wagner opera presentation for the Dutch National Opera, an updated Tannhäuser.

The production features some male nudity, but since this is Amsterdam, there weren't the howls of protest that might have greeted the opera in other cities. Since story is about the knight Tannhäuser, who is torn between carnal thoughts of Venus and the socially acceptable love for Elisabeth, Loy added scenes in a men's club and included orgies.

The remaining cast includes Ekaterina Gubanova as the alluring Venus, Stephen Milling  as Landgrave Hermann, Svetlana Aksenova as Elisabeth and Daniel Kirch in the title role.

 Björn Bürger as Wolfram w/ Daniel Kirch as Tannhäuser and Svetlana Aksenova as Elisabeth (Photo © Monika Rittershaus) & Kay Stieferman (Photo © Jörn Kipping)

Performance continue on April 14, 18, 21, 24 & 28, and May 1st. Tickets are available online.

British audiences can enjoy Björn Bürger this summer when he takes on Papageno at the Glyndebourne Festival. Kay Stieferman has a full calendar of Wagner ahead of him, including Ein Steuerman in Tristan und Isolde at the Bayreuther Festspiele, Alberich in Oper Leipzig's Ring Cycle and Klingsor in the company's Parsifal.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Barihunk duo in Opera Atelier's Idomeneo

Doug Williams in Idomeneo (Photo: Bruce Zinger)
Opera Atelier's gorgeous production of Mozart's Idomeneo opened on April 4th with sexy bass-barihunk Doug Williams as Neptune and barihunk Olivier Laquerre as Arbace.

The cast includes Colin Ainsworth in the title role, Measha Brueggergosman as Elettra, Wallis Giunta as Idamante, Meghan Lindsay as Ilia and Bradley Christensen  as the Priest. Additional performances are on April 6, 7, 12 and 13 and tickets are available online.

The opera had a successful premiere in Munich in 1781 just two days after the composer's 25th birthday. However,  there was only one other performance of the piece in Mozart's lifetime, a concert version in Vienna in 1786. The lyrical tragedy is considered Mozart’s greatest choral opera and is composed in the baroque tradition of the opera seria. Unfortunately, its style fell out of favor and had a spotty performance history compared to his other works.

Olivier Laquerre as Arbace (photo: Bruce Zinger)
Based on a Homeric myth, the opera follows the return of Idomeneo, the King of Crete, to his Greek Island after the Trojan War. Along with him is his captive Ilia, a Trojan Princess, who is conflicted because she has fallen in love with her captor's son and enemy, Idamante.  Meanwhile, in order to save himself from an imminent ship wreck and watery grave, Idomeneo makes a pact with Neptune, the god of the seas, to sacrifice the first person he meets on shore. The sacrifice turns out to be his son, Idamante. Neptune agrees to spare Idamante's life if Idomeneo abdicates his throne to his son and his future wife, Ilia. Only Elettra, whose love for Idamante is unrequited, is left unfulfilled.