Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tristan Hambleton to open Opéra de Lille season in Purcell rarity

Tristan Hambleton (from artist's website)
British barihunk Tristan Hambleton will open the Opéra de Lille season in Henry Purcell's rarely performed The Indian Queen. He'll be joined by Anna Dennis, Hugo Hymas, Gareth John, Rowan Pierce and Nick Pritchard under the baton of baroque specialist Emmanuelle Haïm. Tickets are available online 

Mark Stone sings "I Attempt from Love's Sickness: from The Indian Queen:

The Indian Queen is a largely unfinished semi-opera, which was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in 1695. The opera is based on John Dryden's 1664 play of the same name. Purcell was commissioned to adapt the play into an opera in 1694, but died the following year having only completed the Prologue and Acts II and III. His brother Daniel completed a masque for Act V.

Despite containing some of Purcell's most beautiful music, the opera is seldomly performed compared to Dido and AeneasKing Arthur or The Fairy-Queen, mainly because the piece has been deemed incomplete. The piece was performed in 2016 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève with barihunk Jarrett Ott.

Adrian Tamburini to make role debut in Bluebeard's Castle

Adrian Tamburini
Australian barihunk Adrian Tamburini will make his role debut in Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard's Castle with Pure Harmony Music & Events. He will perform the piece on July 24 and 25 in Sydney and Melbourne on July 2, 6, 10 and August 8, 9. He'll be joined by Australian soprano, Zara Barrett as Judith under the baton of Christopher van Tuinen, who will lead the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra. Van Tuinen has re-orchestrated the opera for a 23-piece chamber orchestra, which will incorporate the 1973 Pogson Pipe Organ of the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The Pacific Opera will open the performance with a recital of arias and ensembles.

Tamburini is also the artistic director Pure Harmony Music & Events, which was was formed in 2004 as a Music School, but now also produces concerts and events throughout Australia.

Bluebeard's Castle is a one-act expressionist opera with a libretto by the composer's friend  Béla Balázs. The 1911 composition is based on the French literary tale La Barbe bleue by Charles Perrault. The opera lasts only a little over an hour and there are only two singing characters onstage, Bluebeard (Kékszakállú) and his new wife Judith (Judit). The two have just eloped and Judith is coming home to Bluebeard's castle for the first time. Judith discovers seven doors that she insists be opened, despite the objections and warnings from Bluebeard.

More infornation is available on the company's Facebook site.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Zachary Gordin running the show and putting on a show at Festival Opera

Zachary Gordin
Barihunk Zachary Gordin has worn many hats in his operatic career, from teacher, coach, manager and, of course, singer. His latest endeavor will be as Artistic Director of Festival Opera in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The company was founded in 1991 by Arizona Opera co-founder Dr. Theodore Weis and has had a rich and occasionally rocky history, including the West Coast premiere of Ned Rorem's Our Town and a highly acclaimed Star Wars-themed production of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio.

Gordin's first season will include a fully staged production of Carlisle Floyd's American masterpiece Susannah. The opera will feature soprano Shana Blake Hill in the title role, tenor Alex Boyer as Sam, baritone Philip Skinner as Reverend Olin Blitch and baritone Eugene Brancoveanu as Elder McLean. Gordin has even imported German bass-baritone Malte Roesner for the role of Elder Ott. Roesner made his acclaimed 2017 American debut down the road with West Edge Opera in Vicente Martin y Soler's The Chastity Tree. This will be Roesner's debut with the company.

Malte Roesner
Gordin will kick off the season himself in a recital with his frequent collaborator Brian Nies on May 28. The duo will perform Schumann’s Dichterliebe, along with songs by Jake Heggie, Reynaldo Hahn, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The two released an album of Hahn songs in 2017 called “Amour sans ailes,” which was was named Best Lieder Recording of 2017 by Voix des Arts.

Gordin previously performed with the company as Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen,  Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Germont in Verdi's La traviata and Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

Tickets for the recital and Susannah are available ONLINE.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Evan Hughes steps in at Semperoper; Making role debut in NY

Evan Hughes as Somnus (Photos: Komische Oper and Leela Roos)
Barihunk Evan Hughes, who created quite a sensation as Somnus in Handel's Semele at the Komische Oper in Berlin last year, is stepping in to replace an ailing colleague at Dresden's Semperoper today.

Markus Marquardt had to withdraw as Leporello from the company's production of Don Giovanni, which features barihunk Ildebrando D’Arcangelo in the title role. He is expected to return for the remaining three performances on May 26 and June 16 and 20.

Hughes will be returning to his native country on July 18 and 20 to make his role debut as Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. He'll be alternating the role in the acclaimed Barrie Kosky production with Rodion Pogossov, who performs on July 17 and 19. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Edwin Crossley-Mercer in first performance of Hippolyte et Aricie in Zurich

Edwin Crossley-Mercer in Hippolyte et Aricie (Photo: T+T Fotografie)
Barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer performed Thésée in the first performance of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie at the Zurich Opera House last night, which was conducted by 18th-century French music expert Emmanuelle Haïm. They were joined by Stéphanie d’Oustrac  as Phèdre, Cyrille Dubois as Hippolyte and Mélissa Petit as Aricie.

There are additional performances of this French Baroque rarity on May 22, 24 and 30, and June 2, 7 and 14. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Jean-Philippe Rameau was 50 years old when he staged his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, in 1733. There was little in his life to suggest he was about to embark on a major new career as an opera composer. He was famous for his works on music theory as well as books of harpsichord pieces. The closest he had come to writing dramatic music was composing a few secular cantatas and some popular pieces for the Paris fairs

As the most important musical theorist of his day, Rameau created a work that far surpassed the conventions of French musical theatre of the time. The French libretto, by Abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin, is based on Racine's tragedy Phèdre. The opera takes the traditional form of a tragédie en musique with an allegorical prologue followed by five acts.

After a performance at the Paris Opéra in 1767, the work disappeared from the stage until the 20th century. The first modern performance took place in Geneva in March 1903 and returned to Paris in 1908. More recent performances include Aix-en-Provence in 1983, Lyon in 1984, the Opéra Comique in Paris in 1985, Lausanne in 1987, Versailles, in 1994, Palais Garnier in Paris in 1996 and Glyndebourne in 2013.

American audiences will be thrilled to know that Edwin Crossley-Mercer will appear at Carnegie Hall on June 24th (keep an eye out for an upcoming post with all the details)!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Fabio Lesuisse sings in Dido & Aeneas (and models for ad)

Barihunk Fabio Lesuisse and mezzo Rina Hirayama (Photo: Theater Aachen)
Germany's Theater Aachen near the Belgian border managed to get our attention with their gorgeous poster for Purcell's Dido & Aeneas. The shirtless model happens to be Belgian barihunk Fabio Lesuisse, who is making his role debut as Aeneas in the opera. The work will premiere on June 23, with additional shows on June 29 and July 5. The company is partnering with the School for Music and Dance in Cologne for this production. (Frustratingly, the Theater Aachen website does not list cast members for the show, but you can find them at the School for Music and Dance in Cologne website). Tickets are available online.

Purcell's Dido & Aeneas is based on Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid. It recounts the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair when he abandons her. A monumental work in Baroque opera, Dido & Aeneas is remembered as one of Purcell's foremost theatrical works.

Belgian barihunk Fabio Lesuisse is a graduate of the Cologne University of Music and First Prize winner at the 2015 Bach Competition in Barcelona, Spain.

He is currently a guest artist at the Theater Aachen in Germany, where this season he has also performed Mercutio in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Junior in Bernstein's A Quiet Place.

He has performed the title role in T.J. Hermann's Hamlet at the Theater Dortmund, as well as numerous roles at Oper Bonn, including Morales in Bizet's Carmen, Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes, Marco in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and Ramiro in Ravel's L'heure Espagnole.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Barihunk Duo Touring Agrippina with Joyce DiDonato

Luca Pisaroni, Joyce DiDonato and Andrea Mastroni
Barihunk Luca Pisaroni and bass-barihunk Andrea Mastroni are hitting the road with "honorary barihunk" Joyce DiDonato in Handel's Agrippina.

Pisaroni is singing Claudio, Mastroni is taking on Pallante and DiDonato is singing the title role. Also in the cast are Elsa Benoit as Poppea, Franco Fagioli as Nerone, Xavier Sabata as Ottone, Carlo Vistoli as Narciso and Biago Pizzuti as Lesbo.

The opera opened yesterday at the Philharmonie Luxembourg and now heads to the Teatro Real in Madrid on May 16, The Liceu in Barcelona on May 18, the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris on May 29, London's Barbican Centre on May 31 and the Turku Concert Hall on June 2.

Rising mezzo star Samantha Hankey will sing the title role on the final stop of the tour in Turku and countertneor Jakub Józef Orliński will take over as Narciso.

Barihunk Damien Pass sings and (strips for) the aria "La mia sorte":

In 1707-1708, Agrippina gave the young Handel his big chance to establish his reputation as an opera composer in Italy. The commission came from the famous Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice, which was funded by the influential Grimani family. The Venetians were extremely demanding when it came to music, but Handel succeeded in creating a wise, gripping and entertaining opera on the basis of the humorous libretto about lust for power and sexual desires in Ancient Rome. The success was overwhelming.

 Joyce DiDonato and a sexy dancer perform "Pensieri, voi mi tormentate":

The story takes place in Rome, 54 A.D. where Agrippina is married to the Roman Emperor Claudio, who is currently away on a crusade. When the rumor surfaces that he has been killed in battle, she tries to make her son Nerone, the result of an earlier liaison with another man, emperor. It turns out, however, that Claudio is not dead, but was saved by Ottone, one of his generals. Out of gratitude, Claudio has made him his heir. Consequently, there are now two heirs. The situation is made even more complicated by the fact that Claudio, Nerone and Ottone are all in love with the same woman: Poppea. Who will win the woman and the throne? Agrippina schemes, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. In the end, Ottone wins Poppea – for the time being – and Nerone is heir to the throne. But as we know from history and Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea things are not going to remain this way for long. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Barihunks win prizes at 10th International Moniuszko Vocal Competition

Bass-barihunk Cody Quattlebaum accepting the Marcella Sembrich-Kochańska Prize
They had to wait until after midnight when the final prizes were finally announced, but barihunks Cody Quattlebaum and Hubert Zapiór both walked away with prizes at the 10th International Moniuszko Vocal Competition. 

Quattlebaum walked away with $2,000 and the Marcella Sembrich-Kochańska Prize, as well as a Beethoven Prize, which gives him the opportunity to perform the composer's work in Poland. 

Hubert Zapiór won a special prize, which affords him the opportunity to perform with a major Polish orchestra. 

This year's competition clearly belonged to higher voices, as First Proze went to Russian soprano Maria Motolygina, Second Prize to Slovakian soprano Slávka Zámečníková  and Third Prize to Chinese tenor Long Long.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Introducing Italian barihunk Francesco Cascione

Francesco Cascione
The great soprano turned director Katia Ricciarelli will be directing barihunk Francesco Cascione in the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni.

The performance will be at the Teatro Stabile di Potenza where Cascione is part of Young Artists 2.0, whose participants will fill out the cast. The opera is part of the 2019  Camerata delle Arti festival and they will be joined  the chorus of the Bitonto Opera Festival. There will be one performance on May 7th.

If you miss the Potenza performance, you'll have a chance to catch the opera this Fall when it tours to Matera, Taranto, Barletta and Lecce.

Ricciarelli is best remembered for singing Desdemona opposite Plácido Domingo's Otello in Franco Zeffirelli's 1986 film version of the opera. Since her retirement from singing she has founded the Accademia Lirica di Katia Ricciarelli and served as Artistic Director of the annual summer Macerata Opera Festival.