Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Johnny Herford in U.K. premiere of Denis & Katya

Johnny Herford
Johnny Herford, who shared the lead role in composer Philip Venables and librettist Ted Huffman's new opera Denis & Katya with fellow barihunk Theo Hoffman in its world premiere at Opera Philadelphia in September, will now perform the U.K. premiere on February 27. 

The production with the Music Theatre Wales will open in Newport and then head to Mold and Aberystwyth, Wales, and finally too London and Cardiff. Herford will be joined by mezzo-soprano Emily Edmonds as Katya. They'll be accompanied by four cellos from the London Sinfonietta. Tickets and additional information is available online.

The true story follows 15-year-olds Denis Muravyov and Katya Vlasova, who livestreamed their final hours on multiple social media platforms after creating a real-time voyeuristic spectacle and leaving behind a trail of devastating footage of their drinking, smoking, cuddling, and crying as they prepared to die.

The couple had been in an armed standoff with Russian Special Forces when they decided to broadcast themselves live on social media, creating a spectacle of real-time voyeurism. The couple became known as the Romeo and Juliet of internet clickbait. 

After the tour, Herford will perform Starveling in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Grange Festival in a cast that includes Jonathan Lemalu as Bottom, Ben Johnson as Flute and fellow barihunk Dominick Sedgwick as Demetrius.  

Friday, December 27, 2019

George Humphreys sings lead drag role in Donizetti's Viva la Diva

George Humphreys' shirtless curtain call in Glass' The Trial
British barihunk George Humphreys just wrapped up a successful run in Carl Maria von Weber's Oberon at the Salzburger Landestheater, where is a member of the ensemble.

He will next appear with the company in Donizetti's comedy Viva la Diva, whose original title was the mouthful Le convenienze e le inconvenienze teatrali (Conventions and Inconveniences of the Stage). Performances start on February 8 and run through April 2.

Donizetti wrote the lead role of La Diva (aka Agata) for a baritone, which opens up another level of comedy as the singer performs in drag. As the drama unfolds and the jealousies come to a head, it is up to La Diva  to rescue an evening at a theater company trying to mount an opera. Donizetti chose a subject that allowed him to compose both virtuosic and parodistic music.

The opera became a great success after its 1827 world premiere in Naples and 1831 performances in Milan, but was soon forgotten. Regular performances did not resume until 1963. Recent performance include a 2015 production at the Volksoper Wien and one at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2017. The National Theatre Prague is currently staging the opera with Roman Hoza in the title role.

The Salzburger Landestheater produces its own version of the opera with a new translation by Andreas Fladvad-Geier, which revives the tradition of transferring the opera’s plot into a local setting to make the parody of the opera world even easier to recognize and appreciate for audiences.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Steven LaBrie to make European debut in Rusalka

Steven LaBrie (Center photo: Matt Madison-Clark)

American barihunk Steven LaBrie will make his European stage debut in Dvořák's Rusalka with the Tiroler Festspiele Erl on December 26th.

A rusalka is a water sprite from Slavic mythology, usually inhabiting a lake or river. Rusalka was the ninth opera Dvořák composed and remains his most popular, as well as one of the most frequently performed Czech operas worldwide.

Rusalka is based on the fairy-tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen which itself goes back to the Undine and Melusine sagas of the 14th and 12th centuries.  In bewitchingly beautiful melodies, characteristic rhythms and richly nuanced and sensuous sounds, rooted in Slav folk music, the work poses questions which are still relevant: questions as to one’s own identity, the limitation of space to live and be free, the relationship between human beings and nature.

Steven LaBrie sings "Cruda fuensta smania" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lamermoor:

LaBrie will sing the roles of Game Keeper and the Hunter. He'll be joined in the cast by Karen Vuong as Rusalka, Gerard Schneider as the Prince, Thomas Faulkner as the Water Man and Judita Nagyová as Ježibaba. There are additional performances on December 28 and 30. Tickets are available online.

In the Spring, LaBrie will make his role debut as Mr. Maguire  in Tobias Picker's Emmeline at the Tulsa Opera. The cast includes a number of singers who have appeared on this site, including  Jarrett Porter as Simon Fenton,  Andrew Potter as Pastor Avery and  Nathan Stark as Henry Mosher. Soprano Madison Leonard will sing the title role.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Huw Montague Rendall to make role debut as Count Almaviva

Huw Montague Rendall
British barihunk Huw Montague Rendall will be making his role debut as Count Almaviva in Mozart's the Marriage of Figaro at the Opéra national de Lorraine in Nancy, France.

Performing Figaro will be 25-year-old Russian bass-barihunk Mikhail Timoshenko, who won the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition in September. The cast also includes Adriana Gonzalez as the Countess, Lilian Farahani as Susanna, Giuseppina Bridelli as Cherubino and Ugo Guagliardo as Bartolo.

Performances are on January 31 and February 2, 4, 7 and 9. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

 Huw Montague Rendall performs Mahler:

He will also be performing a recital on February 11th at Salle Poirel à Nancy accompanied by Ensemble Stanislas and Hélio Vida on the piano. The program will feature French and English songs. Tickets are available online.

This summer, Rendall will perform Marcello in Puccini's La bohème at the Komische Oper.

Christopher Bolduc makes house debut at Deutsche Oper am Rhein featuring barihunk trio

Richard Šveda and Christopher Bolduc
American barihunk Christopher Bolduc will make his house debut tonight as Marcello at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein's Theater Duisburg in Puccini's La bohème. Bolduc will be joined by fellow barihunks Richard Šveda as Schaunard and Luke Stoker as Colline in a cast that also includes as Luiza Fatyol as Mimi, Luis Gomes as Rodolfo and Lavinia Dames as Musetta.

Director Philipp Westerbarkei has updated the production to contemporary times, with the male foursome wearing muscle shirts and even dancing in pink tutus. Performances with Bolduc are on December 21, 25, March 28 and May 2 and 13.  

After the first two performances of La bohème, Bolduc returns to his home base at the Hessiscches Staatstheater Wiesbaden to perform Lescaut in Massenet's Manon, Stern in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole and Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.

Luke Stoker and Richard Šveda in La bohème
Bass-barihunk Luke Stoker is new to this site. He hails from Australia, where he received his Bachelor of Music from the University of Queensland and a Master of Music Studies from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music/Griffith University. In 2013, he was awarded the German Opera Scholarship and subsequently became part of the ensembles at Oper Köln and Oper Dortmund. In January 2020, he will make his role and house debut at the Volksoper Wien as Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen.

Richard Šveda is also new to this site. He has been a member of the ensemble at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein since the 2010-11 season. He has performed most of the leading Mozart baritone roles, including Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Count Almaviva in the Marriage of Figaro and  the title role in Don Giovanni. The famous soprano Edita Gruberová regularly included him in her concerts with young artists. Mozart continues to fill his calendar, as he performs Don Giovanni at the Slovak National Theater Bratislava and the Count in The Marriage of Figaro at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in January and May.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ryan McKinny in world premiere of Rilke Songs with SF Symphony

Ryan McKinny
Bass-barihunk Ryan McKinny will be featured along with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke in the world premiere of Michael Tilson Thomas' composition, "Rilke Songs," a musical setting of lyric poems by German modernist poet Rainer Maria Rilke. A number of composers have set Rilke texts to music, including Alban Berg, Paul Hindemith, Anton Webern, Arnold Schoenberg and Peter Lieberson.

Tilson Thomas has been an active composer throughout his career  In addition to Rilke, he has set the texts of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Anne Frank. Other compositions include Street Song for brass instruments and Agnegram, an overture for orchestra. This will mark Michael Tilson Thomas' 25th and final season as the San Francisco Symphony’s music.

Performances run from January 9-12 and tickets and additional concert information is available online.

McKinny returns to the operatic stage on February 29 for eight performances as the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni with the Washington National Opera. He'll be joined by fellow barihunk Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello, along with Vannessa Vasquez as Donna Anna, Keri Alkema as Donna Elvira and Alek Shrader as Don Ottavio. In April, he takes on Jokanaan in Richard Strauss' Salome at the Houston Grand Opera with Lise Lindstrom in the title role and  Susan Graham as Herodias. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mariusz Kwiecien cancellations continue

Mariusz Kwiecien in Pearl Fishers and Don Giovanni
Barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien continues to cancel performances, including a third cancellation with the Dallas Opera. The company announced that he has withdrawn as Rodrigo in their upcoming production of Verdi’s Don Carlo. He will be replaced by fellow barihunk Lucas Meachem. Kwiecien withdrew from the title role in their production of Mozart's Don Giovanni in April 2018 and Bizet's Pearl Fishers in January. Kwiecien is scheduled to sing Rodrigo at Covent Garden this summer.

Meachem will join an all-star cast in Dallas that includes Jamie Barton, Leah Crocetto, Robert Watson, Morris Robinson, Andrea Silvestrelli and David Leigh. Performances run from March 20-28 and tickets are available online. Tickets are available online

Kwiecien's notable recent cancellations also include withdrawing from the The Met's Pearl Fishers and as the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the Count in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Bavarian State Opera.

Repeated attempts to get a get a comment from his US and European agents have gone unanswered. We wish him a speedy and healthy recovery to the opera stage.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Hadleigh Adams globetrotting with Handel's Messiah

Hadleigh Adams
Bass-barihunk Hadleigh Adams is going to rack up some frequent flyer miles singing Handel's Messiah this holiday season. Fresh off a huge success as Schaunard in Puccini's La boheme at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, he heads across the globe to his native New Zealand.

He will sing his first Messiah with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on December 7th in Wellington. He then hops back on a plane to his home base of San Francisco for three performances of Handel's holiday classic with the American Bach Soloists on December 11, 12 and 13. He then heads south to the Lone Star State for three more Messiah's with the Houston Symphony Orchestra on December 20. 21 and 22.

Composed in just 24 days in 1741, the Messiah received a lukewarm reception at its first London performance. However, over the years it has grown in popularity. Although Messiah is structured like an opera, it features no characters or dialogue.

He'll wrap up the year back in San Francisco for the American Bach Soloists New Years Eve concert. He'll be joined by mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit for arias and duets from Handel, Rameau, Vivaldi and Monteverdi.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

William Berger joins Philharmonia Baroque for Judas Maccabaeus

William Berger
The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will perform Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, a loose telling of the story of Hanukkah. Despite telling the story of the Maccabees, it has never quite evolved into a Jewish alternative to the composer's far more popular Messiah.

The oratorio was written five years after Messiah in 1746 and was premiered at the Covent Garden Theatre in London the following year.

Philharmonia Baroque's performance will feature barihunk William Berger as Simon, who sings the aria “Arm, arm, ye brave!” He'll be joined by the sensational tenor Nicholas Phan, soprano Robin Johannsen, mezzo-soprano Sara Couden and baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan conducting. 

Gerald Finley sings “Arm, arm, ye brave!”:

Handel's oratorio had a far more secular inspiration than the biblical text might suggest, as it was composed in commemoration of the British defeat of Charles Stuart’s Jacobite forces at the battle of Culloden in April 1746.

The events depicted in the oratorio are from the period 170–160 BC when Judea was ruled by the Seleucid Empire which undertook to destroy the Jewish religion. Being ordered to worship Zeus, many Jews obeyed under the threat of persecution; however, some did not. One who defied was the elderly priest Mattathias who killed a fellow Jew who was about to offer a pagan sacrifice. After tearing down a pagan altar, Mattathias retreated to the hills and gathered others who were willing to fight for their faith.

The oratorio will be performed on December 5 in San Francisco, December 6 in Palo Alot and on December 7 and 8 in Berkeley. Tickets are available online.