Monday, March 9, 2020

Barihunk turned pop singer to represent Macedonia in Eurovision Song Contest

Vasil Garvanliev in the 2014 Barihunks calendar
Macedonian barihunk, turned hunkentenor, turned pop singer Vasil Garvanliev is representing his native country in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam. Readers may remember him as one of our models in the 2014 Barihunks Calendar!

Garvanliev and his family moved to the United States when he was a child where he sang in the Chicago’s Children Choir. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music. He was a member of Calgary’s Opera Emerging Young Artist Program, Glimmerglass Young Artists Program and a member of Opera Atelier, as well as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival & Academy. He was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – Illinois District in 2014-15.

He performed over 50 operatic roles before switching to a pop career. As a pop singer, he has released the singles Gjerdan, Patuvam and Mojata Ulica.

In the Eurovision competition he'll be singing You, composed by his friend Nevena Neskoska, a Macedonian born composer who studied songwriting at the Berklee College of Music.

Tickets will go on sale March 26 for performances which run from May 11-16.

Macedoonia has participated in the Eurovision competition times, but has never placed higher than 7th place when Tamara Todevska performed Proud last year.

Barihunk trio in telecast of Don Giovanni

Alessio Arduini and Björn Bürger in Don Giovanni
OperaVision will broadcast Mozart's Don Giovanni live from La Monnaie on March 24th featuring the barihunk trio of Björn Bürger in the title role, Alessio Arduini as Leporello and Iurii Samoilov as Masetto. The rest of the cast includes Simona Saturová as Donna Anna, Sophia Burgos as Zerlina, Lenneke Ruiten as Donna Elvira, Juan Francisco Gatell as Don Ottavio, Alexander Roslavets as Il Commendatore.

The livestream starts at 7:30 p.m. Central European Standard Time (2:30 p.m. EST/11:30 a.m. PST). The broadcast will be available on OperaVision until September 21, 2020. 

Live performances at La Monnaie are on March 12, 15, 24 and 28. The opera is part of their Da Ponte trilogy of Mozart operas, with Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte running simultaneously. Tickets are available online. Iurii Samoilov sings Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Björn Bürger and Alessio Arduini sing the Count and Figaro respectively in Le nozze di Figaro.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Barihunk Edward Nelson wins Glyndebourne Opera Cup

Edward Nelson (photo courtesy of Glyndebourne)
American barihunk Edward Nelson won the Glyndebourne Opera Cup today, taking home the top prize of £15,000 and the guarantee of a professional role at a top international opera house. He is the second consecutive American to win the prize, following mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey's win in 2018.

Nelson sang "La fatigue alourdit mes pes… Comme une pâle fleur" and "Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse" from Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet during the first half and followed it up with Rossini's crowd pleasing "Largo al factotum" from Il barbiere di Siviglia. Nelson just wrapped up an acclaimed run as the Barber with the Vancouver Opera on February 23.

He recently made his European debut at the Norwegian National Opera as Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, a role he later sang with Ópera de Oviedo and covered at the Glyndebourne Festival. He is graduate of the Adler Fellowship at the San Francisco Opera, where he has made seventy main stage appearances, including as Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Bosun in Britten's Billy Budd, Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Morales in Bizet's Carmen.

From May 30 to June 28, he can be heard as Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus at the Opera Theatre of St Louis .

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Blake Denson takes top prize at Metropolitan Opera Auditions

Blake Denson and the Met Auditions winners
Barihunk Blake Denson was named one of the five winners of the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions held today in New York City. He joins mezzo-soprano Gabrielle Beteag, sopranos Denis Vélez and Alexandria Shiner, and tenor Jonah Hoskins as winners of the top cash prize of $15,000 and career-changing exposure.

Denson advanced to the semifinals out of the Midwest Region held in St. Louis, Missouri. A 2018 vocal performance graduate of the University of Kentucky he was a participant in the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Vocal Academy and is finishing his master's degree at Rice University. This summer he will rejoin the Wolf Trap Opera Studio Artist Program.

Blake Denson sings "Questo amor vergogna mia" from Puccini's Edgar:

This year’s semifinalists were chosen from more than 1,000 singers who participated in auditions held in 40 districts throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and who then competed in the 12 regional finals. Each finalist sang two arias on the Metropolitan Opera stage in front of a panel of judges from the top opera companies in the world.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Barihunk duo in Fort Worth's Pops at the Pavilion

Efrain Solis and Donovan Singletary
The Fort Worth Opera has announced that the barihunk duo of Efrain Solis and Donovan Singletary will perform in the first of two spring concerts on Sunday, March 29th. They'll be joined by fellow cast members from Puccini's La bohème, soprano Talise Trevigne, tenor Giordano Lucà and soprano Tracy Cantin. The performance will be at the Kimbell Art Museum's Renzo Piano Pavilion as part of the company's Pops at the Pavilion.

Efrain Solis sings Sondheim's Johanna:

A second concert on Wednesday, April 22th will feature soprano Talise Trevigne at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Tickets can be purchased online.

Efrain Solis will be singing Schaunard and Donovan Singletary will take on Colline in La bohème in both performances, which are on April 17 and 19. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Blake Denson and Xiaomeng Zhang advance to Met Finals

Blake Denson and Xiaomeng Zhang
Two baritones have reached the finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Blake Denson and Xiaomeng Zhang will join mezzo-sopranos Gabrielle Beteag and Lindsay Kate Brown; sopranos Chasiti Lashay, Jana McIntyre, Alexandria Shiner, and Denis Vélez; as well as tenor Jonah Hoskins.

The final round of the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions will take place on the Met stage on March 1, 2020. 

This year’s semifinalists were chosen from more than 1,000 singers who participated in auditions held in 40 districts throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and who then competed in the 12 regional finals.

The finalist will have a week of training with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the Grand Finals Concert. Each finalist will sing two arias on the Metropolitan Opera stage. Tenor Javier Camarena will perform for the audience while the judges deliberate. Following the performance, the winners will be announced, each of whom will receive a cash prize of $15,000 and career-making exposure.

Blake Denson began his musical life as a percussionist in the Paducah Tilghman High School band. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with his Bachelor of Music in Voice before heading to Rice University to attain his Masters degree in vocal performance.

Chinese baritone Xiaomeng Zhang completed his Artist Diploma at Juilliard and was a participant in San Francisco’s 2018 Merola Opera Program. He was also a national semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2018.

Cancellations for Mariusz Kwiecien continue

Luca Micheletti and Mariusz Kwiecien
Barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien continues to cancel performances, with the latest being as Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlo at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He will be replaced by fellow barihunk Luca Micheletti, who will be making his company debut in the June 29th performance. This is Kwiecien's second cancellation with the company. Germán E. Alcántara and ByeongMin Gil are also replacing previously announced singers as Flemish deputies.

Micheletti will join a cast that includes Michael Fabiano in the title role, Hibla Gerzmava as Elisabeta, Ferruccio Furlanetto as Filippo II, and Elina Garanca as Princess Eboli. The performances scheduled for July 13, 16, 19 will include Plácido Domingo as Rodrigo. Ticket and cast information is available online.

Luca Micheletti sings "Credo" from Verdi's Otello:

This is the latest in a series of cancellations for Kwiecien, including three with the Dallas Opera, 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. There is also no information on his website. We wish him a speedy and healthy recovery to the opera stage.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Barihunk trio in Pocket Opera's Don Giovanni

Sara LaMesh and Anders Froehlich (photo: Pocket Opera)
American Barihunk Anders Froehlich is no stranger to this site, having appeared on this site rock climbing, as a shirtless Don Giovanni and in a sexy production of Fabrizio Carlone's Bonjour M. Gaugin with West Edge Opera.

He's back as the serial seducer Don Giovanni with San Francisco's Pocket Opera, for performances of the Mozart classic on March 1, 8 and 15. He'll be joined by fellow barihunks Spencer Dodd as his sidekick Leporello and Mitchell Jones as Masetto. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Froehlich previously appeared with the company as The Marshal in the premiere of the rarely performed Polish opera The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko. He is also a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, as well as a trained actor and ballet dancer. He began his professional career at Los Angeles Opera, and has appeared with Opera San Jose, Opera Parallèle and in Ars Minerva's production of La Cleopatra by Daniele da Castrovillari.

Mitchell Jones and Spencer Dodd
Spencer Dodd previously appeared with Pocket Opera as Belcore in Donizetti's Elixir of Love. He has performed with the chorus at both the Sacramento Opera and the San Francisco Opera, and also works as a professional voice teacher.

Mitchell Jones is a former chorus member at the Atlanta Opera, where he also sang the role of the Jailer in Puccini's Tosca. He is a member of both the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony choruses.

The remainder of Pocket Opera's season includes a double bill of Offenbach's The Cat Became a Woman and Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, Wagner's Das Liebesverbot, Bizet's Carmen and Rossini's La Cenerentola.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Five low male voice in Metropolitan Opera semi-finals

Baritone Xiaomeng Zhang
There will be two baritone, two bass-baritones and a bass among the 23 singers chosen to compete in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions semi-finals. They will move on to a closed competition on Monday, February 24 for the chance to advance to the Grand Finals on March 1st conducted by Bertrand de Billy.

The low male voices include Brent Michael Smith, bass-baritones Joel Allison and Ben Brady, as well as baritones Blake Denson and Xiaomeng Zhang. The remaining competitors includes sopranos Erika Baikoff, Claire de Monteil,  Cara Gabrielson, Courtney Johnson, Chasiti Lashay, Jana McIntyre, Whitney Morrison, Alexandria Shiner, Denis Vélez and Suzannah Waddington; mezzo-sopranos Katherine Beck, Gabrielle Beteag, Lindsay Kate Brown and Katherine DeYoung; countertenor Key’mon Murrah; and, tenors Jonah Hoskins, Joseph Leppek and Joshua Sanders.

Met Opera 2020 semi-finalists
This year’s semifinalists were chosen from more than 1,000 singers who participated in auditions held in 40 districts throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and who then competed in the 12 regional finals. These auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and administered by National Council members and hundreds of volunteers from across the country.

Brent Michael Smith performs "I'm a Lonely Man" from Susannah:

The singers who advance to the Grand Finals will have a week of training with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the Grand Finals Concert. Each finalist will sing two arias on the Metropolitan Opera stage. Tenor Javier Camarena will perform for the audience while the judges deliberate. Following the performance, the winners will be announced, each of whom will receive a cash prize of $15,000 and career-making exposure.

Results will be posted to @MONCAuditions Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.          

Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert are available online.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Nate Mattingly in premiere of Yeltsin in Texas

Nate Mattingly
Bass-barihunk Nate Mattingly will perform the title role in the world premiere of Evan Mack's new opera Yeltsin in Texas as part of the New Works Festival at Opera in the Heights. Mack's highly original score includes a chorus of shoppers who sing advertising jingles from the period, as well as references to pop music of the era. 

The libretto is based on Russian president Boris Yeltsin's 1989 visit to a Clear Lake, Texas grocery store that some believe led to the downfall of communism. He had recently visited Johnson Space Center in Houston before touring the store where he was fascinated by the abundance of options for shoppers, while thinking about Russians who waited in long lines for basic commodities like bread. He told other Russians in his entourage that if people back home saw this, there would be a revolution. Yeltsin's biographer claimed that Yeltsin couldn't stop thinking about his visit to the grocery store long after returning to Russia.

Performance are on February 22 and 28, as well as March 1. Tickets are available online.

Mattingly earned his BA in Music and MM in Vocal Performance at the University of North Texas, before continuing his studies at the Boston Conservatory and at Texas Christian University. He currently studies with soprano Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet. He has performed with Opera on the James, Fort Worth Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and the Seagle Music Colony.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Nmon Ford writes and stars in contemporary take of Orpheus myth

Poster for Nmon Ford's Orfeus: A House Music Opera
Panamanian-American barihunk Nmon Ford will be fusing opera, house music and Greek mythology in his world premiere of Orfeus: A House Music Opera, running from from April 11-May 30 at the Young Vic in London. Tickets are available online.

Ford wrote the words, music and libretto and will star in this contemporary twist of Ovid's Orpheus and Eurydice. The show also features Phantom of the Opera star Franc D’Ambrosio, Gianni Arancio, Bernadette Bangura, Grace Farrell, Fiona Finsbury, Nathan Kiley, Fabiane Leame and Shaq Taylor. The production will be directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, who is best known for Motown: The Musical.

The piece is set in a dystopian future where Orfeus discovers his true nature while saving Euridice from a fascist ruler.

Composers who have written operas on the Orpheus legend include André Campra, Louis Lully, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Matthew Locke, Claudio Monteverdi, Joseph Haydn, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jacques Offenbach, Hans Werner Henze, Harrison Birtwistle and, perhaps most famously, Christoph Willibald Gluck.

In recent seasons, Ford has sung Crown in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at the English National Opera, Iago in Verdi's Otello with the Atlanta Symphony and Jochanaan in Richard Strauss' Salome with the Pittsburgh Opera.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Deutsche Oper Berlin features barihunk duo in Meyerbeer rarity Dinorah

Seth Carico (photo: Simon Pauly) and Régis Mengus
The Deutsche Oper Berlin continues its foray into the operas of Giacomo Meyerbeer, who at his death in 1864 was one of the most performed composers in Europe. The company featured a new production of his Les Huguenots in 2016, which was followed by Le prophète the next year. On March 4 and 7 they will perform two concert performances of his rarely seen opera Dinorah, ou Le Pardon de Ploërmel. more commonly referred to as just Dinorah.

French barihunk Régis Mengus sings Hoël and American barihunk Seth Carico takes on the huntsman. They will be joined by Rocío Pérez in the title role, Philippe Talbot as Corentin,  Gideon Poppe as the Harvester, and Nicole Haslett and Karis Tucker as the shepherds.  Principal Guest Conductor Enrique Mazzola will lead both performances.

Tickets are available online

Jerry Hadley and Thomas Hampson in the Act 2 duet from Dinorah:

The story takes place near the rural town of Ploërmel and is based on two Breton tales by Émile Souvestre, "La Chasse aux trésors" and "Le Kacouss de l'Armor," both published separately in 1850.

Dinorah is betrothed to Hoël. Her cottage has been destroyed in a storm. Hoël, in order to rebuild it, goes into a region haunted by evil spirits searching for a hidden treasure. Dinorah thinking that she's been abandoned loses her reason and wanders through the mountains in search of Hoël accompanied by the sound of her goat's bell.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Mark Diamond part of Beethoven's 250th anniversary celebration

Mark Diamond and Ludwig van Beethoven
Barihunk Mark Diamond will join the Baylor Symphony Orchestra and Choir in celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth in singing the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The concert on February 8th at Jones Concert Hall in the McCrary Music Building in Waco, Texas is free to the public.

He'll be joined for the famous "Ode to Joy" by soprano Amy Petrongelli, mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck, tenor Randall Umstead, and maestro Stephen Heyde.

Mark Diamond sings Clint Borzoni's "To Belong"

The "Ode to Joy" was written in the summer of 1785 by Friedrich Schiller and was used by Beethoven with slightly altered text. The tune was adopted as the "Anthem of Europe" by the Council of Europe in 1972 and subsequently by the European Union. Rhodesia's national anthem from 1974 until 1979, "Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia", also used the tune of "Ode to Joy". 

Mark Diamond is currently an Assistant Professor of Voice at Baylor University. As a performer, he has sung with the Houston Grand Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Opéra de Limoges, Théâtre de Caen, Opéra de Reims, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Ars Lyrica, as well as others.

Tristan Hambleton to perform with Oxford Lieder

Tristan Hambleton (from artist's website)
British barihunk Tristan Hambleton will join Oxford Lieder on February 16th for a performance of Schubert's Schwanengesang. Although not intended by the composer as a cycle, it is a collection of the composer's very last songs that sit together perfectly and have formed a core work of the song repertoire.

Hambleton graduated from the Royal Academy of Music Opera School in 2015  and has performed for Glyndebourne Opera, Nevill Holt Opera, Welsh National Opera and The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as well as at Bridegwater Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Auditorium de Bordeaux and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

Tickets are £10 and are available online (and includes coffee and cake).

The songs of Schwanengesang, in the composer's original order, are:

* By Ludwig Rellstab:
o Liebesbotschaft ("Message of love"; the singer invites a stream to convey a message to his beloved)
o Kriegers Ahnung ("Warrior's foreboding"; a soldier encamped with his comrades sings of how he misses his beloved)
o Frühlingssehnsucht ("Longing in spring": the singer is surrounded by natural beauty but feels melancholy and unsatisfied until his beloved can "free the spring in my breast")
o Ständchen (Serenade)
o Aufenthalt ("Dwelling place": the singer is consumed by anguish for reasons we aren't told, and likens his feelings to the river, forest and mountain around him)
o In der Ferne ("In the distance": the singer has fled his home, broken-hearted, and complains of having no friends and no home; he asks the breezes and sunbeams to convey his greetings to the one who broke his heart)
o Abschied ("Farewell": the singer bids a cheery but determined farewell to a town where he has been happy but which he must now leave)
* By Heinrich Heine:
o Der Atlas ("Atlas": the singer, having wished for eternal happiness or eternal wretchedness, has the latter, and blames himself for the weight of sorrow, as heavy as the world, that he now bears)
o Ihr Bild ("Her image": the singer tells his beloved of how he dreamed (daydreamed?) that a portrait of her favoured him with a smile and a tear; but alas, he has lost her)
o Das Fischermädchen ("The fisher-maiden": the singer tries to sweet-talk a fishing girl into a romantic encounter, drawing parallels between his heart and the sea)
o Die Stadt ("The city": the singer is in a boat rowing towards the city where he lost the one he loved; it comes foggily into view)
o Am Meer ("By the sea": the singer tells of how he and his beloved met in silence beside the sea, and she wept; since then he has been consumed with longing — she has poisoned him with her tears)
o Der Doppelgänger ("The double": the singer looks at the house where his beloved once lived, and is horrified to see someone standing outside it in torment — it is, or appears to be, none other than himself, aping his misery of long ago)
* The last song based on a poem written by Johann Gabriel Seidl (1804 - 1875).
o Taubenpost ("Pigeon post"; the song that is often considered as a last lied that Schubert ever wrote. The song is included into a cycle by the first editor and is almost always included in modern performances)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Introducing Canadian barihunk Alex Halliday

Canadian barihunk Alex Halliday
Barihunk Alex Halliday is the newest member of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio, along with soprano Midori Marsh, baritone Jonah Spungin and pianist Frances Thielman. They will join the existing artists, Matthew Cairns, Vartan Gabrielian, Jamie Groote, Anna-Sophie Neher and Alex Soloway.

Previous members of the COC Ensemble Studio include Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, Joseph Kaiser, David Pomeroy, Allyson McHardy, and Krisztina Szabó.

Halliday hails from St. John’s, Newfoundland and recently completed his Master of Music in Opera Performance at the University of Toronto. His roles there included Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Frank Erickson in George Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing, Carl Olsen in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Detective Brinks in Michael Albano’s Who Killed Adriana?, and Nardo in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera

Halliday was a member of the Opera Roadshow for three years, concluding with his role as the Fisherman in Dean Burry’s La Nez de la Sorcière. In 2019, he performed the role of Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème with COSÌ Connection and the Father in Paola Prestini and Royce Vavrek’s Silent Light at the BANFF Centre. He has also been a member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Barihunk trio to star in Berkshire Festival's Don Giovanni

André Courville, Erik Anstine and Brian James Myer
The Berkshire Opera Festival has announced its 2020 season, which includes Mozart's Don Giovanni starring the barihunk trio of André Courville in the title role, Erik Anstine as Leoporello and Brian James Myer as Masetto. They will be joined by Laura Wilde as Donna Anna, Joshua Blue as Don Ottavio, Joanna Latini as Donna Elvira, John Cheek as the Commendatore and Natalia Santaliz as Zerlina.

The new production will be directed by co-founder Jonathan Loy and conducted by artistic director Brian Garman. The production will include scenic designs by Stephen Dobay, costumes by Charles Caine, and lighting Alex Jainchill.

The production will open on August 22 with additional performances on the 25th and 28th at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Erik Anstine can next be seen as Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Opera Omaha on February 7 and 9. André Courville can be heard as Figaro in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Kentucky Opera from February 14-16. Brian James Myer will be Mercutio in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at the Knoxville Opera from February 14-29.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Barihunk Quartet takes home GRAMMY Award

John Brancy, Gabriel Preisser, Andrew Craig Brown and John Dooley (clockwise)
The barihunk quartet of John Brancy, Gabriel Preisser, Andrew Craig Brown and John Dooley took home the "Best Opera Recording" GRAMMY award last night for their recording of Tobias Picker's Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Released on the BMOPsound label, the recording features the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in collaboration with Odyssey Opera and Boston Children's Chorus under the baton of Gil Rose. The cast also includes hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock, Krista River, Edwin Vega, Elizabeth Futral, Tynan Davis, Andrey Nemzer and Gail Novak Mosites.

For those unfamiliar with story, Brancy's Mr. Fox is virtually moribund after having his tail shot off by money-loving farmers, only to become happy again after outwitting his enemies.

Every nominee in this category featured at least one barihunk. Other nominees were George Benjamin's Lessons In Love & Violence with barihunk Stéphane Degout, Alban Berg's Wozzeck with barihunk Christopher Maltman, Charpentier's Les Plaisirs de Versailles with barihunk Jesse Blumberg and Richard Wagner's Lohengrin with barihunk Tomasz Konieczny.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Barihunk Gustavo Feulien to headline Wilmington Music Festival

Gustavo Feulein (photo: Greg Salvatori)
Barihunk Gustavo Feulien is this year's main attraction at the Wilmington Music Festival Feulien, which runs from from Feb. 6 to 9, 2020. He'll be performing on the second night with tenor Michael Rallis and soprano Nikoleta Rallis in an evening of arias and duets.

Other featured artists during the festival include noted pianists and winners of the Wilmington Music Festival  Emerging Artists Worldwide Auditions, who hail from 23 different countries. The concert will include the highly acclaimed American soprano Elizabeth Baldwin. Tickets are available online.

Feulien is an Argentine native who made his operatic debut in 2006 as Mozart's Don Giovanni in his home country, where he also performed Germont in Verdi's La traviata and Figaro in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. A first-prize winner at the Il Trovatore International Competition in Argentina, he was also a semifinalist in the Hans Gabor Belvedere International and the Francisco Viñas competitions, and a finalist in Caballé's International Vocal Competition. In 2011, he was awarded the Argentinian Music Critics Association Award for his performances in Wagner's Lohengrin and Mario Perusso's Fedra. In recent years, Feulien has been praised for his portrayal of Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Four barihunks in Glyndebourne Cup semi-finals

The 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup, an international competition for opera singers, will include four barihunks among its 19 semi-finalists. They are Americans Timothy Murray and Edward Nelson, German-American Gabriel Rollinson and Britain's Dominic Sedgwick. They will be joined by sopranos Alexandra Lowe, Maria Chabounia, Federica Di Trapani, Jessica Harper, Maya Kherani, Miriam Luisa Kutrowatz, Lauren Margison, Johanna Wallroth, Meigui Zhang; mezzo-sopranos Olga Syniakova, Valerie Eickhoff and Evgeniia Asanova; and, tenors  Eric Ferring, Sungho Kim and John Matthew Myers.

The competition was founded to discover and spotlight the best young singers from around the world. Thirteen nationalities are represented among the semi-finalists, who have a variety of backgrounds and interests.

The competition offers a top prize of £15,000 and a guaranteed role at a leading international opera house. The competition awards prizes for the top three singers, as well as a media prize (chosen by arts journalists), a most promising singer prize and an audience favorite prize.  

The semi-finals will be on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 11:00 AM with the finals on March 7, at 4:30 PM. Tickets are available online.

The final will once again be broadcast live on Sky Arts.

The competition was founded in 2018 with the stunning American mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey winning the top prize, as well as the media prize. All six prizes in the inaugural competition were awarded to female singers.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Introducing Barihunk Mark Nathan

Mark Nathan in Dean Man Walking and Don Giovanni
A reader alerted us to barihunk Mark Nathan, who is currently a Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, where his roles will include Starveling in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in March and April, Mr Goldbury in Gilbert & Sullivan's Utopia Ltd. and Giuseppe in The Gondoliers, all in May and June.

Nathan is appearing in concert on Sunday, January 26th in the Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists series at Helensburgh Parish Church at the mouth of Gare Loch. He'll be joined by soprano Charlie Drummond and mezzo-soprano Heather Ireson in a program of arias, duets and songs accompanied by Michael Papadopoulos.

Mark Nathan sings Papageno's Suicide Aria:

Nathan studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Alexander Gibson Opera School and received his Master's from the London’s Royal College of Music.

He performed Joseph de Rocher in the UK staged premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow in May 2019. He went on to cover the role at Welsh National Opera and Israeli Opera.

Nathan only sings opera and musical theater, but is a lyricist who has penned Riptide: The Slasher Musical, which was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The work was honored with an award from the Musical Theatre Network. He has written a number of other musicals, as well as a collection of children’s poems, Riddle Me This, which was set to music by Ronald Corp for the New London Children’s Choir.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Barihunk switcheroo for Handel's Orlando

John Chest
Barihunk John Chest, who recently wowed audiences at the San Francisco Opera as Billy Budd, will step back a few centuries as he takes over as Zoroastro for Luca Pisaroni in Il Pomo d’Oro’s tour of Handel’s Orlando.

The four city tour opens on January 9th at the Teatro Ristori in Verona, before moving on to Paris (13th), Essen (19th) and Madrid (26th). The all-star cast also features Max Emanuel Cencic in the title role, Kathryn Lewek as Angelica, Francesca Ascioti as Medoro, and Nuria Rial as Dorinda. The tour is set to be recorded for a later CD release.

Other upcoming performances for the singer include Papageno in Mozart's Die Zäuberflöte at the Teatro Santiago de Chile from April 16-20 and an all-Mozart concert with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the baton of conductor Raphaël Pichon on May 23.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Barihunk duo in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo

Damien Pass and Alex Rosen
OPERA2DAY is teaming up with the Nederlandse Reisopera and Studio Drift to produce Claudio Monteverdi's L’Orfeo, often considered to be the first successful opera. Monteverdi referred to the piece as a "favola in musica," in which “all the actors are to sing their parts.”

Barihunks Damien Pass will sing Spirito and Alex Rosen will take on Caronte in a cast that also includes Samuel Boden as Orfeo, Kristen Witmer as Eurydice, Yannis François as Plutone and Laurence Kilsby as Apollo.

Hernán Schvartzman will conduct the orchestra of La Sfera Armoniosa on period instruments.  There will be ten performance  production can be viewed 10 times in January and February in theatres throughout the Netherlands starting in Enschede on January 25, then traveling to Leeuwarden, Maastricht, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zwolle, Arnheim and ending in Den Haat on February 22.

OPERA2DAY in Den Haag is a company founded to bring opera to new audiences by presenting old standards in contemporary settings. They often condense the opera to shorter running times.

Damien Pass' legendary strip tease in Agrippina

At the time when Monteverdi was composing L’Orfeo,  he was dealing with the recent death of his first wife Claudia and 18-year-old star soprano Caterina Martinelli. These events inspired him to compose some of the most beautiful music of love and mournful tunes ever written in opera.

Australian baritone Damien Pass has performed many baroque roles including Handel's Lucifero (La resurrezione), Zoroastro (Orlando) and Pallante (Agrippina), as well as Rameau's Borée (Les Boréades). After L'Orfeo, he head to Opéra de Lille to sing Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff.

American bass Alex Rosen is also not stranger to early music, having performed Seneca in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea with Cincinnati Opera, Haydn’s Creation and Handel’s Acis and Galatea with Les Arts Florissants and Somnus and Cadmus in Handel’s Semele with Opera Philadelphia.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sebastian Geyer sings lead in Rossini rarity

Sebastian Geyer (center photo © Barbara Aumüller)
Barihunk Sebastian Geyer will sing the lead role of Don Pomponio in Rossini's rarely performed two-act comedy La gazzetta (“The Newspaper”). The performances at Opera Frankfurt will be the first ever of the opera with the company, which was written for Naples’s Teatro dei Fiorentini in 1816.

The opera ran for 21 performances, but was only performed one more time in the 19th century when it was performed during the 1828 Carnival in Palermo. The opera was not revived until a 1960 Italian radio performance and a subsequent staging in 1976 by the Vienna Chamber Opera.

However, the late 1810s were an incredible prolific period for Rossini, who wrote many of his most famous works between 1815-1819, including Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Otello, Mosè in Egitto, La Cenerentola, La donna del lago and  La gazza ladra, now best remembered for its frequently performed overture. The overture from La gazetta was recycled and used for La Cenerentola.

Geyer will sing Don Pomponio, who places an ad in the newspaper for a husband for his flirtatious daughter Lisetta. The opera satirizes the influence of newspapers on people's lives.

Rossini wrote the role for the great Neapolitan buffo Carlo Casaccia, because he could sing in the Neapolitan dialect. 

Opera Frankfurt's production will open on February 2nd with subsequent performances on February 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16. Tickets are available online.

Additional performances with the company this season include Faninal in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and one of the officers in Henze's The Prince of Homburg with fellow barihunk Iurii Samoilov singing the lead role.