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.