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)