Sunday, March 31, 2013

Vittorio Prato to tour Handel's Imeneo in debut with Academy of Early Music in London, Paris and Madrid

Vittorio Prato
Vittorio Prato just teamed up with one of our favorite sopranos, Anna Caterina Antonacci, in performances of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's Il Segreto de Susanna at the Grand Theatre de Luxembourg and the Opéra Comique in Paris. From all accounts it was a critical and artistic success.

When we first started following Prato, he was singing a lot of early music, including the title role in Monteverdi's Orfeo at the Opéra de Lyon, Handel's Giulio Cesare in Genua, Rameau's Les Indes Galantes in Toulouse and numerous performances as Massimo in Handel's Ezio.

Vittorio Prato sings "Va dal furor portata" from Ezio (Begins at 1:20):

We were thrilled to learn that Prato is returning to early music in his debut with the Academy of Early Music under Christopher Hogwood. Prato will be singing the title role in Handel's Imeneo in an all-star cast that includes Lucy Crowe as Clomiri, David Daniels as Tirinto and Stephan Loges as Argenio. The opera will be performed at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris on May 22, at the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid on May 26 and at London's Barbican Hall on May 29.

Matt Treviño sporting James Dean look as Leporello

Matt Treviño with Melody Moore, Elie Dehn and Christopher Magiera (clockwise)
After reading our post yesterday about "Barihunks on the air," an alert reader from Boulder, Colorado informed us that the current rum of Don Giovanni from Opera Colorado was being broadcast on Colorado Public Radio. Bummed out that we missed it, we were hoping that a link to the broadcast was still up, but we were sadly disappointed. (Are you folks at CPR reading this? Hint. Hint).

The production features our favorite cigar chomping barihunk Matt Treviño as Leporello and Christopher Magiera as Don Giovanni. The production is being updated to mid-century America with Matt Treviño looking very James Dean-esque. This is Treviño's third role in Don Giovanni, pulling off a rare trifecta. He previously sang the title role with Opera Naples and the Commendatore at the Fort Worth Opera.

If you're in the Rocky Mountain area, you can still catch it live on April 2, 5 and 7. Tickets are available online.

Matt Treviño
Upcoming performances for Treviño include the Ethel Smyth Mass in D with the Cecelia Chorus of New York at Carnegie Hall on April 14, 2013, Beethoven's 9th Symphony at his alma mater Baylor University on April 20th and Sparafucile/Monterone in Verdi's Rigoletto at the Lyric Opera Baltimore on May 17th and 19th.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dreamy Casting: Barihunks on the air

Edwin Crossley-Mercer as Don Giovanni
Thanks to a heads up from an alert reader, we've learned that Edwin Crossley-Mercer just performed his first Don Giovanni in Dijon, France. He was joined by fellow barihunk Damien Pass as Masetto. If you missed the performance, you're in luck, as it's temporarily available on Click HERE to watch the entire performance. has a number of current releases featuring barihunks, including Purcell's Dido and Æneas with Lucas Meachem, Gounod's Romeo and Juliet with François Le Roux, Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande with Stéphane Degout and Messiaen's Saint-François d'Assise featuring both Henk Neven and Rod Gilfry.

Guido Loconsolo
On April 4th, Italian barihunk Guido Loconsolo makes his Met debut as the scheming Egyptian general Achilla in Handel's Giulio Cesare. He'll be part of a dream cast that includes David Daniels, Natalie Dessay, Alice Coote and the amazing Christophe Dumaux as Tolomeo.

You can watch the April 27th matinee as part of the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series which will be transmitted live around the world.

Guido Loconsolo previously sang the role of Achilla at Glyndebourne. Earlier this season, he sang the title role in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at Glyndebourne, Publio in a new production of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito at Madrid’s Teatro Real, Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Bolshoi in Moscow, and Plutone in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo in Freiburg and Essen, Germany.

Simon Keenlyside
Fans of Simon Keenlyside will get plenty of chances to hear the ageless barihunk online. On April 6th, Radio France will broadcast his performance of Berg's Wozzeck from the Vienna, Staatsoper under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst. On April 25, BBC 3 will rebroadcast his Macbeth opposite the riveting Lady Macbeth of Liudmyla Monastyrska from the Royal Opera House. This is a performance that is not to be missed! BBC 3 has also announced that they will be broadcasting Keenlyside's Eugene Onegin from the Royal Opera House. The date and time has not been announced, but we believe that it will be June 1st.

Morgan Smith
On Sunday, April 7th at 8:00 PM/PST San Francisco's KDFC will broadcast Jake Heggie's latest masterpiece Moby-Dick. The opera stars barihunk Morgan Smith along with Jay Hunter Morris, Stephen Costello, Jonathan Lemalu, Talise Trevigne, Matthew O'Neill and Robert Orth. The performance is a rebroadcast from last season.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Barihunks to alternate Show Boat role at Kennedy Center

Rod Gilfry (L) and Michael Todd Simpson (R)
If you like your singers tall - say about 6' 5" - you might want to head to the Nation's capital where barihunks Rod Gilfry and Michael Todd Simpson are going to alternate the role of Gaylord Ravenal at the Kennedy Center. Performances begin on May 4 for a three week run. Featured in the smaller role of Joe, is Soloman Howard, who has also been featured on this site. He'll be alternating the role with Morris Robinson. The Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein classic will be directed by Francesca Zambello.

The cast also includes Andriana Chuchman and Jennifer Holloway sharing the role of Magnolia, Alyson Cambridge and Talise Trevigne as Julie, and Angela Renée Simpson and Gwendolyn Brown as Queenie.

Tickets are available online or by calling the Kennedy Center Box Office at (800) 444-1324.
Soloman Howard

In addition to his illustrious opera career, Gilfry has made a major mark singing musicals. He has sung the title role in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, appeared as Captain von Trapp in the Théâtre du Châtelet production of The Sound of Music, Lancelot in Camelot at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, and Emile de Becque in the U.S. National Tour of the Lincoln Center Production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, a production that garnered 7 Tony Awards in 2008. In November, he be performing in Mark Anthony Turnage Anna Nicole at the New York City Opera.

Musicals are also not new to Michael Todd Simpson, who made his London debut at the Barbican performancing in Carousel with Opera North. He can next be seen performing Vaughan William’s A Sea Symphony with the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra on April 13 and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra on May 23, 24 and 25.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Samuel Ramey
He has been referred to as the original barihunk by some, for leading the way in sexy portrayals of the low voice repertory. His video of Boito's Mefistofele from the San Francisco Opera has become a cult classic with opera aficionados. He continued his sexy shirtless portrayals as Attila that were not only sexy, but set the vocal standard to this day.

His amazing vocal flexibility and range has allowed his to sing roles ranging from Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo to the title role in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle. His repertoire includes the florid pasages of Handel, the bel canto roles of Bellini and Donizetti, the great baritone roles of Verdi and Puccini, great American operas and even many of the great Russian and French bass roles.

Samuel Ramey sings "The Impossible Dream"

If he sang nothing else, he would be famous for his interpretation of Boito’s Mefistofele,which has included  seventy performances in the Robert Carsen production of the opera specifically created for  him. In fact, devilish roles have dominated his stage performances, including Berlioz's devil in La damnation de Faust; the sinister Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; and the tour de force of all four villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. In 1992 Mr. Ramey sang all of Offenbach’s villains for the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night, prompting one critic to write, “[It was] the best interpretation of the four villains I can remember in the last 25 years. This is the stuff of which operatic legends are made.” In 1996 Mr. Ramey presented a sold-out concert at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall titled A Date with the Devil in which he sang fourteen arias representing the core of this repertoire, and he continues to tour this program throughout the world.

Samuel Ramey sings "Scintille, diamant" from Les contes d'Hoffmann:

Samuel Ramey holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. His more than eighty recordings include complete operas, recordings of arias, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums on every major label. His recordings have garnered nearly every major award including three Grammy Awards, Gran Prix du Disc Awards, and “Best of the Year” citations from journals including Stereo Review and Opera News. His exposure on television and video is no less impressive, with video recordings of the Metropolitan Opera’s Carmen, Bluebeard’s Castle, Semiramide, Nabucco, and the compilation “The Met Celebrates Verdi;” San Francisco Opera’s Mefistofele; The Rake’s Progress from the Glyndebourne Festival; Attila from La Scala; and the Salzburg Festival’s Don Giovanni. Ramey is seen frequently on television in appearances with “Live from the Met” and “Live from Lincoln Center” as well as other productions taped for PBS.

Following his phenomenal success in opera, concert, and recordings, Samuel Ramey’s sold-out Carnegie Hall recital in 1987 added a fourth dimension to his spectacular career. His returns to New York’s Carnegie Hall for solo recitals in February 1995 and November 1998 were the culmination of extensive, critically-acclaimed North American tours which had taken Mr. Ramey from Alaska to Alabama, with appearances on America's finest vocal series. His European recital career is equally notable, with sold-out appearances in all the music capitals.

 Samuel Ramey "Mentre gonfiarsi l'anima" from Attila:

A native of Colby, Kansas, Samuel Ramey was active in music throughout high school and college. In 1995 he was named “Kansan of the Year,” and in 1998 the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.

He is still actively performing, although in less demanding roles. Upcoming performance include Bartok's A Kekszakallu herceg vara in Omaha and the role of Dansker in Britten's Billy Budd with the Los Angeles Opera.

Last April, he performed the Grand Inquisitor in Verdi's Don Carlos at the Houston Grand Opera. In June of last year, he traded in the title role in Verid's Attila at San Francisco Opera for the less demanding role of Leone. In September, he thrilled his New York fans by returning to the Met to sing Timur in Puccini's Turandot.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Michael Mayes stopping traffic in Fort Worth

Michael Mayes makes waiting for the bus tolerable
We say it every year, if you don't have the Fort Worth Opera Festival on your travel itinerary then you missing one of the best festivals in the United States. Although the festivals at Glimmerglass, Spoleto and Santa Fe might be better known, the quality and innovation at Fort Worth Opera is unsurpassed. General Director Darren Woods has created one of the most entertaining festivals in the United States with a mixture of operatic standards and fascinating contemporary works. 

This year's standard fare includes Puccini's La boheme, Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment and Puccini's La boheme featuring another of our favorite young barihunks Wes Mason. The contemporary work this year is Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied and it's all the buzz in Fort Worth due a bunch of bus benches featuring barihunk Michael Mayes that are literally stopping traffic.

Mayes will portray Colonel Floyd James (Jim) Thompson, America’s longest-held prisoner of war. The opera by Tom Cipullo looks back on Thompson's years as a captive in Vietnam and features Mayes in the title role. Fort Worth Opera often challenges their ticket holders with new works and the productions are often the audience favorites. Last year they featured Mark Adamo's comedy  Lysistrata that had audiences rolling in the aisles and the previous year they offered Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox that became the hottest ticket in town.

If this year's fare is half as great as their ad campaign, they have another hit on their hands. Michael Mayes was one of the stars of Lysistrata and he showed off his comic skills to great effect. But readers of this site will know that his dramatic skills recently prompted composer Jake Heggie to say that Mayes was the definitive Joseph De Rocher in his opera Dead Man Walking.

Tickets and additional information about the Fort Worth Opera Festival are available on their website.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Brathwaite takes his Passion to Sweden

Peter Brathwaite (Photo: Maria Scard)
Peter Brathwaite, who has regularly appeared in our Barihunks Charity Calendar, is reprising his performance as Christus in a performance of Bach's St John Passion for Ensemble Arden in Varberg, Sweden. He sang the role last April with the Wren Players as the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital in London. Tickets to the March 29th performance are available online.

Brathwaite was one of our Reader Submissions in 2011 and we've watched his career flourish. He recorded and toured with the ensemble Amore! and debuted the role of Mimoun in the world première of Emily Howard’s Zátopek.

Peter studied at the Royal College of Music as well as in Belgium and is the recipient of a major award from the Peter Moore’s Foundation and Independent Opera at Sadler's Wells. He has been performing in opera mainly in Belgium, France, Italy and the United Kingdom and appears regularly in recital and on the concert platform.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A barihunk trio in Opera Lyra's La Traviata

Benjamin Covey, Gregory Dahl and Jonathan Estabrooks (PHOTO: Sam Garcia)
We don't usually think of La Traviata as an opera where we would find three barihunks that have appeared on our site. In fact, it's rare to find it in Verdi, although his Attila has surely given us plenty of barihunk duos, who also happen to have some pretty exciting music. But Opera Lyra in Ottawa assembled three Canadian barihunks in their production of the Verdi masterpiece: Benjamin Covey as the Marquis, Jonathan Estabrooks as the Baron Douphol and Gregory Dahl as Germont.

Gregory Dahl as Jokanaan in Salome w
As much as we love seeing three barihunks on stage together, the big news from this production is actually the return of Opera Lyra. Like many opera companies during the Great Recession, the Ottawa-based company struggled and cancelled performances, never quite sure if they could fully recover. This concert version of Traviata was a sure-fire way to get opera audiences back in the door. They will follow up with completely staged performances of Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini's Madama Butterfly, as well as a family performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.

Traviata has one more performance tonight at 8 PM at Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre. Tickets are available online.

We love seeing Jonathan Estabrooks back at Opera Lyra since we began covering him when he was first appearing with the company. He has kept busy since moving to New York City, where he just completed his first performance at Carnegie Hall as a soloist with the Oratorio Society of New York in Paul Moravec's The Blizzard Voices.

Check out Jonathan Estabrook's "A Singer's Life":

Estabrooks will also team up with fellow Ottawan Larry Edelson at the American Lyric Theater in New York City. Edelson has cast Estabrooks as  Alan Turing, the World Warr II computer genius who was persecuted for being gay.

Commissioned in honor of the Turing Centennial, The Turing Project is a historical fantasia based on the life of the English scientist Alan Turing. The opera explores Turing's extraordinary contributions to mankind, his county's disavowal of him because he was gay, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. The opera imagines the man inside the legend, the unique perspective he had on the universe, the public and unashamed view he had of his own homosexuality, and the impact he had upon the future of civilization.

Gregory Dahl will head to the Mannitoba Opera on April 13 for three performances as Amonasaro in Aida.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Erik Anstine spotted skiing in the Alps in a Barihunk tee shirt

Eric Anstine
Check out who was seen in the Swiss Alps sporting his Barihunk tee shirt! None other that former Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program and Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program participant Erik Anstine. The bass-barihunk in now on the roster of the Opernhaus Zürich where he was cast this season as  Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, Biterolf in Tannhäuser

He opens tomorrow as one of the Knights of the Holy Grail in Wagner's Parsifal in a cast that includes Angela Denoke as Kundry, Evgeny Nikitin as Amfortas, Stuart Skelton as Parsifal and Jan-Hendrik Rootering as Gurnemanz. Performances run through April 1st and tickets are available online.
Eric Anstine
In the upcoming season, he can be seen as Masetto in Zurich's new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni with fellow barihunk Peter Mattei in the title role, Ruben Drole as Leporello, and hunkentenor Pavol Breslik as Don Ottavio. He'll also be joining two other barihunks in a new production of Gounod's Faust. Anstine will be singing the role of Wagner alongside Elliot Madore and Kyle Ketelson. We can't wait to get a backstage picture of that trio!

Next season he can also be seen alongside the great mezzo Cecilia Bartoli in a Christof Loy production of Handel's Alcina.  Check out the entire 2013/2014 season at the Opernhaus Zürich website.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Complete operas from La Monnaie online; Hunkentenor goes all barihunk

Charles Castronovo and Justin Hopkins
We get asked a lot about live opera broadcasts and streaming video. We probably should post more about it and encourage anyone with information about broadcasts to send it to us at

We recently learned that La Monnaie in Brussels broadcasts their productions online for a month after the performance ends. We were thrilled to find out that we could watch Barihunks calendar model Justin Hopkins in his debut from the theatre in Donizetti's Lucretia Borgia as Astolfo along with fellow barihunk Paul Gay as Don Alfonso. If you like your tenors sexy, as well, you'll be thrilled to know that Charles Castronovo is The Lucretia Borgia broadcast is available online until April.

La Monnaie's sexy ad campaign for Romeo et Juliette
Next up is Mernier's La Dispute with Stéphane Degout as the Prince and Guillaume Andrieux as Mesrin. Andrieux created quite a buzz when he recently debuted on our site rehearsing in a muscle shirt. However, the opera that we're really looking forward to is Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande which is cast with three barihunks, Stéphane Degout as Pelléas, Paul Gay as Golaud and the steamy Jérôme Varnier as Arkel. You can see more of Jérôme Varnier when the streaming video begins next week for Gounod's Romeo et Juliette where he portrays Frère Laurent.

One of our tenor crushes: Glenn Seven Allen (in Streetcar on right with Jacquelynne Fontaine)
Sometimes we shy away from it, but the truth is that we have some tenor crushes. In our "Best of 2012" feature we owned up to crushes on Ed Lyon, Noah Stewart and Glenn Seven Allen. Regular readers will probably know that today's post isn't the first time that we've snuck Charles Castronovo onto the site either.

We were pretty excited to learn that Glenn Seven Allen crossed over into baritone/barihunk territory as Carl Magnus in Sondheim's A Little Night Music with the Indiana Repertory Theater. The singer also recently made his Carnegie Hall debut in Marschner's Der Vampyr with the American Symphony. Although he was distinctly back in tenor territory, he was joined by barihunk Justin Hopkins.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Craig Verm up to bat in Reno and West Virginia

Craig Verm in uniform for "Casey at the Bat"
We may have to start following accompanist Karen Roethlisberger Verm's career more closely. She appears to be the accompanist of choice for barihunks. Yesterday we posted about her upcoming recital with Daniel Teadt in Pittsburgh, only to learn that on Thursday she'll be accompanying her barihunk husband Craig Verm in a program of Quilter, Finzi, Britten, and Grainger.

The free recital will be at Elbin Auditorium on the West Liberty University campus at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 21. The school is located near Wheeling, West Virginia.

Verm is currently with the Reno Philharmonic performing William Schuman's cantata "Casey at the Bat." It opened last night and there is one additional performance on Tuesday, March 19 at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available online. We're not sure how the Pittsburgh Pirates fan will feel about him sporting a uniform from the rival San Francisco Giants, but folks in Northern California and Nevada will undoubtedly love it. We think he looks good enough in that uniform to try out for their back up middle infielder spot. On off days, he could sing the National Anthem.

Upcoming operatic appearances include Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with Florentine Opera in May, Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes with Des Moines Metro Opera in June as well as Mercutio in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette also with the Des Moines Metro Opera in June.

Verm, who has appeared in our last two charity calendars,  earned his Master of Arts in Music degree from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music and was a 2006 national semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Barihunk connected recital with Daniel Teadt and Karen Roethlisberger Verm

Daniel Teadt
On Saturday, March 23rd, barihunk Daniel Teadt will perform a free program of Benjamin Britten, Hugo Wolf, Samuel Barber and Gerald Finzi. He will be accompanied by pianist Karen Roethlisberger Verm, who happens to be the wife of barihunk Craig Verm. She also took the pictures of Craig Verm that graced our calendar's cover this year. The concert starts at 2 pm at the Kresge Theater at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Teadt has sung major roles in opera houses throughout the United States and Europe including Pittsburgh Opera, Arizona Opera, Aix-en-Provençe Festival in Luxembourg, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Tacoma Opera, Central City Opera, Tri-Cities Opera and Pittsburgh Opera Theater. He has been on the roster of the New York City Opera for several seasons and toured nationally with the San Francisco Opera. 

Teadt is currently a voice instructor at Washington & Jefferson College and Clarion University. He also runs a private voice studio in Pittsburgh. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

More Acclaim for Michael Mayes in Dead Man Walking

Michael Mayes in Eugene Opera's Dead Man Walking (Photo: Cliff Coles)
Michael Mayes continues to wow both audiences and critics with his frightening, yet beautifully sung, portrayal of Joseph DeRocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. Tonight he wrapped up the reprisal of the role that made opera afficionados take note after his performance in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The latest critic to by wowed is Marilyn Farwell from The Register-Guard, who wrote:

As the killer Joseph DeRocher, baritone Michael Mayes has become what the composer himself calls the “definitive” interpreter of this role. His imposing physicality and menacing demeanor were frightening. And he sang the role impeccably. Two scenes highlighted his vocal and dramatic gifts: a beautifully rendered memory of being by a river with a woman on a hot Louisiana night, and his stunning solo scene in his cell, pacing with the anger and fear of a caged animal.
Mayes now heads to the Fort Worth Opera Festival where he will portray Colonel Floyd James (Jim) Thompson, America’s longest-held prisoner of war. The opera by Tom Cipullo looks back on Thompson's years as a captive in Vietnam and features Mayes in the title role.

Tickets and additional information about the Fort Worth Opera Festival are available on their website.Mayes opens


Evan Hughes (Photo: Matthu Placek)

This is our third straight post of our beloved "Reader Submissions." The latest is California native Evan Hughes, who is currently a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development program. The UCLA graduate

Evan Hughes (Photo: Matthu Placek)
Hughes started the season as Don Alfonso in a production of Mozart's Così Fan Tutte directed by Stephen Wadsworth and conducted by Alan Gilbert at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Lincoln Center. Later this season he will make his Metropolitan Opera debut as Crebillon in Puccini's La Rondine.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Reader Submission: Benjamin Werth

Benjamin Werth
Ohio native Benjamin Werth is our latest reader submission and it comes from Germany. Werth who honed his skills in regional companies throughout the United States, has been based at the Landestheatre Coburg about an hour from Bayreuth, Germany for the last three years. His recent roles there include the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Argante in Handel's Rinaldo and Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Previous roles included Orestes in Gluck's Iphigenia in Tauris, Zurga in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers and Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville. 

Werth studied at Ohio State University, the Manhattan School of Music in New York and the Opera Institute at Boston University. He participated in the Young Artists Program at the Chautauqua Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Central City Opera. He was a finalist in the 2008 New England Regionals of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.

Benjamin Werth
In 2008 he made ​​his debut as Escamillo ("Carmen") at the Ash Lawn Opera. In Boston he appeared as Figaro in Rossini's Barber of SevilleLaurent  in Pickers Therese Raquin, Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute and Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.  In Des Moines he sang Donizetti's Don Pasquale.

His performances of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly in Coburg open on March 24 and tickets are available online.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reader Submission: Laurent Arcaro

Laurent Arcaro: Headshot and Don Giovanni
We love the fans of our site. You have become our eyes and ears around the world and have exposed us to some amazing talent and some damn hot men. The latest submission is Frenchman Laurent Arcaro. He was recommended to us by a fan who saw him sing Don Giovanni in Marseilles just over a year ago.

Laurent Arcaro
Arcaro studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, Musikhochschule opera studio in Mannheim, Germany and the Conservatoire de Toulouse. He's gone on to sing in a number of houses throughout Germany and France. This summer, he will make his debut at the Opéra de Metz as Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola.

He also appeared in the 2010 movie "Heart Zero" with his wife Nathalie Vignes. The movie is about a spouse who is haunted by the death of her French broker husband during the 9/11 tragedy.

Happy Birthday, Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)

Hugo Wolf
Wolf played the violin, piano and organ as a child and studied briefly at the Vienna Conservatory from 1875 to 1877 where he met his idol Richard Wagner. He wrote musical criticism for the Wiener Salonblatt, taking sides with Wagner and Anton Bruckner against Johannes Brahms. It was difficult for Wolf to get his compositions performed during this period due to his printed views. Wolf was broke most of his life and at times had to make due with one meal a day. His bad temper made it difficult to keep students. He was said to be small, of mean build, thin and undernourished.  

Christopher Herbert sings Wunden trägst du, mein Geliebter:

 In 1888, Wolf was living in a friend's villa in Perchtoldsdorf near Vienna where he had a period of intense creativeness. He wrote many songs with texts by Goethe, Eduard Mörike, Eichendorff, and other German poets. He also used foreign lyrics in translation. He continued and extended the lied tradition of Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann, but he was original in his conception of the songbook as the larger dramatic form. His later life was clouded by illness, depression and final insanity. Wolf becoming manic-depressive and was sent to a lunatic asylum, mad at the age of 43.

Piotr Prochera sings Gebet:

A number of baritones have successfully recorded his Mörike lieder, including Olaf Baer, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Thomas Allen and Hans Hotter. 

Wolf wrote numerous songs for baritone including Der Musikant; Nachtzauber; Verschwiegene Liebe; Das Standchen; Prometheus; Wachterlied auf der Wartburg; Biterolf; Benedeit die sel'ge Mutter; Nun lass und Frieden schliessen; Der Mond hat eine schwere Klag'; Auf dem grunen Balkon; Koniglich Gebet; Der Rattenfanger; Genialisch Treiben; Heimweh; Grenzen der Menschheit; Cophtisches Lied II; Cophtisches Lied I; Harfenspieler I; Seemanns Abschied; Der verzweifelte Liebhaber; Anakreons Grab; Abschied; Lied eines Verliebten; Gesang Weylas; Der Jager; An die Geliebte; Gebet; Seufzer; Verborgenheit; Der Genesene an die Hoffnung; Der Tambour; Fussreise; Der Freund.

Gérard Souzay sings "Gesang Weylas"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Watch the Met Audition winners on WQXR

Met audition winner Brandon Cedel performs in the WQXR studio
Fresh off of their thrilling wins as Met audition winners, a handful of singers appeared in the WQXR studios the next day to reprise some of their winning arias. Brandon Cedel kicked it off with Aleko's cavatina from Rachmaninoff's opera of the same day. Click HERE to watch.

Sydney Mancasola sings the Silver Aria from the Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe; Michael Brandenburg sings Lensky's aria from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin; Musa Ngqungwana sings "Riez, allez, riez du pauvre idéologue” from Massenet's Don Quichotte; Rebecca Pedersen sings “Pleurez, mes yeux” from Massenet's Le Cid; and, Thomas Richards has been ill and didn't sing, but former winner Eric Owens wraps it up singing from Verdi's Macbeth.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Morgan Pearse's "Crack" Performance in Handel's Imeneo

Morgan Pearse and Louise Alder
Barihunk Morgan Pearse showed a little crack in his performance in the title role of Handel's Imeneo with the London Handel Festival. After receiving a tip form a reader, we introduced the Aussie hunk to readers in November 2011. We recently featured him again when he continued the barihunk winning streak by taking the top prize at the Royal Over-Seas League competition.

The production opens tonight at the Britten Theatre at the Royal College of Music in London with three additional performances. Pearse will perform tonight and on March 13th, with Luke D. Williams alternating on March 12th and 14th. The role of Argenio is being alternated between Timothy Nelson and Bradley Travis, two attractive singers who we need to start keeping an eye on. Tickets and additional information are available online.

Australian Barihunk Morgan Pearse in Imeneo
The Italian-language libretto of Imeneo was adapted from poet Silvio Stampiglia's text. Handel had begun composition in September 1738, but did not complete the score until 1740. The opera received its first performance at the Lincoln's Inn Fields in London on November 22, 1740, and received another performance on December 13th. Handel then revised the score, and this revised version received concert performances in Dublin, on 24 and 31 March 1742. The first modern production was at the Halle Opera House on 13 March 1960, conducted by Horst-Tanu Margraf.

Listen to Imeneo in its entirety with John Ostendorf, bass-baritone. Rosmene, Julianne Baird, soprano. Tirinto, D'Anna Fortunati, mezzo-soprano. Clomiri, Beverly Hoch, soprano. Argenio, Jan Opalach, bass. Brewer Chamber Orchestra & Chorus, Rudolph Palmer.:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Photos from Dead Man Walking: Michael Mayes in Glory Denied

Philip Kalmanovitch and Etienne Dupuis are all smiles as opening night arrives
On February 24h, we mentioned the upcoming performance of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking in Montreal, Boston and Eugene, Oregon. We have rehearsal photos from two of those productions, as the much-anticipated opening night in Montreal is upon us.

Etienne Dupuis
Etienne Dupuis is a great example of how much opera is catching up to TV and movies with realistic casting. He hired two personal trainers to get in shape for the role of Joseph De Rocher, which has become a dream role for barihunks. Some of the hottest barihunks in the world have taken on the role of Joseph de Rocher including Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Mel Ulrich, Daniel Okulitch, Jordan Shanahan, Marcus DeLoach and Philip Cutlip. The performance in Montreal also includes Philip Kalmanovitch as a police officer. Many of you will remember him from last year's calendar and probably wouldn't mind being frisked by him.

Performances at Opera de Montreal run from tonight through March16th and tickets are available online.

Etienne Dupuis as Joseph De Rocher in Montreal
Dead Man Walking will open on opposite coasts on March 15th at the Eugene Opera and the Boston Opera Collaborative. If you ever get the chance to see the stage animal Michael Mayes perform this role, don't miss it. His workout photo from Tulsa, as he was preparing for the role a year ago, have rocketed into our ten most visited posts of all-time.

The opera will be performed at the Eugene Opera on March 15 and 17 and tickets are available online.

If you don't have time to schedule a trip to Oregon, there are still six weeks left to get to the Fort Worth Opera Festival where Mayes will portray Colonel Floyd James (Jim) Thompson, America’s longest-held prisoner of war. The opera by Tom Cipullo looks back on Thompson's years as a captive in Vietnam and features Mayes in the title role. If you've not been to this festival, we highly recommend adding it to your agenda, as it's one of the most innovative and entertaining festivals in America. Other operas this year include Puccini's La boheme, Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment. Wes Mason, another of our favorite young barihunks, will be appearing as Marcello in La boheme.

Tickets and additional information about the Fort Worth Opera Festival are available on their website.

Michael Mayes getting in character in Eugene
Performances of Dead Man Walking with the Boston Opera Collaborative will run daily from March 15-18 with tickets available online.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Anders Froehlich reprises sexy Don Giovanni; Showing skin in "Bonjour M. Gauguin"

Anders Froehlich: Babe magnet as Don Giovanni
We love regional opera, where some of the most innovative and exciting new theater happens. It's also a testing ground for the next generation of talent. Anyone who has been following the regional opera scene in the San Francisco Bay Area has probably heard the buzz surrounding Anders Froehlich.

Readers of this site will remember the sexy rock climbing photo and video that we ran when we first introduced him on our site two years ago. We first spotted him as the Grandfather Clock in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges at Berkeley Opera and Fiorello in the Barber of Seville at Opera San Jose.

Anders Froehlich as Don Giovanni with Cinnabar Opera
The latest regional company to engage Froehlich is the upstart Virago Theater Company in Alameda just outside of Oakland, California and across the Bay from the West Coast's opera capital, San Francisco. They have cast Froehlich as the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Don Giovanni is being directed by the retired diva Olivia Stapp, who was one of the most thrilling singers of the last generaation. She is also the past artistic director of Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, another regional opera company in the area. Don Giovanni will be conducted by Jonathan Khuner, a well-known figure at the San Francisco Opera and West Edge Opera. There is one performance left on March 9th.

Froehlich's next big break will come next month when he returns to West Edge Opera to play the title role in the much anticipated performance of Fabrizio Carlone's opera Bonjour M. Gauguin. The opera has a parental warning because of "partial nudity," which we've been told involves Froehlich. You can get your tickets HERE and make sure to get your opera glasses before you go.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Daniel Cilli to perform Traviata in Napa; French music in New Orleans; Sing premiere with Opera Parallèle

Daniel Cilli in "City of Sin" at West Edge Opera
After seeing Daniel Cilli shirtless in West Edge Opera's "City of Sin," we realized that we've probably not featured him as regularly as we should. The singer emerged on the scene as a member of the Opera San Jose ensemble from 2006-2010, scoring critical acclaim in Eugene Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, Barber of Seville and the Marriage of Figaro. He's now been in two productions with the innovative West Edge Opera, which used to be known as Berkeley Opera.

Cilli has a new SoundCloud page where you can listen to some clips. He also has some interesting upcoming engagements, starting with the Baron in La Traviata with the Livermore Valley Opera. Performances run from March 9-17 in Livermore, with a performance at the historic Napa Valley Opera House on March 13. It's believed to be the premiere of La traviata at the Napa Valley Opera House. Click HERE for additional performance information or tickets.

Daniel Cilli as Mercutio at Opera San Jose
On May 9 and 10, he'll appear with the Louisiana Philharmonic in the Fauré Requiem as part of their French Master series. There are performances in New Orleans and Covington and tickets are available online.

On June 7th he premieres the role of Carlo Gesualdo in Dante De Silva’s Gesualdo, Prince of Madness​ with San Francisco's Opera Parallèle.

You can check out his artistry on his new SoundCloud site

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cleveland gushes over Edwin Crossley-Mercer

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
We've been gushing about Edwin Crossley-Mercer ever since a reader alerted us to his brilliant artistry a few years ago. We recently blogged about his long-overdue American recital debut yesterday at Baldwin Wallace University. Cleveland Plain Dealer Music Critic Donald Rosenberg, was just as impressed by the French singer and wrote this glowing review. Let's hope that other U.S. presenters add him to their calendars.
by Dan Rosenberg, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

March must be the appointed month for vocal recitals by major artists in Northeast Ohio. From last Friday through this Sunday, the region will have welcomed tenor Alek Shrader (Oberlin College), baritone Thomas Hampson (E.J. Thomas Hall) and sopranos Christine Brewer (Cleveland Institute of Music) and Deborah Voigt (Oberlin).

And there's another. In what can only be deemed a coup, the Art Song Festival at Baldwin Wallace University presented the first American recital by French baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer on Sunday in Gamble Auditorium. We are likely to hear a great deal more of this superb artist in coming years.
Crossley-Mercer -- of Irish-French extraction -- shared the stage with Russian pianist Semjon Skigin, whose collaborations were at all times sonorous and connected to the expressive demands in the program's German, English and French songs.

The pianist interacted closely with Crossley-Mercer, whose baritone is an instrument of lustrous individuality and suppleness. He is capable of scaling the voice down to a focused whisper or projecting with stentorian force. Words are paramount to Crossley-Mercer, as are inflections that heighten the drama in each song.

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
The 30-year-old baritone, singing everything from memory, opened with works by Beethoven and Brahms. There were moments when his approach in this repertoire brought to mind the probing intellectuality and subtlety of the late German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, with whom Crossey-Mercer studied in master classes.

But these performances were no acts of imitation. Crossley-Mercer brought distinctive touches to the six odes to love and nature in Beethoven's "An die ferne geliebte,"altering vocal colors and employing physical gestures to enhance the moods.

In six songs by Brahms, Crossley-Mercer applied warmth to placid lines, dreamy nuances where the texts portray a blissful world and ecstatic potency to passages of amorous flight. Skigin's shapely partnership was key to the success of these performances, as they were when the musicians turned to afternoon's other fare.

Edwin Crossley-Mercer and Semjon Skigin perform "Autumn Leaves" ("Les feuilles mortes") :

Crossley-Mercer sang four selections from Vaughan Williams' "Songs of Travel" in crisply enunciated English that made reading the printed texts unnecessary. Turning to chansons by Faure, Debussy and Poulenc, he attained even higher levels of immediacy and idiomatic authority, especially in Debussy's "Chevaux de bois," whose carousel narrative emerged with a palpable sense of wonder and charm.

Those qualities also marked Crossley-Mercer's encores -- a debonair version of "C'est si bon" that would give Yves Montand and Dean Martin a run for their respective currencies, and "Les feuilles mortes" ("Autumn Leaves") sung in the silkiest French.

Crossley-Mercer. Remember the name. And to thank the Art Song Festival for the introduction.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: 6 of 10 Met Audition finalists are BARITONES!!!

Richard Ollarsaba
If there was any doubt remaining that we're in the "Golden Age of Baritones," it was put to rest today at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions semi-finals. An astonishing six of the ten singers advancing to next Sunday's finals are baritones or basses. Those singers include Matthew Anchel of the Eastern Region, Brandon Cedel of the Middle Atlantic Region, Musa Ngqungwana of the Middle Atlantic Region, Richard Ollarsaba of the Upper Midwest Region, Thomas Richards of the Central Region and Efraín Solís of the Western Region.

The ten winners will now perform on March 10 at 3 p.m at the Grand Finals Concert accompanied by the Met Orchestra. The singers will have a week of preparation with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the concert, which is open to the public.   Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert may be purchased at the Met Box Office, by phone at 212-362-6000, or online

Efraín Solís
Other singers advancing are tenor Michael Brandenburg of the Central Region, soprano Tracy Cox of the Western Region, soprano Sydney Mancasola of the New England Region and Rebecca Pedersen of the Rocky Mountain Region.  Barihunks would like to congratulate all of the finalists and wish them well (but we will unabashedly be pulling for the baritones!).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Celebrating the anniversary of Carmen's premiere

Nmon Ford as Escamillo in Szeged
Georges Bizet's popular opera Carmen debuted on March 3, 1875 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. The opera was only mildly successful and the composer died almost three months to the day after the premiere. It's another one of those operas that we love for having three barihunk roles, the major role of the torreador Escamillo, the Lieutenant of Dragoons Zuniga, and the Corporal of Dragoons Moralès.

Escamillo arrives in Act 2 with his famous aria "Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre" (a.k.a. the Torreador Song). Bizet was reportedly contemptuous of the music that he wrote for Escamillo, remarking of the Torreador Song, "Well, they asked for ordure, and they've got it." We've had many baritones remark to us that it's a fiendishly and deceptively difficult aria to sing.

In the original play by Prosper Mérimée, Escamillo is a peripheral character, a picador named Lucas who is only briefly Carmen's grand passion. At the premiere, Escamillo was sung by the Belgian-born baritone Jacques Bouhy, who had already made a name for himself singing Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust and as Mozart's Figaro.

Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo
Escamillo is a perfect barihunk role, as he's often portrayed as dashing and debonair, decked out in a uniform or other sexy costume, making him a particularly striking and attractive character. Some of the sexiest singers in the world today have Escamillo in their repertory, including Michael Todd Simpson, Mariusz Kwiecien, Nmon Ford, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Ildar Abdrazakov, Kyle Ketelsen, Alexander Vinogradov and Fernando Radó.

Lee Poulis sings Escamillo

Friday, March 1, 2013

Baritones win two top awards at George London competition & three encouragement awards

Steven LaBrie and John Brancy
The 42nd annual George London Foundation Awards Competition was held Friday night and baritones took two of the top prized and three of the encouragement awards. Nicholas Pallesen and Jamez McCorkle both were awarded the top prize which comes with a $10,000 financial gift. Encouragement awards went to John Brancy, who received the Theodor Uppman memorial award; Steven LaBrie won the Herbert J. Frank memorial award; and, a final baritone winner was Jonathan Michie. Aubrey Allicock, who has been featured on this site along with Pallesen, Brancy and LaBrie, was awarded an Honorable Mention.

The competition took place in a front of a capacity audience at Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. A total of $82,000 was given in awards. After three days of preliminary auditions during which ninety singers were heard, 24 were selected as finalists. Of these, seven were selected as winners of George London Awards of $10,000 each and seven were given George London Foundation Encouragement Awards of $1,000 each. The remaining 10 finalists received $500 Honorable Mention awards.

Theodor Uppman as Billy Budd in 1951
Other winners of the $10,000 top prize included tenor Dominic Armstrong, tenor Noah Baetge, soprano Felicia Moore, soprano Jessica Muirhead, and  Additional $1,000 encouragement awards went to tenor Adam Bonanni, mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, soprano Marina Costa - Jackson, and mezzo-soprano Shirin Eskandani.

This year’s panel of judges included soprano Harolyn Blackwell, mezzo-soprano Nedda Casei, opera stage director Bruce Donnell, former Metropolitan Opera administrator Alfred F. Hubay, George London Foundation President Nora London, former Metropolitan Opera leading tenor and current voice professor George Shirley, and performing arts consultant Thurmond Smithgall.

Since 1971, the annual competition of The George London Foundation for Singers has been giving its George London Awards, and a total of more than $2 million, to an outstanding roster of young American and Canadian opera singers who have gone on to international stardom – the list of past winners includes Christine Brewer, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Catherine Malfitano, James Morris, Matthew Polenzani, Sondra Radvanovsky, Neil Shicoff, and Dawn Upshaw.

Met Competition Finalists Arrive in NY: Includes Seven Baritones

Brandon Cedel showing off his barihunk cred
Twenty singers, including seven baritones, who won regional competitions around the United States arrived in New York yesterday to begin rehearsals for the semi-finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The Met Auditions, this year celebrating their 60th anniversary, are a major stepping stone to a career as an opera singer and were crucial in introducing many of today's best-known stars, such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Samuel Ramey, Deborah Voigt, and Dolora Zajick.

We were thrilled that over a third of the semi-finalists are baritones, who we will be rooting for. They include: Matthew Anchel, bass (Eastern Region; New York, NY); Brandon Cedel, bass-baritone (Middle Atlantic Region; Edward Nelson, baritone (Mid-South Region; Los Angeles, CA); Musa Ngqungwana, bass-baritone (Middle Atlantic Region; Richard Ollarsaba, bass-baritone (Upper Midwest Region; Tempe, AZ); Thomas Richards, bass-baritone (Central Region; Burnsville, MN); and, Efrain Solis, baritone (Western Region; Santa Ana, CA).

The semi-finalists will rehearse with the company's music staff for two days in preparation for the Semi-Finals competition on Sunday, March 3. The winners of that event will go on to sing in the Grand Finals Concert accompanied by the Met Orchestra on March 10 at 3 p.m. The finalists will have a week of preparation with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the Concert, which is open to the public. 

Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert may be purchased at the Met Box Office, by phone at 212-362-6000, or online 

Other finalists include: Michael Brandenburg, tenor (Central Region; Austin, IN);  Hershey, PA); Tracy Cox, soprano (Western Region; Dallas, TX); William Davenport,  tenor (Middle Atlantic Region; Rockville, MD); Hye Jung Lee, soprano (Gulf Coast Region; Seoul, South Korea); Juan José de León, tenor (Great Lakes Region; Corpus Christi, TX); Christopher Lowrey, countertenor (New England Region; Johnston, RI); Sydney Mancasola, soprano (New England Region; Redding, CA); Felicia Moore, soprano (Eastern Region; Princeton, NJ);  Port Elizabeth, South Africa);  Rebecca Pedersen, soprano (Rocky Mountain Region; Bountiful, UT);  Jessica Strong, soprano (Northwest Region; Winnipeg, Manitoba); Karen Vuong, soprano (Eastern Region; Los Angeles, CA); Benjamin Werley, tenor (Midwest Region; Pittsburgh, PA); and,  Melinda Whittington, soprano (Southeast Region; Charlotte, NC).