Thursday, September 21, 2017

Richard Rittelmann & Julie Adams team up for "Stop Bullying" fundraiser

Richard Rittelmann & Julie Adams
Barihunk Richard Rittelmann and rising soprano star Julie Adams are teaming up for a campaign fundraiser to "Stop Bullying in Schools" sponsored by the Golden Gate Opera. The concert will be at Servino Ristorante in Tiburon, which has spectacular view across the bay to San Francisco.

The duo will perform selections from Puccini's La bohème, Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Dvorak's Rusalka, Korngold's Die Todte Stadt, Wagner's Tannhauser, Bernstein's West Side Story and others.

The Hungarian-French baritone recently presented Julie Adams with the Richard Rittelman Award at the James Toland Vocal Competition in Oakland, which provided the soprano with an all-expense paid trip to perform at the new cultural center “L’Espace du Theiy” in Provence, France. Adams, who was a Metropolitan Opera Auditions winner, also took away the top prize at the James Toland Competition.

You can donate to the Stop Bullying campaign or purchase tickets online.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Crossing with Rod Gilfry makes NY debut at BAM

Rod Gilfry as Walt Whitman in Crossing
Matthew Aucoin's opera Crossing is making its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from October 3-8. The ageless barihunk Rod Gilfry returns in the role of Walt Whitmen, whose Civil War diary that he kept while working as a nurse inspired the opera.

Crossing explores how the individual experiences of soldiers are remembered and told. As Whitman listens to wounded veterans share their memories and messages, he forges a bond with a soldier who forces him to examine his own role as writer and poet. The opera, directed by Diane Paulus, begins with Walt Whitman's prologue, delivered while facing the audience in front a bunch of rickety hospital beds. Whitman sings, “What is it, then, between us?,” a key line from his poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” While caring for the injured soldiers, Whitman is drawn to a haunted-looking soldier names John Wormley, who is sung by tenor Alexander Lewis. The opera deals with a number of "crossings," including between poet and reader, performer and audience, and the contradictory elements of Walt Whitman himself.

The cast also includes a spate of barihunks, including Davone Tines as a South Carolina slave, Hadleigh Adams, Michael Kelly as a soldier, Ben Lowe, Matthew Patrick Morris and Jorell Williams. Tickets are available online.

The opera heads to California for its West Coast premiere in May 2018 for a concert performance at the Los Angeles Opera, which also stars Rod Gilfry. The opera originally premiered in May 2015 at the Shubert Theater in Boston.

Anthony Reed takes his act to San Francisco nightclub

Bass-barihunk Anthony Reed (Photo: Andrew Bogard)
The San Francisco Opera continues its popular Opera Pop-Up series with bass-barihunk Anthony Reed and director Aria Umezawa, who are teaming up for Operatronica. The latest offering is geared toward those who are curious about opera and like EDM music.

The duo will hit San Francisco's nightclub Mezzanine along with DJ troupe Loves Company, who will grind out some opera related late night beats. General admission is $20 and VIP access is available for $40. Tickets include a swag bag and a chance to meet the artists.

For those who want to hear Anthony Reed in a traditional opera, he's performing Orest's tutor in Richard Strauss' Elektra and Doctor Grenvil in Verdi's La traviata with the San Francisco Opera. Tickets are available online and performances run through September 26th.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Q&A with Barihunk and Fitness Instructor Zacharias Niedzwiecki

Zacharias Niedzwiecki
Chicago-based barihunk Zacharias Niedzwiecki is new to our site and came to our attention earlier this year when he performed in Purcell's The Fairy Queen at Long Beach Opera. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, where he performed in numerous productions, including the role of Connie Rivers in the collegiate premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance as The Pirate King, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann as Schlémiel, Kurt Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel as Jimmy/Cypress Stark, and Puccini's La Bohème as Colline.

Niedzwiecki is in his second year as a member of the Professional Diploma in Opera Program at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts in conjunction with Chicago Opera Theater. Last season he made his debut this with Chicago Opera Theater in Frank Martin’s The Love Potion as Duke Hoël, covered the role of Oberon in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera, and appeared in the US premiere of Phillip Glass’ The Perfect American.

This season you can see Zacharias with Chicago Opera Theater in Menotti’s The Consul as Assan, the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ Elizabeth Cree as both Mr. Etcher and Karl Marx. He will also be covering multiple roles with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Gregory Spears’s opera Fellow Travelers.

Niedzwiecki is also a cycle instructor and yoga teacher keeps his body as fit as his voice. He answered some questions for us about his career, his fitness routine and a little about his personal interests.
Zacharias Niedzwiecki in Long Beach Opera's The Fairy Queen (photo: Liz Lauren)
1. What drew you to a career in opera? I was first drawn to the beauty of opera. When I was young, I thought that it was the most beautiful art form I ever experienced. I wanted to somehow be that beautiful too, so I aspired to be an opera singer. Somehow those aspirations became reality. 

2. You are a cycle instructor and yoga teacher. Tell us about that and what got you started in fitness? I first got started in fitness simply to get in shape. I didn't feel entirely comfortable in my own skin so I made the choice to change that. Years later is just part of my lifestyle, besides teaching fitness working out everyday is just part of my routine. Some people read the paper with their coffee in the morning, I workout. 

Zacharias Niedzwiecki teaching yoga
3. Do you feel that being in shape helps you on stage?I absolutely feel that being in shape helps many aspects of stage. I first started with vinyasa yoga. I read so many articles about singers who have worked out and became too tight to be successful in an operatic career. I didn't want that so I chose yoga as a way to tone and refine my movements. Being in shape allows in my opinion for you to have more bodily awareness on stage and at the same time look good doing it. 

4. How do you respond to people who say that working out can restrict proper breathing for singers? As far as restricting proper breathing for singers I completely understand this thought, it's valid. For that reason I believe a work out regimen should be balanced. That's why I combine workouts in yoga, cycling, and interval training. Yoga itself is about breath and movement, lengthening the body and flexibility. Therefore I feel it is essential to incorporate yoga into all workouts routines. If and when I lift, I only lift so much that I can still have proper form and not so much weight that I ever strain. Regardless the voice should come first, if you notice something has begun to restrict your breath stop doing it. 
Zacharias Niedzwiecki
5. Do you think the advent of HD broadcasts has changed the expectation of how a singer should look? Absolutely, I believe it has cause viewers to once again rethink this art form. Opera is an aural art form and a visual art form. With this in mind, it now being broadcasted, and our more health conscious society I feel the expectation have shifted for you to not only sound incredible, but for you to also look the role and look good doing it. 

6. Are there any roles in particular that you really hope to get to perform someday? There are a couple, I would absolutely love to perform the role Hawkins Fuller from Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears. The story is heart wrenching, the music is gorgeous and I would love to perform as a gay character. I would also like to perform the role of Escamillo from Carmen by Bizet. 

7. What other passions do you have aside from music? I am an avid botanist, my apartment in Chicago is filled with plants. I really enjoy learning about plants and spending time researching about them. I feel growing up gardening vegetables and flower at home in Northern Michigan instilled this passion.

Zacharias Niedzwiecki
8. What do you listen to other than opera? I listen to all kinds of music. Teaching both yoga and cycling and having to make these very different playlists I have to listen to and search through a large variety of music. I really enjoy lately electronic house with female vocals and more chill ambient music like Olafur Arnalds. 

9. Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to know. I took a year off from singing when I was 23 and became a research field technician of a Jaguar population density study in Panama. I lived there for about a year in the mountains, hiking everyday setting up camera traps along the mountain ridges.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Iowa Public Television to broadcast "Billy Budd" with Craig Verm

Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photos: Des Moines Metro Opera)
On September 29th, Iowa Public Television will broadcast the world premiere of the newly orchestrated version of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd. The opera features barihunk Craig Verm, whose promo photo from this production were featured in our 2017 Barihunks Calendar. The episode will be available online.

The production, which was filmed in July, features a number of other singers familiar to readers, including Zachary James as the evil John Claggart, Michael Adams as Donald, Emmett O'Hanlon as the Novice's Friend and barihunk turned hunkentenor Chris Carr as Maintop. The all-male cast included 70 singers and was the largest ensemble in the 45 year history of the Des Moines Metro Opera. [Zachary James is slated to appear in our 2018 calendar].

The Iowa Public Television coverage includes behind-the-scenes footage and perspectives on the making of Billy Budd, the stage experience, the opera’s complex emotional themes, as well as interviews with Des Moines Metro Opera General and Artistic Director Michael Egel, conductor David Neely, stage director Kristine McIntyre and principal cast members.

Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photos: Des Moines Metro Opera)
“'Billy Budd' is a true masterpiece,” said Craig Verm, the baritone featured in the title role. “It’s epic in its scope of onstage forces of orchestration, of story, of morality, and of good and evil. It’s gripping. It’s magical.”

In 2007, Verm first appeared in the opera as the Novice's Friend in Pittsburgh opposite the Billy Budd of Nathan Gunn and the thrilling Claggart of Greer Grimsley. The production was directed by the woman who inspired Barihunks, Francesca Zambello.

Billy Budd had its world premier at London’s Royal Opera House on December 1, 1951 conducted by the composer with the role of Captain Vere sung by Britten’s partner Peter Pears. Billy Budd received its United States premiere in 1952 at the Indiana University Opera Company with Jack Gillaspy in the title role.

A number of famous barihunks have sung the role of Billy Budd, who many believe was secretly desired by the evil Claggart. Famous barihunk Billy Budd's include John Chest, Simon Keenlyside, Richard Stilwell, Nathan Gunn, Rod Gilfry, Bo Skovhus, Thomas Hampson, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Peter Mattei, Lauri Vasar, Lucas Meachem, Jacques Imbrailo, Daniel Belcher, Roderick Williams, Iurii Samoilov and Liam Bonner. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Baritones Sweep Wigmore/Kohn Song Competition

The "Battle of the Baritones" at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition ended up with baritones taking all three of the top prizes. It repeats the baritone trifecta of the last competition in 2015, when Swiss bass Milan Siljanov took 1st Prize, German baritone Samuel Hasselhorn took 2nd Prize, and British baritone James Newby took 3rd Prize.

What started with 150 singers from 42 countries ended up coming down to the baritone trio, plus mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski, who walked away for the Richard Tauber prize for the best Schubert singing. You can watch the entire final round HERE.

First Prize went to New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts who received £10,000 and a Wigmore Hall recital offered at the discretion of the Director, Second Prize went to American baritone John Brancy who received £5,000 and Third Prize went to American baritone Josh Quinn who received £2,500.

The Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition has been around for fourteen years and attracts some of the top young vocal and piano talent in the world. Singers compete in tandem with an accompanist. This Competition recognizes the song tradition as a whole and requires contestants to perform in at least three languages. At the same time it honors the Lied’s place at the heart of the song repertoire and celebrates the Shakespearean stature of Schubert in the genre.

Baritones have historically fared well at the competition, with the amazing German baritone Dominik Köninger winning the top prize in 2011, Gavan Ring taking 2nd Prize in 2013, the famous 2015 trifecta and this year's repeat of baritones taking all three top prizes.  The Competition is held only in odd numbered years.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Battle of the Baritones at Wigmore/Kohn Competition?

John Brancy, Josh Quinn and Julien van Mellaerts
Three of the most talented young baritones in opera have made it to the final round of the Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, which will be held on Thursday, September 7th. John Brancy, Josh Quinn, Julien van Mellaerts and compete alongside mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski, setting up a Battle of the Baritones (plus a low-voice female singer!).

You can watch the final round live online at the Wigmore/Kohn website at 6 PM GST/1 PM EST/10 AM PST.

You can watch the semi-final round HERE. Josh Quinn performed  Schubert's Memnon, Poulenc 4 Poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire, Finnissy's Outside Fort Tregantle and Schubert's Der Zwerg. John Brancy performed Schubert's Liebeslauschen and Erlkönig, Frank Bridge's Love went a-riding, Faure's Dans la nymphée and Wolseley Charles' The green-eyed dragon. Julien van Mellaerts performed Der Einsame and Wandrers Nachtlied II, Gurney's In Flanders, Butterworth's Is my team plouging? and Poulenc's Les gars qui vont a la fete.

Google honors baritone Eduard Khil with doodle

Eduard Khil and his Google doodle
Google paid Russian baritone Eduard Khil the ultimate honor with creating a doodle for him on September 4th, which would have been his birthday. Khil was born in 1934 and died five years ago.

Despite having studied at the Leningrad Conservatory (now the Saint Petersburg Conservatory), having won numerous singing awards and going on to a career at the Saint Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy, he became most famous for singing “I Am Glad Because I Am Finally Returning Back Home.” The song was posted on YouTube in 2009 and became known as the “trololo,” due to Khil repeating the phrase “trololo.” The track became an internet sensation and appeared on several television programs including “Family Guy,” "The Colbert Report" and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Lottery Fever clip from Family Guy featuring the Trololo Song:

The Trololo video first appeared on February 21, 2010, the most prominent of those being the "Trololo" website that helped push the video into popular awareness, receiving more than 3,000,000 hits in its first month.

After his singing career faded in the early 1990s, Khil re-entered private life and worked in a cafe in Paris, singing cabaret. For his 75th birthday in 2009, Khil was awarded the "Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 4th Class" by Russia and the next year he performed in the St. Petersburg Victory Day Parade. Upon his death from a stroke in 2012, condolences came from all corners of the world, including from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dmitri Hvorostovsky cancels Enescu Festival recital

Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Iago at the Vienna State Opera in 2013
Barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky has pulled out of his September 22 recital at the Georges Enesco Festival "due to medical problems." The announcement comes just days after the Vienna State Opera announced that Marco Cario would be replacing the Siberian singer as Ankarström in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. Hvorostovsky’s recital will be taken over by soprano Kristine Opolais.

Hvorostovsky was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the summer of 2015 and subsequently cancelled concerts in Kaliningrad, Minsk and Vienna, as well as performances in the Met's  production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. He made a brief return for a concert in Toronto and appeared at the Met Gala.

That leaves a September 26th recital at the Russian Federation in Moscow as the only remaining item on his calendar.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Reader Submission: British barihunk Jevan McAuley

Jevan McAuley
A reader alerted us to British barihunk Jevan McAuley after seeing him perform Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte with Opera Holloway in Wiltshire. The opera has been updated to more contemporary times and is set in World War II. He has additional performances in Surrey on September 3, 22 and 23, in West Sussex on September 10 and in Oxfordshire on September 15. The cast also includes barihunk Przemyslaw Baranek as Don Alfonso, Callie Gaston as Callie Gaston, Sophie Dicks as Dorabella, Tom Morss as Ferrando and Lorena Paz as Despina.

Jevan McAuley hails from Salisbury, Wiltshire and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with a Bachelor of Music (honors) in Classical Voice and a Master of Music in Classical Voice.  At Guildhall he performed Sid in Britten's Albert Herring, as well as roles in Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, Die Zauberflöte, La fille du régiment, La Rondine, Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino, Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio and in Lennox Berkeley's A Dinner Engagement.
Przemyslaw Baranek
Opera Holloway in 2009 in order to give young artists the opportunity to perform in opera at the early stages of their careers, and to present accessible performances to the public, particularly new audiences. The company has performed in a variety of venues from barns in Sussex to pubs in Wales. Tickets are available online.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Half of Wigmore/Kohn competitors are low male voices; Watch live online!

Will Liverman, Josh Quinn, Nick Mogg, Peter Mazalán (top row)  Ed Ballard, John Brancy, Lawrence Halksworth, and Peter Kellner (bottom row)
There will be no shortage of low male voice to root for in the upcoming 2017 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, as half of the competitors are baritones or basses. The impressive group includes British baritone Ed Ballard, American baritone John Brancy, British baritone Lawrence Halksworth, British baritone Gareth Brynmor John, Icelandic baritone Oddur Jónsson, Slovakian bass Peter Kellner, American baritone Will Liverman, Slovakian baritone Peter Mazalán, British baritone Nicholas Mogg, American baritone Josh Quinn and New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaert.

We didn't see a single tenor amongst the competitors!

Ed Ballard sings Handel's 'Volate Più Dei Venti":

Baritones have historically fared well at the competition, with the amazing German baritone Dominik Köninger winning the top prize in 2011, Gavan Ring taking 2nd Prize in 2013 and the famous 2015 trifecta, when Swiss bass Milan Siljanov took 1st Prize, German baritone Samuel Hasselhorn took 2nd Prize, and British baritone James Newby took 3rd Prize. The Competition is held only in odd numbered years. 

The Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition has been around for fourteen years and attracts some of the top young vocal and piano talent in the world. Singers compete in tandem with an accompanist. This Competition recognizes the song tradition as a whole and requires contestants to perform in at least three languages. At the same time it honors the Lied’s place at the heart of the song repertoire and celebrates the Shakespearean stature of Schubert in the genre.

First Prize will receive £10,000 and a Wigmore Hall recital offered at the discretion of the Director, Second Prize receives £5,000 and Thrid Prizze receives £2,500. The Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert lieder receives £3,000 and the best pianist receives £5,000.

You can watch the semi-finals live on September 5th and the finals on September 7th.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Watch Romain Dayez's stunning Gregorian Chant/Electronic Music video

Romain Dayez in
French barihunk Romain Dayez has created an innovative new project called Le Rapt Invisible, which intersperses Gregorian Chant, harmonics and electronic music with dance. The requiem aerternam composition was written by Dayez and Baptiste Lagrave, inspired by ancient sacred music. Dayez performs the vocals.


Barihunk Jesse Blumberg to revive Rosenmüller cantatas

Johann Rosenmüller and Jesse Blumberg
American barihunk Jesse Blumberg rejoins the baroque string ensemble ACRONYM on September 29th for their performance of "Valley of Tears: Bass Cantatas and Instrumental Sonatas of Johann Rosenmüller." The program will alternate large ensemble chamber sonatas published in Venice in 1670 with unpublished bass cantatas, which ACRONYM has transcribed for baritone from manuscripts recently rediscovered in Berlin.   

The cantata, Salve mi Jesu, Pater misericordiae, contains the words lachrimarum valle, or “valley of tears.” Mid-career, the German composer was forced to flee from Leipzig to Venice after being imprisoned for alleged "homosexual activity." He lived in Venice for many years, lavishing his musical gifts upon that city and teaching at the Ospedale della Pietà orphanage for girls. He was considered a significant figure in the super-competitive music world of Venice in the late seventeenth century.

Jesse Blumberg and ACRONYM perform Johann Rosenmüller:

In his later years, Rosenmüller returned to Germany with Duke Anton-Ulrich of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, at whose court he served as choir master. He died in Wolfenbüttel on September 10, 1684, and was buried there.

Performances will be at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and tickets are available online.

Barihunk James Newby wins 2017 John Christie Award

James Newby (photo Ben Mckee)
British barihunk James Newby has been named as the 2017 recipient of Glyndebourne’s John Christie Award, an annual scholarship given to a promising young singer to fund private study.

Newby is a Jerwood Young Artist and was a member of the 2017 Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. He sang the roles of Marcellus/Player 4 in Hamlet, Messenger in La traviata and Notary in Don Pasquale in the 2017 festival; he also performed in the Chorus for all three of those productions, as well as La clemenza di Tito.

James Newby sings Finzi's "Come away, come away death":

A former student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, he won the 2017 Trinity Gold Medal. He has been awarded the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s Rising Stars prize for the 2017/2018 season, and will perform regularly with the ensemble in programs at the South Bank, King’s Place and on tour.

In 2016, Newby won the Ferrier Award and was awarded the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowship, and in 2015 he won the Richard Tauber Prize and third prize at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn International Song Competition.

James Newby sings Schubert's "Der Jüngling und Der Tod":

The John Christie Award has been presented by the Worshipful Company of Musicians since 1965. Past winners include Gerald Finley (1989), Kate Royal (2004), Matthew Rose (2006), Allan Clayton (2008), barihunk Duncan Rock (2010) and Louise Alder (2014).

Newby was announced as the 2017 winner at the final performance of Glyndebourne Festival 2017 on August 27th.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Barihunk duo alternating Guglielmo at Palais Garnier

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Barihunks Edwin Crossley-Mercer and Philippe Sly will be alternating the role of Guglielmo at the beautiful Palais Garnier in Paris from September 12 to October 21. As an added bonus, Sly's performance dates also feature barihunk Paulo Szot as Don Alfonso!

Philippe Sly
The innovative production is being directed by the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, who is using a double cast of singers and dancers to marry song and dance. The stage design is fairly minimal with plexiglass screens suspended on either side, providing plenty of space for the singers and dancers to navigate individually or as a group.

Paulo Szot and his dancer double
De Keersmaeker explained her concept of the opera to Wannes Gyselinck, the senior editor of rekto:verso, "The function of dance is to underline the tension between text and music, and even at times to emphasize it...This duplication creates a third visible voice alongside the music and the text. It was above all because of the music that, despite my doubts about opera as a medium, I accepted the Paris Opera's invitation: it is so full of movement, both bodily and emotional. Taking music as a starting point, I hope to attain a higher degree of abstraction, and through it discover the essence of the work. In most productions, the beauty and depth of the music is drowned under draperies, costumes, doors that open and close."

Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Franco Cerri makes the case for a sexy Scarpia

Franco Cerri taking some time off at Puccini Festival
Italian barihunk Franco Cerri is at the Festival Pucciniano at the composer's home base of Torre del Lago, where is singing in Tosca, La Rondine and La bohème. We had to share his latest picture from the beach, which made us wonder if both Tosca and Mimi chose the wrong guy.

Franco Cerri sings Scarpia's Te Deum from Tosca:

He sings Marcello in La bohème, Crébillon in La Rondine and Sciarrone in Tosca. He is working on Scarpia for a future performance and you can enjoy a preview in the video. If we were Tosca, we'd put down the knife and take our chances on the police chief!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Barihunk trio reaches Grange Festival's new vocal competition

Božidar Smiljanić, Dominic Sedgwick and Nick Mogg
Barihunks Božidar Smiljanić, Dominic Sedgwick and Nick Mogg are amongst the 12 semi-finalists for the recently launched Grange Festival International Singing Competition.
Formerly the Hampshire National Singing Competition, which was last held in 2013, the competition offers singers aged 33 or under the chance to win cash prizes and a role in a future production by the Grange Festival.
The first prize winner will receive £7,500, while the second and third prizes are worth £5,000 and £2,500. All other finalists will win £1,000, and the winners of the Song Prize and the Audience Prize will receive £2,500 and £2,000 respectively.
Participants will give public performances, culminating in a performance with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and will have the chance to draw on the experience of members of the jury through seminars and masterclasses throughout the competition.
The jury will include Dame Felicity Palmer, patron of the competition; director John Copley; accompanist and coach Roger Vignoles; Jonathan Groves, managing director of Groves Artists; Heather Duncan, head of concerts and programming at Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; and Scott Cooper, director of artistic administration at the Grange Festival. It will be chaired by the Grange Festival’s artistic director, Michael Chance.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Peter Trautwein to perform at 2017 Classic Meets Fetish

Peter Trautwein and performers fro Classic Meets Fetish
Barihunk Peter Trautwein will perform at the 2017 Classic Meets Fetish concert on September 7th in Berlin, Germany. The concert is a charitable fundraiser for Berlin-based organizations who help those with HIV/AIDS. Last year, the concert raised money EU2000 each for the Berliner Aidshilfe, which works with HIV prevention and testing, and the Hospiz Tauwerk, who provide assistance to those dying of AIDS. 

Cellist George Kroneis, who will perform again this year
The concert assembles a small group of professional international musicians, including singers and instrumentalists who will perform everything from Bach and Vivaldi to music from Star Wars. Trautwein will perform the Torreador's aria from Bizet's Carmen.

Other performers this year include organist Martin Carl, cellist Paul Leather, pianist Jack Parton, flutist Ash Hodge, pianist Greg Winn, cellist George Kroneis and recorder player Denis Chevalier.

Tickets are available online.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rodney Earl Clarke releasing debut album "Glorious Quest"

Rodney Earl Clarke
British barihunk Rodney Earl Clarke is releasing his debut album, Glorious Quest, a collection of the greatest songs from American musical theater. The album focuses on the composers that solidified the modern story-driven, integrated art genre that we now enjoy.

Selections include Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, If I Loved You, Some Enchanted Evening and You'll Never Walk Alone from Carousel. He is joined by the pianist Christopher Gould. You can purchase a copy HERE.

You can hear Clarke live on August 23, when he performs at the Proms in Dvořák’s haunting Symphony No. 9. Originally devised by Gerard McBurney and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, this newly remounted Beyond the Score® performance combines actors, projections and live musical examples to explore the history of this enduringly popular orchestral classic. Additional information is available online.

Zachary Gordin releasing CD of Reynaldo Hahn

Zachary Gordin
Barihunk Zachary Gordin is releasing a CD of music by composer Reynaldo Hahn accompanied by his frequent collaborator Bryan Nies on the piano. The CD will be released on October 1st and is available for pre-order.

Gordin and Nies began their collaboration with a less than perfect production of Puccini’s Tosca, but recovered to join forces for numerous concerts, opera productions and recitals.
This disc marks the culmination of that artistic partnership, spanning more than ten years and many veins of repertoire.

This selection of mélodies, with a few exceptions (for musical flow and programming), is arranged chronologically and provides a window into Hahn’s development as a composer. The cycle Chansons Grises, written when he was only 12-15 years old, shows his prodigious talents and the influence of his teachers Fauré, Saint-Saëns, and Massenet from the Paris Conservatory, where Hahn was the rare exception as a particularly young student admitted into the esteemed school.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Barihunk trio in Sydney Chamber Opera's The Rape of Lucretia

Simon Lobelson, Nathan Lay and Jeremy Kleeman
The barihunk trio of Nathan Lay, Jeremy Kleeman and Simon Lobelson opened this weekend in the Sydney Chamber Opera's production of Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. This is the company's first production of the opera, which is being directed by Kip Williams, winner of the coveted Helpmann Award for his work as a director. Additional performances are on August 21, 22, 24, 25 and 26 and tickets and additional cast information can be found online.

We introduced Nathan Lay, who sings Tarquinius, to readers last year. He has won the National Liederfest, Australian Music Events’ Opera Scholar of the Year, the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria,  placed third in the Herald Sun Aria and won the 2016 Australian International Opera Award. He has performed with Opera Australia, Melbourne Opera, and has recently completed the Victorian Opera Developing Artist Program along with his Master of Music at The University of Melbourne. He is featured prominently on Remembrance, a CD of songs and poems in memory of the soldiers that fought in World War One. During his time at Victorian Opera, he performed in Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, Puss in Boots, La traviataHansel and GretelThe Magic PuddingThe Opera, Richard Mills’ Remembrance,  I Puritani, Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden featuring Meow Meow, Massenet's Cendrillon, and Mr. Mayor in Richard Mills’ world premiere of The Pied Piper.

Nathan Lay sings Britten's "Look! Through the port comes the moon astray":

We also introduced Jeremy Kleeman, who will be singing Collatinus, to readers last year after a reader submitted him to us. Kleeman is a graduate of Victorian Opera’s Developing Artist Program, and has a Master of Music in Opera Performance and Bachelor of Music from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. In 2014 and 2015, Jeremy was a scholar with Melba Opera Trust on the Joseph Sambrook Opera Scholarship, and was the 2016 recipient of the Dame Heather Begg Memorial Award. Upcoming engagements will include soloist in the Duruflé Requiem with the Melbourne Bach Choir, Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea with Pinchgut Opera and soloist in Nielsen’s Symphony no. 3 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Roles with the Victorian Opera have included Lord Valton in I puritani, Marquis D’Obigny in La traviata, Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods, Jonas Fogg in Sweeney Todd, Mother in Seven Deadly Sins and Albert the Pudding in the Green Room award-winning world premiere The Magic PuddingThe Opera.

Simon Lobelson has been featured three times on Barihunks, dating back to 2008! He was born in Sydney to Egyptian parents and spent his childhood in Brussels before moving to Australia. He received his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Sydney and his postgraduate degree at London’s Royal College of Music. He was a finalist in the 2011 Wagner Society Competition and a Tait Memorial Trust 2011 Thornton Foundation Award recipient. He is also a coach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Lobelson has performed over 70 operatic roles including Doctor Falke in Die Fledermaus, Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Geôlier in Dialogues des Carmélites, Osmin in Mozart’s Zaide, and Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff. His recordings include The Sofa, Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Nicolai Mass with the Israel Camerata, The Fairy Queen and Charpentier’s David et Jonathas. He has also been featured on broadcasts for Classic FM, Fine Music FM, Foxtel and BBC Radio 3, as well as soundtracks to exhibitions at both the Australian and British Museums, and on the inflight soundtrack for British Airways and Qantas flights.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Barihunk Benjamin Appl nominated for Gramophone Best Solo Vocalist award

Benjamin Appl's Heimat
The brilliant young recitalist Benjamin Appl has been nominated for a 2017 Gramophone Award as best Solo Vocalist for his album Heimat with accompanist James Bailieu. The recording features music by Brahms, Britten, Grieg, Ireland, Poulenc, Reger, Schubert, Adolf and Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams, Warlock and Wolf.

Other nominees in the category include Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles for Krenek's Reisebuch aus den österrichischen Alpen and Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach for Brahms' Vier ernste Gesänge.

The German barihunk was a BBC New Generation Artist and an ECHO Rising Star artist for the 2015/16 season, appearing in recital at major European venues. He became an exclusive SONY Classical recording artist in May 2016 and won the Gramophone Young Artist of the Year Award in 2016.

Benjamin Appl sings Schubert's Der Lindenbaum:

He is currently performing Schubert recitals in the U.K., including on August 17th at the Edinburgh International Festival's Queen’s Hall with Schumann and Grieg, and at Ireland's Kilkenny Festival where he'll perform Winterreise on August 19th and a program with soprano Ailish Tynan and tenor Robin Tritschler on August 20th.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Introducing Nicholas Martorano; Performing Chicago area recital

Nicholas Martorano
American barihunk Nicholas Martorano, who graduated with a Master of Music degree in vocal arts last year from the University of Southern California, is new to our site.

Martorano will be returning to his homestate of Illinois to perform a recital in Morris, which is about an hour outside of Chicago. He'll be joined by Alexandra Martinez, Liya Khaimova and Napat Mingkwanyuen in a concert of arias, duets and ensembles from opera and musical theater. The four singers were all students together at USC.

Martorano first began singing on stage when he appeared as Winthrop in a Westmont High School production of  “The Music Man.” He developed his love for opera while in high school and opted to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in vocal performance.

The concert is Friday, August 18th at the First Presbyterian Church in Morris, Illinois.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wes Mason in LoftOpera's innovative Pagliacci

Wes Mason (Photos Jason Lee Denton & Ellen Appel)
Wes Mason will star as Silvio in LoftOpera's new production of a Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci from September 15-26 at a former bus depot in Brooklyn. Mason will be joined by Lucas Levy as the clown Canio, Kelly Glyptis as Nedda, Joshua Conyers as Tonio and Michael Kuhn a Beppe. 

The production is directed by the always innovative director John de los Santos and includes a Coney Island-inspired set design by Jung Griffin. Following each performance, audience members are encouraged to stay for a dance party and reception featuring DJ Svetlana Voice.

Founded in 2013, LoftOpera aims to bring opera to its roots and to the masses with environmental, immersive stagings that emphasize the communal aspects of the genre. Previous productions include Rossini’s Otello, Macbeth, Tosca, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and La bohéme.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Barihunk Karl Daymond collapses and dies at hearing where he came to speak about saving arts venue

Karl Daymond

An opera singer collapsed and died while arguing to save an arts venue.

Karl Daymond fell ill just before he was due to speak at a meeting about Drill Hall in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, where he had directed shows.

He was a passionate supporter of the arts who wanted to ensure the future of the venue.
Chepstow mayor Dale Rooke said he was "one of those larger than life characters" with a "huge heart and a huge passion".

"He will be sorely missed and it's a huge, huge loss to Chepstow," he added.

Mr Rooke said Mr Daymond was "quite stressed" about speaking at the meeting, which was organised to allow locals to have their say on the future of the hall.

It came amid a row over whether the venue's ownership should be transferred from the local authority into the hands of a newly-formed charity.

'Emotional' meeting

The hall secured £50,000 from the Big Lottery in February to fund renovations with plans for a further £1m bid dependent on who owned it in future.

Mr Rooke said: "It was an emotional meeting but we knew it was going to be. About 80 people were present.

"It was particularly traumatic as when he collapsed, everyone was stuck in the council chamber and lots of the people in the room knew Karl."

Mr Daymond trained at The National Opera Studio before touring the world with both the English and Welsh national operas.

His career included performing at the BBC Proms in 1999 and 2002, and twice at the Royal Variety Performance, in 1982 performing The Pirate King from Pirates of Penzance, and as a soloist in 2004.

He appeared with Hollywood star Dustin Hoffman in a 1989 production of the Merchant of Venice, and took a starring role in Leonard Bernstein's Grammy-nominated one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti in 2001.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Barihunk quartet opens NY City Opera season

Kevin Short, Kenneth Overton, Christopher Job and Alexander Birch Ellliott (Clockwise top left)
New York City Opera is opening its 2017/2018 season with Puccini's La fanciulla del West starring the barihunk quartet of Kevin Short as Jack Rance, Alexander Birch Elliott as Sonora, Christopher Job as Ashby and Kenneth Overton as Jake Wallace. They will be joined by soprano Kristin Sampson as Minnie and tenor Jonathan Burton as Dick Johnson.

The production is a collaboration between New York City Opera, Opera Carolina, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, and Teatro di Giglio di Lucca. Performances are on September 6, 8, 10 and 12 at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater. Tickets are available online.

Based on American playwright David Belasco's The Girl of the Golden West, the opera tells the story of love and redemption in a mining camp during the California Gold Rush. Puccini's La fanciulla del West had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 1910, and the opera has been a favorite of New York audiences ever since.

The remainder of New York City Opera's season includes the New York premiere of Pepe Martinez’s mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Montemezzi’s  L’Amore  dei Tre Re, the long-awaited US premiere of Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain, the New York premiere of Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, and a double-bill of Donizetti’s Il Pigmalione and  Rameau’s Pigmalion.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jacques Imbrailo to premiere new Danish opera Brødre

Jacques Imbrailo
Jacques Imbrailo will premiere composer Daníel Bjarnason's new opera Brødre (Brothers) at the Danish National Opera on August 16th. The opera is based on Susanne Bier’s film Brothers, which is part of the Musikhuset Aarhus’ Bier Trilogy, in which the acclaimed film trilogy by Susanne Bier is adapted into three different genres. Brothers will be performed as an opera, After the Wedding as musical theatre and Open Hearts as modern dance.

Bier not only directed the 2004 film version of Brothers, but she also co-wrote the screenplay for the opera adaptation with Anders Thomas Jensen. The opera will be directed by Kasper Holten.

The tale relates the story of two brothers who both fall in love with the same woman. While the elder brother is on military service in Afghanistan, leaving his family behind in Denmark, the younger brother – who has just came out of prison – ends up spending a lot of time with the family. When they are informed that the elder brother is missing in action, a love grows between the younger brother and the sister-in-law out of solitude and despair. And when the hero returns from war, everything changes.

Performances are on August 16, 18, 20 and 22.  Tickets are available online.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Barihunk trio in live stream of "La pietra del paragone" from Rossini Festival

Gianluca Margheri and Paolo Bordogna
The barihunk duo Gianluca Margheri, Paolo Bordogna and Davide Luciano will appear in a live stream of La pietra del paragone (The Touchstone) from the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro on August 11th. Gianluca Margheri sings the Conte Asdrubale, Paolo Bordogna sings Pacuvio and Davide Luciano sings Macrobio. The cast also includes La pietra del paragone as the Marchesa Clarice, Maxim Mironov as Cavalier Giocondo, Aurora Faggioli as Baronessa Aspasia, Marina Monzó as Donna Fulvia and William Corrò as Fabrizio.

Much of the action taken place in and around a swimming pool, so you'll get to see some barihunk skin in this popular production.

La pietra del paragone, which was Rossini's first major commission, was first performed at La Scala in Milan on September 26, 1812 and was an instant success. Despite its early success in Europe, the work did not receive its North American premiere until 1955 and not until 1963 in Britain, when it was performed at he St Pancras Town Hall.

In Rossini's comedy, a wealthy man devises a test to separate his true friends from those who love him only for his money. Although “touchstone” is no longer regularly used in the English language, it is still alive in an Italian proverb that forms the basis of this comic opera. They say “Men have a touchstone to test gold, but gold is really the touchstone to test men.” (“L’uomo ha la pietra di paragone per saggiare l’oro, ma l’oro è la pietra di paragone per saggiare gli uomini.”) 

You can also watch the same Pier Luigi Pizzi production on Medici.TV with barihunk Marco Vinco as Il Conte Asdrubale, Paolo Bordogna as Pacuvio and Pietro Spagnoli and Macrobio.

Barihunk duo in Rossini Festival's Le siège de Corinthe

Luca Pisaroni, Nino Machaidze and Iurii Samoilov
The barihunk duo of bass-barihunk Luca Pisaroni in Mahomet II and Iurii Samoilov as Omar in Rossini's Le siège de Corinthe. They are joined by John Irvin as Cléomène, Nino Machaidze as Pamyra, Sergey Romanovsky as Néoclès, Carlo Cigni as Hiéros, Xabier Anduaga as Adraste and Cecilia Molinari as Ismène. Performances are on August 10, 13, 16 and 19 and tickets are available online.

The opera premiered at the Salle Le Peletier of the Paris Opéra on October 9, 1826 and was a partial rewrite of the composer's 1820 Italian opera, Maometto II, with exactly the same story and characters. The original version premiered in Naples on December 3, 1820.

The opera commemorates the siege and ultimate destruction of the town of Missolonghi in 1826 by Turkish during the ongoing Greek War of Independence (1821-1829). The reference to Corinth is an example of allegory, although Sultan Mehmed II had indeed besieged the city in the 1450s. This same incident, condemned throughout Western Europe for its cruelty, also inspired a prominent painting by Eugène Delacroix (Greece Expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi), and was mentioned in the writings of Victor Hugo. Lord Byron's 1816 poem The Siege of Corinth has little, if any, connection with the opera.

Luca Pisaroni sings "Sorgete... Duce di tanti eroi" from Maometto II:

On August 15, Pisaroni will also perform a recital of music by Schubert, Liszt and Rossini with Giulio Zappa at the piano. Tickets are available online. He returns to the US in December as Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera. He rotates the role with fellow barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien.

Iurii Samoilov returns to his home base at Oper Frankfurt in October as Ned Keene in Britten's Peter Grimes. He remains with the company this season to perform Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosí fan tutte, Marullo in Verdi's Rigoletto and Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Luis Alejandro Orozco in Maria de Buenos Aires in New Orleans, Fort Worth

Luis Alejandro Orozco
Barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco, who just performed his signature role of  Payador Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires with Mill City Summer Opera, will reprise the role with the New Orleans Opera's chamber series on September 9 and 10. The special performances will also include dinner and a post-performance tango dance party. 

The production will also feature soprano Catalina Cuervo, Milton Laayza in the role of Duende-Elf and Robert Lyall conducting musicians from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The piece, which is set in a theater-in-the-round, will be directed by Tomer Zvulun, the artistic Director of the Atlanta Opera.

Orozco will perform the piece again next Spring with the Fort Worth Opera with John de los Santos directing his unforgettable conception. Barihunk Paul La Rosa will be performing Payador with the director at San Diego Opera in January.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sean Michael Plumb's debuts new website; Returns to Bayerische Staatsoper

Sean Michael Plumb (Photo Dario Acosta)
American barihunk Sean Michael Plumb has a new website and management page with Étude Arts. His website includes his new bio and schedule. He will be returning to the ensemble of the Bayerische Staatsoper for the 2017-18 season to sing Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Dandini in La cenerentola, and Prosdocimo in Il turco in Italia
He was a member of the Salzburg Festival’s Young Singers Project in 2016 and has been a young artist at The Glimmerglass Festival, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and the Aspen Music Festival.

We featured Plumb back in 2012 when he made his national television debut in the HBO documentary “Renée Fleming: A YoungArts MasterClass.” He was honored by President Obama as a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts at a ceremony at The White House and has garnered a multitude of awards for his singing including the Grand Prize of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
Highlights of Sean's 2017-18 season include the following performances:

Il Trittico (Marco) - Bayerische Staatsoper, December 2017 - January 2018, July 2018

Così fan tutte (Guglielmo) - Bayerische Staatsoper, March 2018

La cenerentola (Dandini) - Bayerische Staatsoper, March 2018

Liederabend - Munich, April 2018

Tristan und Isolde (Melot) - The Cleveland Orchestra, April 2018

Die Zauberflöte (Papageno) - Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, June 2018