Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ludwig Mittelhammer wins Hugo Wolf Song Competition

Ludwig Mittelhammer
Barihunks continue to dominate vocal competitions worldwide, as Ludwig Mittelhammer took first prize in the International Hugo Wolf Song Competition in Stuttgart yesterday. Joined by Jonathan Ware at the piano, the 25-year-old German performed Krenek's Motiv and Auf und Ab, Schubert's Ganymed, An den Mond, Erlkönig, Wolf's An eine Äolsharfe, Der Tambour and Storchenbotschaft

Ludwig Mittelhammer performs Wolf's Fußreise and Benedeit die sel'ge Mutter and Schubert's Auf der Bruck in Round 1:

Ludwig Mittelhammer and Jonathan Ware in the final round of the Wolf Competition:

Mittelhammer was a boy soprano soloist with the famous Tölzer Boys Choir and became a member of the Bavarian Singakademie when his voice changed. He studied with Hartmut Elbert and was twice awarded with the “Bundespreis” at the Jugend-Musiziert Competition in the category ‘Duo-Kunstlied’ in 2007 and the ‘Gesang Solo’ in 2008. 

Since 2009, he has studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich and at the Bayerische Theaterakademie. In 2011, he joined the Extra Choir of the Bavarian Broadcasting Cooperation, as well as taking master classes with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg.

In 2010, he made his debut as Marco in Puccini‘s Gianni Schicchi at the German-French Forum Young Arts in Bayreuth. In 2013, he performed his first Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in Ulm and Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte in Bad Reichenhall. Earlier this year, he performed Demetrios in Oberteithner’s Aphrodite in Munich.

Mittelhammer was awarded the Special Prize for the best interpretation of a Goethe-Lied by Wolfgang Rihm at the 2014 Mendelssohn Competition in Berlin.

In 2013, the baritone made his debuts with Bochumer Symphoniker, at the International Festival Heidelberger Frühling and with Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, Ludwig Mittelhammer will go on tour with Concerto Köln singing Christus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Pictures from Lyric Opera of Chicago's Don Giovanni

Mariusz_Kwiecien & Marina Rebeka
Lyric Opera of Chicago opened their Diamond Anniversary season in style with a new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni directed by Robert Falls and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The cast includes two of the most popular barihunks on this site, Mariusz Kwiecien as the Don and Kyle Ketelsen as his sidekick Leporello. The vocally resplendent cast also includes Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ana María Martínez as Donna Elvira and Andriana Chuchman as Zerlina.

Lyric Opera of Chicago was quite generous in supplying pictures to the press, so we thought we'd share some of the best. The opera runs through October 29th and tickets are available online.

Don't forget to read Mariusz Kwiecien interview on their blog about singing Don Giovanni.

Kyle Ketelsen & Mariusz Kwiecien
Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Edwin Crossley-Mercer poses for Karl Lagerfeld

Edwin Crossley-Mercer in a Dior trenchcoat (Photo: Karl Lagerfeld)
We posted about barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer in Robert Carsen's production of Rameau’s Platée set at 31 Rue Cambon, birthplace of the Chanel fashion empire. Crossley-Mercer's Jupiter was styled as a Karl Lagerfeld lookalike with white ponytail and dark glasses. Juno, the queen of the gods, was decked out as Coco Chanel.

Karl Lagerfeld and Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Lagerfeld, an opera fan in his own right, attended a performance at the Opéra Comique and even greeted the singer backstage. The production also played at the Theater an der Wien and at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Lagerfeld must have been quite impressed with what he saw, because he followed up with a photo shoot of the popular baritone shooting him in a variety of couture.

Beginning on April 17, 2015, Crossley-Mercer will appear in another Robert Carsen production when he sings Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Paris Opera.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Christopher Burchett in new David Lang opera

Christopher Burchett
Christopher Burchett, who has managed to appear on this site in his underwear more than virtually any other barihunk, will be more fully clothed for his next appearance. On Sunday, September 28th, he'll be portraying Andrew in David Lang‘s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field at Roulette in Brooklyn.

The opera is based on an 1888 Ambrose Bierce story of the same name. It's about a slave owner in the pre-civil war American South who walks across his field and disappears, in plain view of his family, his neighbors and his slaves, forever altering the relationships among them. Everyone around him has his or her own view of what that disappearance means, of why it had to happen, and of what will happen now that there is a ‘hole’ where a man used to be.

The Difficulty of Crossing a Field is intended to cross between opera and theater worlds, mixing arias with spoken text, emotional melodies with intense drama. It is written for 5 principals and a small chorus, and the accompaniment is for string quartet on stage, both as the “orchestra” and as part of the set. Ultimately, it is an opera in which the damage done by slavery leaks from the physical to the metaphysical world.

The opera is presented by Beth Morrison Projects and tickets are available online.

Old Maids smitten with a shirtless Benjamin Curtis

Benjamin Curtis (Photo: Lauren Roberts- Wichita Falls Times Record News)
We featured Benjamin Curtis in a post about Lee Hoiby, but it was mostly about the composer and not the singer. After seeing this picture of him in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief with Opera Breve, we realized that we may have had it backwards. In the post, we featured Curtis singing Hoiby's sublime Private First Class Jesse Givens.

Curtis received his master of music from the Eastman School of Music and was a finalist in the Friends of Eastman Opera competition. He was awarded the Jury Honors award from the Eastman School of Music and the Outstanding Vocalist of the Year award from Liberty University. He was also a finalist in the annual Rochester Classical idol Competition held by the Rochester Oratorio Society.

In addition to the scene from The Old Maid and the Thief, he performed Billy in Carousel with Opera Breve. With the Loudoun Lyric Opera he performed the Pirate King in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance and Peter in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. 

Opera Breve is a New York-base company that provides young and emerging artists the opportunity to perform roles in the standard and modern operatic repertoire. You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Barihunk trio in Fantastic Mr. Fox in San Antonio

John Brancy: Fox and foxy
Opera San Antonio rolled out its initial season with Tobias Picker's chamber opera Fantastic Mr. Fox. Of course, what would make more sense than casting your fox with a foxy barihunk?  John Brancy takes on the title role in an impressive cast that also includes mezzo Renee Rapier as Mrs. Fox, tenor Theo Lebow as Mr. Porcupine, countertenor Andrey Nemzer as Agnes the Digger, Jonathan Blalock as Mr. Mole, Tynan Davis as Rita the Rat, soprano Elizabeth Futral as Miss Hedgehog, baritone Andrew Craig Brown as Boggis, tenor Edwin Vega as Bunce and baritone Gabriel Preisser as the gun-happy Bean. Andrew Craig Brown and Gabriel Preisser have both been featured on this site.

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

The new company has a hit on their hands, as the entire run at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater is completely sold out. Rumor has it that other companies are already looking at picking up the production.

Five years in the making, Opera San Antonio has produced its first fully staged opera after earlier organizing recitals and partnering with the San Antonio Symphony for a semi-staged production of  Dvorák’s Rusalka. Next up for the company, which is being led by Tobias Picker, is Richard Strauss’ Salome, a far cry from the children's story Fantastic Mr. Fox.

You can listen to an interview with John Brancy on Texas Public Radio by clicking HERE

Gabriel Preisser has a busy schedule coming up. to be a busy couple months. On October 5 and 6, he heads to Philadelphia for a recital with Lyric Fest of German lieder. He then sings Escamillo with Florida Opera Theatre in Orlando on October 17 and 19, and then again in Duluth, Minnesota with the Lyric Opera of the North on November 15. On November 23, he'll sing Orff's Carmina Burana at the new Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Barihunk quartet in Minnesota Opera's Girl of the Golden West

Christian Zaremba as Ashby and Andrew Lovato as Sonora (Photo: Michal Daniel)
Apparently, Don Giovanni isn't the only opera that deliver barihunks in bunches. We recently posted about a barihunk duo in Puccini's La fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West), only to find out that the Minnesota Opera has doubled the eye candy and presented a barihunk quartet in their current production.

Led my the amazing and ageless Greer Grimsley in the critical role of Jack Rance, the opera also features Andrew Lovato as Sonora, Rodolfo Nieto as Castro and Christian Zaremba as Ashby. We recently featured Lovato when he was part of the Santa Fe Apprentice Artist Program. Zaremba and Nieto are new to this site and have both somehow managed to sneak below our radar.

Greer Grimsley as Jack Rance (Photo: Michal Daniel)
Zaremba made his debut this summer at the Glimmerglass Festival as the bass soloist in David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion and appeared as Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. Other credits include Il Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen and Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, as well as Don Basilio in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Long Island Opera and Capitol Heights Opera. This past season, he was the bass soloist in Handel's Messiah with the Annapolis Chorale and Mozart's Requiem with the St. Cloud Orchestra.

He made his debut with Minnesota Opera last season as Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Lamoral in Richard Strauss' Arabella and the Innkeeper in Puccini's Manon Lescaut). He returns to the Minnesota Opera next season as Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen.

Rodolfo Nieto
Rodolfo Nieto has appeared with the Minnesota Opera in various roles including Horatio in Thomas' Hamlet, Johann in Massenet's Werther, Scottish Soldier #1 in the world premier of Puts' Silent Night, Joseph in Wuthering Heights, and Colline in Puccini's La bohème. Other roles include Alidoro in Rossini's La cenerentola with Lakes Area Music Festival, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte with Green Mountain Opera Festival, and Don Alfonso in Mozart's Così fan tutte with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater. 

There are additional performances of La fanciulla del West on September 25, 27 and 28. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Nicholas Nelson
UPDATE: We've just learned that it's actually a quintet of barihunks, but the Minnesota Opera didn't list the complete cast, so we missed Nicholas Nelson as Jim Larkens. (SHAME ON THEM!!!)