Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Barihunk duo in Amy Beach rarity "Cabildo"

Tyler Putnam (Photo by Devon Cass)
Barihunk Bryan Murray and bass-barihunk Tyler Putnam are performing in Amy Beach's rarely performed opera Cabildo. Both singers are new to the site.

Set in New Orleans, the composer’s only opera recounts the legend of a French noblewoman who gives a bracelet to a pirate as a proclamation of her love. When she disappears mysteriously at sea, he is accused of her murder, imprisoned and then released in time to defend the city in the War of 1812.

Beach composed the music in 1932 and made use of folksong and Creole tunes. The work was not performed in her lifetime and didn't receive its premiere until 1947.

Performances run from July 26-August 2 and tickets are available online

Bryan Murray's winning set at the  2016 Heida Hermanns Competition:


Bryan Murray, who sings  Pierre Lafitte in Cabildo, is a 2017 Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist at Central City Opera and winner of the 2016 Heida Hermanns International Voice Competition. He pursued his Master of Musical Arts degree from Yale University, as well as receiving his Master's in vocal performance from the Purchase College Conservatory of Music.

Tyler Putnam, who sings  Gaoler in Cabildo, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Dartmouth College. In 2014 and 2015, he was a Santa Fe Opera apprentice artist where he sang the role of Thomas in Jennifer Higden's Cold Mountain, appeared in Verdi's Rigoletto and Strauss' Salome, as well as covering Rocco in Beethoven's Fidelio. In October, he will make his role debut as Colline in Puccini's La bohème at Malloy College. He then performs Handel's Messiah with The Villages Philharmonic in Florida.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Introducing Bass-barihunk Carlo Checchi; Belcore at Festspiele Immling

Carlo Checchi
Italian bass-barihunk Carlo Checchi is new to our site and was brought to our attention by a reader, Checchi is performing Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore through August 13th at the Festspiele Immling in Germany. The cast also includes Sergio Foresti (who we should also feature) as Dulcamara, Elisa Cenni as Adina, Chuanliang Wang as Nemorino and Anastasia Churakova as Gianetta. Tickets and additional information is available online.

Cecchi, who also has a degree in computer engineering, studied voice at l'Istituto Musicale Pareggiato "Vittadini" di Pavia. He was the winner of the VI Concorso ArteInCanto Competition.

Carlo Checchi
He made his debut at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa as Apollo in Mozart's Apollo and Hyacinth. His past roles include Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro Valle in Rome, as well as in opera houses in Lucca, Pisa and Livorno; Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflote at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman; and, Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Tirana.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dmitri Hvorostovsky adds two concerts to schedule

Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Two new concerts have appeared on the website of Siberian barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who the Associated Press had recently reported was canceling all performances for the coming season due to “severe illness.”

First up will be a September 22nd recital at the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest, Romania, which is already sold out. The concert features a collections of Russian songs, including music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Borodin and Anton Rubinstein. This will be followed by a September 26th recital with regular collaborator Ivari Ilja at the Moscow Conservatoire. No details are given on the website. His last program with him included music by Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss, with a poignant encore of "Farewell, happiness."

Hvorostovsky was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. He was due to play leading roles in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Otello and Rigoletto in Vienna this year and next, but canceled those engagements. He also withdrew from performances of the Met's production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, where he was replaced by fellow barihunks Peter Mattei and Mariusz Kwiecien. In April, he did make an appearance in Toronto with Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Introducing Glimmerglass barihunk Jarrett Porter

Jarrett Porter
We recently featured a post about what we believe to be the largest single gathering of barihunks since we started blogging, as about a dozen hunky low voices are currently performing at the Glimmerglass Festival in upstate New York. A few of the singers in that post have not appeared on our site before, so we thought we'd start with an introduction of Jarrett Porter. 

Porter is currently a Young Artist at The Glimmerglass Festival, where he is singing Sam in Oklahoma! and covering the role of The English Spy in the American premiere of Donizetti's The Siege of Calais, under the direction of Francesca Zambello. 

Porter joins Arizona Opera for their 2017/18 season as a Marion Roose Studio Artist, where he will make his debut in the title role of Patrick Morganelli’s film-opera collaboration Hercules vs Vampires. Other roles with the company will includ Sciarrone in Puccini's Tosca, Maximilian in Bernstein's Candide, and Fiorello in Rossini's The Barber of Seville with fellow barihunk Jared Bybee in the title role.

Jarrett Porter sings Mahler's "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen":

This past season Porter made his NPR debut with selections from Schubert's Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin with accompanist Taylor Hutchinson, and narration by Graham Johnson and Sir Thomas Allen. He was also seen in recital with Jake Heggie at the German Consulate of San Francisco in a program of Jake's newest works, including selections from his new chamber opera, Out of Darkness
 
Jarrett Porter

Recent roles have included the title role in Don Giovanni, Chevalier des Grieux in Massenet's Le portrait de Manon, and Sid in Britten's Albert Herring. He is the First Prize winner of the 2017 Pacific Music Society Competition, the Ellie Silver Award winner at the Holt Competition, and the recipient of the 2017 Pankonin Art Song Award.

Hunky Pin-Up Guys in Young Vic's HMS Pinafore

CJ Hartung, Joshua Hughes, Jeffrey Williams, John Kaneklides, and with flag (L-R)
Who says that Gilbert & Sullivan can't be sexy? The Young Victorian Theatre Company has assembled a cast of three barihunks and a hunkentenor for their current run of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. The pin-up worthy cast includes barihunk Joshua Hughes as Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, First Lord of the Admiralty; barihunk Jeffrey Williams as Captain Corcoran, Commander of the HMS Pinafore; hunkentenor John Kaneklides as Ralph Rackstraw; and, bass-barihunk Christopher "CJ" Hartung as Dick Deadeye.

The show has already proved to be a huge box office success, as Saturday's opening night performance and today's matinee both completely sold out. Fortunately for anyone near the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, there are three remaining performances on July 20, 22, and 23 at the Sinex Theater in the Roland Park area.

Joshua Hughes, graduated with a Master of Music in Voice Performance from the Peabody Conservatory, and previously appeared in the company's 2016 summer production of Iolanthe. He recently performed in Charpentier's Les Arts Florissants and Purcell's The Fairy Queen with Dallas Bach Society.

Jeffrey Williams and cast
Jeffrey Williams, who won the Middle/East Tennessee District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, will be appearing next season with the Nashville Opera in both Puccini's Tosca and Hercules vs Vampires. He is also an Assistant Professor of Voice at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.

CJ Hartung is a student at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and is a regular young artist with the Berk's Opera Company, where he most recently sang the role of Lodovico in Verdi's Otello.

John Kaneklides has been singing both opera and musical theater, having performed Henrik in Sondheim's A Little Night Music and Tony in Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. This season he made his role debut in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann with the St. Petersburg Opera, where he performed the title role.

Tickets for the remaining shows are available online.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Barihunk duo to reprise Lully's Alceste at Versailles

Douglas Williams (left) and Edwin Crossley-Mercer (right)
Two of operas hottest men are appeared together in Lully's Alceste last night and we somehow missed it! Barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer sang Alcide and bass-barihunk Douglas Williams sang Lycomède and Caron at the Festival International d'Opéra Baroque under the baton of Christophe Rousset.

Fortunately, the opera gods are looking over us, as the duo will reprise their performance at the Grandes Eaux Musicales at the Châteua de Versailles on December 10th with Les Talens Lyriques.

Edwin Crossley-Mercer

The opera was originally presented in celebration of King Louis XIV’s victory against Franche-Comté, and the prologue features nymphs longing for his return from battle.

The opera concerns Alceste, princess of Iolcos and queen of Thessaly, who is abducted by Licomède, king of Scyros, with the aid of his sister Thetis, a sea nymph; Aeolus, the god of the winds; and other supernatural forces. In the battle to rescue her, Alcide is triumphant, but Alceste’s husband, Admète, suffers a mortal wound. Apollo agrees to let Admète live if someone will take his place in death. Alceste volunteers herself but is rescued by Alcide, who loves her.

The opera ends with a celebration of Alceste’s return from the underworld and of Alcide’s noble gallantry in returning her to her husband and relinquishing any claims to her.

Friday, July 14, 2017

World's largest gathering of barihunks at Glimmerglass?

Jarrett Ott, Michael Hewitt, Jarrett Porter and Brent Michael Smith (left) and Justin Austin (right)
Once again, director Francesca Zambello has deservedly landed on our site. Longtime readers know that most opera lovers credit her with beginning the barihunk craze and coining the phrase after having Nathan Gunn appear shirtless in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. Now she may have created the largest single gathering of barihunks ever assembled at the Glimmerglass Festival, where she is the Artistic & General Director, as well as the stage director for Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, Donizetti's The Siege of Calais and Ben Moore's Robin Hood.

Norman Garrett in Glimmerglass' Porgy and Bess
There are at least a dozen barihunks who we know of in the various casts and probably a handful more that we've not been made aware of yet. Most of them have appeared on this site in the past. The Glimmerglass artists include:
  • Norman Garrett as Crown in Porgy and Bess 
  • Brent Michael Smith as the cop in Porgy and Bess; Ariodates in Handel's Xerxes; and the Commentator in Derrick Wang's Scalia/Ginsburg.
  • Zach Owen as the English Spy in The Siege of Calais and the detective in Porgy and Bess.
  • Jarrett Ott as Curly in Oklahoma! 
  • Michael Hewitt as Jud Fry in Oklahoma! and Edoardo III in The Siege of Calais
  • Harry Greenleaf as Cord Elam in Oklahoma!
  • Jarrett Porter as Sam in Oklahoma!
  • Justin Austin as Jake in Porgy and Bess
  • Calvin Griffin as the Undertaker in Porgy and Bess and Elviro in Xerxes
  • Conor McDonald as Skidmore in Oklahoma!
  • Eric Shane covering roles in Oklahoma! and Porgy and Bess
The festival opened July 7th and runs through August 22. Additional cast information and tickets are available online.

POST UPDATE: We heard from some of the singers at Glimmerglass that we may have missed a few singers, including Makoto Winkler, Nicholas Davi, Carl DuPont and Adrian Timpau. We also made some casting updates to the list above.

Andrè Schuen making US debut with Schubert concerts

Andrè Schuen
Tyrolian barihunk Andrè Schuen is making what we believe is his American debut with two concerts of Schubert lieder. He joins composer/pianist Thomas Adès for Tanglewood's “Schubert’s Summer Journey,” a six-concert exploration of the music of the composer. The program includes his famous setting of Goethe’s Wanderers Nachtlied II.

Tickets and additional information is available online.

On July 29th, he'll sings Schubert's Schwanengesang at the Aspen Music Festival with pianist Andreas Haefliger. Schuen and Haefliger will perform the songs not in one grouping but as distinct sets, separated by two solo piano works, Beethoven's Piano Sonata op. 101 and Berg's Piano Sonata.  Tickets are available online.

Andrè Schuen sings Hugo Wolf's Goethe Lieder:

In October, he returns to the opera stage at the Opéra national de Lorraine to portray the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. The cast includes Nahuel di Pierro as Leporello, Levente Páll as Masetto, David Leigh as the Commendatore, Kiandra Howarth as Donna Anna, Yolanda Auyanet as Donna Elvira and Julien Behr as Don Ottavio. Additional information is available online.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Aaron Sørensen back as Sparafucile

Bass-barihunk Aaron Sørensen
Bass-barihunk calendar model Aaron Sørensen will show off his amazing low F as Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto at the Charlottesville Opera (formerly Ash Lawn Opera). Sørensen recently performed the role to great acclaim with the Mississippi Opera. The Charlottesville cast will include Eglise Gutiérrez as Gilda, Matthew Vickers as the Duke of Mantua and Hyung Yun as the ill-fated father Rigoletto.

The opera opens on July 9th at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre at Virginia Tech University and then heads to the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia for performances on July 14, 16 and 19. Tickets are available online.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Watch Philippe Sly as Don Giovanni at Aix-en-Provence

Philippe Sly as Don Giovanni as Aix-en-Provence
Barihunk Phillipe Sly is a particularly sexy (and scantily clad) Don Giovanni in Mozart's classic at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. This performance marks his debut in the role, as well as the role debut of Isabel Leonard as Donna Elvira.

Performances are running through July 21, but one can also catch a broadcast of it on July 10th on Medici.tv at 12:30 PM PDT.

 The new production by Jean-François Sivadier includes Nahuel Di Pierro as Leporello, Eleonora Buratto as Donna Anna, hunkentenor Pavol Breslik as Don Ottavio, Julie Fuchs as Zerlina,  Krzysztof Baczyk as Masetto and David Leigh as Il Commendatore.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

David Adam Moore making role debut as Guglielmo in Central City

David Adam Moore (center from The Exterminating Angel)
Barihunk David Adam Moore will make his principal role debut as Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte at the Central City Opera. The opera has not been performed at the historic Colorado opera house since 1990, when they marked the 200th anniversary of the piece. Performances will run from July 15 through August 4.

Moore will be joined by soprano Hailey Clark as Fiordiligi, mezzo-soprano Tamara Gura as Dorabella, tenor Matthew Plenk as Ferrando, Megan Marino as Despina and Patrick Carfizzi as Don Alfonso.

The full name of the opera is actually Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, which means "Thus do they all, or The School for Lovers." The subject matter of infidelity was considered so taboo in the 19th century that the opera was often accompanied by an apology, altered or even completely rewritten. Mozart's contemporary Antonio Salieri attempted to set the libretto to music, but never completed the project. 

In November, Moore will reprise the role of the Colonel in Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel at the Met. He'll be joined by fellow barihunks Christian van Horn as Julio, Rod Gilfrey as Roc and Kevin Burdette as Russell.
Last performed in Central City in 1990, this new production of Così fan tutte is directed by London-based Stephen Barlow,
Last performed in Central City in 1990, this new production of Così fan tutte is directed by London-based Stephen Barlow,

Stéphane Degout to be broadcast in world premiere of Pinocchio

Stéphane Degout
French barihunk Stéphane Degout is returning to the Aix Festival in Philippe Boesmans' Pinocchio, which was commissioned for this year's festival. Degout performs four key roles in the opera, the troupe director, the crook, a murderer and the circus director. Performances run through July 16th.

Joël Pommerat's libretto is based on his 2008 stage play, which returns the narrative to Carlo Collodi's original 1883 fable. In this version, Pinocchio escapes his maker Geppetto and is anything but a cute wooden figure. The villains are hardly what one would think of as characters in children's story.

The opera will be broadcast on July 9th on Arte Concert and France Musique.

In 2014, Degout also created Philippe Boesmans' Au Monde at La Monnaie in Brussels.


Introducing bass-barihunk Philipp Alexander Mehr in Mannheim's Mahaggony

Philipp Alexander Mehr in Mannheim's Mahagonny
30-year-old bass-barihunk Philipp Alexander Mehr, who is new to this site, is currently appearing in Kurt Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Performances are running through July 19th.

Philipp Alexander Mehr made his debut as a twelve-year-old at the Frankfurt Opera in Peter Maxwell Davies' children's opera Cinderella and dabbled with rock music as a teenager. He studied at the University of Music and Performing Arts Frankfurt and the Mannheim School of Music, continuing his studies on a Richard Wagner scholarship. He also studied cognitive neurosciences before dedicating himself to music. 

He is the co-founder of "Mehr & Milde," which performs songs and cabaret.  

Upcoming roles in Mannheim include Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola, the King in Verdi's Aida, the Priest of Jupiter in Handel's Hercules, Tom in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera and Titurel in Wagner's Parsifal

Monday, July 3, 2017

Polish bass-barihunk Daniel Miroslaw joins Glyndebourne's La traviata

Daniel Miroslaw
Polish bass-barihunk Daniel Miroslaw will be appearing in two of the Glyndebourne Festival operas this season, beginning on June 12th when he takes over as Doctor Grenvil from Henry Waddington in Verdi's La traviata. The cast also includes Kristina Mkhitaryan as Violetta in her Glyndebourne debut, Zach Borichevsky as Alfredo Germont and Igor Golovatenko as Giorgio Germont. Miroslaw will also be performing on June 16 and 19.

You can see Glyndebourne's 2014 of La traviata with the thrilling tenor Michael Fabiano from June 8-15 by clicking HERE.

Daniel Miroslaw sings "It's just another Rumba":

On June 25, he takes the stage as Truffaldino in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos with fellow barihunk Björn Bürger as Harlequin. The cast also includes the legendary baritone Sir Thomas Allen as the Music Master, soprano Lise Davidsen in the title role, tenor AJ Glueckert as Bacchus and Erin Morley as Zerbinetta. Performances run through July 27.

Miroslaw is a member of the Frankfurt Opera, where he's slated to sing a number of roles this season, including Eustazio in Handel's Rinaldo, Ferrando in Verdi's Il Trovatore and Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto.  In April 2018, he will be making his debut at the Municipal Theatre of Santiago singing a title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Dmitri Hvorostovsky cancels all Vienna performances

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Photo: Pavel Antonov)
According to the Associated Press, the Vienna State Opera says Siberian barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky has canceled all performances for the coming season due to “severe illness.”

Hvorostovsky was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. He has continued performing since them but has occasionally been forced to pull out of scheduled roles. His website currently lists no upcoming performances.

He was due to play leading roles in Verdi's Un ballo in mascheraOtello and Rigoletto in Vienna this year and next. A statement yesterday says replacements will be announced later.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quirijn de Lang featured in one-act operas with Opera North

Wallis Giunta and Quirijn de Lang in Trouble in Tahiti
The U.K.'s Opera North is presenting a new series dubbed "Little Greats," which are six operas that run about an hour each and are presented as a double-bill. To entice new opera attendees, tickets start for as little as £10. The series will include Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, Janáček's Osud, Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial by Jury and will run from September 16 to October 21.

Dutch barihunk Quirijn de Lang will be featured in both L'enfant et les sortilèges as the Grandather Clock and Tom Cat and in Trouble in Tahiti as Sam, one half of a bickering married couple.

Quirijn de Lang
The operas will be performed in Leeds starting on September 16, Kingston starting on October 26, Nottingham starting on November 1, Newcastle starting on November 8 and Salford Quays starting on November 15. Ticket information is available online.

Quirijn de Lang can currently be seen as Selim in Rossini's Il Turco in Italia at the Garsington Opera through July 15. On July 29, he'll be featured in "A Night at the Opera," a concert with full orchestra with Opera North featuring soprano Jeni Bern.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Craig Verm heads cast of barihunks as "Billy Budd" in Des Moines

Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photo courtesy of Des Moines Metro Opera)
American barihunk Craig Verm is returning to the role of Billy Budd at the Des Moines Metro Opera on July 1, 9, 11 and 14. Verm has become a popular singer of Benjamin Britten's title character. Verm performed Billy to great acclaim at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago in 2013.

The production will feature 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. 

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.

Emmett O'Hanlon, Zachary James as Claggart and Michael Adams
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. In 1966, in preparation for a television broadcast, Britten cut the score from four acts to two with a prologue and epilogue, which has become the standard version for the opera.

The libretto was written by the English novelist E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier, and is based on the short novel Billy Budd by Herman Melville. The book was first published posthumously in London in 1924. Melville began writing the work in November 1888, but left it unfinished at his death in 1891. The novella was discovered in manuscript form in 1919 by Raymond M. Weaver, who was studying Melville's papers as his first biographer.

Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photos courtesy of Des Moines Metro Opera)
The first production of the opera Billy Budd in Russia occurred 100 years after the birth of Britten at St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre in 2013. Billy Budd received its United States premiere in 1952 at the Indiana University Opera Company with Jack Gillaspy in the title role.

Britten originally intended the title role for Sir Geraint Evans, but he felt that the role sat to high for his voice, so he switched to the role of Mr. Flint. Britten then opted for barihunk Theodor Uppman to replace Evans in the title role. The performance launched Uppman's international career and he went on to become one of the definitive Billy Budd's off all-time. Uppman sang in an acclaimed performance in 1970 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which included Sir Geraint Evans as Claggart and Richard Lewis as Vere.

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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Malte Roesner to perform lost Soler and Süßmayr songs

Dashe Cellars in Oakland and German bass Malte Roesner
Malte Roesner, who is making his U.S. stage debut with West Edge Opera in Vicente Martín y Soler's The Chastity Tree (see our post), will also be making his U.S. concert debut at Dashe Cellars on July 22 performing lost Soler songs along with his wife soprano Aurora Perry, hunkentenor Sam Levine and accompanist Bob Mollicone on fortepiano.

The concert tickets also include wine from Oakland's Dashe Cellars, a premiere California winery that uses traditional and natural winemaking techniques, including small-lot fermentation, the use of indigenous yeasts, and little-to-no fining or filtration. Their wines frequently score 90+ points in leading wine magazines. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

The concert will feature music by Soler and his Viennese contemporaries Mozart, Antonio Salieri, Franz Xaver Süßmayr and the blind, female composer Maria Theresia von Paradis. The concert will explore the musical landscape of 18th century Vienna, where all of the composers on the program either knew each other or inspired each other. Another common thread will be texts by the famed librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.

Malte Roesner
Roesner is performing two sets of music that have not been heard since the 18th century: Soler's "Songs and Duets for the Princess of Wales," which he found in an archive in London, and a set of songs by Süßmayr that he unearthed from the Austrian National Library. Perry will be singing Soler's "Songs for Miss Miller" and selections from Mozart, while Levine will sing Paradis' "Songs for the Duchess of Saxony" and songs by Salieri.

Despite being born in New York City, Roesner was raised in Germany and has focused his career in Europe. During his decade as a fest singer at the Staatstheater Braunschweig he portrayed more than fifty roles in the baritone repertory. He took some time off to retrain as a basso cantante and auditioned in the United States last year, eventually landing one of the few principle roles for a bass, Doristo in The Chastity Tree at West Edge Opera. Tickets are on sale HERE.

Roesner, who also trained as a musicologist, was hugely responsible for unearthing many of the lost manuscripts for this program.

Barihunks rotating Don Giovanni in Munich

Mathias Hausmann (left) and Günter Papendell (right)
Barihunks Günter Papendell and Mathias Hausmann are rotating the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich, Germany through July 12th. The production is being guided by the Viennese actor and director Herbert Föttinger, who is mostly associtate with the Theater in der Josefstadt. His concept is to look at Don Giovanni as a conglomerate of freedom, anarchy, seduction and sex; one who women desire and men desire to be.

Papendell will be joined by Levente Páll as Leporello, Christoph Filler as Masetto, Sergii Magera as the Commendatore, as well as Jennifer O'Loughlin as Donna Anna, Lucian Krasznec as Don Ottavio, Camille Schnoor as Donna Elvira and Sophie Mitterhuber as Zerlina. Papendell, can still be seen at his home base at the Komische Oper, where he's simultaneously performing Jason in Reimann's Medea on July 2 and 15. He'll be perfoming Don Giovanni in Munich on June 27 and July 6, 8, 9 and 12.

Günter Papendell in Don Giovanni in Munich
Mathias Hausmann will be singing Don Giovanni on June 26 and July 1, 2, 5 and 8. He'll be joined by Matija Meić as Leporello, Christoph Filler as Masetto, Christoph Seidl as the Commendatore, as well as Sophia Brommer as Donna Anna, Szabolcs Brickner as Don Ottavio, Nadja Stefanoff as Donna Elvira and Mária Celeng as Zerlina. On July 16, he'll perform in Händel's Alexander's Feast with the company. This Fall, he heads to the Oper Leipzig where he'll take on the role of Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlo

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Introducing barihunk Roman Ruckhofer

Roman Ruckhofer in Silbersee (left)
22-year-old Austrian barihunk Roman Ruckhofer was suggested to us after he performed in Kurt Weill's Silbersee at the Theater im Palais at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.

Ruckhofer started his career as a leading performer with choirs he graduated with distinction. He started with the HIB.art.chor of Liebenau, one of Austria’s leading high school choirs, which has won numerous prizes worldwide. He was awarded a First Prize in the Youth Vocal Solo Competition with Green Guys at the Golden Gate International Choral Festival in 2015.

Since 2014, he has been studying voice at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. His repertoire ranges from sacred music to musical theater and contemporary music from the 21st century. He has already performed on international stages in Croatia, Norway, Canada and the United States. He recently was awarded a full scholarship to attend the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz in 2017.

When he's not focused on music he is busy studying law.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Remembering Cardiff's 1989 epic "Battle of the Baritones"

Dmitri Hvorostovsky at Cardiff in 1989
As we wrap up the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, we're recalling the most famous show down of all, which was the 1989 "Battle of the Baritones" between Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Bryn Terfel.

The Siberian barihunk went on to win the competition and, of course, both men have gone on to sensational international careers. Hvorostovsky sangs two pieces from Verdi, Rodrigo's aria "O Carlo, ascolta" from Don Carlo and "Eri tu che macchiavi" from Un ballo in maschera, "Ja vas lyublyu" from Tchikovsky's Queen of Spades.

The late, great soprano Elizabeth Soderström, who was one of the judges in 1989, famously marked a series of exclamation marks on her scorecard as she listened to Hvorostovsky sing. The performance wasn't as easy as it looked, as Hvorostovsky has just listened to Bryn Terfel over the speakers and, for the first time, realized that he could lose the competition. When he went out on stage, he was determined to give it 110%, but almost fainted when he took, not one, but two long phrases in Rodrigo's aria on a single breath. The gambit obviously paid off and the singer is still known 28 years later for his ability to float long Verdian phrases on a single breath.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky's 1989 performance at Cardiff:


The win also came with a bid of levity, as an excited Hvorostovsky grabbed the crystal trophy from the Lord Mayor before she could hand it to him. He also won more than the trophy and prize money, as Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave him a huge apartment in the middle of Moscow as a prize for his win.

He later moved from Moscow to London after his family felt threatened by the Russian mafia.

The "Battle of the Baritones" has never been repeated, although many believed that this year's competition might have been the year, with its rich crop of top notch low voices. However, in 2013, there was a "Battle of the Mezzos" when Jamie Barton squared off against Daniela Mack, Barton grabbing the crystal trophy.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Atilla and Mefistofele to get San Francisco airings; Some Sam Ramey history

Samuel Ramey and Ildar Abdrazakov
Lovers of low voices in the San Francisco Bay Are area in for a real treat this summer, as their local PBS station KQED has announced that both Verdi's Attila and Boito's Mefestofle will be aired.

Attila will feature a veritable feast of Verdi low voices, led by the legendary Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role, Quinn Kelsey as Ezio and Samuel Ramey as Pope Leo I. The 1846 masterpiece about the legendary warrior who is tormented by internal doubts will air on Thursday, August 3 on KQED Channel 9.
Verdi’s 1846 masterpiece about a legendary warrior who is tormented by internal doubts, will air on Thursday, August 3 on KQED 9 - See more at: https://sfopera.com/about-us/press-room/press-releases/KQED-Attila-Mefi/#sthash.LC1AnggY.dpuf

Boito’s Mefistofele will feature barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role accompanied by Ramón Vargas and Patricia Racette. The retelling of the Faust legend will be telecast on Thursday, August 24th. Adventurous opera goes can also see Abdrazakov as Attilla, as he will be singing the role in April at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Barihunk afficionados will recall that Samuel Ramey attained barihunk status before the word was even coined, when he sang Mefistofele at the San Francisco Opera in 1989 in a cast that included Daniel Harper as Wagner, Gabriela Benacková as Margherita and Dennis O'Neill as Faust. He secured his barihunk status as Attila in 1991 with the company, in a cast that included Elizabeth Connell as Odabella, Vladimir Chernov as Ezio, Philip Skinner as Pope Leo I and Craig Estep as Uldino.

Barihunk Zachary Gordin in Festival Opera double-bill

Zachary Gordin sporting his Barihunk tee shirt at the gym
Barihunk calendar model Zachary Gordin is replacing fellow barihunk Hadleigh Adams in the Festival Opera's double-bill on Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins.

Gordin will sing Nedda's lover Silvio, whose affair with Canio's wife leads to the play-within-a-play's tragic turn. He'll be joined by Hope Briggs as Nedda, Alex Boyer as the jealous husband Canio and Laura Bohn as Anna, who will be led by Michael Morgan in the pit.

The Seven Deadly Sins is a satirical ballet chanté in seven scenes. Setting out on a journey across America to aid her poverty-stricken family, Anna I - manifested as two facets of one personality, one who sings and one who dances - finds herself on a seven-year, seven-city quest where she ultimately encounters each of the seven deadly sins. Anna I will be sung by Laura Bohn, who will be joined by Gordin, Kirk Eichelberger, Jonathan Smucker and Robert Norman, with Bryan Nies conducting.

With a libretto by Bertold Brecht, The Seven Deadly Sins was an artistic triumph at its premiere in Paris, but was not performed in the United States until twenty-five years later in 1958, with Lotte Lenye singing the role of Anna I.

There will be two performances of the double-bill on Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, just a short train ride from both San Francisco and Oakland. Tickets are available online.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Barihunks founder interviewed on German blog


Zachary Gordin on the cover of Queer.de
The founder of Barihunks was interviewed by Kevin Clarke for the gay German blog Queer.de. You can read the entire interview in German HERE or read the English translation below.

-->
You started the blog Barihunks 10 years ago, in 2007. It’s dedicated to hunky baritones representing a sexy, sportive and youthful vision and version of opera. What inspired you to create your blog, where did the initial spark come from? (And how long did it take from the initial spark to the actual website?)
The inspiration for Barihunks started as a conversation between a friend in New York and me in San Francisco. By coincidence, we had both just seen Dmitry Hvorostovsky and Mariusz Kwiecien in different performances. Director Francesca Zambello had recently coined the term “barihunk” in reference to Nathan Gunn performing shirtless in The Pearl Fishers. We joked around that it would be fun to create a tribute blog, believing that perhaps a handful of people would look at it. Within a few weeks we noticed a huge surge in traffic and realized that we had tapped into something with the opera crowd.
Was there anything like Barihunks around before? Or was this a complete novelty in the world of classical music/opera?
I don’t know of anything like Barihunks before it appeared on the scene.
I was personally put off by a number of bitchy opera blogs and felt like opera needed a more positive and fun portrayal of the artform. In fact we’ve posted the following under our Mission Statement: “Keep opera positive! No bitchiness allowed! This industry is tough enough.”
There have been a number of copycat sites, like “Sexy Sopranos,” but none have really taken off. There is something so unique about a gorgeous man with a low voice singing the most beautiful music ever written that just can’t be copied.
Many people don’t realize that we also use the site to raise money to support young artists and new compositions for baritones and basses through our sale of the Barihunks calendar and our tee shirts. Our goal is to truly be a positive force in opera.
There’s a famous saying, “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.” Most people do not associate opera and opera performances with well-build singers. Yet you present a never-ending army of them: where do they all come from suddenly? Did something in opera change around 2007? Has sex appeal become important in a business so exclusively focused on “voice” alone for so many years? Is there a historic precedent from sexy singers – back in the 17th or 18th century? Are you rediscovering something that was an original appeal of the art form opera?
This is a complicated question and I will answer it in the affirmative and the negative.
Yes, something did change, which is the omnipresence of TV and movies that made appearance more important. I had a singer say to me once, “Being on your site has given me the edge. If ten of us are going in for an audition for Don Giovanni and we all sing pretty much at the same level, but I may look better shirtless or in a closeup that is being broadcast on TV or on a movie screen, then I’ll probably get the role.” We talk about singers taking care of BOTH their voices and their bodies, as directors are demanding more physicality on stage and broadcasts are making appearance more important, whether one likes it, or not.
No, sexy singers are not new and that goes back to the earliest days of opera. The castrati singing in the 18th century European courts were often gorgeous and made up as beautifully as any woman. More recently, there have been barihunks around who we can still watch on old TV broadcast and videos on YouTube. We’ve featured many of them as “Historical Hunks,” including Gérard Souzay, Justino Diaz, Theodor Upmann, Paul Robeson (who famously posed nude!), Ettore Bastianini, Mario Sereni and the German Roland Hermann. I still think for both voice and looks, Ettore Bastianini is one of the sexiest singers to ever grace the stage. 
Duncan Rock
Why baritones and not tenors or basses? What is it about baritones that makes them physically hunkier than others? (Do they have to make up for the sex appeal tenors have in climactic high notes with pumped up torsos? Is the baritone sound in itself hunkier than other sounds….. are there any historic baritones you would describe as hunks, vocally or physically? And what about the basses, not sexy at all?)
If you look at our Mission Statement on the site, it reads “To promote the baritone to bass voice range, especially emerging talent.” We LOVE basses and feature them all the time. As for tenors, or hunkentenors as they’ve been dubbed, I’ll leave that to someone else. We do sneak a few onto our site and even into our calendar. Tenor Glenn Seven Allen is one of our sexiest photos in this year’s calendar. There was a Hunkentenor site that briefly appeared and went dark pretty quickly.
I do believe that the baritone has a special appeal. The great composer Ricky Ian Gordon said that the baritone is the voice of the “All-American man.” Both he and Jake Heggie compose many, if not all, of their lead roles for baritones. The tenor as the lead may be an artifact of the past. Baritones and basses are no longer always the villain and are becoming more sympathetic characters.
As for basses, I would argue that some of the sexiest singers on our site are basses, including the German Malte Roesner, who is the seventh most viewed singer on our site of all time and a regular in our calendars.
How do you select the barihunks you feature? How do you get the photos? (How many photos or messages a day do you receive? How strong is the increase in numbers since 2007 and 2017? From any region in particular?)
I receive photos and “barihunk tips” on a daily basis, for which I am grateful. When I first started the site, I had to hustle for content, but now it shows up in the in-box. Content comes from a variety of sources. Some are not surprising, like from singers, colleagues, boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, opera marketing departments and agents.
However, my favorites come from mothers! Not a month has gone by without a submission from a mother and it usually comes with a note that says something like, “I know I’m biased, but I think my son is beautiful and definitely a barihunk.” I have one mother who gives me monthly updates on her son’s career. I simply adore her for it.  What’s more beautiful than a mother’s love and pride for her son?
As for regions, I’d say 80% of my content comes from the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Sadly, for someone who loves Latino men, the most underrepresented area is Central and South America.
You are a gay man living together with another man. How much has your sexuality influenced your fascination for hunky baritones? Do you think a heterosexual male opera lover would have ever thought of creating such a blog? (Are there any heterosexual equivalents with gorgeous sopranos or mezzos, or is that not necessary because it’s how the current mainstream opera business works anyway, Miss Netrebko showing her décolleté and selling a million more CDs/concert tickets?)
This is a fascinating question, because intuitively I would say that my sexuality totally influenced me to create the site. However, I’ve learned so much from the straight barihunks on the site about self-esteem and fitness. A number of singers, including Keith Miller and Kasey Yeargain, have created fitness sites and businesses which are an outshoot of what we’ve created. Therefore, I would say that a straight man could have created the site, but I would argue that Barihunks probably had to happen first.
I find mezzos to be the female equivalent of barihunks. There are a ton of sexy mezzos out there on the world’s opera stages. We’ve had Joyce DiDonato on our site in an “Honorary Barihunk” tee shirt. There is a young mezzo named Laura Krumm who is both sexy and has the most seductive voice I’ve heard in years. 
Jan Rekeszus (Bild: Dennis König Photographie)
Is it an act of gay liberation to be able to openly admit and discuss ones fascination for attractive singers today, without feeling ashamed about it? (And how do the singers react to being thus admired?)
I wouldn’t call it an act of gay liberation. Directors have made the fascination with attractive and even naked singers a pretty ordinary occurrence (especially in Germany!). Most singers love being admired. After all, anyone who walks out onto a stage is seeking approval and admiration.
I was surprised by a conversation with a barihunk on my recent visit to Germany, who said to me, “I don’t mind being admired for being shirtless on stage, but I am uncomfortable with posing for a calendar.“ He said being admired as beefcake made him feel like a woman who is sexualized simply for being attractive and not for her other traits.
Traditionally, “opera queens” as Wayne Koestenbaum describes them or Terrence McNally portrays them worship sopranos. Are you the next step in the opera queen evolution?
I started as the quintessential “Diva worshipper,” which comes out of that old stereotype of gay men idolizing strong, passionate, over-the-top female femme fatales. I find it a bit passé today. What I love about the barihunk phenomenon is that it appeals equally to men and women, as well as straight or gay.
Considering the homoeroticism of many barihunk photos: are the visitors of your blog only gay men? (Do you ever have to deal with homophobia? Do you discuss sexual orientation with your barihunks? Is it an issue for baritones today whether they are admired by gay men or heterosexual women? Are there regional or age differences?)
From what we can tell from analytics and sales of our merchandise, we’re almost 50-50 male to female. As I mentioned earlier, many of our male readers are straight men obsessed with fitness and exercise. We’ve done some Bari-Chunk to Bari-Hunk features which have generated ten times our usual traffic. Most of the email about those posts comes from straight guys thanking us for inspiring them to get in shape and to improve their self-esteem.
As for homophobia, we’ve experienced virtually none in ten years of posts. We did have one singer ask us to remove a post because it violated his religious beliefs.
We’ve had a series of “Barihunk Lunches” where we gather a group of low voices and discuss a variety of topic over a meal. I’m so impressed with how easily straight and gay men in this business get along, tease each other and even toss around sexual innuendos. I believe there has been a true generational shift around sexual orientation. Fortunately, the opera world is miles ahead of everyone else.
What do you think attracts heterosexual women to barihunks? And is the opera industry fully responding to the needs these women have? Any suggestions for improving the image of opera, in general?
I love that Barihunks has allowed women to not only talk about, but brag about, their attraction to men. Some of the most provocative comments and emails that I receive are from women – and they know what they like! It is interesting to me that gay men and straight women tend to be attracted to completely different men. For instance, Nathan Gunn and Thomas Hampson seem to be total magnets for women, but don’t’ generate the same level of intensity from men.
If you look at an average opera audience, the majority is made up of gay men and women. We both clearly love beautiful men with gorgeous, resonant low voices. More of that would go a long way! I’m proud that a positive image of healthy, virile men has become the new stereotype for opera, rather than the antiquated idea of an oversized Wagnerian soprano with horns and a spear. 
Justin Hopkins
 Where do your followers come from, mostly?
The United States, Germany, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, with a huge increase coming from Russia and Eastern Europe.
You mentioned that one of your most successful posts was on a red headed singer. Why are red heads such an item?
I follow my analytics closely, as they dictate who I post (or don’t post). Certain types seem to have particularly passionate followers and red-heads fall into that category, as do hairy men, hairless men, Asian singers and men in tuxedos. 
Puerto Rican Xavier Edgardo
Talking of red heads: how much desire for diversity do you see among your followers? Are there any Asian, Arab, black or any other people of color barihunks?
We are very cognizant about diversity and truly try to put as much of it on display as possible. We’ve featured numerous black and Asian singers on the site, but there aren’t many Arab baritones in the world today. If your readers know of some, send them our way at Barihunks@gmail.com.
Do your followers ever discuss vocal aspects, or do they focus only on exterior body elements?
You can’t have an opera blog and not discuss the voice. It’s still first and foremost about the voice.
After 10 years of barihunks: what has changed in the opera world, for you? Has barihunks influenced these changes? What do you wish should happen in the future, what happens in the US that Germany could learn from or vice versa?
The biggest change in opera has been its accessibility. I’m sitting in California as I respond to your questions from Germany while watching Semiramide on my laptop from France. The barihunks phenomenon cannot be separated from the fact that opera is showing up on people’s TV screens, laptops and in movie theatres. It has become as much a remote VISUAL MEDIA artform as a LIVE VOCAL artform.
Your focus on sexy singers is very pop culture orientated, it corresponds to what most teen magazines do with pop stars. Why are traditional opera magazines like Opernwelt completely ignoring the trend you sent and why are most opera magazines so unsexy and stuffy? (While opera companies lament the lack of interest from young audiences.)
I think part of the success of Barihunks is that we’re not stuffy, don’t take ourselves too seriously, yet still respect the artform and remain informative.
I’m fascinated by the marketing of opera in Europe, which often features an 80-year-old conductor, while in the U.S and Canada the focus in on the singers. Even US opera magazines like Opera News are doing Hollywood-style photoshoots with singers and featuring young, often attractive, rising stars of opera. I open some European music magazine and I feel like I should be blowing dust off of the pages. 
Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen"
What’s the most inappropriate mail you ever received from a barihunk (or singer)?
Oh Lord! I had a British baritone (of some note) who delighted himself by sending me the most inappropriate dick pics. I never knew if he was serious, or not, but he claimed he did it because he was obsessed with getting on the site. We don’t ever post random nudity and only post it if it’s related to a performance.
I also receive “revenge photos,” which really upset me and which I DO NOT TOLERATE. I had a soprano send me a series of nude photos of her barihunk ex-boyfriend, begging me to post them. I finally threatened legal action against her with the help of an attorney, as this is both illegal and inappropriate.
Would it bother you if a barihunk did porn? Does porn stop you from having a serious opera career, as it did years ago in Hollywood? Has the opera business become more tolerant about sex videos, too? Has opera embraced porn as a topic in the same way Hollywood has? Or is this the next cross-over frontier?
Well, there has been Gordon Beeferman’s The Enchanted Organ: A Porn Opera featuring a character named Avery Dick that was done in New York and Pornographi, which was done in the Netherlands. I suspect that if there is an audience, it will get performed.
I know of a singer who seriously considered doing porn to supplement his income, but wisely decided against it. I suspect that it would adversely effect one’s career. I knew of an amateur video of a barihunk that made the rounds and it created some serious problems for his agent and almost cost him a major debut.
Will you ever publish a book about your time as “Mr. Barihunks”? And did you ever think you ever think your blog would become such an era defining thing?
I’m not sure that a book would be of much interest, but I have seriously explored shutting down the site and turning it into a foundation to support young artists and new compositions. 
Sam Ramey and Giorgio Zancanaro in the Attila duet:
(What’s your favorite baritone aria? Sung by whom, historically?)
I love two low voices together, so two duets stand out for me:
·       The Attila-Ezio duet “Tardo per gli anni" by Verdi with Sam Ramey as Attila!
·       The King Philip and Grand Inquisitor duet from Verdi’s Don Carlo with Ferruccio Furlanetto and Sam Ramey.
As for a solo aria, there are far too many to chose from, but I’m a sucker for Don Giovanni’s “Deh, vieni alla finestra” sung by Mariusz Kwiecien or Dmitry Hvorostovksy, Wotan's Farewell “Leb' wohl” and Hamlet’s drinking song “O vin, dissipe le tristesse” sung by Stépane Degout or Simon Keenlyside.
My personal contemporary favorite is Marco Vassalli singing Clint Borzoni’s song “Stufen,” with text by Hermann Hesse, which is viewable on YouTube.