Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interview with Lee Poulis

Lee Poulis & Sean Panikkar (photo: Rachel Parker)
Theater Jones, which covers the arts scene in North Texas, recently ran a feature on Lee Poulis, who is starring in the Fort Worth Opera Festival production of Bizet's Pearl Fishers directed by John de los Santos.
“The role of Zurga has a lot of singing and two of the highest notes I have ever sung on stage,” he says. “Usually, a high G is the top in baritone roles. Bizet writes an optional A flat and an A natural. I am singing them because they fit in my voice and they are not in highly dramatic moments, where you would be tempted to oversing. I love this role.”
You can read the entire article HERE

There are two performances remaining on April 27 and May 2. Click HERE for tickets or additional information.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Introducing Photogenic Italian Bass-Barihunk Andrea Mastroni

Andrea Mastroni (photo: Nicodemo Luca Lucà)
We have a particular soft spot for basses in our pantheon of barihunks. When we saw pictures of Italian basso Andrea Mastroni by the great Milanese photographer Nicodemo Luca Lucà on Twitter we drawn to how seductive and sensuous he came across through the lens. 

Andrea Mastroni was born in Milan and originally studied the clarinet.  He then began studying voice with the great Italian soprano Lello Cuberli and Rita Antoniazzi. He graduated with honors from the Istituto Claudio Monteverdi in Cremona, while also obtaining a degree in Aesthetic Philosophy. In 2005, he won the Mario Basiola Prize and in 2007 took home both the Giuseppe Di Stefano Competition and the Bibiena Prize.

Andrea Mastroni
Andrea Mastroni
He is currently singing Colline in Puccini's La bohème at the Teatro La Fenice through May 30th. In July, he heads to Verona to tackle more Puccini when he sings Timur in Turandot at the famous arena. He then switches to Verdi, alternating the roles of the King and Rafis in Aida at the Arena di Verona. Last season, Mastroni's sinister and dark Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto was a big hit singing opposite Leo Nucci and Aleksandra Kurzak.

Andrea Mastroni sings Pergolesi's "Quoniam tu solus sanctus": 

Mastroni has also focused on 19th century chamber music and lieder, performing such standards as Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, as well as Schumann's Dichterliebe. He can be heard on a number of recording and DVD's, including as Il Conte Vaudemont in Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani opposite Leo Nucci and Daniela Dessi, Oroe in Rossini's Semiramide and Frere Laurent in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette opposite Andrea Bocceli and Maite Alberola.

Introducing British Barihunk Toby Girling

Toby Girling in Zatopek! (left) and Winterreise (right)
Some singers just seem to inspire directors to get them into various states of undress and British barihunk seems to be one of them. We originally saw the picture of him from Zatopek! (above left) when we were posting about his castmate Peter Brathwaite and then the picture of him on the right from a Bluebeard's Castle/Winterreise double bill showed up in our messages. Girling is the sole vocal performer in Schubert's Winterreise with the Vlaamse Opera, which will run in Antwerp through May 10th. Tickets are available online.

Toby Girling is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was a member of the Glyndebourne Opera Festival Chorus in the Michael Grandage production of Britten's Billy Budd, in which he also sang the role of Arthur Jones and covered the role of Donald. Regular readers may recall that Glyndebourne's Billy Budd also featured barihunks Jacques Imbrailo and Duncan Rock. 

Toby Girling sings Der Lindenbaum from Schubert's 'Die Winterreise:

He has sung at a number of major festivals other than Glyndebourne. These include a 2011 performance of Ben in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti at the Wexford Festival, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte and the Sorceress in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at the Verbier Festival, and Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto at the Iford Festival. He also performed in both Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Fiorello in Rossini's the Barber of Seville to great acclaim with the English Touring Company.

He is currenlty a Studio Artist at Oper Frankfurt, where he performed as the Flemish Deputy in a revival of Verdi's Don Carlo.  Other appearances with the company include Ein Steuermann in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Manuel in de Falla's La Vida Breve and Mann in Sallinen's Kullervo.

Introducing French Barihunk Boris Grappe

Boris Grappe as Robert in "Wasser" (photo: Regine Koerner)
We recently discovered this photo of French barihunk Boris Grappe performing in the 2012 world premiere of Wasser by Arnulf Hermann at the Oper Frankfurt.  The story is about a man who upon waking up finds himself in a hotel room with no idea how he got there. He thinks he recognizes people in the lobby, but his memory fails him. Everything is strangely shifted and displaced, including the music.

Grappe had previously performed Barabbas in Aulis Sallinen’s Barabbas Dialogues with the company.

We decided to find up what he's up to and found him singing Franz in Christian Lauba's La Lettre des sable at the Opéra National de Bordeaux from April 24-30. The opera evokes the great classics of science fiction to imagine the mysteries between the past and the future. The characters pass through the hourglass of time without really knowing where they are and who they are. 

Boris Grappe (photo by Patrick Vogel)
Born in Besançon, France, Boris Grappe studied voice at the Conservatoire de Lyon and at the Hochschule für Musik of Vienna. From 2007 to 2011, Boris Grappe was engaged at the Nationaltheater Mannheim where he performed Don Giovanni, Conte Almaviva, Guglielmo, Papageno, Figaro (Barbiere di Siviglia), Schaunard, Ping, Silvio, Harlekin, Donner, Melot, Falke, Albert. Graf Eberbach (Der Wildschütz).

From Decemeber 15-31, he'll perform Puck in Offenbach's La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein at the Grand Théâtre de Genève opposite Ruxandra Donose.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Barihunk Feast in Fort Worth: Pearl Fishers and Silent Night

Photos by Rachel Parker
The Fort Worth Opera Festival, one of our favorite stops on the opera circuit, kicked off the season with a stunning production of Bizet's Pearl Fishers featuring barihunks Lee Poulis as Zurga and Justin Hopkins as Nourabad. We should also mention that hunkentenor Sean Panikkar, of Forte fame, adds to the beefcake fest AND sings Nadir's beautiful aria "Je crois entendre encore."

Any opera directed by John de los Santos promises to be entertaining and an oft-static work like Pearl Fishers needs the touch of someone who can direct AND choreograph. De los Santos' non-stop action in the Mikado at the Festival in 2011 had audiences rolling in the aisles. We've heard that his dance scenes are magnificent. Throw in a shirtless Lee Poulis with his pants hanging low on his torso and you have an operatic feast for the eyes and the ears.

Justin Hopkins and the dancers from Fort Worth Opera's Pearl Fishers
The opera is the story of two men who fight over the same woman, make up and then fight over her again when she reappears. In between there is one of the most famous duets in all of opera and a beautiful aria for the girl Leïla. One of the men gives up his life to save Leïla and his friend. This was reality TV before reality TV.

There are additional performances on April 27 and May 2 and tickets are available online.

Dan Kempson, Lt. Gordon in Fort Worth's Silent Night
If two barihunks isn't enough for you, then you'll enjoy the next opera at the Fort Worth Opera Festival, which has four bariunks.  Kevin Puts' Silent Night will be performed on May 4 and 10 with barihunks Dan Kempson as Lt. Gordon, Aaron Sørensen as the French General, Craig Irvin as Lt. Horstmayer and Morgan Smith as Lt. Audebert.

Aaron Sørensen, the French General in Silent Night: "Il est mignon!"
The opera is based on the screenplay Joyeux Noël by Christian Carion and recounts a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history. On WWI’s western front, Scottish, French and German officers defy their superiors and negotiate a Christmas Eve truce. Enemies become brothers as they share Christmas and bury their dead.
You can listen to the entire opera online at composer Kevin Puts' website. 

Seth Mease Carico returning to US for Elixir of Love

Seth Mease Carico (photo by Nacho Guerrero)
Barihunk Seth Mease Carico will join four other former Opera Saratoga Young Artists in a series of performances, including Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Donizetti's Elixir of Love, as well as a workshop performance Evan Mack's new opera Roscoe. The project was made possible by a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Carico will be featured in the Elixir of Love.

Carico has been a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin where he is currently singing the Villains in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, the Speaker in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto and the First Mate in Britten's Billy Budd.

Based on the best-selling novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy, the story of Roscoe takes place on V-J-day in 1945. Roscoe Conway, after twenty-six years as the second in command of Albany's notorious political machine, decides to quit politics forever. But there's no way out, and only his Machiavellian imagination can help him cope with the erupting disasters. Every step leads back to the past -- to the early loss of his true love, the takeover of city hall, the machine's fight with FDR and Al Smith to elect a governor, and the methodical assassination of gangster Jack (Legs) Diamond.

 Kevin Kees sings Roscoe's aria:

A workshop performance of Act 1 of Roscoe will be performed by Opera Saratoga at the Helen Filene Ladd Theater on June 8th. Click HERE for tickets

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Xavier Edgardo's "Month of Mozart" continues with Cosi

Xavier Edgardo, an emerging Mozart specialist
After a huge success singing the Mozart Requiem Puerto Rican barihunk Xavier Edgardo will be sticking with Mozart, as he takes on Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte on April 26 and 27 at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. We've heard him sing Guglielmo's aria "Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo" and it's worth a lot more than the meager $10.00 price of admission.

The Puerto Rican native is headed to San Francisco to complete his Masters in Voice at the Conservatory of Music under tutelage of the famed tenor and professor César Ulloa. He'll return to Puerto Rico in November to sing Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème at the Teatro de la Ópera. In 2013, he debuted with the company in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and participated in the world premiere of the Carlos Vázquez opera La mina de oro.

In between, he'll be headed to Opera on the Avalon in St. John's, Newfoundland, where he's also slated to appear in La bohème. Our main mission at Barihunks is to assist young singers in their careers and we're part of the campaign to help send Xavier Edgardo to this important training program. Please join us in making a pledge of any amount, as it will go a long way in supporting this talented young artist. Click HERE to give today. 

He has already participated in training programs such as the International Institute of Vocal Arts (IIVA) and the International Vocal Arts Institute (LRI) in Tel Aviv, where he has sung and taken masterclasses with artists such as Justino Díaz, Joan Dornemann, Denis Sedov, Sherrill Milnes, Mignon Dunn, Carlos Conde and Joel Prieto.

He is also a longtime member of the award-winning ensemble Coralia.