Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Introducing barihunk Shannon De Vine

Shannon De Vine
Meet barihunk Shannon De Vine, who will be singing Claudio in the revival of Franco Faccio's Amleto (Hamlet) with Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Baltimore Concert Opera. The opera has not been performed since 1871 and this will be its U.S. premiere.

De Vine earned his Master's Degree from the Juilliard School, where he performed the roles of Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Silvio in I Pagliacci. In 2007, he took 3rd Prize at the Licia Albanese – Puccini Foundation Awards, was a semi-finalist in the Marseille International Voice Competition in France, the International Voice Competition of Francisco Vinas in Barcelona, finalist in the Opera National de Paris de la Bastille International Voice Competition, winner of the MacAllister Awards, the Rosa Ponselle International Voice Competition and winner of the Verdi Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival.

Last season, he was seen as Gerard in Giordano's Andrea Chenier with the Opera Orchestra of NY, Iago in Verdi's Otello at the Il Teatro Verdi and Ceccho del Vecchio in Wagner’s Rienzi at Avery Fisher Hall. He made his Houston Grand Opera debut as Morales in Bizet's Carmen, where he also sang Riolobo in Catan's Florencia en las Amazonas, Top in Copland’s The Tender Land and Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.

Ivo Rizzi sings Claudio's aria from Faccio's Amleto:

In 1865, Verdi’s contemporary Franco Faccio wrote an opera about Shakespeare’s melancholic Danish prince, to a libretto by Arrigo Boito. Conceived as an anti-Verdi/pro-Wagner manifesto for the “music of the future,” Amleto was originally a critical and audience success, but setbacks at the 1871 La Scala revival propelled it into obscurity, where it languished for more than a century.

Since 2002, Maestro Anthony Barrese has painstakingly reconstructed the score of the opera based on historical documents and microfilm held by the Ricordi Archives. BCO will present the American premiere of this lost operatic treasure in collaboration with Opera Southwest, conducted by Maestro Barrese himself. Celebrated American tenor Alex Richardson will sing the title role, and soprano Abla Hamza will sing Hamlet’s doomed love Ophelia (Ofelia).

Performance in Baltimore are on October 2 and 5 and tickets are available online. Performances in Albuquerque are on October 26, 31 and November 2 and tickets are available online.

French barihunks in Vichy's Magic Flute

Nicholas Courjal (left) and Benoît Arnould (right)

Opera de Vichy will be presenting Mozart's Die Zauberflöte on September 19 and 21 with Nicholas Courjal as Sarastro and Benoît Arnould as Papageno. The cast also includes the charming Tamino of Shawn Mathey, the thrilling coloratura soprano Burcu Uyar as the Queen of the Night, Camille Poul as Papagena and Raffaela Milanesi as Pamina. The Orchestre d’Auvergne will be conducted by Roberto Fores-Veses.

After this run, the French bass-barihunk Nicholas Courjal will appear in Rossini's Moise et Pharaon at Opera de Marseilles from November 8-16. In 2015, fans of  Courjal will get to see him outside of France, as he appears in Ravel's L’enfant et les sortilèges on February 12 at Festival Hall in London and then at the Royal Opera House from June 17-29 in Rossini's Guillaume Tell.

Benoît Arnould sings Fauré's Libera me domine:

Benoît Arnould, who is new to this site, graduated from the Conservatory in Metz and also received a Licence in Musicology from Sorbonne University.  In a short time, he has become recognized for his interpretations of baroque music and Mozart. He has performed Charpentier’s Médee Ascalaphe in Lully’s Proserpine, Christ in Bach’s Passions, Mozart’s Masses, Anténor in Rameau’s Dardanus and Requiem, and Lucifer in Handel's La Resurrezione. He has also recorded Les Grands Motets by Desmarest, Lully’s Proserpine and Missa Assumpta Est Maria de Charpentier, Cavalli’s Ormindo, Jesu Christi by Schütz, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri  and Weckman’s Cantatas.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

OPERA NEWS "Road Show: Mariusz Kwiecien in Kraków"

Kwiecien as Mozart's Count Almaviva at Kraków Opera
© Ryszard Kornecki 2014
Kraków may not be one of the world's great opera centers, but it's Mariusz Kwiecien's home town and a true gem among Central European cities. Kwiecien loves going back to perform there. Its pull on him has been so strong that he recently bought a home on its outskirts among the forests and fields that lead to the scenic Tatra mountains. 

"Performing in Kraków is fantastic," he says. "You know, when I made my debut there, it was six years after my debut at the Metropolitan Opera. So when I came back to Kraków, I came as a small star. And I was very excited, more nervous even than when I sang at the Met. When I come to Kraków to sing now, I know it will be sold out within an hour after the tickets go on sale, because our opera house is rather small, around 700 seats only. I always try to do three or four performances, and my colleagues at the opera house are always fantastic. And it's wonderful to sing opera in Poland with an all-Polish cast! Everywhere else I go, I have to speak many languages at once — Russian, English, Italian, German — and when I come to Kraków, I just have my wonderful Polish friends to sing with."


Philippe Sly in Tolkien inspired video

The following text is by Mathieu Sly, brother of barihunk Philippe Sly:

"Since 2001 when The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theatres, my brother (Philippe Sly) and I (Mathieu Sly) have been relentless fans of both films and books. After seeing the first film, I pretended to be sick for a week of school just so I could read the volumes in their entirety.

When the extended DVDs came out I mined the special features as though for mithril. I didn't realize then that what I had found was in fact the Arkenstone from which I could not pull my gaze. I worshipped the artists of Weta Workshop.

My brother, for his part, in those young years the host to an enchanting falsetto, could conjure any of the distinctive melodies and themes painted by Howard Shore in those first three films that changed the course of our lives. Still we sing "Into the West" anytime we are reunited in the presence of a piano.

In our high school years Howard Shore brought the music and art of the films to our city of Ottawa to be performed in concert with our local symphony, slides of the film's conceptual art to be projected throughout. We were lucky enough, as young choristers, to take part; to finally, and truly, add our voices to the enduring life of the films - to be a part of the team.

Here we offer our voices again. We want to thank everyone who made those first films and inspired two young boys to imagine.

The poem is concerned with Bilbo's inner turmoil in this final chapter of the film saga."

'Live Or Die Tomorrow'

Through cloud, and rock, and mountains sharp
Now weary are my feet
If now I sleep and disappear
None will hear, none will hear

Though I will walk through fields alone
Winds will blow, rivers run
The sun will fall and stars will shine
And show the way by night

To waters of the Western Seas
Where none can die I'll hide
Over forests and through the dark
Metal, earth, and sorrow

A mountain rich with golden halls
Five armies there will meet
A battle fought, though I will not
The King will loose his seat

Now sun has fell and all is well
But stars they do not shine
I'll sing to warm my heart for now
Find my way tomorrow

What song to fill this night so dark?
Of deeds brave and noble
From dream of steel and death I wake
From loss, shadow, and ash

One star dim through the mist I see
It will fade, it will fade
What lies along this road I tread,
For none to see but me?

By cloud, and rock, and mountains sharp
I'll find my friends and fight
We'll fill the sky with stars so bright
Live or die tomorrow

Live or die tomorrow

poem by Mathieu Sly, music by Philippe Sly

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Low voices bounce back in Paris after Operalia's "Baritone Blackout"

Sam Roberts-Smith and Pietro di Bianco
Just days after Placido Domingo's Operalia Competition completely eliminated any low male voices from their finals scheduled in Los Angeles today, the Paris Opera Competition announced that three baritones/bass-baritones have advanced to their finals. Xiaohan Zhai of China, Sam Roberts-Smith of Australia and Pietro Di Bianco of Italy will compete in the Competition's final gala concert on November 19th. 

After the gala performance, three male and three female singers will be selected as winners, with a prize of €5000 (US $6750) for 1st place, €3000 (US $4050) for 2nd place and €1000 (US $1350) for 3rd place.  Special prizes for Best Artistic Performance and Audience Favorite will earn the winners €1000. 

Joining the three in the final concert will be Carol Garcia of Spain, Marina Nachkebiya of Georgia, Daria Terekhova of Russia, Yujoong Kim of South Korea, Miriam Zubieta of Spain, Cristian Mogosan of Romania and Sarah Strauss-Zhai of Germany. 

Xiaohan Zhai sings Leporello's aria from Don Giovanni:

Xiaohan Zhai was born in in Kaifeng, China in 1986. He went to France to study at the l'École Normale de Musique de Paris. In 2011, he took second place at the Concours de Clés d'Or and a year later finished third at the FLAME Competition. Last season, he performed Leoporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Festival Saint-Cere.   

Born in 1983, Pietro Di Bianco studied piano at the Conservatoire Giuseppe Martucci of Salerno, where he graduated in 2004. He studied chamber music at the Accademia nazionale de Santa Cecilia and won several national competitions. He was hired as a piano accompanist at the music conservatories in Salerno and Potenza.
Pietro di Bianco sings Tamerlano's aria:
He then took up singing at the conservatory in Aquila and graduated in 2009. He worked with the great soprano Renata Scotto at the opera in Santa Cecilia and with the legendary baritone Renato Bruson in Sienna. He was a finalist at the 62nd Concours européen Associazione lirica concertistica Italiana at the Teatro de Como. He is currently honing his skills with the Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaiwanska. 
He recently received critical acclaim for his performance as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra National de Paris in a cast that featured fellow barihunk Damian Pass as Masetto (who was eliminated at Operalia!). 
Sam Roberts-Smith sings "Sois immobile" from Rossini's William Tell:
Sam Roberts-Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Music and Graduate Diploma in Opera from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2008. After completing his studies he relocated to Sydney and joined Australia’s national company, Opera Australia.
He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards including the Joan Sutherland Society of Sydney Scholarship, the Rosina Raisbeck Award and winner of the prestigious 2009 Australian Singing Competition. As winner of the ASC, Sam was asked to perform at both Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge’s 80th Birthday Galas. 
In 2010, after performing the role of Morales in Francesca Zambello’s production of Bizet's Carmen and Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, he was invited to join Opera Australia’s Young Artist Program.

Mariusz Kwiecien featured in Lyric Opera of Chicago's free concert

Mariusz Kwiecien
Barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien will be featured in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's annual "Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park" concert on Saturday, September 6 at 7:30 pm. The free concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion will feature previews of Lyric's upcoming 2014-15 season.

Kwiecien will be featured in one of his signature roles, that of the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni. He will join sopranos Marina Rebeka and Ana María Martínez, and bass Andrea Silvestrelli in the final scene from the opera. For those of you unfamiliar with the history of this Barihunks site, it was inspired by a performance of Kwiecien as Don Giovanni. 

The program will also feature Wagner's overture to Tannhäuser, the Act One finale of Puccini's Tosca featuring baritone Mark Delavan and tenor John Irvin, the entire third act of Verdi's Rigoletto, and the chorus "Patria oppressa" from Verdi's Macbeth.

If you can't make the concert, you can listen to a live broadcast live on 98.7 WFMT or online at wfmt.com.

Performances of Don Giovanni run from September 27 to October 29. Kwiecien will return to the Metropolitan Opera from December 4-20 as Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Royal Opera takes barihunks on Japanese road show

Liudmyla Monastyrska and Simon Keenlyside (left, photo: Clive Barda); Alex Esposito (right)
 The Royal Opera House is taking three of the most popular barihunks in the works on a tour of Japan in September 2015. The company had a successful tour in 2010, the last time that they toured the island nation.

The company will perform Phyllida Lloyd's production of Verdi's Macbeth with Simon Keenlyside in the title role alongside soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska as Lady Macbeth, Greek tenor Dimitri Pittas as Macduff, and American bass Raymond Aceto as Banquo.  

Alex Esposito looking bari-hunky
Kasper Holten's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni will feature the Italian barihunk duo of Ildebrando D'Arcangelo in the title role and Alex Esposito as Leporello. They will be joined in the cast by mezzo-soprano (and honorary barihunk) Joyce DiDonato as Donna Elvira, tenor Rolando Villazón as Don Ottavio, soprano Albina Shagimuratova as Donna Anna, soprano Julia Lezhneva as Zerlina, and bass Matthew Rose as Masetto. 

Both productions will be conducted by ROH Music Director Antonio Pappano.  Macbeth runs for four performances in Japan beginning September 12th, with Don Giovanni running for three performances beginning September 13th. Information about tickets and venues will be announced shortly.