Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Quirijn de Lang in updated and abridged Hamlet

Quirijn de Lang as Hamlet
OPERA2DAY in Den Haag in the Netherlands will present barihunk Quirijn de Lang as the title character in Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet. The innovative company has reduced the 3 1/2 hour opera to just over 2 hours, by eliminating the ballet and streamlining the story, including an ending that combines the two existing versions of the opera.

The cast also includes Lucie Chartin as Ophélie, Martijn Sanders as Claudius, Martina Prins as Gertrude, Jan Willem Schaafsma as Laërte  and Patrick Pranger as Horatio. The opera is a co-production with the New European Ensemble. The opera will be performed in 20 different venues throughout the region between January 17th and April 11th. Tickets and locations are available online.

OPERA2DAY was founded to bring opera to new audiences by presenting old standards in contemporary settings.

Philippe Sly to perform Schubert songs with guitar

Philippe Sly as Zebul (left)
Canadian barihunk Phillipe Sly will kick off the second half of Tucson Guitar Society's International Artist Concert Series on February 3rd. He'll be joined by his frequent collaborator guitarist John Charles Britton in songs by Franz Schubert.

The duo will perform sixteen arrangements of Schubert songs for guitar and voice. Schubert owned many guitars and played the instrument at home. It is believed that many of his 600 songs were penned for his Schubertiades on the guitar. The duo has also recorded the songs on the album "Schubert Sessions," which was released in 2016 and is available on iTunes.

Sly is currently performing as Zebul in Handel's Jephtha at the Opera National de Paris through January 30th. The cast, under the baton of William Christie, includes Ian Bostridge in the title role, Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Storgé, Katherine Watson as Iphis and Tim Mead as Hamor. Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances includes the Fauré Requiem with the Minnesota Orchestra, Schubert's Winterreise in Ferme de Villefavard, France, Bach's St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music and Rachmaninov's Aleko with the Montreal Symphony.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Christopher Bolduc in Czech premiere of 4-act Billy Budd

Christopher Bolduc as Billy Budd in Prague
Blond barihunk Christopher Bolduc, who likes like he was born to sing the role of the handsome young sailor Billy Budd, will perform the role in the Czech premiere of Benjamin Britten's original four act version. The composer later revised the opera as a two-act opera with a prologue and an epilogue, which is how it generally performed today.

The opera will be performed at the Czech National Opera and features the Losers Cirque Company, a group of dancers and acrobats. The troupe helps director Daniel Špinar delve into the destructive power of sexuality that the composer wrote about in this piece, as well as Death in Venice. Bolduc physically resembles Theodor Uppman, who Britten chose for the world premiere (after Geraint Evans withdrew).

Christopher Bolduc as Billy Budd with the Losers Cirque Company
The opera is based on Herman Melville’s eponymous novel and tells the story of what took place on board a British battleship during the Napoleonic Wars. Britten was also a passionate pacifist, who possessed a great sense of justice, and he personally resented violence, be it in war conflicts or committed on individuals. All these topics are afforded a significant role in the opera, in which a handsome, naïve and trustful youth becomes the object of hatred on the part of a sadistic manipulator, master-at-arms Claggart, who falsely accuses Billy of inciting the crew to mutiny.

Christopher Bolduc as Billy Budd with the Losers Cirque Company
Billy inadvertently kills his torturer and is duly sentenced to death. Captain Vere faces an agonising decision: should he pardon the innocent boy, or should he abide by the law of war? He does not prevent the tragedy and the memory of his fateful failure will haunt him throughout his life. Billy Budd is the composer's second “nautical” opera, in which the sea, the rocking of the waves and the gusts of wind are reflected in every single bar of music.

Performances run from January 18-28, and again on April 25 and 27 .

Monday, January 8, 2018

Erwin Schrott sings Scarpia tonight for only second time

Erwin Schrott as Scarpia in Berlin
Bass-barihunk Erwin Schrott waited until February of last year before he felt comfortable enough to debut the role of the evil police chief Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca. That debut happened in Berlin and now he's slated for a series of performances of the plum role, beginning tonight at the Vienna State Opera in an all-star cast that includes Angela Gheorghiu  as Tosca and Massimo Giordano as Mario Cavaradossi.

Future performances of the role will be in Munich, the Royal Opera House in London and Madrid. Additional performances in Vienna will be on January 12, 13 and 16 and tickets are available online.

After his run as Scarpia, the Uruguayan singer remains in Vienna for three performances of Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust, running from January 25-February 2. He'll reprise that role in Munich beginning on April 29. In between those performances, he will sing Procida in Verdi's Les Vêpres siciliennes, also in Munich. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mathias Hausmann in controversial Tannhäuser in Leipzig

Mathias Hausmann in Tannhäuser
Mathias Hausmann will be featured as Wolfram in Oper Leipzig's Tannhäuser, which opens on March 17 and runs through May 27.  The remainder of the cast includes Elisabet Strid as Elisabeth, Kathrin Göring as Venus, Burkhard Fritz as Tannhäuser and Patrick Vogel as Walther.

A scene from Calixto Bieito's Tannhäuser in Ghent
The production has been mired in a bit of controversy and confusion, as it was originally scheduled to be directed by Katharina Wagner, a descendant of the composer. The opera company announced that due to  “logistical challenges,” it will now be directed by the provocative Spaniard Calixto Bieito. Bieito's interpretation of Wagner's Tannhäuser premiered at the Vlaamse Opera in Ghent in 2015.

Katharina Wagner will return to Leipzig for Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin in November 2020.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf reprise transgender opera As One

Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf rehearsing As One
The real life husband and wife team of Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke will reprise their roles of "Hannah before" and "Hannah after" in Laura Kaminsky's As One at the Hawaii Opera. There will be four performances from January 11-16 at the Aloha Tower Pier 10 Cruise Ship Terminal in Honolulu. Tickets are available online.

The couple premiered the piece in 2014 at The Brooklyn Academy of Music and will perform it together again at the Chautauqua Opera on August 7th.

Two singers, a baritone and a mezzo-soprano, together portray the character Hannah.  The two singers embody a young boy who knows he is different but can't understand how or why. The 70-minute opera traces the life of young Hannah through her eventual gender reassignment. 
Kaminsky was inspired to write the opera after reading an article in the New York Times in 2008 about a New Jersey marriage in which one of the parties transitioned from male to female, transforming the couple from straight to gay. The opera is based on the life experience of noted filmmaker Kimberly Reed. 

After wrapping up As One, the couple travels to the drier climate of Arizona, where they will perform a concert version of Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, his one-act opera from the early ‘50s about life in suburban America. Performances are with the Tucson Symphony and run from February 2-4. 

What if Papageno used Tinder?; Joseph Lattanzi reprises Fellow Travelers

Nathan Gunn (left) and Aaron Blake/Joseph Lattanzi (right)
One of the board members of the PROTOTYPE Festival in New York put together this video of Nathan Gunn, who was singing Papageno at the Met. It shows what might of happened had he used the dating app Tinder to find his Papagena. 

Nathan Gunn has a number of recitals on his 2018 calendar, including his cabaret show with his wife Julie Gunn. You can catch performances on January 18th in Thomasville, Georgia; at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA on January 22nd; and, at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills on March 15th. The concert includes works by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Lerner and Loewe, Billy Joel and Leonard Bernstein.

On January 12, 13 and 14, PROTOTYPE will present Gregory Spear's opera Fellow Travelers at the Lynch Theater at John Jay College, with barihunk Joseph Lattanzi and hunkentenor Aaron Blake in the lead roles. Tickets are available online

Fellow Travelers, which was written in collaboration with librettist Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury, was developed in a 2013 Opera Fusion workshop. Lattanzi sang both the workshops for the opera, as well as the world premiere at the Cincinnati Opera and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.