Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guillaume Andrieux & Stéphane Degout in premiere of La Dispute

Albane Carrère & Guillaume Andrieux
The last time that we featured French barihunk Stéphane Degout on this site, he was baring it all for a performance as Hamlet at the Theater an der Wien. Now he's in Brussels for composer Benoît Mernier’s second opera La Dispute, which was commissioned by the Théâtre de la Monnaie. The opera is based on the comedic play by the French dramatist Marivaux and explores the inconsistencies of love and wondering if they stem from men or women. Upon its premiere in 1744, the play was considered a funny, erotic and cruel masterpiece by critics, but received poorly by the public.

Degout is joined in the cast by a barihunk new to this site, French singer Guillaume Andrieux as Mesrin.

Stéphane Degout
The opera's plot centers around the burning philosophical issue of infidelity and a diabolical experiment that brings together four youngsters raised in isolation from the world. Before our eyes, they discover love and their first betrayals. For this work, the Belgian composer collaborated closely with the librettists Ursel Herrmann and Joël Lauwers. This gave him the opportunity to again grapple with the awakening of desire which was a theme in his first opera Frühlings Erwachen from 2007.

Performances run from March 5-19 and tickets are available online.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Interview with Lee Poulis

Lee Poulis as Zurga in Sarasota Opera's 2013 production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers
Lee Poulis is performing Zurga in Bizet's Pearl Fishers at the Sarasota Opera through March 22nd. Below is an interview that appeared on the Sarasota Opera blog. The link to the entire interview is at the end of this post. Tickets are available online

Q.  What drew you to become a singer?  Was there a specific “Aha!” moment of clarity?

A.  I actually began in music as a trumpet player in the 4th grade.  Pretty soon I realized I enjoyed hearing the trumpet being played in an orchestra rather than in the band, which was where I played.  I began listening to the classical station and heard some opera in the mix.  I was immediately drawn to it and wanted to hear and know more about it.  I began renting opera videos from Blockbuster at the age of 12 and saw my first opera at the Metropolitan Opera in that same year.  As years passed and I buried myself in recordings and videos from the public library, I could sing along with many of the operas while reading the libretto.  I also did my first Pavarotti impression pretty early on, handkerchief and all.  When I was 15 after some long-term nudging from my parents, who knew nothing about opera but apparently had an ear, I sang for my high school chorus teacher.  The rest is history.

Q.  What are you looking forward to most about performing this particular role?

A.  I like that I’m playing the leader of everyone else in the opera.  Sounds like a lot of power.  So far it’s one fishing village, but I hope to expand my sphere of influence as soon and as widely as possible and take over all of Sri Lanka, where this opera takes place.
Q.  Is there something unique about your process when preparing a role for performance?

A.  I don’t know if it’s unique, but it’s how I do it!  It’s a process of singing through, translating, feeling, putting myself in the character’s shoes, singing it through with a pianist, working on it with my voice teacher, and raising the stakes dramatically and vocally wherever it’s called for in the story and the music.  Almost all of these facets of preparation are occurring all the time and in no particular order from day one of my role preparation until the last performance is over and sometimes beyond that too!
Read the entire interview at the Sarasota Opera blog. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dead Man Walking coming to Montreal, Eugene & Boston

Michael Mayes as Joseph de Rocher and at the gym
We have a million reasons to love composer Jake Heggie, but perhaps we love him most for writing great leading roles for baritones. His opera Dead Man Walking has quickly entered the standard repertory and it's lead character Joseph de Rocher is invariably played by a barihunk. Yet another reason to love him.

Within three weeks, three productions of the opera will be running, one in Eugene, Oregon, one in Boston and the other in Montreal, Quebec. Michael Mayes, who transformed from bari-chunk to bari-hunk, to play the role at the Tulsa Opera, will reprise the role in Eugene. Etienne Dupuis will take on the role in Montreal, with Philip Kalmanovitch also appearing in the cast, who appears regularly on this site. John Arnold and Jonathan Stinson will alternate the role in Boston.

Etienne Dupuis and Jeanette Kelly from the CBC
When Mayes transformed his body during his Tulsa run it created a sensation on Barihunks when we ran the before and after pictures. Apparently, Etienne Dupuis has taken serioulsy the physical demands of the role, as well. He's hired two trainers to get in shape, including helping him develop the skills to sing and do pushups at the same time. You can listen to his interview on the CBC where he talks about getting in shape for the role. Dupuis and hot Jeanette Kelly also spend a good deal of time talking about the concept of barihunks and the increasing need to look the part on stage. We recommend that you play it to the end, so you can hear him sing "Hello" by Lionel Ritchie.

Performances at Opera de Montreal run from March 9-16th and tickets are available online. The opera will be performed at the Eugene Opera on March 15 and 17 and tickets are available online. Performances with the Boston Opera Collaborative will run daily from March 15-18 with tickets available online.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Philippe Sly to release CD of Rameau cantatas

Philippe Sly
One of our favorite young barihunks, Philippe Sly, joins the wonderful soprano Hélène Guilmette in "Les amants trahis," an album of cantatas by Jean-Philippe Rameau. The cantatas were originally performed  at Salle Bourgie of the Montreal Fine Arts Museum last year and the CD includes the same ensemble consisting of Adrian Butterfield and Chloé Meyers (violin), Grégoire Jeay (flute), Mélisande Corriveau (viola da gamba) and Luc Beauséjour (harpsichord). The album is available for purchase on March 12.

Check out our previous posts about Sly's last recording "In Dreams."

Sly is the first prize winner of the prestigious 2012 Concours Musical International de Montréal and a grand prize winner of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions singing the varied repertoire of Mozart, Bach, Handel, Stravinsky and Wagner. Later that year, he became a member of the ensemble at the Canadian Opera Company where he was seen as Hermann in Offenbach's 'Les contes d’Hoffmann', Amantio di Nicolai in a new production of Puccini's 'Gianni Schicchi' , as well as A Scythian Man in Gluck's 'Iphigénie en Tauride' alongside the Iphigénie of Susan Graham.

In the summer of 2012, Sly joined the Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival where he made his Festival debut as Sithos in von Winter’s 'Das Labyrinth' under the baton of Ivor Bolton. This season, the French-Canadian singer becomes a member of the prestigious Adler Fellowship Program at the San Francisco Opera where he will make his mainstage debut as Guglielmo in Mozart's 'Così fan tutte' under music director Nicola Luisotti. Tickets for Così fan tutte are available on the San Francisco Opera website.

Friday, February 22, 2013

David Adam Moore as Stanley Kowalski at Virginia Opera & Lyric Opera of Chicago

David Adam Moore as Stanley Kowalski (photo David Beloff)
American barihunk David Adam Moore looks like he'll be making a name for himself as Stanley Kowalski in André Previn’s opera A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams. He opened in the role on February 16th with the Virginia Opera with performances running through March in Norfolk, Richmond and Fairfax. Click on the highlighted links for tickets.

He then takes the role to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for a performance on April 5th. The single performance is a special night for high school and college students, who can buy tickets for $20. The remaining performances will feature barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Stanley Kowalski.

David Adam Moore in Virginia Opera's A Streetcar Named Desire
(photo David Beloff)
After his performance in Streetcar in Chicago, Moore will remain in the Windy Cindy to portray Jud Fry in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! Performances run from May 4-19 and tickets are available online.

Aubrey Allicock wins Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation prize

Aubrey Allicock
The Opera Theatre of St. Louis has announced that barihunk Aubrey Allicock is this year’s recipient of the Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation prize.

The award recognizes extraordinary artistic potential in early-career artists and provides support for continued artistic and professional development. Allicock will receive a $10,000 cash prize, which may be used toward expenses that further artistic and professional growth. He was selected by a committee of Opera Theatre’s leadership.

Allicock began his professional career in 2009 as a member of Opera Theatre’s Gerdine Young Artist program. He then joined the roster at the Metropolitan Opera in 2010 and joined the Opera Theatre as a principal artist in 2011.

He will star in the title role in the world-premiere of Champion at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, co-starring Denyce Graves with music by Terrance Blanchard. Performances run from June 15-30 and tickets go on sale online on Saturday, February 23rd.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Video from Alex Esposito's Rosenblatt Recital

Alex Esposito
Last month we posted about Alex Esposito's recital at Wigmore Hall, which happened on February 5th. We now have some video, which was part of the Rosenblatt Recital series. 

Alex Esposito sings Tosti's "Non t'amo più":

 Alex Esposito - ROSSINI Cade dal ciglio (Mosè in Egitto)

 Alex Esposito - ROSSINI Accusata di furto (La Gazza Ladra)

Esposito can next be seen performing his signature role of Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni a the Théâtre du capitole in Toulouse, France. The title role will be shared by barihunks Christopher Maltman and Kostas Smoriginas. Performances run from March 15-28 and tickets are available online.

Introducing Barihunk Timothy McNair; Performing in The Grapes of Wrath

It's inadvertently turned into Ricky Ian Gordon week on Barihunks this week, but when you write great roles for baritones, it's bound to happen. Gordon just had a huge critical and artistic success with his mini-opera "Green Sneakers" in San Francisco directed by John de los Santos and starring the compelling barihunk Jesse Blumberg. Now his most heralded piece, "The Grapes of Wrath" is getting a few performances at Northwestern University this week.

In the role of Huston is 24-year-old Timothy McNair who is pursuing his Mater of Music degree at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music. McNair's character has a shower scene in Act 3, so the young bass-barihunk has been staying fit by working out with a personal trainer. His circuit workout includes rowing, plank, pushups, kettle bells, pull-ups and medicine ball presses. We think that the results are excellent!

Timothy McNair buffed up for his shower scene
Based on John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel, with a libretto by Tony nominee Michael Korie, the opera follows the Joad family from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California in search of a better life. Gordon’s score evokes American popular music of the 1920s and ’30s, bringing new depth to this tale of hope in the face of despair. Guest baritone Robert Orth, who played Uncle John in the opera’s 2007 premiere, reprises his role in this production.

Performances of The Grapes of Wrath are Friday, Feb. 22nd at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24th at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28th at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 2nd at 7:30 p.m. in the Cahn Auditorium at Northwestern University.

McNair is the full Eckstein scholarship recipient "Master of Music-Voice and Opera" for the class of 2014 at Northwestern's Bienen School of Music. and he starred as Luciano in the 2012 fall production of John Musto's chamber opera Bastianello. Tickets are available online.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

West Coast premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's "Green Sneakers" creating media buzz

Cellist Kathyrn Bates Williams and Barihunk Jesse Blumberg (Photo by Michael Colbruno)
The West Coast premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's "Green Sneakers" has created quite a media buzz before its one-night only performance tonight at Fort Mason's Southside Theater in San Francisco. The Jewish Weekly, Bay Area Reporter and San Francisco Chronicle all named it as one of their top theater picks for the week.

The Advocate ran a lengthy interview with Ricky Ian Gordon today, who wrote the mini-opera as a way of dealing with the loss of his lover Jeffrey Grossi to AIDS in 1996. Gordon told the Advocate, "The world is so different now than it was when Jeffery died in 1996. Young people today missed seeing what it was really like at the height of the AIDS crisis so for them they think it’s OK because you just get to take a few pills all the time. Today, HIV is romanticized in a way because you get to be like that character in Rent, but young people need to know that there’s nothing romantic about it."

You can read the entire interview HERE.

Jesse Blumberg and the Del Sol Quartet (Photo by Michael Colbruno)
The San Francisco Examiner hailed Gordon as a natural successor to Stephen Sondheim along with Jason Robert Brown, Adam Guettel and John Michael LaChiusa. You can read the entire article HERE. San Francisco's KDFC radio also aired an interview with the composer.

Green Sneakers, which is broken into nineteen songs and runs about 80 minutes, is being directed by one of operas most exciting young talents John de los Santos. The theatrical song cycle was written for Baritone, String Quartet, and Empty Chair, with a libretto by the composer. It premiered on July 15, 2008 in Vail, Colorado and has had a number of subsequent performances since, mostly with Blumberg. Remarkably, it had never been performed in the two cities most impacted by AIDS - New York City and San Francisco. This performance and an upcoming show at Lincoln Center on April 6th finally bring this important piece to the audiences most touched by the epidemic. 

Jesse Blumberg in rehearsal for Green Sneakers in San Francisco (Photo by Michael Colbruno)
Tickets for the February 19th performance are available at the Fort Mason website. Tickets for the New York show are part of the American Songbook series at Lincoln Center and available HERE.

A complete photo album from the San Francisco rehearsals is available HERE

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wall Street Journal feature on Teddy Tahu Rhodes' Workout Regimen

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece by Sarah Rose about barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes with the headline "Opera Singer Builds Up Stamina for 'Carmen.'" Here are some photos and the text.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes running (Photo: James Horan-Wall Street Journal)
When you sing for your supper, it's hard to keep weight on, says Teddy Tahu Rhodes, who takes a star turn as the bullfighter, Escamillo, in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Bizet's "Carmen" starting Saturday in New York. "I don't want to compare myself to an athlete, but it takes a lot of energy to perform for three hours," says the New Zealand-born bass-baritone.

At the Met, Mr. Rhodes's performance will include the showstopping aria in which he dances a mock bullfight with his cape and seduces the gypsy Carmen. "If you don't nail it then your night is really over," he says. "It's a very challenging role, vocally and physically."

Teddy Tahu Rhodes doing push-ups (Photo: James Horan-Wall Street Journal)

At 6-feet-4, the 46-year-old Mr. Rhodes isn't concerned about losing weight but rather keeping it on, and maintaining his stamina requires a 50-minute workout with a personal trainer three times a week.

He trained to be an opera singer at London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama in the early 1990s, but after a year, he returned to New Zealand to be an accountant. Fifteen years ago, he was also singing with a local opera company when he got a call to substitute for a singer at the Sydney Opera House. With three weeks to prepare, he gave up accounting and followed his dream to sing.

He has been in many productions in Australia, Europe and the U.S. He has sung Escamillo in "Carmen" before, most notably in 2010, when he was called to fill in for a singer three hours before a global broadcast of a Metropolitan Opera performance. Among his recent roles are Emile de Becque in the Lincoln Center revival of "South Pacific" that recently toured Australia (a role that has been played by opera singers), and Stanley Kowalski in the coming modern-opera production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Chicago's Lyric Opera and New York's Carnegie Hall in March.

As a finance professional, he played rugby, tennis and cricket, but when he became an opera singer, his workouts changed radically, he says. "I made a conscious effort to hone my fitness as a way of presenting myself as a character on stage."

Teddy Tahu Rhodes working out (Photo: James Horan-Wall Street Journal)
The Workout
To play heartthrob leads, Mr. Rhodes works out with a Sydney-based personal trainer and bodybuilder, Steve Curran. His sessions focus on what bodybuilders call "large compound movements," exercises that use more than one joint or muscle group at the same time. Every major muscle group—legs, arms, back and shoulders—gets one day of devoted training per week. So on day one, Mr. Rhodes might work on his chest and triceps, doing bench presses and dips to the point of exhaustion.

For the second workout of the week, he might exercise his legs with lunges and squats. His third weekly workout could involve rows and chin-ups for his back, biceps and shoulders. When he is on the road, he checks out his hotel or apartment's gym upon arrival.

Mr. Rhodes avoids abdominal exercises out of concern they would interfere with his voice and breath control. "It's really important as a singer not to be tight in your core, to have flexibility around your diaphragm."

To prepare for the famous "Toreador Song," the first aria in the second act of "Carmen," Mr. Rhodes turned to his singing coach in Sydney, Sharolyn Kimmorley. Ms. Kimmorley helps him make physical adjustments to his technique by observing his breath or his posture to make sure the sound is resonating correctly. "It's like training any muscle, your voice gets used to a routine and if you let it slip for a while, it can get a bit lazy," he says.

The Gear
Sessions with his trainer and
vocal coach run about $100 each. He wears Asics running shoes during his workout, which typically cost him from $100 to $250. And rather than hitting the gym in running shorts or gym clothes, he prefers to wear board shorts by Billabong, which can range from $45 to $99.

The Diet
Mr. Rhodes is frequently on the road and puts in odd hours, which makes for an awkward diet, he says. "When performances don't finish until midnight, it's so late I don't want to eat and often go to bed not having had a meal," he says. He tries to keep snacks handy, like peanut butter on white or wheat toast.

For breakfast, he has toast, normally sourdough, with peanut butter or jam and butter, accompanied by a skinny latte. For lunch, he usually has a sandwich. Dinner is typically chicken or fish: He eats little red meat and very few carbs. He enjoys cheese as a starter and a glass of red wine.

Many singers avoid dairy products, which some believe can increase phlegm and damage the voice. Mr. Rhodes, who worked on a family farm as a child, says he drinks a great deal of milk at any time of day.

The Playlist
Mr. Rhodes doesn't listen to music while he works out. "Theater work is so collaborative, one of the things I love about exercise is the time to think, alone, by myself."

Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Escamillo at the Met (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)
For Singing and Exercise, Breathing Better Can Help
The breath-control exercises that benefit opera singers also can help athletes, who need to consume more oxygen when they work out, says Bradford Chase, a high-school chorus teacher in Wellington, Fla., who trained in the New England Conservatory and has been teaching for 15 years. "Singers and athletes are the people who need to get the most out of every breath," he says.

Mr. Chase taught breathing exercises to the Wellington Wolverines high school football team in the 2012 season to help increase their stamina. The Wolverines' record improved to 4 wins in 10 games for the season, up from 1 win in 2011. To raise awareness of the mechanics of breathing, he uses a technique called "body mapping," which can increase how efficiently a person uses the oxygen he or she takes in. Here are some exercises:

Stand with your hands on your shoulders and breathe slowly. Focus on using your diaphragm, beneath the rib cage, to draw air into the lungs while keeping your shoulders still.
Place a hand over your rib cage as if you were saying the Pledge of Allegiance. As you breathe, notice the rib cage expand to make room for your lungs.

With hands just below the rib cage, feel your diaphragm expand to draw air in and contract to force air out. If you bend at the waist, you should feel the diaphragm expand and contract on your back too.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Morgan Pearse wins top prize at Royal Over-Seas League competition

Morgan Pearse
The barihunk winning streak continues, as Australian Morgan Pearse just took the top prize at the Royal Over-Seas League singing competition in London. 

For fifty years, the Royal Over-Seas League Arts division has been devoted to the career development of talented young professional artists and musicians from the UK and the Commonwealth. The organization provides scholarships and provides career and performance opportunities for musicians.

Pearse performed Finzi's "The clock of the years," Korngold's "Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen," Mozart's "Hai gia vinta la causa...Vedro mentr'io sospiro" and his "Deh, vieni alla finestra," and three Schumann songs, "Meine Rose," "Belsatzar," and "Der Kontrabandiste." 

Pearse earned his first class honours degree from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and then moved to London late last year to commence a Masters in Performance at the Royal College of Music. He is the inaugural Joan Sutherland Scholar at the College, where he is studying with baritone Russell Smythe.

You can next see Pearse on February 19th at the Queen’s Gate Terrace in South Kensington. U.K. He'll be one of four artists performing in "Lied in London." a concert of Goethe settings by Schubert and Wolf.  Suggested donations are £15 (students £5) and includes wine and cheese.

Pearse will be performing the Count in the Royal College of Music's Le nozze di Figaro in June and then return to Australia to perform Apollo and Pluto in a national tour of Monteverdi's Orfeo with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. He will also perform the title role in Handel's Imeneo at the London Handel Festival on March 11 and 13,  a Cadogan Hall recital in June, and the title role in the Australian premiere of Britten's Owen Wingrave in August with Sydney Chamber Opera.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dmitri Hvorostovsky returns to US for Don Carlo and recitals

Siberian barihunk returns to New York from his European tour to sing Rodrigo in Nicholas Hytner’s production of Verdi's Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera.  He will be joined by the great Italian baritone Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II. The two men also sang together in the Met's Ernani and it's always a thrilling vocal display when they share the stage.  and throughout Russia this winter, Dmitri Hvorostovsky returns to New York's  this month to star as  The cast also includes Ramón Vargas as Don Carlo, Barbara Frittoli as Elisabeth and Anna Smirnova as Eboli. For tickets and additional information and tickets visit the Met website.

As soon as Hvorostovsky wraps up Don Carlo he will head down the coast to the Nation's capital for a recital with the Washington Performing Arts Society on March 20th at the Kennedy Center. The program includes songs and arias by Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and others. He continues down the coast to Miami Beach for a slightly different program at the New World Center that includes Rachmaninov, Rossini, Wagner, Rubinstein and Verdi.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Introducing sexy Belgian barihunk Romain Dayez

Romain Dayez as Leporello (Photo by Pierre Yellal)
Belgian barihunk Romain Dayez has been on our list of singers to post for over a year. In fact, we tried to get him into this year's Barihunks calendar, but couldn't get a high resolution photo in time. When we saw this photo of him as Leporello from the Festival du Haut Limousin in France we decided that we just couldn't keep him from our readers any longer.

The photo that didn't make the Barihunks calendar
The 22-year-old, who hails from a family of artists, entered the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles in Belgium in 2007 before continuing his music studies at the Conservatoire Supérieur National de Musique in Paris three years later. Much of his early career has been focused on oratorios and baroque repertoire. He seems to have a particular affinity for Mozart, having had success as Nardo in La Finta Giardiniera and Leporello in Don Giovanni. He has a particular passion for French chansons, which he has included in recitals at numerous festivals.

Long-term, he may have a future as an artistic administrator, as he's promoted music from the baroque, as founder of L'Olimpiade, to new music collaborations with groups like the Parisian rappers Milk Coffee & Sugar.

Romain Dayez with Milk Coffee & Sugar performing "Chanter Déchanter" 
(at the 1:32, 2:45 & 4:03 marks):

He is currently performing the Phillippe Boesmans/Luc Bondy opera Reigen at the Salle d'art Lyrique at the Paris Conservatoire. On March 17th, he'll sing the role of Christ in Bach's St. Matthew's Passion at the Basiliek van Hulst in Holland. On March 30th, his group L'Olimpiade will perform music by Charpentier and Couperin at the Hôtel de Soubise.

Further down the road he will sing and direct a project about composers Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass with his Alliage Art Project. We will post more about that in the Fall.

Dayez sings Schubert's Der Wegweiser:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Andrew Garland's Buff New Photos, his new CD and his upcoming Schaunard in Seattle

Andrew Garland
We recently posted a teaser about Andrew Garland's new CD "American Portraits," which we're thrilled to report has shot to the top of the Amazon classical music charts. We had the privilege of previewing the recording, so we were pretty certain that he had a hit on his hands.

Accompanied by Donna Loewy on piano, Garland sings four song cycles, Stephen Paulus' "A Heartland Portrait,"  Tom Cipullo's "America1968" (dedicated to Garland and Loewy), Lori Laitmen's "Men with Small Heads" and Jake Heggie's  and "The Moon is a Mirror."

Like tenors Peter Pears and Anthony Rolfe Johnson, who excelled in the music of British composers, Garland has seemed to master the American composers. He has previously performed works by Mark Adamo, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lee Hoiby, Stephen Sondheim and Gian Carlo Menotti. Garland and Loewy previously collaborated on the masterful 2009 CD "American Folk Song Settings."

Order the CD HERE
You can next see Andrew Garland on stage at the Seattle Opera where he's singing Schaunard in a production of Puccini's La boheme with rotating barihunks as Marcello: Keith Phares and Michael Todd Simpson. Performances run from February 23 to March 10 and tickets are selling fast. You can reserve your seats online. We should also mention that the fabulous young tenor Michael Fabiano is alternating Rodolfo with Francesco Demuro.

Oh, and about those pictures. They are from a new photo shoot by the gifted photographer Matt Madison-Clark. By the way, if you're wondering about Garland's fitness regimen, it includes lots of bicycling and workouts at the gym. His colleague Michael Todd Simpson stays fit with a disciplined yoga regimen.

Marc Callahan in 1950s Elixir of Love; Britten up next

Marc Callahan and his admirers
Sexy American barihunk Marc Callahan just opened a six week run as Belcore in an English language version of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love at the Kings Head Theatre in London. Director Valentina Ceschi set the opera at a glamorous 1950s garden party at the height of Hollywood’s Golden Age, with a new English libretto by Verity Bargate Award-winner Thomas Eccleshare.

The opera has two casts, so check online for cast information and tickets. 

The former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist continued his studies in France and has excelled in French repertoire ranging from the French baroque's André Cardinal Destouches to Jacques Offenbach's whimsical operettas. In recent years, his career has been centered in the U.K.

After the English language Elixir, he takes on some true English opera as Sid in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring at Opera North. Performances will run from May 15-25.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Edwin Crossley-Mercer finally performing in United States

Edwin Crossley-Mercer's promo for his upcoming Ohio concert
We unabashedly have a few favorite singers at Barihunks and Edwin Crossley-Mercer is among our absolute favorites. Ever since a reader sent us an effusive email after hearing him in recital (along with a pirate sound clip!), we've been hooked. It doesn't hurt that he has that Anderson Cooper-ish sexiness about him AND an amazingly beautiful voice.

We're always bemoaning the fact that he rarely performs in the United States, but that's changing this year. On March 3, he'll be featured in the Art Song Festival in Berea, Ohio (just outside of Cleveland). His program includes songs by Beethoven, Schubert, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams, Fauré, Debussy, Bizet and Cosma. Tickets are just $30 and students are free. Call 440-826-7664 for more information.

From May 17-25 he'll join another wunderkind, conductor Gustavo Dudamel, in performances of the title character in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. You won't want want to miss these performances, which are part of a Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy that the orchestra is performing. The Countess will be the incredible Dorothea Röschmann and the Count will be fellow barihunk Christopher Maltmann. The production set is designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, with costumes by couturier Azzedine Alaïa. On alternating nights you can enjoy Don Giovanni with barihunks Mariusz Kwiecien and Ryan Kuster. Casts for Così fan tutte have not been announced.

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Crossley-Mercer is currently in France performing Thésée in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie in Bordeaux and Versailles. From March 22-30, he'll take on the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni with Opéra De Dijon. The Masetto will be the adorable Australian barihunk Damian Pass. Tickets are available online

Edwin Crossley-Mercer sings Beethoven's "Elegy on the Death of a Poodle":

Sexy Don Giovanni/Leporello combo at Kentucky Opera

Fitness Buff and Barihunk Donovan Singletary
Mozart's Don Giovanni is a key ingredient in the delectable dessert we call Barihunks. It has dominated our pages more than any other opera and for good reason. The story of a sexy, irresistible, sexual predator and his love starved sidekick just seems to invite the casting of some of the hottest singers in the business.

The Kentucky Opera has stuck to that noble tradition by casting AVA graduate Ben Wager as Don Giovanni and former Lindemann Young Artist Program favorite and Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals winner Donovan Singletary as Leporello. Singletary, an avid fitness buff, is living proof that you can take care of your body and your voice simultaneously. The Florida native has won numerous vocal competitions in addition to the Med Auditions, including the 2011 Vienna Prize by the George London Foundation, 2011 Vienna Prize by the George London Foundation Award, First Prize in the 2010 George London Foundation Competition and First Prize in the Heinz Rehfuss Singing Actors Competition.

Donovan Singletary sings "Deh!...ti ferma..ti placa" from Rosini's Semiramide:

Ben Wager was a 2009 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he sang Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Enrico in Anna Bolena and the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, In 2009, he joined the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he sang  Zuniga in Carmen, Angelotti in Tosca and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte. In 2011, he portrayed General Audebert in the world premiere of Kevin Putz' Silent Night at Minnesota Opera, which we covered extensively.

Ben Wager
The Kentucky Opera will have two performances of the Mozart classic on February 15 and 17. A couple of other young singers of note in the cast whose careers we've been watching are tenor Taylor Stayton as Don Ottavio and soprano Jan Cornelius as Donna Anna. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Photos from Erwin Schrott at 54 Below

Erwin Schrott at 54 Below Photo: Matt Madison-Clark
We covered Erwin Schrott's debut performance at New York City's nightclub 54 Below in a previous post, but now we have actual photos from the show. The evening of music from his award-winning CD "Rojotango" proved to be quite a hit, as there wasn't an empty seat in the house to see and hear the hunky Uruguayan barihunk. Schrott was accompanied by the Pablo Ziegler Quartet. 

Erwin Schrott and bass player Pedro Giraudo Photo: Matt Madison-Clark
54 Below, which has been hosting the best of Broadway, is now hosting the best from the world of Opera. It appears to have caught on and regular readers will recall that barihunks Ildar Abradzakov and Dmitry Hvorostovsky showed up along with Schrott for tenor Charles Castronovo's show.  Next up from the world of opera is soprano Patricia Racette, who performs for five nights opening on March 26th. Tickets are available online

Schrott can be seen tonight and Saturday at the Metropolitan Opera where is he is singing Dulcamara opposite the Belcore of fellow barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore. Schrott's real life wife, Anna Netrebko, is Adina. Tickets are still available.

If you can't make the concerts, Racette and Castronovo, both have CD's available at GPR Records that include much of the music from their shows. Also, available is the new CD "American Portraits" from the gifted BARIHUNK tee shirt model Andrew Garland (look to your right). Keep your fingers crossed and maybe he'll be the next opera singer booked in to the club.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nmon Ford about to get his head served on a platter

Nmon Ford
It looks like Nmon Ford will be able to show off his amazing body next month when he debuts the role of Jochanaan (John the Baptist) in Richard Strauss’ Salome at the Opéra National de Bordeaux.
The new production by Dominic Pitoiset will be the first fully opera staged in the Palais des Sports (Auditorium de Bordeaux). The opera was impossible to present in the Grand Théâtre because of the size of the orchestra pit. 

This production reunites Nmon with the celebrated French soprano Mireille Delunsch, who is singing Salome for the first time, and with whom he performed in Hamburg Opera’s new production of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride. This will also be Ford's debut with the company.  

“Jochanaan is one of those roles that can surely be counted among the ‘Dream List’ of characters for a baritone,” explained Nmon during a recent interview.  “First of all, it’s beautifully written.  So many dramatic baritone roles don’t offer solid opportunities to show the beauty and colors of a voice, but Jochanaan isn’t like that.  The vocal writing is powerful yet lovely, and it allows the voice to demonstrate fully those two qualities as well.  Second, Strauss’ sense of dramatic timing is as well developed as Puccini’s, or Verdi’s, or Mozart’s.  Not a single note is wasted, and Jochanaan gets one of the best stage entrances in opera, on par with Scarpia’s or Dutchman’s.  Seriously, what more could one want?”

Performances are March 21, 24, 27 and 29 and tickets are available online.

Ryan McKinny
If France is too far to travel, barihunk Ryan McKinny will be reprising his sexy Jochanaan at West Palm Beach Opera on March 15, 16 and 17 with Erika Sunnegardh as Salome and the riveting Denyce Graves-Montgomery as Herodias. Tickets are available online.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Reader Submission: Snowboarding Barihunk Christiaan Smith Kotlarek

Christiaan Smith Kotlarek
Our latest Reader Submission is the second one by a very fortunate soprano, who seems to get cast opposite some of the hottest men in opera. She was as surprised as us that no one had ever submitted Christiaan Smith Kotlarek.

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek studied at the Boston University Opera Institute where he was a Phyllis Curtin Artist. His professional credits include roles with the Madison Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera, where he was also an apprentice artist. In 2007, Christiaan toured the Marche region of Italy singing the role of Marco in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.

Christiaan Smith Kotlarek
On January 31st he performed in Opera Louisiane's “The Best of Opera and Broadway” hosted by Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne at the Old State Capitol. In October, he was Christiano in Madison Opera's production of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera which included fellow barihunk Thomas Forde as Count Ribbing. He is currently at the Music Academy of the West where he is covering the role of Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute. 

Christiann Smith Kotlarek sings "That Moment On" from the song cycle  
Pieces of 9/11 by Jake Heggie:

While at Boston University, he met composer Jake Heggie, who invited him to sing his song cycle Pieces of 9/11. The composer must have been impressed, as he'll be singing the barihunk role of Joseph DeRocher in Dead Man Walking with the Modern American Music Project in Asheville, North Carolina on April 26 and 27.

His great body is the result of his penchant for snowboarding and extreme sports in his spare time. In fact, he has been a snowboard instructor for about a decade at Norway Mountain in Michigan.

You can read an extensive interview with him on the Madison Opera blog. He also has a blog called OutsideTheOperaBox where he discusses music and fitness.

Luca Pisaroni in International Tour of Handel's Radamisto

Pisaroni as Radamisto in Santa Fe (Photo by Ken Howard)
The tour of Handel's Radamisto starring barihunk Luca Pisaroni, Patricia Bardon, Elizabeth Watts and countertenor heartthrob David Daniels under the baton of Harry Bicket is kicking off this week. It opens on February 6th at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, then heads to Birmingham, England on February 8th, London's Barbican on February 10th and then jumps across the Pond to Ann Arbor, Michigan on February 17th and New York's Carnegie Hall on February 24th.

Barihunk Ryan McKinny sings Tiridate's aria "On the wings of my ambition":

Pisaroni will reprise the role of the antagonist Tiridate, which he sang to rave reviews at the Santa Fe Opera in 2008. Radamisto was the first of Handel's operas written for the Royal Academy of Music. It combines sex and politics in a subtle musical portrayal of human relations that ultimately champions the power of personal and marital loyalty.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Orozco Hailed in Piazolla's "Maria de Buenos Aires"

Luis Alejandro Orozco
One more reason that we love our Reader Submissions is that we end up following careers as they breakthrough with major successes. The latest example is the hunky Luis Alejandro Orozco who thrived in a production of Astor Piazolla's "Maria de Buenos Aires" by the gifted young director John De Los Santos.

The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote:
In the part of the Payador, Maria’s lover and would-be savior, Luis Alejandro Orozco wields his strong, plangent baritone voice with tender artistry and also cuts a figure of rare physical beauty. His interaction with the utility players, effectively undertaken by Andrew McKinnon, Alexis Slocum and Josh Stone, fairly bristle with dramatic truth.

Read more here:
You can read the entire review online

There are performance remaining today and tomorrow and tickets are available online. Orozco will next perform the role at the Florida Grand Opera on Thursday March 21th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th. He can next be seen as Le Podestat in Bizet's rarely performed opérette Le Docteur Miracle at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music on February 15th - 17th. He will also cover the role of Young Emile in the new Terence Blanchard opera featuring fellowing barihunk Aubrey Allicock, which we've posted previously.

You can hear audio samples of Luis Alejandro Orozco on his website.  

Director John De Los Santos will be joining forces with yet another barihunk when he directs the West Coast premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's "Green Sneakers." If you're anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area, you want want to miss this "one night only" performance featuring Jesse Blumberg in Gordon's masterful mini-opera. Tickets are available online at the Fort Mason box office.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Daniel Okulitch gets villainous in Edmonton

Daniel Okulitch famous naked in "The Fly" and in Tales of Hoffmann
Canadian barihunk Daniel Okulitch has remained one of our most popular singers since we first posted him in . He's opening tonight as all four villains in Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann." Performances are running through February 7th and tickets are available online.

Samuel Ramey sings "Scintille, diamanti" from The Tales of Hoffmann:

Okulitch, who has made a name for himself as a great exponent of Mozart, will take on both baritone roles in Le nozze di Figaro after wrapping up in Edmonton. He heads to the Arizona Opera in April for three performances of the Figaro and three more at the Komische Oper in Berlin, before switching to the Count in the same opera at the Santa Fe Opera in June.

Benjamin Covey
Another emerging Canadian barihunk will be in the cast of The Tales of Hoffmann. Benjamin Covey, who received his master’s in opera at University of Toronto and honed his skills San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Program, returns to being a student (at least on stage) playing Hermann. Covey can next be seen at the Toronto Masque Theatre in "The Lessons of Love," an operatic double bill of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis and the premiere of Alice Ping Yee Ho's The Lesson of Da Ji.

Reader Submission: Jason Forbach

Jason Forbach
We've said it so many times, but it bears repeating: We love our reader submissions of new talent. We still seem to remind people that this site is dedicated to baritones, bass-baritones and basses. In January, we received four tenor submissions, four countertenor submissions, two directors and a mezzo soprano!

Our latest submissions come from the United States where a reader saw Jason Forbach on stage.

Jason Forbach is a former Metropolitan Opera National Council regional semifinalist, who has been perfoming the role of Enjorlas in the national tour of the 25th Anniversary production of "Les Miserables." Previously he appeared in a Las Vegas production of "The Phantom of the Opera."

Jason Forbach sings Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere":

Forbach was classically trained in opera as a lyric baritone and performed at The New York Festival of Song tribute to Hal Prince at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. He has also performed with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Abilene Philharmonic and Boston Lyric Opera. He holds a bachelor's degree in vocal performance from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston.

Jason Forbach
Forbach was also an apprentice artist with the Central City Opera and studied with John Moriarty.  He was named the Spencer Penrose Artist for 2003.

He recently self-produced his first solo album, "A New Leading Man" and a collection featuring his songwriting debut, "Remembering To Dream."