Monday, March 31, 2014

Xavier Edgardo's singing Mozarts' Requiem and Così fan tutte

Xavier Edgardo
Xavier Edgardo, one of the most exciting and gifted young singers to emerge onto the scene in recent years will be performing Mozart's Requiem with the Orquestra Sinfònica de Puerto Rico on April 16th. He'll be joined by mezzo soprano Patricia Cay, soprano Zulimar Lopez and tenor José Daniel Mojica. You can contact the Luis Ferrè Performing Arts Center at 787-620-4444 for tickets and additional information.

Mozart’s Requiem was unfinished at the time of his death and most of the completed portions are attributed to his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr. There was much confusion about the completion of the work when Mozart died. This was due to Mozart's wife Constanze having to hide certain details in order to guarantee payment for the work. 

Fellow Puerto Rican Justino Diaz sings Guglielmo's aria "

Xavier Edgardo will be sticking with Mozart, as he takes on Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte on April 26 & 27 at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. We've heard him sing Guglielmo's aria "

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. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ao Li and Patrick Guetti big winners at Met Finals

The winners of the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, from left, the tenor Yi Li; the soprano Julie Adams; the bass Patrick Guetti; the soprano Amanda Woodbury; and the bass-baritone Ao Li. And Patrick Guetti again.
Baritones and basses took two of the five top prizes at The Metropolitan Opera finals, as Ao Li and Patrick Guetti were the day's big winners, along with soprano Julie Adams, soprano Amanda Woodbury and tenor Yi Li.

More than 1,500 singers participated in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 40 districts and 13 regions throughout the United States and Canada. 

Each singer performed two arias each with the Met Opera Orchestra conducted by Marco Armiliato. Guetti sang "Il lacerato spirito" from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra and "La colunnia" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Ao Li sang the cavatina from Rachmaninoff's Aleko and Mozart's Catalogue Aria from Don Giovanni.

The panel of seven judges chose five winners, who were announced from the stage by tenor Lawrence Brownlee. While the judges soprano Susanna Phillips, the afternoon’s guest artist,  performed “Dove Sono” from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

The other winners are soprano Amanda Woodbury, soprano Julie Adamsand tenor Yi Li. Each winner receives a $15,000 award.

The other finalists were countertenor Christopher Lowrey, tenor Rexford Tester, and tenor Rafael Moras.

Don't forget to join our campaign to send barihunk Xavier Edgardo to the Opera on the Avalon young artist program. Even a $5 or $20 contribution will go a long way in supporting this talented young artist. Click HERE to give today.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Reader Submission: Jared Bybee

Jared Bybee
Our latest readers submission is Jared Bybee, who was suggested by two of our readers. Bybee is a first-year Resident Artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. This season he has performed Germont in AVA's La traviata and Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte, both with fellow barihunks André Courville and Michael Adams, as well as Prince Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame also with Michael Adams.

Bybee, who hails from Modesto, California was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions District Winner in Salt Lake City in 2013. He was also an Apprentice Artist at the Santa Fe Opera last summer.

Don't forget to join our campaign to send barihunk Xavier Edgardo to the Opera on the Avalon young artist program. Even a $5 or $20 contribution will go a long way in supporting this talented young artist. Click HERE to give today.  

Met Grand Finals on Sunday; Radio performance Monday

Patrick Guetti
The Metropolitan Opera Grand Finals Concert will take place in New York City on March 30th with the nine finalists. The finalists were chosen from 1,500 singers who auditioned in 40 districts and 13 regions in the United States and Canada.

Finalists include bass-barihunk Patrick Guetti, 27, bass (Middle Atlantic Region: Highland Park, NJ); Julie Adams, 26, soprano (Western Region: Burbank, CA); Nicole Haslett, 26, soprano (Northwest Region: Mt. Laurel, NJ); Ao Li, 26, bass-baritone (Rocky Mountain Region: Dezhou, China, currently living in San Francisco, CA); Yi Li, 30, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region: Jinan, China, currently living in Silver Spring, MD); Christopher Lowrey, 30, countertenor (New England Region: Johnston, RI); Rafael Moras, 27, tenor (Gulf Coast Region: San Antonio, TX); Rexford Tester, 24, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region: Tazewell, VA); Amanda Woodbury, 26, soprano (Western Region: Crestwood, KY).

Each finalist will be competing for an individual cash prize of $15,000 each at the Grand Finals Concert. Even more important than the prize money is the contestants' opportunity to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on the historic opera house stage before an audience that will include opera company executives, artist managers, music critics, and other opinion-makers of the music world.

You can hear Guetti and the other eight singers this Tuesday, April 1 at 7 PM EST on WQXR. Their event appearance marks their first New York performance following the grand finals concert.

Don't forget to join our campaign to send barihunk Xavier Edgardo to the Opera on the Avalon young artist program. Even a $5 or $20 contribution will go a long way in supporting this talented young artist. Click HERE to give today. 

Andrew Garland in Pagliacci/Carmina Burana and World Premiere

Andrew Garland
We've been huge fans of American barihunk Andrew Garland since the beginning of his career. We realized the true extent of his amazing artistry with the release of his CD American Portraits on GPR Records. Garland keeps his incredible body in shape by running and biking (and apparently some weight lifting, as well).

He opened last night at the Hawaii Opera in a double-bill of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Orff's Carmina Burana. Garland is performing both Silvio in Pagliacci and the baritone solo in Carmina Burana. He's joined by the talented young soprano Elizabeth Caballero, who is singing Nedda. There are two performances remaining, a matinee on March 30 and an evening performance on April 1st. Tickets are available online. If the video of Garland singing Estuans Interius from Carmina Burana is any indication, it should be an incredible performance.

If you can't get away to the island paradise to catch Garland, you can hear him on April 13th in Easton, Pennsylvania where he will be the soloist in the world premiere of composer Gabriela Lena Frank's Songs of Cifar and the Sweet Sea composed for the Lafayette Choirs and featuring the Chiara String Quartet.

She wrote the music to texts by the Nicaraguan poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra (1912-2002). As a young man, Cuadra spent more than two decades sailing the waters of Lake Nicaragua, meeting peasants, fishermen, sailors, woodcutters, and timber merchants in his travels. From such encounters, he was inspired to construct a cycle of poems that recount the odyssey of a harp-playing mariner, Cifar, who likewise travels the waters of Lake Nicaragua.

The concert is free to the public and it's only a 90 minute drive from New York City or Philadelphia. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sexy pictures of barihunk Christopher Burchett in "Buried Alive"

Christopher Burchett (prone) with Jennifer Feinstein, Jonathan Blalock and Caroline Worra
One of our few regrets in putting together the Barihunks calendar is that we occasionally run out of room to include each and every singer. Such was the case with barihunk Christopher Burchett, but fortunately we have a bunch of pictures from his appearance in composer Jeff Myers and librettist Quincy Long's Buried Alive, which opens today and will be performed again on March 30th at the Fargo Moorhead Opera.

Christopher Burchett in Buried Alive
Buried Alive was written specifically for Burchett, and he has been with the project since the first workshops with the American Lyric Theater in 2010. The opera is part of a partnership between the Fargo Moorhead Opera and American Lyric Theater for the Poe Project Double Bill, which will be the first operatic world premieres in Fargo.

American Lyric Theater asked composer/librettist teams to create contemporary opera thrillers inspired by the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe. The operas are not simply adaptations of Poe stories. The composer/librettist teams were asked, “What might Poe write if he were alive today?”

Christopher Burchett in Buried Alive
Buried Alive draws on themes of anxiety and mortality from Poe’s story “The Premature Burial,” as a painter’s nightmares of death start to become real. The opera is directed by Lawrence Edelson, the producing artistic director of the American Lyric Theater.

The second opera is composer Patrick Soluri and librettist Deborah Brevoort's Embedded. The opera is wittily inspired by Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” as a TV news anchor finds herself on the other side of the headlines. The opera is directed by Sam Helfrich, whose recent work includes productions for Glimmerglass Festival, Virginia Opera, and the Spoleto Festival/USA

Christopher Burchett in Buried Alive
In addition to Burchett, the operas feature a cast of five more of the country’s leading singers, who take on different roles in each opera: soprano Caroline Worra, soprano Sara Gartland, mezzo soprano Jennifer Feinstein, tenor Jonathan Blalock and bass Nathan Stark.

For tickets or additional information, visit the Fargo Moorhead Opera website.

Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes to star in "The King and I"

Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes in "The King & I"
Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes are joining forces in another musical after their critically acclaimed tour in South Pacific. The duo will appera in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I in an Australian tour that will take them to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The show opens in Brisbane on April 13th and you can follow the show on Twitter @kingandiau. Click HERE for tickets or additional information.

You can read an interview with Teddy Tahu Rhodes in The Weekend Australian Magazine by clicking HERE

John Brancy featured in Opera News

John Brancy (Photo by Dario Acosta)
(OPERA NEWS) John Brancy is making his debut at Oper Frankfurt this month, singing Sonora in Christof Loy's staging of La Fanciulla del West. It's been a busy season for the baritone from Mullica Hill, New Jersey, who first attracted attention with his clean, bright, unaffected singing when he was an undergraduate at Juilliard. Brancy began 2014 in Gotham Chamber Opera's January production of Charpentier's Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers, then spent February in British Columbia, as Harlequin in Pacific Opera Victoria's Ariadne auf Naxos. Much of March was devoted to recitals, first in a Carnegie Hall "Discovery Day" all-Schubert program with Graham Johnson, then on a three-venue tour with pianist Mario Antonio Marra that took the team from Santa Barbara, California, to Manhattan's National Opera Center. The recital tour was presented by Marilyn Horne and the Music Academy of the West, where Brancy and Marra were the 2013 winners of the Marilyn Horne Song Competition.

[Read the entire profile at Opera News]

Brancy can next be seen in Tobias Pickers' The Fantasitic Mr. Fox at Opera San Antonio in September opposite soprano Elizabeth Futral. He'll also be making his debut at the Kennedy Center with DC VocalArts in December.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Backstage photo from "No Tenors Allowed" featuring "Three Barihunks"

Gordon Bintner, Elliot Madore, Bill Eddins (Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Music Director), Philippe Sly
Regular readers may remember our post about the three Canadian barihunks performing the "No Tenors Allowed" concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The trio joined conductor Bill Eddins for a program of from music from Bizet's Carmen, Verdi's Macbeth, Rossini's Barber of Seville, and Wagner's Tannhäuser.

We were fortunate enough to get a backstage photo of the group after Monday night's concert, which from all accounts, was a huge success. 

Philippe Sly can next be heard on April 2nd with soprano Hélène Guilmette performing excerpts from the Fauré Requiem, Handel's Messiah and Haydn's Creation with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec under the baton of Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Tickets are available online.

Elliot Madore returns to Pennsylvania where he will again be part of a barihunk trio in Mozart's Don Giovanni with Opera Philadelphia. He'll take on the title role, as Wes Mason sings Masetto and Nicholas Masters sings the Commendatore. Performance run from April 25-May 4. Tickets are available online.

Interview with Michael Nagy

Michael Nagy (photo: Sven Cichowicz)
We've featured Michael Nagy on this site since our second year running (2008) and have enjoyed watching his amazing development as an artist. Operafocus just ran an interview with the German barihunk that you can read HERE. '

Michael Nagy is currently performing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at Den Norske Opera. He has additional performances running from March 29 through April 12. Tickets are available online.

He next heads to Munich to perform Stozius in Zimmermann's Die Soldaten at the Bayerische Staatsoper from May 25-June 6. He then performs in and AIDS fundraiser and gala concert in Bonn, Germany on June 15th featuring soprano Roberta Invernizzi, mezzo Nino Surguladze, tenor Massimiliano Pisapia, baritone Massimo Cavalletti and others.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mariusz Kwiecien returning to Met

Mariusz Kwiecien (Photo: Mikolaj Mikolajczyk)
 On April 17th, Mariusz Kwiecien will return to the Metropolitan Opera in Sandro Sequi’s 1976 production of Bellini's I Puritani. He'll be joined by the sensational tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Arturo, as well as the husband and wife team of soprano Olga Peretyatko and conductor Michele Mariotti.

Mariusz Kwiecien has sung Riccardo with Paris Opera and the Vienna State Opera. Earlier this season, he starred in the title role of the Met’s season-opening new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. A graduate of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he has sung more than 150 Met performances including five roles in new production premieres: Belcore in last season’s L’Elisir d’Amore, the title character in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 2011, Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen in 2009, Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in 2007, and Dr. Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale in 2006.

Kwiecien made his Met debut as Kuligin in a 1999 revival of Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová and has also starred at the Met in a variety of other roles, most frequently Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème, Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

Mariusz Kwiecien as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with Katherine Rohrer in Denver
The April 17 opening performance of I Puritani will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 74, as will the performances on April 29 and May 3. The April 17 and 29 performances will also be streamed live on the Met’s website.

The May 3 matinee performance will be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.

After his Met run, Kwiecien returns to his native Poland to perform Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Krakowska from June 6-10. He returns to the U.S. from September 27-October 29 as the title character in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Introducing bass-barihunk Michael Scarcelle

Michael Scarcelle headshot and in Hydrogen Jukebox (right)
In our recent post about Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox at the Skylight Music Theater in Milwaukee, we gave passing mention to bass-barihunk Michael Scarcelle in a post that focused on Dan Kempson, who role is particularly central to the drama. However, Scarcelle clearly needs to be added to the roster of barihunks and we wanted to wait until his birthday (which is March 24) to introduce him to readers.

Scarcelle  holds a Master of Music degree from Yale University and a Bachelor of Music degree from Hunter College. He also studied at the Catholic University of America and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy focusing on dancing and acting. He has distinguished himself in both musical theater and opera, as well as in recitals and concerts.

In 2007, he made his European debut as Crespel in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann and the Marchese in Verdi's La traviata at the Lyrique-en-mer Festival in Belle-Île.

In 2011, he made his debut with Munich Philharmonic performing Herrmann Augustus in Leaonard Bernstein's Candide, a role he's also performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich. Last April, he appeared as the Pirate King in the Pirates of Penzance with the Anchorage Opera.

Performances of Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox continue at the Skylight Music Theater through March 30th and tickets are available online.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Edwin Crossley-Mercer and Marc Mauillon in fun-filled Platée in Paris; New York City up next

Edwin Crossley-Mercer (left) and Marc Mauillon
Director Robert Carsen and conductor William Christie have moved their co-production of Rameau's Platée from the Theater an der Wien to the Opéra Comique. The innovate and lively production is set in the world of fashion-driven high society. Jupiter, played by barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer is fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who parades around with his  fluffy, white cat. La Folie, sung by the amazing Simone Kermes,  morphs from Lady Gaga into a series of entertainingly unique incarnations. Marc Mauillon, who somehow had been overlooked by our European barihunk "scouts" until now, plays Cithéron.

Performances run through March 30 and tickets are available online. The production then will move to New York City for a single performance at the Alice Tully Hall on April 2. TIckets are still available, but are extremely limited. It is suggested that you call 212.721.6500 for tickets. 

Barihunk Nathan Wyatt to premiere Nico Muhly piece

Nathan Wyatt
Barihunk Nathan Wyatt will premiere Nico Muhly's Pleasure Ground tonight as part of the  MusicNOW Festival with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Pleasure Ground depicts the life of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Tickets are available online.

According to the composer:
"The title Pleasure Ground is a musical joke, a ground being a  recurring bass line that gives structure and melodic content at the same time. I use several grounds in this piece, but the third movement is particularly devoted to one cycle of 13 chords. At first, the ground is hidden inside a chorale-like texture of strings, over which violent brass and percussion snarl and fight. As the baritone sings about nature having overrun his designs, some small ensembles of instruments echo the voice: a bass trombone, sometimes, and others, a little gamelan of harp, bells and winds.
On the text “I have done a great deal of work in my life...” we first hear the ground bass in its proper position: at the bottom of the orchestra. It goes through two cycles, and suddenly transforms into the material from the very opening of the first movement, but here transformed from youthful optimism into something melancholic and halting. The piece ends with a delicate, drone-like texture under the words, “If man is not to live by bread alone, what is better worth doing well than the planting of trees?” This text slowly unfurls over a chordal drone, illuminated from within by slowly shifting woodwinds and from without by celeste, glockenspiel and harp. The idea here is an ideal garden: designed but not fussed-with, communal, and fragilely eternal."

Damian Pass & Pietro De Bianco in Don Giovanni

Pietro Di Bianco as Leporello

Damian Pass as Masetto

We recently introduced Italian barihunk Pietro Di Bianco to readers and mentioned that he's performing Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Atelier Lyrique with fellow barihunk Damian Pass, who is singing Masetto. Performances run from March 22-29, but we just received photos from the dress rehearsals, which we wanted to share. Additional information is available online.

Di Bianco will reprise the role of Leporello on July 5 and 7 at the Anthéa Antipolis Théâtre d'Antibes. Pass will be is singing Masetto in Don Giovanni at the Opera of Toulon from May 20-27.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thomas Hampson's Online Master Classes

If you haven't checked out Thomas Hampson's Distance Learning Master Classes from the Manahattan School of Music they are worth watching. These classes are closed to the public and only be accessible online. The 2014 master class is being broadcast at 4 PM EST/1 PM PST today at

One baritone was featured last year, Kurt Kanazawa singing Bernstein's "Lonely Town" from On the Town. You can watch the entire 2013 master class here:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wes Mason as leather-clad Achilla at Opera Roanoke

Wes Mason as Achilla with Pompeo's head
Virginia native Wes Mason is returning to his home state to perform the scheming Egyptian general Achilla in Handel's Giulio Cesare with Opera Roanoke. We heard that he was clad in a sexy leather outfit, so we asked for some pictures from the dress rehearsals, which we're thrilled to share with our readers.

The cast also includes Teresa Buccholz as Giulio Cesare, Amy Cofield Williamson as Cleopatra, Eric Brenner as Tolomeo, Toby Newman as Sesto and Carla Dirlikov as Cornelia.

Performances are on March 21 and 23 at the Jefferson Center's Shaftman Performance Hall in Roanoke. Tickets are available by calling (540) 345-2550.

You can also watch an interview with Wes Mason from WDBJ-TV Channel 7 where he discussed the opera and the role of Achilla.

In addition to Achilla, Wes Mason's current season is filled with role debuts this year, including Escamillo in La tragédie de Carmen with Syracuse Opera, Zurga in Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles with both Baltimore Concert Opera and Delaware Opera, Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni with Opera Philadelphia, and both Curly in Oklahoma! and the Bishop in Les Misérables with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre.

Reader Submission: Seán Kroll

Sean Kroll
Our latest reader submission is bass-barihunk Seán Kroll, who recently toured China with the South Shore Orchestra and wrapped up a run as Achilla in Handel’s Cesare in Egitto with Dramma Per Musica in New York City.

Kroll is an alumnus of the Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Santa Barbara and Saint Petersburg Opera artist development programs. He received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University and trained at the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy. He performed Poulenc’s rarity Le Bestiaire with the Chicago Opera Theater.

Last Spring he made his New York City debut as Placido Quesara/Escamillo in the off-Broadway performances of Roboff & Newman’s Carmen’s Place: A Fantasy.

Kroll has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. His roles have included Don Giovanni, Escamillo and Zuniga in Carmen,  Colline and Marcello in La bohème, Papageno ,  Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Dulcamara, Ewald in Lehár’s Springtime, Melchior  in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors and Sam in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti.

He can next be seen in Rameau's Pygmalion at Madame Tussaud's in New York from June 17-21 with On Site Opera.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ricardo Crampton performing Count in Le Nozze di Figaro

Ricardo Crampton and the Teatro Carlo Felice
In January, we introduced readers to 30-year-old Argentinian barihunk Ricardo Crampton. He's currently performing the Count in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Teatro Carlo Felice, which live streamed a performance of the opera on March 14th. Fortunately, we have audio of his performance of "Hai già vinta la causa"

Ricardo Crampton sings "Hai già vinta la causa":  

There is a performance today with an alternate cast, but Crampton has one remaining performance on March 18th. He'll be returning to his native Argentina to perform Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at the Buenos Aires Lirica from October 17-25.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Barihunks in opera based on legendary football coach

Anlami Shaw and Gary Ramsey
We've seen all types of topics covered in this age of POPera and "CNN opera," from serious subjects like John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer to the somewhat outrageous like Mark- Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole and Richard Thomas' Jerry Springer: The Opera. Now we have an opera based on NFL coach Bum Phillips, who just died last year at the age of ninety.

Bum Phillips All-American Opera opens today at La MaMa in the New York City's East Village and runs through March 30. Tickets are available online. It then travels to Austin for performances at the Texas State History Museum.

Much like Anna Nicole, it mixes tragedy and comedy as it tells the story of the legendary coach with an oversized personality who led the now defunct Houston Oilers to a 55-35 record in the late 1970s, but never progressing beyond the AFC title game. Like Yogi Berra in baseball he was known for always delivering a memorable quote to the press, such as "There's two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired."

The opera will star barihunk Gary Ramsey as Bum Phillips. Ramsey performs regularly with the DiCapo Opera in New York where he has performed in Hansel und Gretel, God Bless Us Everyone, Marriage of Figaro, Mr. Fantastic Fox, Turandot, La Centerentola and Carmen.

But what really caught our eye in a production that billed itself as not being the usual opera fare, was the aspiring baritone Anlami Shaw as running back Earl Campbell. A former pro track athlete who has done some modeling, he's been trying to develop a career in music. He's performed some musical theater, as well as appearing in the ensemble of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

We'd like to encourage him to continue his studies, as we'd love to see lots more of him in the future.

Four baritones/basses advance to Met Semi-Finals

Patrick Guetti and Scott Russell
One-fifth of the singers advancing from the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions to the Met Semi-Finals will be baritones or basses. They include Patrick Guetti, Scott Russell, Alex DeSocio and Ao Li. A panel of judges will hold closed auditions on March 20 to determine who will advance to the final round of the competition at the Met Grand Finals Concert under the baton of conductor Marco Armiliato on Sunday, March 30 at 3 p.m. At the end of the concert, winners will be announced, each of whom will receive an individual cash prize of $15,000.

Alex DeSocio and Ao Li
On Tuesday, April 1 at 7 p.m., the winners will perform a concert of varied operatic repertory at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR 105.9, New York City’s all-classical station. They will be joined by a Met star and former National Council winner, soprano Deborah Voigt. The event will be broadcast live on WQXR and there will be a live video webcast on both and

The regional winners were chosen from nearly 1500 singers who participated in the auditions held in 40 districts and 13 regions throughout the United States and Canada, sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and administered by National Council members and hundreds of volunteers from across the country.

You can check out our January post to read about the baritones and basses who entered the competition this year.


Brett Carter in Rape of Lucretia (left) and L'heure espagnole (right)
Our latest Reader Submission is Australian Barihunk Brett Carter who is currently starring as Mercurio in Cavalli's Calisto at the Hessischen Staatstheaters in Wiesbaden.

He studied Classical Guitar and Voice at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. He then became a member of the Australian Opera Studio where his roles included Mozart’s Conte Almaviva, Don Giovanni and Britten’s Tarquinius in Rape of Lucretia. After receiving a Scholarship to participate in the Cincinnati Music Festival in Lucca, Italy, he then went on to become a Young Artist with Opera Queensland. During this time he received first prize in the German Australian Opera Grant and since 2007 is a member of the Hessischen Staatstheater in Wiesbaden.

Brett Carter sings L'heure espagnole:

His roles with the company include Papageno, Guglielmo, Masetto, Rossini’s Figaro, Malatesta, Puccini’s Schaunard and Ping, Falke, Harlekin, Kurt Weill’s Bill (The Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny), Monteverdi’s Ulisse (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria) and Ravel’s Ramiro (L’Heure Espagnole). In 2008 he made his debut with Staatsoper Stuttgart as Allazim in Mozart’s Zaïde and in 2010 in a new production of Pizzetti’s Murder in the Cathedral with Oper Frankfurt.

In Summer 2012 Brett made his debut with Victorian Opera in a new production of Le nozze di Figaro as Conte Almaviva. Further highlights for the 2013/14 season include Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, Leander in Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, and Mercurio  in the aforementioned Calisto at the Staatstheater in Wiesbaden. There are additional performances of Calisto on March 17 and 30 and April 4. Tickets are available online.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Craig Verm to sing "CIVIL warS" at Minimalist Jukebox

Craig Verm
Barihunk Craig Verm will be appearing in Philip Glass' CIVIL warS at the Minimalist Jukebox series in Los Angeles, which was inspired by Matthew Brady's Civil War photographs and commissioned for the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Arts Festival.

Glass was one of six different composers from six different countries who compose dsections of director Robert Wilson's text. Verm will be performing the "Rome Section" of the piece, which is an operatic multi-part cantata that ruminates on war and the disruption of the moral order through such characters as the Lincolns, Garibaldi, Robert E. Lee, Hercules, and others. He'll be joined Jessica Rivera, Sasha Cooke, Andrew Staples and Steve Pence.

Glass’ the CIVIL warS will be performed at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 17th and April 19th. Tickets are available online for the entire Minimalist Jukebox series, which also includes eight Kraftwerk 3-D concerts, Minimalist Dreamhouse with pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque, oraganist Cameron Carpenter playing music by Michael Gordon, Terry Riley and John Adams, as well a number of other minimalist gems. The entire series runs from March 16-May 4.

Dan Kempson in Milwaukee's Hydrogen Jukebox

Dan Kempson in Hydrogen Jukebox
On Friday March 14th, the Skylight Music Theater in Milwaukee will present Hydrogen Jukebox, Philip Glass' opera set to the poetry of counter-culture poet Allen Ginsberg. The text deals with a variety of topics from the 1950's through the 1980's ranging from the sexual revolution, eastern philosophy, drugs, the environment, the threat of nuclear destruction, Iran-Contra scandal and meditation. The six vocal parts were thought to represent six archetypal American characters- a waitress, a policeman, a businessman, a cheerleader, a priest, and a mechanic.

Unlike other Glass operas that deal with social issues, Hydrogen Jukebox is sung in English. In other operas, he has used languages unfamiliar to most opera-goers, including Sanskrit for Satyagraha, ancient Egyptian for Akhnaten, Latin for the CIVIL warS, or just numbers and syllables in Einstein on the Beach.

Hydrogen Jukebox at Skylight Music Theater
The baritone lead in this production will be sung by barihunk Dan Kempson and directed by the brilliant Ted Huffman. As was the case when he performed it at the Fort Worth Opera Festival in 2011, he'll be showing off some skin, as you can see from the pictures.

According to Allen Ginsburg, "The title Hydrogen Jukebox comes from a verse in the poem Howl: "...listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox..." It signifies a state of hypertrophic high-tech, a psychological state in which people are at the limit of their sensory input with civilization's military jukebox, a loud industrial roar, or a music that begins to shake the bones and penetrate the nervous system as a hydrogen bomb may do someday, reminder of apocalypse."

Skylight Music Theater will perform the piece eleven times between March 14-30 and tickets are available online. The remainder of the cast includes Erica Schuller, Kristen DiNinno, Michael Scarcelle, Megan Williams and Ben Robinson.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lucky Vixen chased by shirtless Lauri Vasar

Lauri Vasar in Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen (Photo: Monika Rittershaus)
Whenever we post about Estonian barihunk Lauri Vasar he seems to be either shirtless or pantless. We've featured him as Billy Budd without his shirt and in Il Prigioniero without his shirt or pants. Vasar who has been incredibly popular with our readers also made our coveted "Barihunks Best of 2013" list along with Christopher Burchett for "Best Underwear Shots," one of our favorite categories.

Lauri Vasar from previous Barihunks posts
Vasar is shirtless again and in an opera that is known for showing more fur than skin, Leoš Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen (Das schlaue Füchslein. Vasar is playing the role of the Forester at the Hamburg State Opera, a character which was based on Janáček himself. At the heart of the story is a sexy and evasive Vixen who is pursued by the Forester.  The character of the vixen was inspired by a younger woman who Janáček was somewhat obsessed with in real life. 

We won't tell you how the opera ends, but if a shirtless Lauri Vasar was chasing us around, it would definitely have a happy ending. 

The Cunning Little Vixen, which opened yesterday, runs through April 5th and tickets are available online

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Barihunk miners in Holland Park "La fanciulla del West"

Peter Brathwaite
Despite having 10 baritone or bass roles, Puccini's La fanciulla del West has made relatively few appearances on Barihunks. Perhaps it's because Puccini operas like La bohème are performed more often or maybe Marcellos tend to be hotter than Jack Rances.

Fortunately, the upcoming production of La fanciulla del West at Opera Holland Park this summer features two barihunk who have been featured on this site, Peter Brathwaite as Sid and Nick Garrett as Sonora. Opera Holland Park is a summer opera company which produces an annual season of opera performances staged under a temporary canopy in Holland Park, a public park in west central London. Performances will run from June 3-21.

Composed especially for the Metropolitan Opera in 1910, La fanciulla del West has echoes of Richard Strauss and Debussy, as well as original folk melodies. It has been variously described as the composer's magnum opus and, by the great conductor Arturo Toscanini, as a "great symphonic poem".

The story of a group of gold miners, watched over and cared for by Minnie, is often perceived as having a 'happy ending'. But the tale is so much more sophisticated than that and the climax of the opera is of the most profoundly bittersweet variety. The music, however, is gloriously through composed, with moments of sheer majesty and emotional impact.

Nick Garrett
Nick Garrett is an English bass-baritone. He was a member of the vocal ensemble, The Swingle Singers and the opera band Amici Forever. Garrett was born in London and taught himself to play the piano at age seven. He studied singing, composition, piano and conducting at Trinity College of Music, with further study in singing supported by a grant from the Wolfson Foundation. He then joined The Swingle Singers and toured with them internationally.

After leaving The Swingle Singers, he performed in some of the world's leading opera houses, including the Royal Opera House, the English National Opera, the Scottish Opera and the Opéra National de Paris. He has performed over forty major roles, including the Don Giovanni, Figaro, Colline and Scarpia.

Lucio Gallo sings "Minnie dalla mia casa son partito":

Peter Brathwaite is a former Nationale Reisopera Resident Artist and alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. He is the recipient of many prizes including a Peter Moores Foundation Major Award, the inaugural Samuel Coleridge Taylor Award, a Winston Churchill Fellowship (presented by Her Majesty The Queen), a 2010-2012 Independent Opera Fellowship and first prize in the Ted Moss and Bertha Taylor-Stach Lieder Competition.

Brathwaites's most recent engagements have included numerous world premieres. He made his Dutch mainstage debut last season at Amsterdam's Stadsschouwburg as Luis in Randal Corsen's KATIBU DI SHON, a role which he will reprise in the Netherlands and on tour to Curaçao. He began the 2013-14 season singing the role of Emanuel in the award-winning operatic adaptation of Marina Lewycka's novel Two Caravans, a portrayal which earned him critical acclaim.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reader Submission: Martijn Cornet

Martijn Cornet
Dutch barihunk Martijn Cornet will be performing the Count in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Aalto Theatre in Essen, Germany opening on March 16th. He was suggested by a reader after we ran our piece about the Dutch National Opera, where he has performed Patrocle in Gluck's Iphigenie en Aulide, Citheron in Rameau’s Platee and one of the Walvisvaarders in Legende by dutch composer Peter-Jan Wagemans.

Martijn Cornet sings "Tonight at Eight" from She Loves Me:

He joined the Aalto Theatre this season and just wrapped up a run as Johann in Massenet's Werther. In addition to additional performances of Werther around Christmas, he will be performing Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Baron Douphol in Verdi's La traviata.

Tickets for performances at the Aalto Theatre are available online.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Renamed Dutch National Opera features sexy ads, sexy singers

Dutch National Opera
We'd be lying if we didn't admit that the bare butt in the ad for the Dutch National Opera (formerly De Nederlandse Opera) caught our attention. Curiosity got the best of us and we checked to see if anyone equally sexy was in their upcoming 2014-15 season. 

We also noticed pretty quickly that if sex sells, they'll have very few empty seats in the house, as that every opera features fairly provocative photography. 

Doug Williams
We didn't have to dig too deep into their calendar, as their first complete opera of the season, Monteverdi's Orfeo, features barihunk Doug Williams as Caronte. Readers may recall that we just featured baroque music's sexiest performer in a production of Handel's Agrippina in Omaha. 

Jérôme Varnier
Next up is Jérôme Varnier as Siroco in Emmanuel Chabrier's L’étoile, which runs from October 4-16. The company then switches to Wagner's Lohengrin with Günther Groissböck as Heinrich der Vogler. They wrap up the 2014 portion of their season with native barihunk Thomas Oliemans as Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème.  

Thomas Oliemans
You can click HERE to view their entire season.

Simon Keenlyside: Opera Now coverboy

British barihunk Simon Keenlyside is like that bottle of fine wine that just keeps getting better with age. He has been seamlessly transitioning from a formidable Mozart singer into a world-class interpreter of the great Verdi roles. In fact his upcoming schedule, includes a run as Germont père in La traviata at Covent Garden in May and in Munich in July, as well as the title role in Macbeth, also in Munich.

He is the March cover boy for Opera Now magazine and he offers his usual intelligent and unfiltered thoughts on opera.  Perhaps the most eye-popping comments are about Richard Wagner:
Wagner, on the other hand, as much as Keenlyside admires him, paints with too broad a brushstroke. 'To my mind, the whole can never can be more than the sum of its parts.' the singer says. 'Wagner's stories are always about the bigger picture: right and wrong, punishment, reward. The Teutonic myths in Wagner tell the story of a great, deep, wonderful culture with which, ironically, I have a lifelong love affair. I just don't find his subjects very profound.'
He also provides a glimpse into his upcoming recording of American musicals from the 1940's and 1950's and Verdi's Macbeth. Of the latter, he says:
"Unfortunately, Macbeth is often played too loudly and sung too roughly. We know from Verdi's letters that in the first performance of Macbeth there was an interval of an hour-and-a-half, during which he rehearsed the singers because he was determined that they would sing piano and it the way he wanted. So he held the curtain until they got it right."
 The March issue of Opera Now is currently available on newsstands. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nicolas Courjal to appear in French rarity Herculaneum

Nicolas Courjal
French bass-barihunk Nicolas Courjal will appear in Félicien David's operatic rarity Herculaneum on Saturday, March 8th with the Brussels Philharmonic. Courjal will sing the roles of Nicanor and Satan, in a cast that includes Véronique Gens as Lilia, Karine Deshayes as Olympia and Edgaras Montvidas as Hélios. Tickets are available online.

Herculanum premiered at the Paris Opera on March 4, 1859 and is considered one of the last compositions written in the grand style of French opera often associated with Fromental Halévy and Giacomo Meyerbeer. Opera in France would change forever in 1861 when the Paris version of Tannhäuser at the Paris Opéra. France had also experienced a decade of some of Verdi's most popular operas, including Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata.

Nicolas Courjal sings Lothario's aria from Thomas' Mignon:

Located in the Roman antiquity, the opera shows the downfall of a regime and the demise of the city of Herculaneum as God's vengeance for the decadence of this time. Davids Herculanum was a spectacular success, a mixture of music, mass scenes, lavish decorations, revolutionary spirit and ballet. And it had a final scene that left the Parisian audience whooping with delight: The explosive eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, that famously buried Herculaneum.

Nicolas Courjal can next be heard as the King in Lalo's Le roi d'Ys the Opera de Marseilles from May 10-18.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Reader Submission: Saïd Pressley

Saïd Pressley
A reader spotted New Yorker Saïd Pressley as one of the semi-finalists in the 26th annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and remembered him as the very attractive winner of the Amato Opera Competition.
A recent graduate of the Juilliard School, bass-barihunk Saïd Pressley is a New York native and former member of the Boy’s Choir of Harlem.

He has appeared as Presto in Poulenc's Les mamelles des Tirésias, Simone/Maestro Spinelloccio in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Wu Tianshi in the American premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Kommilitonen with Juilliard Opera, Don Alfonso in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Sebastian in the world premiere recording of Lee Hoiby’s Tempest (Albany Records), Balthazar in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Sarastro in Mozar'ts Die Zauberflöte with Purchase Opera.

His concert work includes several recitals in both Paul Hall and Alice Tully Hall, as well as a master class with renowned American bass Samuel Ramey. Saïd has received the 1st Prize in the Tony and Sally Amato Opera competition (2010), 2nd Prize in the Harlem Opera Theater Competition (2013), and is a current semi-finalist in Dallas Opera Guild’s Annual Vocal Competition (2014). Tickets to the Dallas competition on March 14th are free and available online.