Sunday, February 1, 2015

Properly introducing Brian Mextorf; Competing in Met SE Regional Finals

Brian Mextorf
We briefly introduced Brian Mextorf back in September 2013, when he was workshopping composer Clint Borzoni's Antinuous and Hadrian with Operamission in New York City. He recently was named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (North Carolina District), so we thought this was a good time to properly reintroduce him to readers.

Mextrof hails from Williamsport, Pennsylvania and studied music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (B.M.) and the Westminster Choir College (M.M.). This season he'll be an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera for the 2014-15 season. In 2012, he was a member of the Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis where he performed three roles in the North American premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland.

A favorite of Operamission, in addition to Borzoni's work, he has appeared as Lesbo in their production of Handel’s Agrippina and Edward Ficklin’s Flash of Recognition. He sang Judas in the Philadelphia Orchestra's performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin in a cast that included fellow barihunks Luca Pisaroni and Andrew Foster-Williams.

Christian Zaremba and Alexander Elliott to compete in Met Semi-Finals
Mextorft will compete in the Metropolitan Opera's Southeast Regional Finals on February 15, 2015. We'll be watching those closely, as a number of other singers who have appeared on this site will be competing in the regionals, including Vasil Garvanliev, Robert Balonek, Ricardo Rivera, Cairan Ryan, Alexander Elliott, Colin Ramsey, Steven Eddy, Christian Zaremba, Andrew Lovato and Chris Carr.       

Also competing are a number of singers who we've not featured yet, but will profile this week. They include Jonathan Harris, Phillip Gay, Andrew Bogard, Zachary Read, Brian Vu, Ben Taylor, Nathan Milholin, Christopher Besch and Christian Pursell.    

Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Philip Glass!!!

Martin Acrainer in Orphée (left) and Spuren der Verirrten (right)
Nary a year goes by where we don't celebrate the birthday of American composer Philip Glass who turns 77 today.

Many of his 20+ operas have become staples of the standard repertory including Hydrogen Jukebox, Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten, and The Voyage. We've featured many of the more obscure operas on this site, including Kepler, Les Enfants Terribles, The Perfect American, Orphée and Galileo Galilei, which have become popular vehicles for barihunks like Martin Achrainer, Philip Cutlip, Matthew Worth, Nicholas Nelson and Timothy McDevitt.

Glass was born in Baltimore and studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble.

Guillaume Andrieux in Philip Glass' Les Enfants Terribles
Glass likes speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.

Upcoming performances of Glass operas include The Trial, which will run at the Theater Magdeburg from April 1-May 8 with barihunk Johnny Herford as Josef K. In the U.S., Hydrogen Jukebox will play at the Long Beach Opera from May 30-June 7. Perhaps the most popular Glass opera this season is Akhnaten, which will play in Antwerp in February, Gent in March, Heidelberg in March and Maastricht in June.

John Brancy in Edmonton's Magic Flute

John Brancy returns to the role of Papageno in Edmonton Opera's The Magic Flute, which opens Saturday, January 31st and runs through February 5th.

The opera, which was created and designed in house, will be presented as a visually stunning, exotic pop-up storybook. The vibrant hues and angular set pieces hint at an exotic location without placing it in any one specific locale or time period.

Tickets available ONLINE. You can watch highlights of the production below.

Next up for Brancy is another Mozart role, when he takes on Figaro in the composer's The Marriage of Figaro at Opera Lyra Ottawa. Performances run from March 21-28th at Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre. This will be his debut with the company.   

Thomas Tatzl to star in new opera based on Lorca play

Thomas Tatzl
Austrian barihunk Thomas Tatzl will star in composer Mauricio Sotelo's new opera El Público, commissioned  by the last Gerard Mortier for the Teatro Real in Madrid. The work was adapted by Andrés Ibáñez from a 1930 piece by Federico García Lorca, which he wrote in Cuba after the transcendent trip he made to New York, in the midst of a profound emotional crisis and creative spirit.

The play, which Lorca gave to his friend Martínez Nadal on the condition that he destroy it upon his death, was premiered in Milan in 1968. Librettist Andrés Ibáñez wrote this about keeping the two essential themes of the work:
“...homosexuality and contemporary theatre. They both come united in a central theme that relates to the appearance or the mask. A mask of “love that cannot be named”, and in the end a mask that reveals itself as the essence of the human being. (...) Obscenity, cruelty, and irreverence are basic elements of Lorca’s poetic language. They have not been emphasised nor avoided. The text explores sexual desire with an honesty and complexity that defies the more or less moralist well-meaning simplifications.”
Thomas Tatzl, who we briefly featured back in 2012, studied voice at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He was a member of the ensemble at the Zurich Opera House, and has also performed at the Salzburger Festspiele, Maggio Musicale Firenze, Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, the Menuhin Festival in Gstaat, the Music Society Steiermark and the “Amici della Musica” in Padua.

The opera runs from February 24-March 13 and it will be recorded on DVD with international distribution, as well as broadcast on television and on the web.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gianluca Margheri featured as "barihunk" in I Puritani article

Italian barihunk Gianluca Margheri was featured in Forum Opera's plug for today's broadcast of Bellini's I Puritani from the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Firenze today. The broadcast was on Italian radio Rai 3 and available worldwide. Margheri was singing the role of Lord Walton (apparently with his shirt on!). Performances run through February 15th.

He next heads to Budapest, where he will sing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni from March 20-26. The last time he performed the role he was shirtless and you can find a clip HERE.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keith Miller's sexy Riolobo in Florencia en al Amazonas

Keith Miller as Riolobo
Keith Miller just wrapped up a 3-performance run as Riolobo in Daniel Catán's Florencia en al Amazonas with the Nashville Opera. We had to share this amazing picture of the bodybuilding barihunk, who become a regular in our annual calendar.

Back in August, director John Hoomes told us this about the production:

"As opposed to some productions of the work, our production with focus more of the magic-realistic, sensual, fever-dream aspects of the piece, with extensive dreamlike immersive HD video, and a living, writhing, singing river...As Riolobo, [Keith Miller] will sing the role of the steersman of the steamship, and he will also appear as a manifestation of a mystic Amazon River god.  His river god costume will be inspired by the male costumes from Trinidad Carnival."
In 1996, Florencia en al Amazonas was the first Spanish-language opera to be commissioned by a major American opera house. It premiered at the Houston Grand Opera, and was subsequently performed at the Los Angeles Opera and the Seattle Opera. Daniel Catán died in 2011 at age 62, shortly after the premiere of his last opera, Il Postino, based on the popular Italian film. At the time of his death, he was at work on a new piece, Meet John Doe, inspired by Frank Capra’s classic film of the same title.

The two-act opera Florencia en al Amazonas is set on the steamboat El Dorado in 1910, where the famous opera singer Florencia is traveling down the Amazon to perform in Manaus. Florencia desires to encounter her lost love, a butterfly hunter who entered the jungle and never returned. The dramas aboard the steamboat weave love, conflict, loss, a violent storm, and ultimately a cholera epidemic that keeps the passengers quarantined and Florencia’s dream apparently dashed.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Watch Ildar Abdrazakov in Richard Tucker Gala

Ildar Abdrazakov
If you missed the broadcast of the Richard Tucker Gala on PBS a few days ago, you can still watch it online. Barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov is one of the featured performers, singing “Infelice!..e tuo credevi” from Verdi's Ernani, “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart's Don Giovanni with Ingeborg Gillebo and the sextet from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.

Also featured on the broadcast is baritone Željko Lučić, soprano Pretty Yende, soprano Angela Meade and the thrilling tenor Michael Fabiano.

If you're in New York, make sure to check out Ildar Abdrazakov's upcoming recital. Clink on his image to the right to buy tickets.