Friday, February 12, 2016

Edwin Crossley-Mercer making Dallas Opera debut in Manon

Edwin Crossley-Mercer (left) and Troy Cook (right)
Barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer will me making his Dallas Opera debut as Lescaut in Massenet's Manon opening March 4th at the Winspear Opera House for four performances. Fellow barihunk Troy Cook will also be in the cast singing the role of de Brétigny. The role of Lescaut was originally sung by the French baritone Émile-Alexandre Taskin, who also sang in the premiere of Debussy's L'enfant prodigue.

Joining them in the cast are soprano Ailyn Pérez in the title role, tenor Stephen Costello as Chevalier des Grieux, bass-baritone David Pittsinger as Le Comte, also is his Dallas Opera debut and baritone Theodor Carlson as the innkeeper.

Natalie Dessay & Edwind Crossley-Mercer sing "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" 
from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte: 

Additional performances of Manon will take place on March 6, 9 and 12 and tickets are available online.

After Dallas, Crossley-Mercer goes on a recital tour in Gran Canaria, Spain, then to the Festival de Paques Deauville in France, and the Berea Art Song Festival in Ohio. Cook next heads to the Austin Lyric Opera, where he will sing the title role in Rossini's The Barber of Seville. He's also slated to make his company debuts with the Atlanta Opera in Kevin Puts' Silent Night, San Diego Opera and Washington National Opera. He also returns to the Des Moines Metro Opera as Young Galileo in Phillip Glass' Galileo Galilei.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Interview with barihunk David Castillo; Starring in Townsend Opera's Sweeney Todd

David Castillo (as Anthony in Sweeney Todd on right)
If you're in Northern California, you won't want to miss the Townsend Opera production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. The production features barihunk David Castillo as Anthony Hope and is directed by John De Los Santos. The cast also features Zeffin Quinn Hollis in the title role, Margaret Gawrysiak as Mrs. Lovett, Camille Jasensky as Johanna, Molly Mahoney as the Beggar WOman and Phillip Skinner as Judge Turpin. There are performances on February 12 and 14 and tickets are available online

We asked David Castillo a few questions about the role of Anthony and his budding career:

1. Do you prefer musicals or opera?
I wouldn't say I prefer one over the other. I grew up singing in musicals with my aunt as the musical director and started doing operas in college at Loyola University New Orleans, when my late voice teacher Philip Frohnmayer persuaded me to get away from dentistry. I have a great love for both.  I just want to do good work in good productions with good colleagues, regardless of the "medium."

2. Is this your first Sweeney Todd?
This is the first time I have the opportunity to perform Anthony Hope. Sweeney is one of my favorite go-to-for-fun recordings and I always wanted to perform the role of Anthony. I did learn the work (trying to avoid using the word opera or musical when describing Sweeney), when I was in the chorus for it years ago in a deranged, gritty Ed Berkeley production at the Aspen Music Festival.  That was an awesome, first experience.

3. What's it like singing Sondheim ?
It's funny you ask this, I've been wondering this a lot the past few days between Sweeney rehearsals and practicing my arias. I realize that I've been singing this just slightly different than with my "opera" voice. I first learned "Johanna," when studying under Rod Gilfry at USC for my masters. He was doing a slew of Sweeneys at the time and said that Anthony would be perfect for me. We worked lots on keeping very lyric youthfulness to the sound and while milking the vowels and consonants like an art song.  Regardless, you sing need to SANG.  Sondheim's writing demands technique the entire time with such a multi-dimensional libretto to use.  We still have to cut over the orchestra and carry into the house.  It's an interesting balance.

4. Tell us about your character
When first approaching Anthony, the biggest obstacle I found was that he could be the most boring character in the story.  He could be a really flimsy, boring, vanilla, lover boy who sing a pretty song called "Johanna."  John de los Santos and I crafted him to have more grit and dimension than that. Anthony is a sailor, he's strong mentally and physically. He's been through life-threatening situations. He's been through fights. He saved a shipwrecked, almost dead Sweeney.  He's sailed through the most treacherous waters and experienced the most beautiful treasures of the world. He managed to do all that and still have a good head on his shoulders.  He is the ying to the yang that is Johanna, who probably never was allowed to leave her chambers. Anthony is more of a well-played Don José.  Anthony is still a bit young, when arriving back in London, his favorite place in the world. Seeing the city through Sweeney's eyes jades London, the world, and life for him. He falls in love in act I, he begins to go mad at the beginning of Act II when he can't find where the Judge hid her, and breaks down when finding out that Johanna is in a madhouse and is threatened by Beadle. He is in a carnal position volunterring to kill a dozen people without hesistation to find Johanna.  All concluding with the situation of not being sure if he and Johanna will make it out of London alive. That's way more interesting than a vanilla lover boy.

Director John De Los Santos and David Castillo
5. Give us a little insight into this production.
Matthew Buckman and Ryan Murray assembled an awesome team for this show. John de los Santos is the mastermind behind this production with a solid cast that brings so much dimiension to their characters. The whole concept of this is how children become infected by morbid stories and the impact. All manifested in this production with the way we treat Toby and how he is affected by this.

6. What's next for you?
Next Monday, between weekends of Sweeney Todd performances, I fly to Paris and make my European debut performing Winterreise with pianist Francois Chouchan. I am honored to be part of this important performance because it is dedicated to Francois' mentor, Dr. Elsa Cayat, who was the only female killed in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris January 2015. It will be held at the Mairie du Troisieme Arrondissment. After that, I make my Off-Broadway and New York debut reprising the stoner role of Atzuko in the absolutely hilarious production ¡Figaro! (90210) at The Duke at 42nd. Excited to revisit this role, after performing it at the World Premiere last year with LA Opera. In April I perform as a soloist in the Los Angeles Master Chorale's staged production of Alexander's Feast at Walt Disney Concert Hall, then perform as the soloist in Bach Cantata 73 with the Horizon Chamber Singers at the Long Beach Bach Festival. May brings my LA Philharmonic debut creating the role of Goethe in their World Premiere commission of Andriessen's Theatre of the World at Walt Disney Concert Hall. In June, I perform Jesus in Bach's St. John Passion with the Pasadena Master Chorale. It's a pretty busy spring! Next season brings exciting projects, including a collaboration premiering works Filipino Composer Nilo Alcala.

You can follow David Castillo on Twitter @davidthesinger and Townsend Opera@TownsendOpera

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nicholas Crawley in sexy Cosi fan tutte at Reisoper

Yaroslav Abaimov, Robert Davies & Nicholas Crawley (L-R)
The last time that British barihunk Nicholas Crawley was featured on this site, he was featured in nothing but a towel as Don Basilio in the Nederlandse Reisoper's production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville.  He's currently appearing in with the company in Mozart's Così fan tutte in a production directed by Dutch actor Xander Straat.

He's joined by the Ferrando of hunkentenor Yaroslav Abaimov. Straat has duo outfitted in form-fitting tattoo body suits and colored beards while disguised in an effort to prove their girlfriends as unfaithful. Performances are running from February 9 -March  19 and tickets and additional cast information is available online.


Crawley studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he was awarded The Independent Opera Vocal Scholarship 2012. After completing the Master of Arts in Vocal Studies and Royal Academy Opera Advanced Diploma course he joined De Nederlands Reisopera as a resident artist where he has also performed Sleep, Hymen and Winter in Purcell's Fairy Queen as well as Petrus in a staged Bach's St John Passion.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Georgios Iatrou to sing Valentine in Essen

Georgios Iatrou
We love it when colleagues suggest that we post someone that they're performing with, which is what soprano Jessica Muirhead did in a recent Twitter post about Georgios Iatrou. In fact, they both shared tweets on the same day about their upcoming performances in Gounod's Faust on March 9 and 11, and April 4 at the Aalto Musiktheater in Essen, Germany. Iatrous will be singing Valentin to her Marguerite. An alternate cast with fellow barihunk Martijn Cornet will open the run on February 13 and run through February 25.

Martijn Cornet
Iatrou is engaged at the Aalto Musiktheater from 2015-17, where he's performing Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Schaunard in Puccini's La boheme, Silvano in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Kostandis in Martinů's The Greek Passion and the Speaker in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. Performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia run from June 4-July 9 and tickets and cast information is available online


Jessica Muirhead is also in the ensemble at the Aalto Musiktheater where she is performing Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, the title role in Dvorak's Rusalka and Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Alexander Birch Elliott in Valentine's Day Concert; Returning to Portland Opera

Alexander Birch Elliott at the San Francisco Opera
Alexander Birch Elliott, who is wrapping up a run as John Brooke in Mark Adamo's Little Women today, will be featured in a Valentine's concert on Saturday, February 13th with Opera Louisiane. He'll be joined by soprano Chelsea Basler, accompanist Michael Borowitz and cellist Susannah Montandon. They will perform opera arias, duets and Boradway showstoppers. Tickets are available online.

From April 1-5, he'll sing Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with the Orlando Philharmonic. This summer, he returns to the Portland Opera Festival, where he will perform Anthony in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. He previously performed Frank in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus and Belcore in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love with the company.

You can read an interview with him on the Madison Opera Blog.

Preview of Gregory Spears' new opera with Joseph Lattanzi

Jospeh Lattanzi in his Barihunk t-shirt at the Seattle Opera (left) and at a Merola Opera performance (right)
Gregory Spears' new opera, Fellow Travelers, will receive a piano-vocal showcase at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on March 20th at 4 PM. This is the composer's first full-length opera, which follows Paul's Case and O Columbia. Paul's Case was a huge success at the 2014 Prototype Festival and subsequently at the Pittsburgh Opera. The opera was originally developed by American Opera Projects. O Columbia was presented last year by the Houston Grand Opera and featured barihunk Ben Edquist.

Fellow Travelers, which was written in collaboration with librettist Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury, was developed in a 2013 Opera Fusion workshop. It will feature former Barihunks calendar model Joseph Lattanzi, who will sing both the showcase and the world premiere.

Performances of Fellow Travelers will run at the Cincinnati Opera from June 17-July 10 at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater. In addition to Lattanzi, it will feature hunkentenor Aaron Blake, Mary Johnson, Alexandra Schoeny and Talya Lieberman. Tickets and additional information is available online

 Joseph Lattanzi performs "Our Very Own Home" from Fellow Travelers: 

Fellow Travelers, set in Washington against the backdrop of the McCarthy-era "lavender scare," tells the story of Timothy “Skippy” Laughlin, an aspiring young journalist, and Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller, a handsome, profligate State Department official. A chance encounter with Hawk leads to Tim's first job in DC, and his first love affair. As his involvement deepens, Tim struggles to reconcile his political convictions, his religious beliefs, and his love for Fuller – an entanglement that will end in a stunning act of betrayal. The libretto is based on the novel by American novelist, essayist and critic Thomas Mallon.

On February 27th, Lattanzi will sing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Arizona Opera with fellow barihunk Ryan Kuster as Masetto and the talented Matthew Burns as his sidekick Leporello. Barihunk Morgan Smith will sing the other performances of Don Giovanni. Additional cast and ticket information is available online.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reader Submission: French bass-barihunk Sévag Tachdjian

Sévag Tachdjian
A reader just spotted French bass-barihunk Sévag Tachdjian, who was peforming Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola with Opéra de Tours. Tachdjian, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon is of Armenian, but grew up in Nice, France.

While studying French literature in Paris and journalism in Strasbourg, he devoted himself to singing and studied at the National School of Music in Lyon, France with the great French soprano Françoise Pollet. He subsequently joined for the Opera Studio of the Oper Köln, Germany, and the Opera studio of the Opéra national du Rhin, France, where he performed Marullo in Verdi's Rigoletto, Baron Duphol in La traviata, Sciarrone in Puccini's Tosca, the First Apprentice in Berg's Wozzeck, Spencer Coyle in Britten's Owen Wingrave, and Don Annibale in Donizetti's Il Campanello.

 Sévag Tachdjian & Carol Garcia sing 'Là del ciel nell'arcano profondo' from La Cenerentola:

In 2011 he was voted the  “Best Young Talent” by the German opera magazine Theater Pur. In 2012, he performed in Europea 3 & 4, by John Cage at the Holland Festival. In 2013, he made his Italian debut as Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen at the Montepulciano Festival. He won 2nd Prize at the 2015 “Concours international de chant de Canari” and at the “Internationaler Komitas-Wettbewerb” in Berlin.

He now heads off to sing Le Capitaine in Massenet's comic opera Don César de Bazan, which will be be performed at the Opéra de Reims, Théâtre Saint-Martin Paris and Le Théâtre de Saint-Dizier between February 27 and April 29. Don César de Bazan was the composer's first full length opera to be performed.