Saturday, October 18, 2014

Aubrey Allicock featured in OUT Magazine

Aubrey Allicock (Photographed by Roger Erickson for Out)
By Julien Sauvalle

In the Metropolitan Opera staging, the gay baritone plays Mahmoud, a Palestinian terrorist. Allicock tackles the controversy surrounding the production—and explains why everybody should see it.

Last year, Aubrey Allicock played the role of gay boxer Emile Griffith in Champion, Terence Blanchard's opera-in-jazz, in St. Louis. A Tuscson native of Guyanese and African-American descent, Allicock has since graduated from Juilliard's top-tier program for opera singers, and performed in productions of Rinaldo and Alice in Wonderland. This fall, he makes his debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in a new production of The Death of Klinghoffer. 

Directed by Tom Morris (War Horse) and composed by John Adams (Nixon in China, Doctor Atomic), The Death of Klinghoffer is based on the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists, which resulted in the killing of a wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer. 

Since its premiere in Brooklyn in 1991, the work has drawn praise and criticism for its libretto, which some Jewish organizations have called anti-semitic. While this new staging hasn't failed to anger protesters outside Lincoln Center, Allicock, who plays one of the Palestinian terrorists, tells us why Klinghoffer should be required viewing, regardless of where one stands on current affairs. 

Out: The Death of Klinghoffer marks your stage debut at the Met. How are you feeling?  Aubrey Allicock: I worked at the Met back in 2010 as an understudy, but this is my first time singing on the stage. Surprisingly, I feel really comfortable. I know the music because I’ve sung the role before for six productions of Klinghoffer. I know what my voice is able to do with it, and I’m actually finding myself being able to explore my character further. It’s more about being more comfortable with the character—because the music is no problem.

[Continue reading interview at OUT Magazine]

Philippe Sly featured in Huffington Post

PHILIPPE SLY (Photo by Adam Scotti)
San Francisco Opera's fourth presentation in the 2014/15 season is Handel's hit from 1730, Partenope. Directed by Christopher Alden, the production debuted in 2008 and is a joint effort with the English National Opera and Opera Australia. In 2009, it won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production. Back in Handel's day, the title character was linked to Parthenope, "Queen of Naples" - a girl named for one of the sirens and with suitors on every side. The opera involves a trio of princes from Corinth, Rhodes, and Cumae - and a caller who arrives unexpectedly, a certain "Eurimene" who is - not like the rest of them, anyway. Alden beams the provocative Partenope and her ensemble to Paris of the 1920's. No longer a queen, Partenope is transformed into the queen bee of an avant garde, intimate and artsy salon. Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly - praised for his stunning performance as Guglielmo in the Company's 2013 production of Cosi fan tutte - portrays Ormonte, no longer the Queen's guard, but a sharp-eyed partisan in Madame's daily eudaemonia.

"The way Christopher has set the production," says Phil, "it makes complete sense for me to be this other kind of insinuating character. What is available to me is quite ominent. Because the text can be quite vague, we can do what we want with it. It's a great use of Handel and shows how versatile his operas really are. Once there are no more boundaries, there is so much that can be done. Within one aria you could have people either frozen or actively participating with other characters who are not singing. The character who is singing could be repeating the same thing over and over again, but going through an entire transformation while singing it."

[Continue reading at Huffington Post]

There are five performance of Handel's Partenope remaining and tickets are available online.

Benjamin Appl sings Schubert at Oxford

Benjamin Appl (photos by David Jerusalem)
The Oxford Lieder Festival and their celebration of Schubert is underway. Some of the biggest names in music have joined forced to perform the entire collection of his songs including Angelika Kirchschlager, Kate Royal, Jonathan Lemalu, Sir Thomas Allen, Thomas Adès, Imogen Cooper and Dame Felicity Lott.
The three week Schubert Project also features the world-renowned Schubert expert Graham Johnson, who is giving lecture recitals, as well as performing full evening recitals with two of our favorite singers, baritones Christopher Maltman and Wolfgang Holzmair.

Benjamin Appl & Graham Johnson perform Die schöne Müllerin:

Joining these operatic luminaries is the gifted young barihunk Benjamin Appl, whose career we've been following closely. He's performing tonight in Graham Johnson lecture recital exploring the years 1816/1817 with tenors Benjamin Hulett and Robert Murray. He returns on October 25 for another morning lecture recital with Graham Johnson exploring the years 1822-1825 (when illness struck the composer), followed by a performance of Winterreise with Sir Thomas Allen and pianist Joseph Middleton.

Both performances are in the Jacqueline du Pré Building at Oxford University. You check out the entire schedule HERE.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Sergey Khalikulov to star in new children's opera

Sergey Khalikulov
Sergey Khalikulov, who we recently introduced to readers, will be starring as the Father in the new children's opera My Head is Full of Colors. San Francisco's innovative young company Opera Parallèle will present the work free to the public on Saturday, November 1st at the Koret Auditorium at San Francisco's Main Public Library.

The opera, with music by Chris Pratorius and words by Nicole Paiement, is based on author Catherine Friend’s children’s book. Opera Parallèle has been committed to presenting operas with young performers, with an audience of children and families in mind. Khalikulov will be joined by soprano Carolyn Bacon in the story of a young girl who discovers her own meaning by engaging in the world around her is the kind of self-affirming discovery through artistic engagement.

Seating will be on a first come, first serve basis. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nathan Gunn performs The Polar Express

Nathan Gunn
Two of the most famous children’s classics have been turned into a musical extravaganza by composer Rob Kapilow and recorded for posterity. Barihunk Nathan Gunn sings The Polar Express while Isabel Leonard sings Gertrude McFuzz. They are accompanied by the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra and members of the Broadway Youth Ensemble.

With The Polar Express Kapilow took fragments from traditional Christmas carols and weaved them into various parts of the score. He also created musical scenes with the book’s illustrations with the hope that you can follow along with book in hand. Pre-orders of the CD are now available on Amazon and will be available on November 1st.

John Brancy featured in Opera News

John Brancy (Photo Dario Acosta ©)
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. [Continue reading at OPERA NEWS]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Introducing Florian Spiess in Almira's return to Hamburg

Florian Spiess
Almira was George Frideric Handel's first opera, composed when he was just 19 years old. The opera was first performed in Hamburg in January 1705 where is returns to the Staatsoper on October 21st. Handel arrived in Hamburg in the summer of 1703 and played as a violinist in the theatre at the Gänsemarkt, as well as playing the harpsichord with the orchestra. Much of the music is in the French orchestral style with a mix of Italian and German style arias. The story deals with the universal operatic themes of love, power and jealousy.

Singing the role of Raymondo, King of Mauretania, is the imposing Austrian bass Florian Spiess, who is new to this site.  He began singing as a member of the Wiltener Sängerknaben (Wilten Boys' Chorus), before becoming the boy soprano soloist with the Vienna Boys' Choir from 1990-1994.

Florian Spiess
His formal vocal training began at the Tyrolean Conservatory where he performed in Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods and as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni. He continued his studies at the Vienna Music University including one year on a German-Austrian Richard Wagner Foundation scholarship.

In 2009, he became a  member of the Landestheater Linz where he sang Silvano in Cavallis La Calisto, Figaro in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, three roles in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann and Jupiter in Rameau's Platée.  From 2010-2013, he was a member of the Volksoper Wien where he sang in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Puccini's Tosca and Turandot, and Verdi's Rigoletto.

After a season on the roster of the opera at the Volkstheater Rostock, he joined the ensemble of  the Hamburg State Opera. His roles have included Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen, the Priest/Badger in Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen and the Speaker of the Temple/Second Armoured Man inMozart's Die Zauberflöte.

Future performances include Biterolf in Wagner's Tannhäuser and Colline in Puccini's La Bohème.
Tickets and additional cast information for Almira is available online.