Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ottawa Citizen Profiles Philippe Sly

Singer on the rise: Philippe Sly
The Ottawa Citizen has a wonderful feature on Philippe Sly, who will soon be joining the prestigious Merola Opera Program in San Francisco. Also at Merola this year is Mark Diamond, who has also been featured on this site.  Click HERE for information on upcoming Merola events.

Make sure to read the article about Sly HERE. Those of you near Ottawa can hear him on Sunday, May 1st with the Ottawa Choral Society. Click HERE for tickets and concert information.

Make sure to scroll down the blog to hear Sly's magnificent rendition of Schubert's  "Der Erlkonig."

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kwiecien Ruling Again as King Roger

Mariusz Kwiecien: KING OF THE WORLD
In June 2009 we posted about Polish barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien's steamy hot potrayal of  Karol Szymanowski's "King Roger" at the Paris Opera (Pictures HERE). We subsequently named him as one of our "Top 10" posts of 2010 for being "just plain hot."

Kwiecien has returned to the role that he owns at the Teatro Real in Madrid. There are nine performances of the opera running through May 14th. He is joined in the production by the Ukrainian-born Polish soprano Olga Pasichnyk as Queen Roxana. 
Kwiecien as King Roger in Paris
Teatro Real is also hosting an exhibition in the foyer documenting the life and work of Karol Szymanowski, whose compositions served as a transition between Chopin and the Polish avant-garde movement. Many have described King Roger as the pinnacle of Szymansowski's "sensualist phase" and there are echoes of Ravel, Stravinksy, Richard Strauss and Prokofiev in his music.

You can watch the entire opera from Paris on YouTube with Kwiecien. Here is the first video in a series of ten:

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Celebrating Friedrich von Flotow's 199th Birthday

Friedrich von Flotow and Titta Ruffo
Today is the 199th birthday of German Composer Friedrich von Flotow. Other than his famous "Ach! so fromm, ach! so traut" ("M'appari),"from Martha he is rarely heard in English speaking countries. Perhaps with his 200th birthday celebration we'll hear more of his music next season. Flotow wrote 30 operas and four ballets, many of which have echoes of Rossini, Auber and Offenbach.

Perhaps his best known aria for baritone is "Lasst mich euch Fragen" ("Chi mi dira") from his most famous opera Martha. Here is a classic version from the great Italian baritone Titta Ruffo.

Folke Jonsson

Just for fun, here is the famous "Spinning Quartet" sung in Swedish by Elisabeth Söderström, Siw Ericsdotter, Nicolai Gedda and Folke Jonsson, which is also from Martha.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Philippe Sly sings Der Erlkönig

We were convinced from early on that Philippe Sly would win the Metropolitan Opera Council Audition. This video of him singing Schubert's amazing song "Der Erlkönig" shows why. He has interpretive abilities far beyond his years and an amazing voice to boot.

Sit back and ENJOY!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Easter" by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Malcolm Merriweather
Here is Malcolm Merriweather singing "Easter" from Ralph Williams' "Five Mystical Songs."

Enjoy your weekend!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Hvorostovsky & Bastianini as Rigoletto

Ettore Bastianini & Dmitri Hvorostovsky
We can't be too surprised that Rigoletto is at the top of our poll of your favorite Verdi baritone roles. It's not only a great role for baritones, but one of Verdi's most skillfully developed characters. The hunchback father of Gilda isn't a role that one would normally associate with barihunks, but we've found some great clips with two of our favorite singers, Ettore Bastianini and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

Here is Hvorostovsky performing "Pari siamo" from Act 1, Scene 2 of Rigoletto. In this aria Rigoletto compares himself to the assassin Sparafucile saying that the killer uses his knife as a weapon, but Rigoletto uses his tongue.

Here is Bastianini performing the Act 2 aria "Cortigiani, vil razza dinnata..." live from Milan in 1957. In this aria Rigoletto's daughter has been abducted by several courtiers and handed over to the Duke of Mantua. When Rigoletto tries to get past them to find his daughter, they deny him passage and he unleashes his fury upon them.

Here are Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sumi Jo performing the Act 2 duet "Mio padre!...Dio! Mia Gilda...Tutte le feste al tempio." This is another example of a beautiful father-daughter duet from Verdi's canon. Verdi lost two children and his lost love seems to come out in his music between father and daughter, especially in La Traviata (daughter-in-law), Stiffelio, Simon Boccanegra and, of course, Rigoletto. In Rigoletto, the father-daughter relationship is central to the plot line. The relationship between father and daughter also appears in Nabucco, Aida, Luisa Miller, Oberto, La Forza del Destino, I Lombardi and I Vespri Sicilliani.

Just for fun, we thought that we'd add a "Rigoletto cage match" of some of the great interpreters of the role taking the optional high A from the end of the opera. Verdi actually wrote the final line as Fb-Eb-Db, but the optional Ab has become an audience favorite over the years.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Verdi Backup SIngers

Guido Loconsolo from
We continue our Verdi series with two great roles for baritone that aren't one of the lead characters, but critical to the story, Iago in Otello and Ford in Falstaff.

One of the most popular baritone arias is Ford's "E'sogno o realtà," where a singer can display great emotion as the character becomes consumed with jealousy.

We'll start with Lee Poulis who we recently featured singing in Bernard Hermann's Wuthering Heights at the Minnesota Opera. He has the type of voice that is often cast for this role. Poulis shows how well the aria works for recitals and competitions. For comparison listen to the rich, darker baritone of Guido Loconsolo with orchestra.

Few secondary characters are more critical to the plot line that the evil and sinister Iago, who sets in motion everything that leads to Otello killing the innocent Desdemona. A great Iago can easily steal the show from the tenor and soprano, much like a great Azucena or Amneris can steal the show in Il Trovatore and Aida respectively. Let's start with two of the greatest versions ever, Leonard Warren and Ettore Bastianini. We'll follow that with the thrilling duet "S pel ciel" with Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes from the 1979 "Live from the Met" telecast.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Verdi Kings

Samuel Ramey as Attila and a young Sherrill Milnes

We're going to continue exploring Verdi this week with a look at the Verdi kings. We'll start with Verdi's first major success, Nabucco. This is the story of the Babylonian king Nabucodonosor, who assaults, conquers and drives the Jewish people from their homeland. Despite the story, it contains some of the most dramatically exciting and hair raising music in all of Verdi. The famous chorus "Va pensiero" is universally known and has become the unofficial national anthem of Italy. In a country filled with music, nothing stirs the heart of an Italian like this piece of music.

Not many barihunks have sung the title role of Nabucco, but we found this version of Ettore Bastianini from the San Francisco Opera in 1961.

Just for fun, here is the famous chorus sung by some of the greatest singers who were around in 1985, including Montserrat Caballe, Agnes Baltsa, Gwyneth Jones, Jose Carreras, Giuseppe di Stefano and baritones Christian Boesch, Renato Bruson (a great Nabucco), Sherrill Milnes, Giorgio Zancanaro and Juan Pons.

We now move to Amonasro, the king of the Ethiopians and father of the title character Aida. He plays a key role in the plot line and has been played by some of the greatest baritones in history. Here is the Act 3 duet between Aida and Amonasro "Ciel, mio padre...Rivedrai le foreste imbalsamate" with performances by seven of the greatest baritones and sopranos to ever sing the opera. We have a definitive favorite in this bunch, but we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Verdi based his ninth opera on the Solera play "Attila, King of the Huns." Besides the title role, there is a another wonderful role for a more lyric baritone, that of Ezio, who sings the aria "E gettata la mia sorte." You can watch Sherrill Milnes perform the aria below. We've always wondered why more young singers don't audition with this show stopper. It's a sure winner if you can nail the ending.

No one has owned the role of Attila in recent years more than the great Samuel Ramey, who always sang it with barihunk swagger and his chest bared. Here he is singing the great baritone duet with the Ezio of Giorgio Zancanaro, followed by the thrilling aria "Or son libere i miei sensi."


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Don Carlo(s) Duet

Jorma Hynninen

We're in a Verdi mode this week and in our weekly poll Rodrigo in Don Carlo jumped out to an early lead as your favorite baritone role. We decided we'd start the week with the famous duet "Dio che nell'alma infondere" where Don Carlo and Rodrigo pledge themselves to the cause of liberty and an eternal friendship.

Jonas Kaufmann & Dmitri Hvorostovsky:

Francisco Araiza & Thomas Hampson:

Jonas Kaufmann & Simon Keenlyside

Franco Corelli & Robert Merrill:

Stuart Neill & Dalibor Jenis

Neil Rosenshein & Jorma Hynninen

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Hvorostovsky in HD

Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna
One of our great regrets at Barihunks is that there aren't more opportunities to post from Verdi's operas. Other than Attila there are very few Verdi roles that are naturally barihunk roles. We like the trend in many opera houses of casting younger singers as Germont père, which is more age appropriate, as Germont's father was probably in his 40s or 50s and not in his 70s like he's often portrayed. Also, we love the idea of a younger, sexy Iago, because we find opera "bad boys" kind of hot. 

It's nice to see singers some of the greatest barihunks tackling more Verdi roles. Simon Keenlyside and Dmitri Hvorstovsky seem to be leading the pack. Keenlyside has performances of Macbeth and Germont père coming up in London. Hvorostovksy has performances of Don Carlos in Tokyo and Ernani and Germont père at The Met.

Here is Keenlyside singing the aria "Pietà, rispetto, amore" from Verdi's Macbeth:

Anyone who can't attend his performance of the Count di Luna in Verdi's Il Trovatore at The Met will now be able to watch it live in movie theaters on April 30 at 1pm EDT.10 AM PST. The performances are part of the The Met: Live in HD series and the cast includes Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick and Marcelo Álvarez.  Encore presentations will be given at movie theaters in the U.S. on May 18 and in Canada on June 4 and July 18. The April 30 performance will also be broadcast live on radio stations in the U.S. and abroad. Click HERE for information about performances in the U.S. and Canada. 

Dmitri Hvorostovsky singing Di Luna's cavatina "Il balen del suo sorriso":


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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Great Barihunk Operas: Gluck's "Iphigénie en Tauride"

Christoph Zadra as Agamemnon (Center & Right) in Vienna

There are certain operas that give us particular delight, as they are both musically rich and filled with roles for barihunks. Don Giovanni, The Pearl Fishers, Billy Budd, Carmen and The Rape of Lucretia come immediately to mind. When looking through our stats of our most popular posts, it dawned on us that singers who performed in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride were some of our most popular singers. Among those are Rod Gilfry, Stephane Degout, Nathan Gunn and our all-time most popular barihunk Gabriel Bermudez.

We couldn't resist posting Christoph Zadra, who is pictured above. He is 34-year-old Viennese actor who works primarily in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. He was Agamemnon in the Vienna production of Iphigénie en Tauride with Stephane Degout and showed up in a number of the publicity shots (apparently for good reason).

Stephane Degout as Oreste in Vienna

Iphigénie en Tauride premiered in Paris in 1779 and was part of his reform movement that forever changed opera. Like Beethoven's Fidelio it is filled with a message of humanity and it became Gluck's greatest success during his lifetime. It's great to see it returning to the repertory of opera houses throughout the world, as it's an amazing piece of theater and filled with some of the most beautiful music ever written. The libretto was written by Nicolas-François Guillard and is based on Euripides great story. Like any great story, it is filled with emotion and conflict which creates moral dilemmas and turmoil for the characters.

Here is an extended scene with Rod Gilfry and tenor Deon van der Walt, which ends in the great baritone aria "Dieux protecteurs de ces affreux." You can watch the entire performance on YouTube at the site of carrangel2:

The story of the opera is pretty straightforward: Iphigenia has been saved from being sacrificed by her father. She now lives on the island of the Taurians and has the task of killing any foreigner that comes to the island seeking refuge. Her dreams are plagued by memories of the bloody destruction of her family. She does not know that her brother Orestes was able to escape the massacre. Years later she sees him and his friend Pylades who have been taken prisoner by the Taurians. But brother and sister fail to recognise each other. However, the unknown prisoner reminds Iphigenia of Orestes, so she decides to save him. Orestes, though, prefers to face death instead of Pylades. During the sacrifice, brother and sister recognise each other. Just as Thoas, the king of the Scythians, is about to kill Orestes, Pylades suddenly appears and murders the king. The people sing in praise of the coming peace and the end of the wars on Tauris.

Zadra & Degout in Vienna; Bermudez in Zurich

Clearly, readers of this site love Gabriel Bermudez in this role, as you've made him our most popular singer. Unfortunately, his YouTube site does not allow embedding, so we can't post the video of his singing "Dieux protecteurs de ces affreux," but you can watch it by clicking HERE.

Lately, the great tenor Placido Domingo has been taking up baritone roles, including Orestes in Iphigénie en Tauride. His performance at The Met was a huge success and now he's taken it to the Washington National Opera in Washington D.C., where we've learned that another one of our Über-popular singers, Randal Turner, is covering for the 70-year-old conductor/singer/impresario. Certainly, Turner would be about as perfect for this role as any singer around today. For those of you who still prefer a baritone in the role, we'll make sure to let readers know if Turner is scheduled to perform. Performances run from May 6-28 with a cast that includes the great soprano Patricia Racette as Iphigenie and barihunk Simone Alberghini as Thoas. Click HERE for additional cast and performance information.

Randal Turner: The next great Orestes?

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rodney Clarke Adds a New Mozart Role

Rodney Clarke as the Pasha in Rome

British barihunk Rodney Clarke has added a new Mozart role to his repertory. He has added the Pasha Selim in Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Rome, where it hasn't been seen in forty years. He already performs both the Count and Figaro in the Marriage of Figaro, the title role in Don Giovanni, Papageno in Die Zauberflote and Guglielmo in Cosi. This summer he returns to Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte at the Longborough Festival in The Cotswalds. 

Rodney Clarke as the Pasha in Rome

Pisaroni's Change of Character in Houston

Luca Pisaroni joins Adriana Kucerove (L) & Ellie Dehn (R) for a curtain call at HGO
In an age when most opera companies are cutting back performances, it was refreshing to see that the Houston Grand Opera had to add a performance of the Marriage of Figaro. Of course, this was the debut of barihunk Luca Pisaroni in the role of Count Almaviva, so we can understand the buzz. Pisaroni has made the other baritone role in the opera, that of Figaro, virtually a calling card role. He's sung it all over the world, including recent perfromances in Vienna, San Francisco, Paris, New York, Amsterdam, Salzburg and Madrid. He turned over the role to the talented Patrick Carfizzi for the run in Houston.

Performances run through April 30 and you can click HERE for additional cast and performance information. 

Here is Pisaroni singing Figaro's aria "Aprite un po quegli occhi" in Amsterdam.

We couldn't find a video of Pisaroni singing the Count's aria "Hai gia vinta la causa," but here is his father-in-law Thomas Hampson performing the aria in Salzburg. How would you like to be sitting around the piano at one of their family get togethers?


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Friday, April 15, 2011

Lee Poulis in Wuthering Heights; Blumberg on a Barge

Lee Poulis as Heathcliff, carrying the bones of his beloved Catherine (Photo Tom Wallace Star-Tribune)
The Minnesota Opera is presenting Academy Award-winning composer Bernard Herrmann's opera Wuthering Heights, which is based on Emily Brontë's gothic romance novel. The opera opens on Saturday, April 16 and runs through April 23. The production stars Lee Poulis, who we last saw in this cute little outfit from Bonn, where he was starring in The Elixir of Love.

Lee Poulis in a happier role

This production of Wuthering Heights celebrates the centennial of the composer's birth and is the first major revival of this forgotten masterpiece since it was written in Minneapolis in 1951. Click HERE to read Graydon Royce's article about the opera from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Poulis & Blumberg in Wuthering Heights

The production also happens to be a barihunk lovers delight, as it features two other regulars from this site. Ben Wager, who has been honing his skills in Germany, returns to sing the role of Hindley Earnshaw. Jesse Blumberg, a longtime favorite on this site, plays the neighbor Mr. Lockwood.

New York-based Jesse Blumberg
Fans of Blumberg who can't make the Minnesota performance can see him in New York as part of Bargemusic, a floating concert hall in Brooklyn. Blumberg will be performing Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin on Thursday, April 28 followed by Winterreise on Saturday, April 30. Call (718) 624-2083 for reservations. He will be accompanied by the great Martin Katz. If you're in the New York area this is a performance that you won't want to miss!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stephane Degout Takes NY by Storm

Stephane Degout

Perhaps the surprise hit at the Metropolitan Opera this year has been Rossini's "Le Comte Ory," which has received universal acclaim. It would be tough to beat a cast that included Juan Diego Florez, Joyce DiDonato and Diana Damrau, especially when you add Rossini's music to the mix. We've received a bunch of email about the Raimbaud in the production, French barihunk Stephane Degout. 

It's a mystery even to us why we haven't posted him before, as he perfectly fits our criteria of sexy and talented. Degout came to the opera world's attention in 1999 as Papageno at the Festival Aix-en-Provence. He has performed all over at Europe's leading opera houses, including Vienna, Paris, Salzburg and London in roles ranging from Orfeo to Pelleas. He has three performance of Le Comte Ory remaining, including tonight, and April 18 and 21. He appeared earlier at the Met this season in Debussy's "Pelleas et Melisande." You can hear a clip of him singing the Act 4 duet with Magdalena Kožená HERE

After the Met, he will be returning to his native France to perform the title character in Hamlet with the Opéra national du Rhin from June 9-28. 

He has released his first CD entitled 'Mélodies', which is dedicated to the French repertoire.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Madore to Replace Injured Okulitch

Elliot Madore with his Don Giovanni score
We continue to monitor the progress of barihunk Daniel Okulitch, who suffered three cracked vertebrae and is confined to a harness after a horrific car accident in Los Angeles that also injured soprano Carin Gilfry. We contacted Okulitch directly who assured us that he expects to make a full recovery. We certainly join the chorus of his growing fans in wishing him a speedy return to the stage.

Okulitch will obviously not recover in time for his run as Don Giovanni at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis which opens next month, so the company has announced that Elliot Madore will replace him in the cast. Okulitch is a fan favorite in St. Louis, where he created the role of Willy Wonka in the world premiere of "The Golden Ticket" last year.

Performances of Don Giovanni will run from May 21 through June 25. Click HERE for additional cast and performance information. 

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Edwin Crossley Mercer: Anderson Cooper look-a-like?
It's no secret that we're HUGE fans of Edwin Crossley-Mercer at Barihunks. We named him our "Hottest Recitalist" in our "Best of 2010" and it was as much for his artistry as his hunkiness. Last month we posted a rare video of him singing the French version of the classic song "Autumn Leaves." A reader has sent us a YouTube link for the complete recital which occurred in St. Petersburg, Russia on July 2, 2010 along with mezzo Irina Bogacheva and soprano Adriana Queros.

We were thrilled to see Mercer appearing today on our other favorite opera site, Parterre Box, where they compared him to a younger Anderson Cooper. It seems like no one can enough of him, so here is the video from Russia:

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don Giovanni HIghlights from Seattle Opera's Young Artists

Erik Anstine & David Krohn
 The Seattle Opera Young Artists Program performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni wrapped up last night. We wanted to share some video highlights, so that you can see barihunks Erik Anstine and David Krohn in action. Also, for you tenor lovers, we've been watching Andrew Stenson since his days in Santa Fe and he is a lyric voice to watch out for. 

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Baritones Continue Vocal Competition Dominance: Lattanzi, Cedel & O'Hanlon

Joseph Lattanzi sporting some Brooks Brothers clothing

We ran a post last month called "The Golden Age of Baritones is Now," in which we pointed out that baritones are dominating vocal competitions, stages and marketing campaigns like at no other time in history. The trend seems to be continuing in competitions much smaller than the Met Auditions, as well. Half of the finalists in the Palm Beach Opera’s vocal competition junior division (ages 18 to 23) were baritones. 
Brandon Cedel & Emmett O'Hanlon
The three baritones include Joseph Lattanzi, who we've previously featured on this site, Emmett O’Hanlon, and Brandon Cedel, who happens to be the other half of a barihunk couple. His partner is Jonathan Beyer, who we've been praising for his seemingly effortless ability to win vocal competitions. Apparently, it's rubbing off on Cedel. 
Other winners included soprano Danielle Adams, tenor Marco Stafani and soprano Betsy Diaz. The six finalists will be ranked and awarded $47,000 in prizes during an orchestral concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Kravis Center. For information, call 833-7888 or visit
Lattanzi has put together a new website and was recently accepted into the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, one of our favorite in the country. Lattanzi will be joining two of our favorite young barihunks in Seattle, Erik Anstine and David Krohn, who are respectively playing Leporello and Don Giovanni in the current YAP production of the Mozart opera. 
Amanda Opuszysnki and Erik Anstine (©Rozarii Lynch photo)
When we posted about Joseph Lattanzi a year ago, we predicted that he might have a future on this site and apparently we were right. We would like to wish all of the finalists in the PBO junior division vocal competition the best of luck with their careers. 
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Okulitch-Gilfry Update From Family

Daniel Okulitch
Baritone Rod Gilfry has sent out an email updating everyone on the status of his mezzo soprano daughter Carin Gilfy and baritone Daniel Okulitch after their serious car accident. We thought that many of our readers who know these two gifted young singers might want an update. Here it is:

Our daughter Carin did have a car accident on Tuesday, April 5, but, thankfully, she is OK!

Word of her accident has been spreading like wildfire, so I am sending this huge, mass e-mailing to everyone to allay any fears and exaggerations.

On Tuesday night, she was driving her Plymouth Neon in Los Angeles, with bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch in the passenger's seat.

An elderly man driving a Chevrolet Malibu ran a red light and collided with the passenger side at about a 45 degree angle.

Airbags deployed in both cars.  Yes, they were wearing their seat belts. Carin suffered a hairline fracture of the right wrist, a dislocated right shoulder and a bruised right ankle.  Her shoulder popped back in on its own and her wrist is in a cast.  Daniel suffered a fractured cervical vertebrae, and is in a neck brace for a while.  Both were discharged from the hospital within 24 hours.  The car appears to be totaled. The man driving the other car did not appear to be injured.

So, we are grateful it was not more serious!  It could have been so much worse!

Thank you for your prayers and worries and warm thoughts!

Carin & Rod Gilfry

David Adam Moore as Vincent van Gogh

David Adam Moore: Bearded to play Vincent van Gogh
Barihunk David Adam Moore will be performing in Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rands' new opera "Vincent" at Indiana University.  The opera explores all of the aspects of painter Vincent van Gogh's personality that ultimately drove him to madness. We kind of like the idea of a baritone getting to go mad rather than a soprano for a change. The libretto is by the gifted writer J.D. McClatchey.

David Adam Moore rehearsing Vincent

Tonight's opening performance and tomorrow's performance will be streamed live and you can click HERE to watch them at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST.  Moore, who is alternating the lead role with Christopher Burchett, will only be seen on the broadcast of April 8. He also performs the role on April 16, but that will not be broadcast. Here is a preview video.

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David Adam Moore Backstage 

UPDATE: Yesterday we reported that Daniel Okulitch was involved in a serious car accident. Although he suffered some major injuries, we are being told that he is expected to have a full and complete recovery.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GET WELL, Daniel Okulitch & Carin Gilfry

Daniel Okulitch (Photo by Anne Cusack - Los Angeles Times)

We learned tonight that Daniel Okulitch was involved in a very serious car accident in Los Angeles. It was serious enough that he had to be removed from the vehicle by a jaws of life. In the vehicle with him was mezzo soprano Carin Gilfry, daughter of barihunk Rod Gilfry. We wish them both a speedy recovery.

We took this news particularly hard, as Okulitch has played a major role in the success of this site. His performance in "The Fly" and willingness to own his sexiness and to celebrate it onstage has helped make opera attractive to a whole new generation. He is a gifted singer and performer and every day that he is off of the stage is a loss to opera.

Please keep him and Carin in your thoughts and pull for a full recovery for these two wonderful young artists.

Lauri Vasar a Hit With Readers

Lauri Vasar in Il Prigioniero
We always love it when we post a barihunk on the site and he proves popular with the readers. The latest to have an instant following seems to be Estonian baritone Lauri Vasar whose pictures from Billy Budd attracted quite a bit of traffic.

Of course, we loved it when we received an email that began, "If you thought he was hot as Billy Budd, you should have seen him in Il Prigioniero." So we found some photos that we thought you'd enjoy and we're going to start keeping an eye on this hunky performer. In fact, he opens tomorrow at the Hamburgische Staatsoper (Hamburg State Opera) in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.

Lauri Vasar in Il Prigioniero
The following month he heads to the Gran Theatre del Liceu singing Ottokar in Der Freischutz. We'll certainly be keeping an eye out for photos in the future.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

DiChiera Delivers Magic Flute in Detroit; Cyrano in Miami

Michael Mayes
Michael Mayes, host of the hilarious Texapolitan Opera podcast, will be singing Papageno at the Michigan Opera Theater. Performances will run from April 9-17 and tickets and additional cast information can be found HERE.  Here is a brief video of Mayes explaining why The Magic Flute is a great opera for kids (while wearing skulls on his cowboy shirt!). We told you that he's funny.

Here is the famous version of Ileana Cotrubas and Christian Boesch singing the duet for Papageno and Papageno.

By the way, David DiChiera, who runs the Michigan Opera Theater and who is also a composer, will have his opera "Cyrano" performed at the Florida Grand Opera with baritone Marian Pop. Click HERE for additional information and to listen to audio clips. Here is a video of the Act 2 quintet.


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Sunday, April 3, 2011

NY Times Praises Nathan Gunn's Cabaret Show

Nathan Gunn at Cafe Carlyle (Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times)
Stephen Holden of the New York Times wrote the following review of Nathan Gunn's appearance at New York's Cafe Carlyle:

Nathan Gunn commands an operatic baritone whose mighty heft and richness confer an outsize authority on everything he touches. When he dips into popular music, he suggests a vocal Babe Ruth aiming for the fences, all the while maintaining a hero’s confident stance. At the Café Carlyle, where he opened “An Evening With Nathan Gunn” on Tuesday evening, he belted it out of the ballpark four times. There were also singles, doubles and a couple of strikeouts. [Continued HERE]

Introducing Another Opera Couple: Lunahan

Lunahan: Jordan Shanhan & Audrey Luna (photo by Greg James)
We've featured many opera couples on this site, from barihunk couples like Zach Altman and Dan Kempson, to superstar couples like Erwin Schrott/Anna Netrebko and Teddy Tahu Rhodes/Isabel Leonard. So let us introduce two fast rising stars who have also tied the knot, Tebaldi International Voice Competition winner Audrey Luna and Jordan Shanahan, who has been featured on this site before.

The original Barihunk couple: Dan Kempson (L) & Zach Altman (R)

The couple is singing Rosina and Figaro in Rossini's "Barber of Seville" in a collaboration between Mississippi Opera and Opera Memphis. They begin in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, April 9th and then head to Delta State University in Cleveland on Tuesday, April 12th. The production then wraps up in Memphis with performances on April 16 and 17.

You can hear Shanahan sing the famous "Largo al factotum" at his website.

Since all of the star couples have nicknames, we're suggesting "Lunahan" for opera's new love couple.

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