Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Giorgio Tozzi (January 8, 1923-May 30, 2011); Ketelsen sets up tribute page

Kyle Ketelsen & Giorgio Tozzi
Word has quickly spread in the opera world that the great bass-baritone and teacher Giorgio Tozzi has died. We don't have an obituary yet. However, Kyle Ketelsen, who was taught by Tozzi at Indiana University, has set up a tribute page on his website.

Ketelsen can next be seen from June 9-11 in Haydn's "Harmoniemesse" with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Click HERE for additional information. His next operatic performance is at the Liceu in Barcelona where he will reprise his sexy Escamillo in Bizet's "Carmen." Performances run from July 21-30.

Click HERE for an official obituary of Giorgio Tozzi.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Elliot Madore's Sexy Don in St. Louis; The Perry Twins Flashback

Elliot Madore in OTSL's Don Giovanni (Photo Ken Howard)
Elliot Madore had some big shoes to fill when he had to step in for Daniel Okulitch as Don Giovanni at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. He also had to worry about satisfying those who were eager to see Okulitch in another production where he showed off more voice than costuming. From all accounts, Madore delivered both a vocally and physically stunning performance. In fact, there was so little clothing in some scenes that the local press felt it necessary to issue a warning.

According to Lew Prince of the Riverfront Times, "If for some reason you're tempted to tote your grade schooler to see Don Giovanni, you might want to rethink that. The production features significant nudity (male) and beaucoup rolling around. Giovanni's final debauch, in particular, looks like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" as depicted by Hieronymous Bosch."

A reader who was attending the St. Louis production sent us an email pointing out that we've never covered what he believed to be the sexiest performance of "Don Giovanni" ever, Peter Sellar's updated production with Eugene and Herbert Perry, who are actual twin brothers. This production was part of Sellar's critically-acclaimed updating of Cosi fan tutte, Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, all of which were once available on DVD.

Here are some pictures and a snippet of one of the sexier scenes:

Eugene Perry as Don Giovanni

Madore's performances of Don Giovanni run through June 25 in St. Louis. 

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Copies of Randal Turner's CD are selling fast, so make sure to order your copy today, if you haven't already. The album is also available in download form. Turner sings music by today's greatest living American composers including Jake Heggie, Ricky Ian Gordon, Glen Roven, Clint Borzoni and Julia Schwartz. You won't want to miss having this in your collection.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keenlyside's Stunning U.K. Debut as Macbeth

Simon Keenlyside as Macbeth
England was abuzz about more than the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William this month. In opera circles, the chatter was about barihunk Simon Keenlyside's long-awaited U.K. debut as the title character in Verdi's "Macbeth." Apparently, the always intense and vocally gifted singer didn't disappoint.

Liudmyla Monastyrska and Simon Keenlyside

There are six performances remaining through June 13th. Our man in London also says that the Lady Macbeth of Liudmyla Monastyrska should not be missed and that it may rival the great interpreters of the last fifty years. Click HERE for additional cast and performance information. The performance is scheduled to be shown in theaters on June 13, so check your local movie listings. You can watch the Opus Arte trailer HERE.

Erica Jeal in The Guardian had this to say:

It is not bad as drama, either. Credit should perhaps go chiefly to Pappano, who keeps the pace pushing forward, but a large amount is due also to Simon Keenlyside, singing the title role in the UK for the first time. Yes, there are other baritones with more velvet in their sound, but Keenlyside captures the guilty king's uneasy swagger, lit up in the relentless chiaroscuro of Lloyd's staging. He brings innate dramatic conviction to his vocal performance as much as to his acting; his aria before the assault of Birnam Wood is tremendous.

Here he is singing Macbeth's aria from the Vienna State Opera last year:

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Randal Turner: "It Gets Better" Speech and Whitman Song

Randal Turner in San Francisco
During Randal Turner's West Coast recital debut last December, he took a moment to talk about what it was like to be gay and bullied in school. He also talked about how he had been introduced to a gifted young composer named Clint Borzoni whose beautiful song "I Dream'd in a Dream" made Turner think of his experiences and the stories of young gay men taking their lives for being bullied. The song is based on a poem by Walt Whitman, as is the other Borzoni song on the program, "That Shadow, My Likeness."

The video is now on YouTube and although it's not part of the official "It Gets Better" campaign, it is a powerful and heartfelt story that should be shared with the world.

You can learn more about Clint Borzoni on his website. If you'd like to watch Turner's entire recital of "Living American Composers," it is now available on Amazon. We've made the CD and individual tracks available on this website for your convenience.

The talented young composer Clint Borzoni
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Celebrating Victor Herbert with Zach Altman

Reader Favorite: Zach Altman
Zach Altman remains one of our most popular singers on the site, so we thought that we'd use the anniversary of Victor Herbert's death to showcase the emerging barihunk. Since he first appeared on the site, he has regularly been one of our ten most visited singers along with singers like Simon Keenlyside, Mariusz Kwiecien, Randal Turner, Gabriel Bermudez, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Erwin Schrott and Nathan Gunn.

Altman recently made his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut at the Hollywood Bowl in Candide. He spent three summers studying at the Music Academy of the West, where he appeared in "Don Giovanni," "Tales of Hoffmann" and Bolcom's "A Wedding." He is a three-time prize winner in the Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition. In August, he'll be performing John Proctor in Robert Ward's "The Crucible" at the Chautauqua Institute.

Zach Altman
Victor Herbert was a German-American composer who lived from February 1, 1859 – May 26, 1924. He was best known for his immensely popular operettas like "Naughty Marietta" and "Babes in Toyland." He was also a gifted cellist who played with many of the major orchestras in New York City. He was also one of the leading forces behind the Copyright Act of 1909, which guaranteed that composers would be paid or their work.

CONTACT US AT Barihunks@gmail.com


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Photos from Hydrogen Jukebox

In our post about Fort Worth Opera's winning season, we teased readers about there being some skin in Philip Glass' "Hydrogen Jukebox." Enough teasing, here are some photos from the production:
Dan Kempson (L), Kempson, Jonathan Blalock & Justin Hopkins (C), Justin Hopkins (R)

Barihunk Justin Hopkins, hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock and barihunk Dan Kempson

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Make sure to buy your copy of Randal Turner's stunning new recordin

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Another Winning Season in Ft. Worth

Malcolm MacKenzie in Trovatore; Dan Kempson & Justin Hopkins in Hydrogen Jukebox
The Ft. Worth Opera Festival continues to establish itself as a major force among summer opera festivals internationally. The company continues to showcase some of the best emerging talent in the business today, as well as mixing standard repertory with operas that both challenge audiences and appeal to a new generation of opera goer.

Among the "second tier" of opera companies, Ft. Worth practically stands alone in terms of both innovation and quality of performance. Next season is no exception, when they will feature two standard repertory operas, Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" and Puccini's "Tosca," with two contemporary operas, Mark Adamo's "Lysistrata" and Jake Heggie's "Three Decembers."

This year's surprise hit is Philip Glass "Hydrogen Jukebox," which has been completely sold out for weeks. It also happens to feature two emerging barihunks, Dan Kempson and Justin Hopkins. The show also features them baring a bit of skin, so warn your grandma. It's no secret that we're huge Glass fans on this site where you can watch his opera "Kepler" in its entirety, so we're thrilled that Glass is being performed deep in the heart of Texas.

Emerging Barihunk Jesse Enderle and Director John de los Santos
This year's Fort Worth Opera Festival is also featuring a critically acclaimed production of Verdi's "Il Trovatore" with baritone Malcolm MacKenzie. Also on the program is an updated version of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Mikado" directed by our favorite young director/choreographer John de los Santos, who choreographed last year's hit "Before Night Falls." Fans of countertenors will be delighted with the production of Handel's "Giulio Cesare," which features two countertenors and a male soprano. Despite the high male voices, barihunk fans will be delighted to know that Achillas will sung by the stunning and gifted young singer Donovan Singletary, who was a standout in the Lindeman Young Artists program.

Donovan Singletary

Here is Singletary performing some Rachmaninov songs:

The festival runs through June 5. Check out the Ft. Worth Opera website for performance times and additional cast information.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Luca Dell'Amico: Too sexy for his shirt

Luca Dall'Amico

When we saw this new photo of Italian barihunk Luca Dall'Amico we had to share it with our readers. It's too bad that his voice is suited for roles that rarely show off his physique. Luckily, we previously had the opportunity to show readers his sexy, shirtless Mustafa in Rossini's "L'italiani in algeri." His upcoming schedule is no exception.

He can next be seen this Fall at the Teatro la Fenice as Dr. Grenvil in Verdi's "La Traviata" opposite the Violetta of Patrizia Ciofi and as Don Basilio in Rossini's "Il barbiere di Siviglia," which he has recorded on DVD. Here is the trailer:

Contact us at Barihunks@gmail.com. If you haven't bought Randal Turner's new CD of American music, here is an easy way to purchase a copy or download your favorite tracks.

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Zachary Gordin Featured on Taminophile

Zachary Gordin, who we recently featured performing in Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas" where he talks about his change from countertenor to baritone, his difficult childhood, teachers and his status as a barihunk.

Zachary Gordin is a baritone known almost as much for his dazzling looks as his beautiful singing. Often featured on the site Barihunks, Gordin began his career as a countertenor and made a change to baritone while enjoying very successful career singing countertenor rep. [READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE]

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Monday, May 23, 2011

"Some Enchanted Evening"

Paulo Szot & Rodney Clarke

We thought that it would be fun to compare some versions of "Some Enchanted Evening" from the 1949 hit musical "South Pacific." Two baritones have scored huge successes as Emile de Becque almost 60 years apart, Ezio Pinza and Paulo Szot. We've mixed in emerging barihunk Rodney Clarke and the great Cesare Siepi for comparison purposes. We've also added the hit recording my Perry Como, a version by the legendary Frank Sinatra and a jazzed up version from Ray Charles.

Ezio Pinza, who made this famous with the original 1949 Broadway cast recording:

Paulo Szot, who became a mega-star barihunk with South Pacific:

Cesare Siepi, who shows he could have scored a it with this on Broadway, too:

Ray Charles, jazzing it up for TV:

Frank Sinatra in a classic version from 1949:

Rodney Clarke, one of our emerging barihunks: Perry Como, who had a hit with this in 1949:

Giorgio Tozzi, who recorded his in 1958:

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Introducing Borja Quiza

Borja Quiza

Spanish barihunk Borja Quiza was recommended to us our favorite way - by a fellow barihunk. In 2009, he won the "Opera Actual" prize as best lyric singer and a year later won the "Premio Lirico Teatro Campoamor de Oviedo" as best zarzuela singer. His claim to fame in his young career has been playing the title role in Carlos Saura's filmed production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni."

In a short period of time he has established a successful career throughout Spain, singing in Valencia, Bilbao, La Coruna, Arriaga, Madrid, Barcelona and Oviedo. He has performed many of the great leading baritone roles, including Figaro in "Il Barbiere de Siviglia," the Count in "Le Nozze di Figaro," Guglielmo in "Cosi fan tutte," Don Giovanni, Papageno in "Die Zauberflote," Marcello in "La Boheme" and Zuniga in Pearl Fishers. He has also made his mark as a rapidly emerging star in zarzuela. His upcoming schedule includes mostly Mozart and Rossini.

We look forward to seeing more of this gifted young singer in the future. If you know of someone who should be featured on this site, please let us know at Barihunks@gmail.com.
Borja Quiza


Friday, May 20, 2011

Gunther Groissboeck Interview; In Munich's "Rusalka"

Gunther Groissboeck in Munich's Rusalka
It's been way too long since we've featured one of our favorite singers, Gunther Groissboeck. He's currently singing the Water Goblin from May 22-June 4 at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. Click HERE for cast and performance information.

For those of you who read German, HERE is an interview with the German barihunk.

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Reader Submission and Graduating Today! John Brancy

John Brancy

John Brancy was suggested to us by two readers and this seems like an appropriate day to introduce him to readers, as he's graduating from Julliard today. Brancy has had the privelege of working with the great teacher and accompanist Steven Blier at Julliard. He's already appeared in concert with Blier and at the Caramoor Festival.

The word on Brancy is that he's destined for a successful career and he's a particularly gifted recitalist. He's appeared in a few operas already, including Theseus in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Marco in Gianni Schicchi. This past summer, he made his debut as Sid in Albert Herring at Newfoundland's Opera on the Avalon Festival.

Brancy won first place in the 2007 Classical Singer Competition, The Gold Award from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, Encouragement Awards from both Opera Index and the Kurt Weill Foundation's 2008 Lotte Lenya Competition, as well as second place in the 2010 Liederkranz competition. Mr. Brancy is in his fourth year of the bachelor of music degree program at Juilliard under the tutelage of Cynthia Hoffman.

Barihunks would like to congratulate this gifted young singer on the day of his graduation and looks forward to watching him on his path to success!

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reader Submission: Sean Sullivan

Sean Sullivan
Our reader submissions continue with, Sean Sullivan who began singing at age nine with the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, and was subsequently invited to sing in the Children’s Chorus of the Los Angeles Opera, where he decided to pursue an opera career.

He made his solo operatic debut as Young Prince Hrothgar in the world premiere of Elliott Goldenthal’s Grendel at the Los Angeles Opera. He reprised this role in New York at The New York State Theater for the East Coast Premiere. Sean attended L.A. County High School for the Arts where he sang several roles including Mr. Peachum in Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera and Carl Olsen in Weill’s Street Scene. At CSUN, Sean played Antonio in Mozart’s Le Nozze de Figaro, David in Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and The Mysterious Man in Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

You can read an interview with Sean Sullivan HERE.

Sullivan can next be heard in an abbreviated concert version of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco on May 26 & 27. For reservations, call (415) 447-6274. Sullivan will perform Masetto opposite the Don Giovanni of his voice coach and fellow barihunk Eugene Brancoveanu.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Erik Anstine Featured on Seattle Opera Blog

Barihunks in disguise: Anstine and Cutlip (Photo by Rozarii Lynch)

We recently introduced Erik Anstine to readers and we suspect that he has a big career ahead of him. He is currently one of the priests in the Seattle Opera's "Magic Flute," which includes the Papageno of barihunk Philip Cutlip and the Sarastro of barihunk and ex-football player Keith Miller. The second cast also includes British barihunk Leigh Melrose as Papageno, a singer who we blogged about last year and who should be better known on this side of The Pond. Cheers to the Seattle Opera for showcasing him to U.S. audiences. The always entertaining Seattle Opera blog has a profile of Anstine and tenor Eric Neuville, which you can read HERE.

Seattle Young Artist member Erik Anstine
Tickets remain for the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday performances. The costumes for this productions are by the internationally renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and are not to be missed! You can click HERE for ticket and performance information.

Philip Cutlip (Top) and Keith Miller (Bottom)
Here is a sampling of Anstine singing Mozart's "Ha! Wie will ich triumphieren" from Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

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Happy Birthday, Gabriel Bacquier!

Joyeux Anniversaire!

We're going to break away from our usual fare of barihunks today to celebrate the 87th birthday of the great Gabriel Bacquier. He was unquestionably one of the great singing actors of our time and to this day remains a proponent of French music and style. Although a true Francophile, he was equally successful in the Italian repertory. This clip shows the amazing attention that he paid to the text even when singing at a rapid fire pace.

Make sure to toast the "Great Gabriel" with a glass of Gamay today.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Jud Arthur Profile: From Rugby to Opera

Jud Arthur: As an opera singer and as a rugby player

Farm boy turned baritone opera singer Jud Arthur discusses his current roles with Opera Australia and the blood, sweat and tears of music and Italian football. [Read the entire article from the Melbourne Broadsheet HERE].

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Happy Birthday, Mel Ulrich!

Mel Ulrich
We've never understood the early retirement of American barihunk Mel Ulrich, who was still burning up the stage when he prematurely called it quits. He teased us in January, when he performed a concert 90 miles outside of Ft. Worth, but it didn't lead to any additional engagements. We want Mel to know that we truly miss him on the stage and that we are going to celebrate him on his birthday.

Come back, Mel! We miss you.

The always sexy Mel Ulrich
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reader Submission: John Cabrali

John Cabrali
We're beginning to think that our "reader submission" suggestion was our best idea ever. We can barely keep up with the onslaught of emails and the barihunks are coming out of the woodworks. John Cabrali is our latest addition and who can resist his Hollywood looks?

The Miami native has appeared with the Seagle Music Colony as the title role in Le nozze di Figaro and Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola. He is currently a master's candidate at Florida International University, where he has performed the roles of Pandolfe in Massenet's Cendrillon, Buonafede in Haydn's Il mondo della luna, and performed as the bass soloist in Händel's Messiah. He is also a 2011 participant in the Martina Arroyo Foundation program.

John Cabrali

Cabrali holds his bachelor's degree from New World School of the Arts, where he appeared as Don Alfonso om Cosi Fan Tutte, the Chief of Police in Amelia al Ballo, and Matthew in La Divina. His future engagements include Figaro (cover) in Le nozze di Figaro, Sciarrone in Tosca, and Bion in Lysistrata with Fort Worth Opera.

Contact us at Barihunks@gmail.com

Erwin Schrott Interview & the Baritone Renaissance

Erwin Schrott talking about his life and opera
Erwin Schrott has become one of the most popular singers in opera along with his wife soprano Anna Netrebko. He is currently singing Figaro at the Opera National de Paris' production of "Le Nozze di Figaro" where he took time out to talk about his new CD Rojotango, future roles (many devilish), his vocal chords, burning out on Don Giovanni (for awhile) and juggling a career and a relationship. In July, Schrott and Netrebko will be back on stage together for a concert with the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra.

We continue to delight in the "Golden Age of Baritones" which Schrott is a major part of with his sold out performances, benefit concerts and best selling CDs. He joins a long list of baritones who are releasing critically acclaimed recordings, including Daniel Okulitch's performance of American composers, Rene Pape's upcoming release of Wagner, Peter Mattei's performance of the greatest baritone arias, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sandra Radvanovsky's thrilling Verdi duets recording,  and Randal Turner's concert of American composers, which includes two baritone world premieres.

Publicity shot for Rojotango

Schrott has become almost the unofficial leader of the baritone renaissance, with his savvy public relations skills, high profile benefits, movie star good looks and scintillating stage performances. It has probably been 50 years since baritones have dominated the world stage as they do today, when Ezio Pinza, Ettore Bastianini, Tito Gobbi, Robert Merrill and Cesare Siepi were considered major audience draws and were prominently marketed by opera companies. Schrott has excelled in the territory that was previously left for sopranos, using sex appeal as a marketing tool. It appears that even the "3 Tenors" phenomenon is giving way to baritones, as recordings like Paulo Szot's "South Pacific" seem to be dominating the "crossover" charts. 

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Craig Verm's (Sexy) Aeneas Receives Critical Praise

Greer Davis as Venus and Craig Verm as Adonis Florentine Opera (Photo by Kathy Wittman, Ball Square Films)
We recently posted about two production of "Dido & Aeneas" featuring buff barihunks Craig Verm and Zachary Gordin. Although we'll have to wait a week for Gordin's half-naked portrayal at West Bay Opera in Palo Alto, the reviews are in for Craig Verm. He was praised not only for his singing (which is still paramount), but his "sex appeal." Here's what the Third Coast Digest in Milwaukee had to say:

Craig Verm’s potent, lush baritone suits Adonis and Aeneas. Florescu and Verm conceived Adonis as essentially comic (until the poor fellow dies). Rivard and Meyers put him in a Fabio wig and beefcake outfit. Verm (who’s pretty buff) leaned into Davis’ fetching Venus with great and persistent ardor. Her deflections make for nifty comedy, even as the chemistry between them adds sex appeal (and one more thing to love about this show).

You can read the entire review by Tom Strini HERE.

Craig Verm's sexy and well-sung Aeneas
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Madore's Shirtless Don Giovanni Shoot

Elliot Madore's seductive Don Giovanni (Eric Woolsey Photography)
Last month we reported that Elliot Madore was replacing Daniel Okulitch in the Opera Theatre of St. Louis' production of "Don Giovanni." Okulitch had recently been in a serious car accident, from which he is still recovering.

Okulitch, who is a fan favorite on this site, has made a name for himself in opera by frequently showing a lot of skin onstage, including going "the full Monty" in "The Fly." Readers will be please to know that Madore seems equally willing to show some skin, as evidenced by these recent promotional photos taken for this production.

(Eric Woolsey Photography)

Performances of Don Giovanni run from May 21 through June 25. We should also mention that the Masetto is Bradley Smoak, who appeared on this site a year ago in some delightfully revealing pants.

Bradley Smoak at Palm Beach Opera
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Reader Submission: Luke Scott

Sexy Scarpia: Luke Scott

We've always liked the idea of a Scarpia that is so hot that the audience might for a moment think that Tosca would surrender her body and selfishly send Mario to the firing squad an act early. With Luke Scott as Scarpia in the current Connecticut Lyric Opera production of Puccini's "Tosca" we could certainly image that scenario.

Luke Scott is another one of our reader submissions that we asked you to submit and what a find. He received his Bachelor and Graduate degrees in voice performance from The Hartt School of Music and went on to train at the Chautauqua Institution, Aspen Opera Theater Center, Martina Arroyo Foundation, and Voice Experience Foundation.

He has sung Mozart’s Count In "Le Nozze di Figaro" at the Dicapo Theater, Peter in Humperdinck's "Hansel und Gretel" with Opera Theater of Connecticut, the title role in Puccini's "Gianni Schicci" with Connecticut Lyric Opera and even crossed over to play Daddy Warbucks in Annie and Emile de Becce in South Pacific.

There are three performance of Tosca remaining with the Connecticut Lyric Opera on May 15, 20 and 21. Please check their website for addition cast information, performance times and venues.

Good guys we love: Chris Herbert & Erwin Schrott
We also have a soft spot for baritones who do good in the world like Chris Herbert and his work with "Sing for Hope" and Erwin Schrott and his humanitarian relief concerts. Luke Scott is another one of those wonderful singers who gives back to the community. He is a member of the Archipelago Project, an international ensemble performing music and educating about the arts around the world.

We've been asked to also wish Luke a belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (May 8th for those who are curious).

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

"HEY, DIDO! Stop your damn lamenting!"

Craig Verm as Aeneas
Like Micaela in Carmen and Princess Liu in Turandot, we've always found Dido to be a bit of a sad sack who could use some therapy. Rather than accept Aeneas' explanation for his disappearance she laments her fate and prepares for death. She even sings "Death must come when he is gone." Well, we've found two Aeneas' who would might make her hang around and give the hero Aeneas a second chance - American barihunks Craig Verm and Zachary Gordin.

The Florentine Opera in Milwaukee and the West Bay Opera are both producing Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas" as part of double-bills. The Florentine Opera production opens on Friday, May 13 and runs through May 22nd and includes John Blow's "Venus & Adonis." Apparently, pictures of Craig Verm have helped sales as two performances are already sold out. You can get ticket and cast information at their website.
Zachary Gordin as Aeneas with Cathleen Candia as Dido
West Bay Opera in Palo Alto, California is performing the baroque favorite alongside Manuel de Falla's "La vida breve." Performances run from May 20-29 and we suspect that Zachary Gordin's pictures will boost ticket sales in the San Francisco Bay Area. Info on performances is at www.wbopera.org
Those who want to see him fully clothed, can check him out as "Jones" in the Oakland East Bay Symphony's concert of Street Scene. Click HERE for tickets and additional cast information. 

CONTACT US AT Barihunks@gmail.com. Don't forget to order your copy of Randal Turner's "Living American Composers" by clicking on the link to your right.

Review of Randal Turner's New CD: "His delivery can by hypnotic"

Randal Turner's amazing new CD

Arthur Leonard, who writes the insightful blog Leonard Link, has written a review of barihunk Randal Turner's new CD "Living American Composers." Here it is:

After reading about Randal Turner on the barihunks website, I was inspired to search out his recent vocal recital release, available through CDbaby.com, which documents his San Francisco recital debut at Swedenborgian Church on December 6, 2010.  With pianist Allen Perriello as his collaborator, Turner presents an interesting mix of music by American composers, including both more familiar names (Ricky Ian Gordon and Jake Heggie) and new discoveries (Glen Roven, Julia Schwartz, and Clint Borzoni).  All are worth hearing, but I especially enjoyed the Gordon songs.  I've listened to a lot of Gordon's music lately, finding the composer's own recordings to be a useful reference but especially enjoying his songs in select groupings within mixed recitals by other composers and performers, where I think they make an even stronger impact and tend to stand out for their sensitive word-setting.  In this case, we have his "Four Poems by Dorothy Parker" and an aria from his opera "The Grapes of Wrath."  From Heggie, whose music is predictably mellifluous, we have two songs, and an aria from his opera "Moby Dick," which was premiered last year in Texas.

The Roven  pieces are "Four Melancholy Songs," using verses by William Butler Yeats.  I might have advised against starting a recital with four melancholy songs - a bit of a downer, no matter how artful they are - and started with Julia Schwartz's "Don Juan at Forty," to have a shot of humor at the beginning.  But both are performed with great sensitivity by Turner and Perriello, and are certainly worth discovering, as are the closing songs, two Whitman poems set by Borzoni.  In his fascinating note, Turner describes their composition as a true collaboration.  For an encore, they went with the physical setting and presented an arrangement by pianist Perriello of the old standby, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," by Goerge Cory and Douglass Cross.

My favorite vocal types are countertenor and baritone, so I have to add Randal Turner to my collection of favorites.  I certainly hope he gets more recording opportunities.  His voice is rich and dark and he controls it superbly, without the occasional sluggishness one can sense with big baritones.  He is especially effective singing long, drawn-out lines softly -- something one doesn't necessarily expect from baritones -- and his delivery can be hypnotic.  More, please!

Randal Turner
You can click HERE to download or purchase the CD from CDBaby. The DVD of the performance is available at Amazon.

CONTACT US AT Barihunks@gmail.com