Monday, October 31, 2011

Kwiecien & Pisaroni in rehearsal and on Met Feature; Teddy Tahu Rhodes on Barihunks

Mariusz Kwiecien backstage at the Met

Mariusz Kwiecien, Luca Pisaroni and Barbara Frittoli were featured on the Metropolitan Opera's recent HD broadcast of Don Giovanni in movie theaters across the globe. Here is the intermission feature with Renee Fleming talking to the singers. The video includes some great video from the final dress rehearsal.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes is on a concert tour of Australia with tenor David Hobson, which we've covered in a previous post. The Gay News Network recently caught up with the singer and asked him about Barihunks. Here's what he had to say.

Whereas Hobson has a more wholesome public image, Rhodes is often painted in the media as the bona fide rock star of the opera. He’s never been afraid of whipping his shirt off at a moment’s notice, which has earned him a certain kind of internet idolatry as well coverage in sundry dubious blogs like ‘Barihunks’, dedicated to the noble pursuit of documenting ‘the sexiest baritone hunks for opera’.

“I know! People bring it up all the time!” Rhodes sighs. “I swear I have never looked at it, but believe me, I know about that site. [Editor comment: Gotta love the Gay News Network calling us a "dubious blog"]

We're not sure we believe that Rhodes has never seen the site. We saw another interview with a singer from Down Under who was featured on the site who also said that he'd never looked at Barihunks. That, of course, begged the question of who was sending us all those emails with his name and photos attached.

Don't forget to order your 2012 Barihunks calendar. Click HERE to order. All proceeds go to support young artists.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Support Young Artists with the 2012 Barihunks Calendar

Actual Cover of Barihunks 2012 Calendar

People visit Barihunks for a variety of reasons, mostly to see some hot baritones showing off their vocal and physical gifts. However, the emails that matter most to us are the ones where we've learned that we've made a difference in a young artist's life. We often hear about singers being cast after someone saw and/or heard them on the site. Our favorite email of all-time was this, "Thanks to your site, my mom thinks I'm a big star in opera. Best of all, she doesn't complain about the all the money she's spent on my career anymore."

We strive to keep this site positive and about promoting both opera and careers. If you've written a bitchy post, you've probably noticed that it's been removed. We believe singers work too hard and make too many sacrifices to be attacked on a blog. Many singers know that we frequently show up to support them live in theaters throughout the world.

The most frequent request that we receive is for a Barihunks calendar and we've finally relented and put one together for 2012. We've collected lots of beautiful photos from the 33 of the hottest men in opera for your enjoyment. Many of the singers took the time to have exclusive photos taken just for the calendar.

Consistent with our desire to support young artists, all proceeds from the Barihunks 2012 calendar will go to support either young artist programs or young artists directly.  The only hitch is we haven't decided who will be the beneficiary. We'd like to hear from you. If you know of a training program that deserves our support, please write us at and let us know why in 100 words or less. Click on the calendar image to the right to purchase a calendar now.

Wes Mason

Singers featured in our calendar include Aaron Agulay, Zach Altman, Dan Kempson, Jonathan Beyer, Brandon Cedel, Christopher Herbert, Christopher Temporelli, Craig Verm, David Adam Moore, David Krohn, Douglas Carpenter, Douglas Williams, Erik Anstine, Justin Hopkins, Jonathan Boehr, Jonathan Estabrooks, Michael Mayes, Michael Rice, Jordan Shanahan, Joseph Lattanzi, Matthew Trevino, Matthew Morris, Michael Kelly, Milos Galaz, Nick Parker-Pendree, Peter Brathwaite, Philip Kalmanovitch, Randal Turner, Remo Tobiaz, Seth Carico, Tom Forde, Wes Mason and Zachary Gordin. If you see any of these singers on a program, please buy a ticket and support their artistry.

Michael Mayes: Texapolitan Opera Show

We'd also like to thank all of the artists, agents, photographers and opera companies who graciously granted us rights to the images. In appreciation of the photographers, we are going to feature them and their sites throughout the year. Please support them, as well. Here are the photographers who contributed their work: Ellen Appel, J. David Levy, Bryan Estabrooks, Dirty Sugar PhotographyChris Macke, Rozarii Lynch, Pierre-Etienne Bergeron, Gabriel Henningson, Taren Frazier, Kathy Whitman, Leah Brizard, Ron T. Ennis, Chris Miles, Moses Jones, Bill McClaren, Geoff Silver, Chisolm Photography, Nacho Guerrero and Ron Lindsay.

This calendar will make a great holiday gift!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Daniel Mobbs: "The Marriage of Figaro" Onstage and Offstage

Daniel Mobbs and Vince Barone: Figaro Marries
American barihunk Daniel Mobbs decided to take his role in the "Marriage of Figaro" quite literally. Before heading to the Portland Opera for his appearance as Figaro in Mozart's opera, he tied the knot with his partner Vince Barone in New York City on October 7th.

Mobbs is returning to the Portland Opera after successful appearances as Don Giovanni in 2006 and Lord Sidney in Rossini's "Il viaggio a Reims."Performances are on November 4, 6, 10 and 12. Visit the Portland Opera website for tickets and additional performance information.

Regular readers of the site might recall that barihunk Jason Hardy popped the question to soprano Carrie Kahl after a performance of the "Marriage of Figaro" at Opera Birmingham in March 2010.

Here is Daniel Mobbs singing Figaro's arias, "Se vuol ballare" and "Aprite un po'quegli occhi" from 2009:

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Jesse Blumberg to Sing Finzi in NYC; Handel's Messiah in SF

Jesse Blumberg
At Barihunks we like to expose readers to music that they may not be familiar with. So we were thrilled when we saw that Jesse Blumberg was singing Gerald Finzi's "Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun" at the St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The piece is based on a deeply moving setting of Shakespeare’s verse from Cymbeline (Act IV, Scene 2) and isn't performed nearly enough.

Bryn Terfel singing Finzi's "Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun"

Also on the November 10th program is "Dona nobis pacem" and "Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus" by Finzi's friend and contemporary Ralph Vaughan Williams. Visit the St. Thomas website for additional information.

Jesse Blumberg will appear at Grace Cathedral with ABS

If you're on the opposite coast, you can hear Jesse Blumberg with the American Bach Soloists in San Francisco. He will be performing Handel's "Messiah" on December 15 and 16 at San Francisco's magnificent Grace Cathedral atop Nob Hill and at the Mondavi Center in Sacramento on December 18.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Barihunk Craig Verm's Rock Hard Pecs Coming to Steel City

Craig Verm (left), Hotter than the ad model?
American barihunk Craig Verm is returning to the Pittsburgh Opera as Zurga in Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers." The role of Zurga made Nathan Gunn's pecs famous and helped launch the term "barihunk" into general usage. We have a feeling that Verm's Zurga is going to make him a household name. How often is the singer in a role as hot or hotter than the model used by the marketing department?

Internationally-renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes who wowed audiences in San Francisco with her Aida has been brought on to design the costumes for one of opera's most exotic spectacles.

Verm returns to the Pittsburgh Opera after a successful run in Ricky Ian Gordon's "The Grapes of Wrath" in 2008. Verm will be joined by tenor sensation Sean Panikkar in the famous duet “Au fond du temple saint.”

Craig Verm

Performances run from November 12-20 and tickets are available on the Pittsburgh Opera website

Here is the now legendary performance of the duet from The Pearl Fishers with Nathan Gunn and William Burden:

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NY Times: Anthony Tommsini on Kwiecien's Dramatic Return

  The baritone Mariusz Kwiecien performing in the rakish title role of Mozart's “Don Giovanni,” in a recently mounted production directed by Michael Grandage for the Metropolitan Opera. (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)
Read Anthony Tommasini's review in the New York Times of Mariusz Kwiecien's dramatic return to the Met's "Don Giovanni."

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Three Barihunks Advance at Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Wisconsin

Darik Knutsen (Top), Joseph Beutel (r), Anthony Reed (l)

Three barihunks were among the five singers selected by judges to advance to the next round at Saturday's Wisconsin District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Bass-baritone Joseph Beutel,  bass Anthony Reed and baritone Darik Knutsen will join mezzo-soprano Kathryn Leemhuis and soprano Alisa Jordheim in the next round of competition. Anthony Reed was also chosen to perform a Florentine Opera recital.

The five will next compete at the Upper Midwest Regional in St. Paul, Minnesota on February 4, 2012.

Joseph Beutel
Joseph Beutel is an emerging bass-baritone originally from Indiana.  For the Minnesota Opera this season, he will appear as the British Major in Silent Night, Le Bailli in Werther, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Bonze in Madame Butterfly, and covering the role of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte.  He has joined the Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist program after spending the summer as a Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist, where he covered the role of Méphistophélès in Faust and the Catholic Priest in The Last Savage. Previous roles have also included the Impresario/Direttore in the young artist production of Viva La Mamma! at Seattle Opera; Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Mustafà in L’italiana in Algeri, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, and Herr Reich in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor for IU Opera Theatre and the Sergeant in Pirates of Penzance

Darik Knutsen

Darik Knutsen, baritone from McLean, VA is excited to make his Kennedy Center debut with Evelyn Lear's Wagner Society, as well as his Madison Opera debut in Phillip Glass's Galileo Galilei this season. He also looks forward to recitals with the American Opera Society of Chicago and with the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Wilmette Chapter. The past two summers Knutsen was an Apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera where he sang the role of Wagner in Faust (2011) and Schlemil in The Tales of Hoffmann (2010).       

Here is Darik Knutsen rehearsing with Mark S. Doss, who was Mephistopheles in the Santa Fe Opera's production of Faust last season:

Knutsen has also worked with the Chicago Opera Theater for the past two seasons where he sang the role of Arcas in Charpentier's Médée (2011), and understudied the role of Charlie in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers (2010). Other operatic experience includes the title role of Eugene Onegin at the Chautauqua Institute of Music, as well as Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte and Peachum in The Threepenny Opera at Northwestern University. Knutsen is the recipient of numerous awards including 2nd Place Winner in the Central Region Finals of the Metropolitan Council Auditions (2010), Winner of the American Opera Society Scholarship (2011), and 1st Place in the Bel Canto Foundation of Chicago (2011). Mr. Knutsen is a current voice student of Marlena Malas.

Anthony Reed
Bass Anthony Reed hails from Alexandria, Minnesota, attended the University of Wisconsin at Eau-Claire and was part of the 2011 Seagle Music Colony.

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"The Hot Pole" Debuts as Don Giovanni TONIGHT at Met Opera

Mariusz Kwiecien backstage

The biggest barihunk news story of the season comes to a head tonight when Polish barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien steps on stage at the Metropolitan Opera.  The sexy singer suffered a herniated disk about two weeks ago and missed opening night of 'Don Giovanni,' devastating New York fans who had yet to see him in his most famous role.

There are still a limited number of seats available. Visit the Met website for ticket availability. Also in the cast are fellow barihunks Luca Pisaroni and Joshua Bloom.

Here is a video of him preparing for tonight's performance:

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Monday, October 24, 2011

NY Times: Baritone Returns to Fighting Trim for Met ‘Don Giovanni’

  Mariusz Kwiecien and physical therapist Rebecca Blanchard (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)
Just two weeks after back surgery, Polish barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien, is slated to return to the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Mozart's "Don Giovanni." Read the entire article at the New York Times website.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Celebrating Ned Rorem's 88th Birthday!!!

Beverly Wolff, Donald Gramm, Phylis Curtin and Ned Rorem, 1960's
Regular readers of this site know that we love to honor and celebrate the art of song. There have been few greater composers of American art song than Ned Rorem, who celebrates his 88th birthday today. 

Rorem's catalog of art songs includes more than 500 works. "Evidence of Things Not Seen," his evening-length song cycle for four singers and piano, represents his magnum opus in the genre. The New York Festival of Song premiered the cycle at Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall in January 1998. New York magazine called "Evidence of Things Not Seen" "one of the musically richest, most exquisitely fashioned, most voice-friendly collections of songs I have ever heard by any American composer;" Chamber Music magazine deemed it "a masterpiece."

Baritone Christopher DeVage sings "Dear, Though the Night" from Rorem's "Evidence of Things Not Seen":

Rorem's most recent opera, Our Town, which he completed with librettist Sandy McClatchy, is a setting of the acclaimed Thorton Wilder play of the same name. It premiered at the Indiana University Jacob's School of Music in February 2007 and has enjoyed subsequent performances with the Lake George Opera and Aspen Music Theater Center, North Carolina School of the Arts, Opera Boston, and Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, California. 

His 80th birthday in 2003 resulted in a number of celebrations, including the Curtis Institute of Music's "Roremania," a two-week celebration encompassing works in every genre. The birthday season brought a trio of new concertos from Rorem: Cello Concerto, commissioned by the Residentie Orchestra and the Kansas City Orchestra for David Geringas; Flute Concerto, commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra for its principal flutist Jeffrey Khaner; and Mallet Concerto, commissioned for Evelyn Glennie by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Eos Orchestra. 

His most recent publication, "Facing the Night: A Diary (1999-2005) and Musical Writings," chronicles Rorem's dark journey after the death of 32 year companion, Jim Holmes. In his diary, "Lies,"  Rorem said: "My music is a diary no less compromising than my prose. A diary nevertheless differs from a musical composition in that it depicts the moment, the writer's present mood which, were it inscribed an hour later, could emerge quite otherwise. I don't believe that composers notate their moods, they don't tell the music where to go - it leads them....Why do I write music? Because I want to hear it - it's simple as that. Others may have more talent, more sense of duty. But I compose just from necessity, and no one else is making what I need." 

Baritone Donald Gramm sings Ned Rorem songs:

Rorem was born in Richmond, Indiana on October 23, 1923. As a child he moved to Chicago with his family; by the age of ten his piano teacher had introduced him to Debussy and Ravel, an experience which "changed my life forever," according to the composer. At seventeen he entered the Music School of Northwestern University, two years later receiving a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He studied composition under Bernard Wagenaar at Juilliard, taking his B.A. in 1946 and his M.A. degree (along with the $1,000 George Gershwin Memorial Prize in composition) in 1948. In New York he worked as Virgil Thomson's copyist in return for $20 a week and orchestration lessons. He studied on fellowship at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood in the summers of 1946 and 1947; in 1948 his song The Lordly Hudson was voted the best published song of that year by the Music Library Association. 

In 1949 Rorem moved to France, and lived there until 1958. His years as a young composer among the leading figures of the artistic and social milieu of post-war Europe are absorbingly portrayed in "The Paris Diary" and "The New York Diary, 1951-1961."

He currently lives in New York City.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Randal Turner! 生日快樂

Randal Turner is about to debut in China

We'd like to wish Randal Turner a very special birthday.

We've met some amazing talents and incredible singers since starting Barihunks and Randal Turner counts among our favorites. He is one of many talented singers who we discovered singing in Europe who had yet to appear in the United States. Like Luca Grassi who made his belated U.S. debut at the Dallas Opera tonight, the American-born Turner didn't appear on stage in the U.S. until 2010 when he was cast as the title character in Don Giovanni at the Michigan Opera Theater.

Turner followed his critical success in Detroit with his West Coast recital debut in San Francisco, which has been recorded and is for sale on this site.  He was recently engaged by the Washington National Opera to cover Placido Domingo in Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride and will be making his debut at the New York City Opera in February 2012 in Rufus Wainwright's "Prima Donna." Turner was also named the world's sexiest Don Giovanni in a reader poll on this site, beating out international superstars like Simon Keenlyside and Mariusz Kwiecien.

Ads heralding Randal Turner's US Debut in Detroit
The legendary conductor Loren Maazel is now taking Randal Turner to China to make his Asian debut as the title character in Rossini's Barber of Seville. The performance is a co-production between the Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts and Maazel's Castleton Festival. Performances run from November 24-27.

Listen to Randal Turner:

Opening Night at Dallas Opera (and Houston, Syracuse and in one week, Knoxville)

Luca Grassi & Elena Mosuc

The Dallas Opera is kicking of its 2011-2012 “Tragic Obsessions” season tonight with Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor." The evening will include red carpet arrivals and a sumptuous post-opera black tie reception.

The big news for us is the long-awaited American operatic debut of Italian barihunk Luca Grassi. We've been pleading for someone to hire this amazing performer for years, so kudos to the Dallas Opera. He's a major talent and sure to be a hit with U.S. audiences with his raw sexual appeal and rich, lusterous baritone.

Grassi won the City of Rome competition and made his debut there as Germont in La traviata. He appeared at the reopening of the Gran teatro La Fenice in Venice as Germont in "La traviata." He has been a regular guest at the Festival della Valle d’Itria where he has sung the title roles in Massenet’s "Werther" (Baritone version) and Piccini’s "Roland" as well as Saint-Bris in "Les Huguenots." Upcoming engagements include Renato in "Un ballo in maschera"; Ezio in "Attila" in St. Gallen, "La traviata" in Leipzig, Florence and Montreal; and "Carmen" in Las Palmas.

Ticket for the remaining performances are available at the Dallas Opera website. For those who can't get tickets, the Dallas Opera in partnership with AT&T Performing Arts Center will present a free, live simulcast of the evening’s performance in Sammons Park. The simulcast will include English language subtitles.

You can read an interview with Luca Grassi at the Theater Jones website.  

Opening Night Hunks: Nathan Gunn, Mark Womack & Jonathan Boehr
It's also opening night at the Houston Grand Opera and the Syracuse Opera. Houston is performing Rossini's "Barber of Seville" with fan favorite Nathan Gunn as the Barber and Kyle Ketelsen as Don Basilio. We should also mention that the Houston Culture Map wrote a nice piece on Nathan Gunn that included a lovely mention of Barihunks (although we don't think of ourselves as a bit"hilarious")

We've already reported on Jonathan Boehr being part of the Syracuse Opera's performance of Verdi's "La traviata," but it's certainly worth a reminder.

We should also mention the Knoxville Opera opening night festivities begin in one week with a "La traviata" that included Mark Womack.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

David McFerrin in Opera and Song

Opera Boston does Berlioz with David McFerrin

We've followed the career of David McFerrin from Boston to Seattle to Germany and now back to Boston. The Massachusetts native returns to his home turf this week to perform Claudio in Berlioz's "Beatrice et Benedict" with Opera Boston. The opera will be performed on October 21, 23 and 25 at the Cutler Majestic Theater in Boston. The production will be updated from the 16th century to Sicily of the 1950s.

David McFerrin Adds His Voice to the Five Borough Festival

Second chances don't come along often, so if you missed the first performance of the Five Borough Songbook, you'll want to grab their follow up show in Queens at at the Flushing Town Hall on November 12. If you can't make it out to Queens, there are performance left in the remaining three boroughs. as the Songbook comes to Manhattan on January 12, the Bronx in May 2012 and finally to Staten Island in June 2012.

David McFerrin, who relishes singing song recitals, is reason enough to spend an afternoon in Queens. He will be singing Glen Roven's "F from DUMBO," John Glover's "8:46 AM, Five Years Later," their new 20th song, Martin Hennessy's "The City's Love," as well as Ricky Ian Gordon's duet "O City of Ships."

The Songbook, a collection of 20 brand new songs by 20 unique composers, celebrates New York City through its history, poetry, and geography – and its most promising musical talent. Composers who wrotes works for the Five Borough Songbook include Glen Roven, Daron Hagen, Renée Favand-See,  John Glover,  Ricky Ian Gordon,  Yotam Haber,  Martin Hennessy,  Gabriel Kahane,  Gilda Lyons,  Jorge Martín,  Russell Platt,  Matt Schickele,  Richard Pearson Thomas,  Christopher Tignor,  Scott Wheeler  and Mohammed Fairouz.

Visit the Five Borough Songbook website for additional cast and performance information.

For those of you in Texas, McFerrin will be joining the San Antonio Symphony for Handel's Messiah on December 2 & 4. Visit their website for additional information. 

Here is David McFerrin singing Libby Larsen's "Before Loving You:"

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Audun Iversen: Opera Now's "Artist of the Month"

Artist of the Month: Audun Iversen
We've featured Audun Iversen before and were thrilled to see that he was named the "Artist of the Month" by the British magazine "Opera Now," (not the American podcast of the same name). Here is what they wrote:

Norwegian-born Audun Iversen is making himself quit at home in Britain these days. This spring saw the 34-year-old baritone make his Covent Garden debut as Albert in Werther opposite Rolando Villazon, and he'll be appearing as Marchello in La boheme and as Lescaut in Massenet's Manon at the same house this season.

Last season also saw Iversen on the road around the UK as Don Giovanni with Glyndebourne Touring, and he's back at the Glyndebourne Festival next summer as the Count in a new production of The Marriage of Figaro. Meanwhile, this autumn finds him at the English National Opera singing the title role in a new production of Eugene Onegin directed by Deborah Warner. 'I find Onegin an exciting character," he says. 'He's a blank canvas that directors and singers can paint in so many ways. So far, he's my favourite among the roles that I sing."

Audun Iversen and Elina Garanca sing "Là Ci Darem La Mano" from Don Giovanni

Iversen has had several outings as Onegin, including a new production at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen in 2009 directed by Peter Konwitschny, and another on tour in Europe with the Bolshoi Opera last summer. His sonorous voice combines a rich lower register with a free top and a shimmering and flexible vibrato throughout. It's just perfect for Mozart, and it appears that he's already stepping into some big shoes: 'I was just dumbstruck when I was singing the Count in a revival of a vintage production of Mozart's Nozze di Figaro at Deutsche Oper in Berlin and finding the name-tag Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sewn into one of the overcoats I was wearing!'

Like his legendary predecessor, Audun treasures the Lieder repertoire. The voice, however, also holds the promise of more dramatic things to come, and the singer says that he is looking forward to tackling Verdi's mighty baritone roles. With his commanding stage presence and strong acting instincts, Verdi's overcoats are bound to fit him every bit as well as Mozarts when the moment comes.


Audun Iversen can next be seen at the English National Opera performing Eugene Onegin from November 12 through December 3. Visit their website for tickets and additional performance information.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Michael Todd Simpson in Carmen & Messiah; Pop's Sexy Carmina Burana; Varnier in Rimini

Anita Rachvelishvili as Carmen & Michael Todd Simpson as Escamillo in rehearsal; (Bill Mohn, photo)
Michael Todd Simpson brought his swaggering Escamillo to Seattle Opera for their performances of Bizet's "Carmen." In a performance that included the riveting Carmen of Anita Rachvelishvili and a host of other hot men, the American barihunk managed to catch the attention of reviewer Jackson Holtz at the Everett Herald.
"Seattle Opera veteran Michael Todd Simpson was sexy and charming as the matador." 
You can read the entire review at the Everett HeraldNet website.

Bernard Jacobson of the Seattle Times wrote:
"Don José...projected just the nebbish air of indecision that makes José putty in Carmen's hands — no competition for the sexy Escamillo and Zuniga of Michael Todd Simpson and Donovan Singletary."
Donovan Singletary in his Barihunks tee shirt

Performances run through October 29th and tickets can be purchased online. Simpson next heads down the coast to California, where he will perform Handel's "Messiah" with the amazing San Francisco Symphony. Performances are on December 16, 17 & 18. Visit the San Francisco Symphony website for tickets and additional performance information.

By the way, if you haven't seen the Seattle Opera's "If Carmen and her friends were on Facebook...," then you missed one of the funniest and creative things that we've ever seen from an Opera Company (that was meant to be funny!). You can see the entire post on their wonderful blog. 

Kudos to the Seattle Opera, which continues to be one of the most creative opera companies in the world.

Cirque du Soleil performers and Marian Pop combine forces in Detroit

The Michigan Opera Theater hired some Cirque du Soleil acrobats to add an erotic touch to Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." The piece was part of a double-bill with Menotti's "The Medium." Barihunk Marian Pop, a regular fixture with the opera company, was singled out for his performance by the local press.
"Baritone soloist Marian Pop's expressive singing was the musical highlight of "Carmina."
You can read the entire review at the Detroit Free Press website.

Jérôme Varnier
Jérôme Varnier is wrapping up a run as Palémon in Massenet's "Thaïs" tonight at the Opéra de Tours. He now heads to the Opéra-Théâtre de Metz to perform Guido in Ambroise Thomas' "Francesca da Rimini," which opens on November 18. Tickets and additional performance information are available online.

Monday, October 17, 2011

San Francisco Opera Delivers Another Great "Don Giovanni"

Ryan Kuster: What was Zerlina thinking?

There has been so much attention paid to the Met's "Don Giovanni" with the last minute cancellation and then probable return of Mariusz Kwiecien, that the opera world has almost forgotten about the Mozart classic opening on the Left Coast.

Regular readers of this site will know that Mariusz Kwiecien's performance of Don Giovanni at the San Francisco Opera was one of the inspirations for this website. In a world of competitive Don Giovanni's, including Teddy Tahu Rhodes' return to the role at Opera Australia, it's nice to see that the San Francisco Opera continues to deliver solid, well-cast performances of the opera.  To top it off, the performances are being led by their extremely popular music director Nicola Luisotti.

Lucas Meachem

The San Francisco Opera's "Don Giovanni" opened on Saturday night with a trio of men that would be the envy of any opera company: The vocally thrilling Lucas Meachem as the Don, Marco Vinco in his U.S. debut at Leporello and future superstar and certified barihunk Ryan Kuster as Masetto. In a bit of fantasy casting, the amazingly talented Kate Lindsey is Zerlina.

Ryan Kuster is a first-year Adler Fellow, recent graduate of the 2010 Merola Opera Program and a former participant in Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. He is performing a number of roles at the San Francisco Opera this season, including a Mandarin (Turandot), Astolfo (Lucrezia Borgia), Masetto (Don Giovanni), and Escamillo (Carmen).

Performances run through November 10th and tickets and additional cast information are available at the San Francisco Opera website.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mark your calendars: Christopher Herbert, Riley McMitchell & Joshua Bloom

Chris Herbert

October 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM, American barihunk Chris Herbert will perform in St. Paul's Chapel at the Trinity Wall Street Church in New York (talk about another great way to occupy Wall Street!). He will be a soloist in Bach's Cantata BWV 76, "Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes" with the Trinity Choir and Baroque Orchestra.

Here's a performance of the piece from Vienna in 1951:

Christopher Herbert performs concerts and opera throughout the United States and Europe, principally with his ensemble, New York Polyphony.  He played a prominent part of "Sing for Hope's" 2010 and 2011 Pop-Up Pianos throughout New York.  Check out the New York Polyphony website for upcoming concerts in your area. They are not to be missed!

Riley McMitchell

On November 11th, which is Canadian "Remembrance Day," barihunk Riley McMitchell will be performing the "Mass No. 2 in G major, D.167" by Franz Schubert. The performance will begin at 8 PM at the Canadian Memorial United Church at 15th and Burrard in Vancouver, B.C.

Coming soon to Barihunks: Havard Stensvold

Here is a highlight of Schubert's Mass in G major, which includes the bass Havard Stensvold, who we can assure you will be seen on Barihunks soon!

If you can't get enough of Joshua Bloom in the Met's "Don Giovanni," you're in luck. On Monday, November 28th at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City, the Aussie barihunk will perform Schwanengesang by Franz Schubert, as well as songs by Tom Lehrer and Poulen'c "Le Bestiaire."

Mojca Erdmann (Zerlina), Joshua Bloom (Masetto) (Marty Sohl / Metropolitan Opera)

Joshua Bloom was a member of the Merola Program and an Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera. In 2005 he sang Garibaldo in "Rodelinda" for the San Francisco Opera, in 2006 he made his role debut as Nick Shadow in "The Rake’s Progress" for Opera Australia under Richard Hickox and appeared in "Die Zauberflöte" and "Salome" for Santa Fe Opera. For Opera Australia he has sung Dandini, Escamillo and Mozart's Figaro and Leporello. He made his Chicago Opera Theater debut in "Béatrice et Bénédict". Engagements include Masetto ("Don Giovanni") and Truffaldino ("Ariadne auf Naxos") for the Metropolitan Opera, Alidoro and Leporello for Garsington Opera Festival, and Rodolfo ("La Sonnambula") and Figaro for Opera Australia.

Here is the great Thomas Allen singing "Le Bestiaire":

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Seth Carico Returns to U.S. for Recital

Seth Carico looking all sexy
Seth Carico will be returning from the Deutsche Oper in Berlin where he is performing in Verdi's "Don Carlo" and Puccini's "Tosca" to give a recital at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Carico will perform Ned Rorem's "War Scenes," Ibert's "Quatre Chansons de Don Quichotte," and Brahms' "Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 121." The performance is on Tuesday, November 8  at 7:00pm.

Carico can next be seen on stage in the U.S. at the Fort Worth Opera, where he created a sensation as Victor in Jorge Martín’s "Before Night Falls." Carico is returning to perform another contemporary role when he tackles Leonidas in Mark Adamo's "Lysistrata," which runs from May 26 to June 3.

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NY Times Review of Met's Don Giovanni: "Reckless in Seduction, if Not Onstage"

Peter Mattei (L) & Luca Pisaroni (R)
Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

New York Times critic Anthony Tommasi has written a review of the new Metropolitan Opera production of "Don Giovanni." Readers are well aware that this production was plagued by the last-minute injury of Mariusz Kwiecien, who New Yorkers had eagerly anticipated performing the role for the first time on the Met stage. Tommasini's review focuses a lot on Michael Grandage's production, which appears to suffer from many of the criticisms that beset his "Billy Budd" at Glyndebourne, which is an overly conservative and cautious portrayal of the opera. Much of the criticism's of Grandage's "Billy Budd" was that he stripped the sexual tension from the opera. We'll be curious if this Giovanni is different when Kwiecien, who along with Randal Turner is known as one of the most sexually charged Giovanni's, returns to the cast. [FYI: The Barihunks crew is attending the October 25 performance when Kwiecien returns].

Joélle Harvey as Zerlina and Kelly Markgraf as Masetto; Jason Hardy as Leporello and Daniel Okulitch as Don Giovanni NYCO's Sexy and Vivid Don Giovanni (Photo by © Carol Rosegg)

Tommasini points out that this production paled in comparison to the "vivid" and "sexy" Christopher Alden production that the New York City Opera produced in 2009. We were unabashedly enthusiastic about the City Opera's "Giovanni," which we thought was one of the best ever produced. With City Opera slowly rising from the ashes, it will be nice to see some renewed competition in the Big Apple.

However, he did single out and praise the performances of the singers. Here is what he wrote about the barihunks.

[Mattei] was superb, singing alternately with suave, seductive phrasing and menacing intensity. At 6-foot-4, he was lordly, cagey, heady with desire and glibly reckless.

The bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni was a dynamic Leporello, singing with a muscular voice, rich colorings and agility. Handsome and full of bluster, this youthful Leporello exuded resentment while bowing to his master’s commands. But for the accident of birth, Mr. Pisaroni’s Leporello would be the nobleman and lady-killer. And there was some intriguing sexual tension in Giovanni’s roughhousing with his servant. 
You can read Tommasini's entire review at the New York Times online site.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Mariusz Kwiecien Returning to Met Opera's "Don Giovanni"

Mariusz Kwiecien backstage

Scores of Mariusz Kwiecien fans are celebrating the news that the Metropolitan Opera has announced his return to the cast of Mozart's "Don Giovanni." The Polish barihunk recently underwent surgery for a herniated desk and rumors were flying that he would not only cancel the rest of his run of Giovanni at the Met, but he would be canceling his December run in Krakow, as well.

Mr. Kwiecien, his surgeon and manager all reported that “his recovery is progressing at a remarkable pace.” The Met is reporting that he will return on October 25 and that he is expected to carry out all the stage action, with the possible exception of climbing down a ladder in the opening scene. Kwiecien went under the knife on Tuesday.

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Schrottko to Perform Rossini in Russia

Erwin Schrott & Anna Netrebko

There is a noticeable gap in Erwin Schrott's official schedule from the time that he wraps up Mefistofele in Monte Carlo in November until his January concert in Hannover, Germany with his wife Anna Netrebko.

We've learned that the favorite opera couple of the paparazzi are headed to Netrebko's native Russia for two concerts together. They will begin at the Grand Hall of Moscow Conservatory on December 24. They will Rossini’s Stabat Mater with  the State Symphony Orchestra "New Russia" under the baton of Claudio Vandelli. On December 28th they will head over to the Svetlanov Hall at the Moscow International Music House and perform with the National Philarmonic of Russia under Vladimir Spivakov.

Since we just celebrated the anniversary of the first performance of "Porgy & Bess" here is Schrottko as an unlikey couple from the opera:

The couple then heads off for their concert in Hannover, with additional stops in Mannheim, Lucerne and Stuttgart. Schrott's next stage appearance will be as "Don Giovanni" at Covent Garden from February 16-29 with our favorite Leporello, Alex Esposito. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Teddy Tahu Rhodes Sings The "Champagne Aria"

"Teddy Bare" burning up the stage in Sydney

We've had a number of emails asking for more pictures or video of Teddy Tahu Rhodes' performance of Don Giovanni. We're tired of running the same old leather outfit photo, but we now have this great video of him singing "Fin ch' han dal vino" from the current run.

Performances at the Sydney Opera House run until November 5th and then the show moves to the Arts Centre in Melbourne from December 2-December 17. Visit the Opera Australia website for additional information.

Don Giovanni: The Champagne Aria ('') sung by Teddy Tahu Rhodes 

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New York Observer Profiles Luca Pisaroni; Thoughts on a Kwiecien Replacement

A Leporello who should get the girl: Luca Pisaroni
Zachary Woolfe of the New York Observer has written a wonderful profile of Luca Pisaroni, who is appearing as Leporello opposite Mariusz Kwiecien Peter Mattei in the Met's Don Giovanni. You can read it on the Observer website.

For the legions of fans who were disappointed by Kwiecien's injury and cancellation, Pisaroni is a nice consolation prize as Leporello. Who knows, maybe Leporello will get the girl(s) this time.

Randal Turner: The logical replacement for Kwiecien

By the way, we were hoping that the Met would scoop City Opera and bring in Randal Turner to take over for Kwiecien. He's the only Don who can match Kwiecien's raw sexuality in this role. Turner will be making his New York stage debut in February in Rufus Wainwright's "Prima Donna."

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Christian Van Horn's Breakout Performance in Chicago

Christian Van Horn backstage as Raimondo
Andrew Patner of the Chicago Sun-Times has highlighted the performance of barihunk Christian Van Horn in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor." It's not often that the character of Raimondo gets singled out, but anyone who has seen the towering Van Horn or heard his incredible voice, knows that he has a way of standing out in a crowd. Here is what Patner wrote:

The breakout performance here was from another Lyric alum, bass-baritone Christian Van Horn, as the meddling tutor Raimondo who probably thinks that he’s truly helping Lucia. With both the restored Act 2 aria and especially later with the chilling “Dalle stanze ove Lucia,” announcing to the wedding party Lucia’s murder of the man she was forced to marry, Van Horn made good on the promise he showed during his Ryan years. [Read the entire review HERE].

There are seven performances remaining through November 5th. Visit the Lyric Opera of Chicago website for tickets and performance information.  

Here is Van Horn performing in "Romeo and Juliet" in Salzburg:

After his run of Lucia's, Van Horn heads west to the San Francisco Opera to sing Timur in the company's stunning David Hockney production of Turandot with another breakout performance, the Liu of soprano Leah Crocetto. 

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Mariusz Kwiecien Taken to Hospital for Herniated Disc

Kwiecien as Don Giovanni at Covent Garden
As we did when barihunk Daniel Okulitch was involved in a car accident, we will try to keep readers apprised of developments concerning Mariusz Kwiecien's injury during a rehearsal of Don Giovanni. Here is the latest update from the New York Times.


Mariusz Kwiecien, the Polish baritone who was cast in the title role of the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of “Don Giovanni,” which opens on Thursday night, underwent surgery for a herniated disk on Tuesday, his manager said. “The doctors feel that Mariusz’s prognosis is excellent,” said the manager, William Guerri, of Columbia Artists Management. But it was unclear when he might return to the stage. “It’s a wait-and-see proposition,” Mr. Guerri said. Mr. Kwiecien felt pain during the opening scene of Monday’s dress rehearsal, the manager said. He was taken by paramedics to a hospital, said the Met spokesman, Peter Clark. The Met tapped Peter Mattei, who was on hand for a production of Rossini’s “Barbiere di Siviglia,” to replace Mr. Kwiecien for the opening of “Don Giovanni.” The opera has 16 more performances into March, although Mr. Kwiecien was scheduled to be in the cast only through Nov. 11.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Must See" Recitals: Gabriel Preisser, Michael Kelly, Jonathan Estabrooks and Lucio Gallo

Gabriel Preisser
If you're anywhere near the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, Parliament Hill or the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," then there are recitals near you that you won't want to miss.
We first learned about Gabriel Preisser about a year ago when we received an email from a respected figure in opera who touted him as the next great baritone voice. At the time, Preisser was performing small roles at the Kentucky Opera and heading off to the Pensacola Opera. He has since wowed the judges at the Lirico Concorso Competition and landed at the Minnesota Opera (with what seems like a planeload of barihunks. More on that in a future post). Preisser can be seen Thursday night as part of the Schubert Club's "The Magic of Mozart" series. He will be performing with soprano Angela Mortellaro and accompanist Aaron Breid. Click HERE for additional information.

Michael Kelly
Another singer who has been wowing judges in Michael Kelly, who recently showed off his vocal skills at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition and was the winner of the 2011 "Joy in Singing Award." We also recently featured an entire recital from Michael Kelly on this site, which you can still watch.

If you'd like to see him live, he will be part of the New York Debut Artist Recital series on Monday, October 24th at 8pm in Merkin Hall. Visit their website for additional information. His recital will feature music by Schubert, Poulenc, Vaughan Williams, and William Bolcom, and introduce a new cycle written for him by Ben Moore. Jonathan Ware will be at the piano.

On Thursday, November 3rd, Kelly will appear at the Hungarian Consulate General with soprano Julia Küsswetter to perform music by Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Liszt and Bartok. Additional information can be found at the German Forum website.

Jonathan Estabrooks
On Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 pm  Jonathan Estabrooks and his brother Bryan Estabrooks will present a musical journey ranging from opera houses to night clubs. Hosted by Jian Ghomeshi from CBC Radio's Q, this promises to be an entertaining evening. Trust us that anything involving the Estatbrooks Brothers promises to be fun. The performance is at the Shenkman Arts Center in Ottawa. Click HERE for additional information.

Of course, you can always catch Jonathan Estabrooks at "A Singer's Life" on YouTube.

For those of you in London, the great Italian baritone Lucio Gallo is the next performer in the Rosenblatt Recital series on Wednesday, October 12 at 7:30 PM. He'll be bringing sunny Italy to England with an evening of songs and arias by Tosti. Visit the Rosenblatt Recital website for additional information.

Here is Gallo singing Mozart's "Hai gia vinta la causa" from "Le nozze di Figaro":

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