Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrating the birthday of Gioachino Antonio Rossini with Barihunks Thomas Hampson, Nathan Gunn, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo and Randal Turner

Thomas Hampson sings "Sois immobile" from Guillaume Tell:

 Nathan Gunn & John Osborn sing "All'idea di quel metallo"

 Ildebrando D'Arcangelo sing Assur's aria "Quei Numi furenti" from Semiramide

Randal Turner performing Mosè in Egitto:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rock Climbing Barihunk Anders Froehlich

Anders Froehlich as Don Giovanni at the Cinnabar Theater 
Photo by Eric Chazankin
We first spotted barihunk Anders Froehlich playing Fiorello in a production of the Barber of Seville at the San Jose Opera last year. He's now singing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni with the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma, California. He's been seen in other roles in the San Francisco Bay Area, including as the Grandfather Clock in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges at Berkeley Opera, Silvio in Pagliacci at Project Opera and Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosí fan tutte at Cinnabar Theater.
The sexy singer in known for more than his work on the stage. He's also an accomplished rock climber who reached a goal of completing his first "free solo" climb last summer. Check out the view from his helmet cam as he climbs Matthes Crest in Yosemite National Park.

Matthes Crest_7 from Anders Froehlich on Vimeo.

"Rock climbing, especially free soloing, and performing in the classical arts share an interesting parallel," said Froehlich. "There's no room for error. Both provide an exercise in being present. Both demand that you must be in the moment - mentally."

Froehlich trained at the Connecticut Conservatory of Performing Arts and graduated from Indiana University. After working on his career in Los Angeles and New York City, Froehlich eventually settled in San Francisco.

For tickets or more information about the Cinnabar Theater production of "Don Giovanni," call 707-763-8920 or visit

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"Three Barihunks in Three Acts" at BAM

Timothy McDevitt (L), Michael Kelly (C) and Douglas Williams (R)

The barihunk hotness continues at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where they just wrapped up "Prima Donna" with Randal Turner. The latest production is Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts with three barihunks!!! The Mark Morris Dance Group production of Four Saints in Three Acts will feature barihunks Michael Kelly as St. Ignatius, Tim McDevitt as St. Plan, and Doug Williams as Compere. The opera will be paired with the world premiere of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy.

There are only three performances between March 1-3 and there is limited ticket availability. Visit the BAM website for tickets. 

Video from the 2006 production of Four Saints in Three Acts:


Reader Submission: John Brandon

Two shots from John Brandon's website

Barihunk John Brandon is our latest reader submission. He opened in Carmen on Sunday at Opera Birmingham, where he is singing Morales. The 6' 3" singer has recently performed Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Vivente and Antonio in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro with both Nashville Opera and Opera Columbus.

The 26-year-old has toured and recorded with Kammerchor Stuttgart, English Voices and the Westminster Choir. He can next be seen in the St. John Passion as Jesus with the Chattanooga Bach Choir in his home state of Tennessee.

You can listen to audio clips of John Brandon on his website.


NY Polyphony CD released today: New Yorker critic Alex Ross names it CD of the Week

Christopher Herbert (L) and New York Polyphony
Alex Ross, the esteemed music critic Alex Ross, has named New York Polyphony's album endBeginning as his CD of the week. The ensemble include Christopher Herbert, who has been featured regularly on this site. However, the success of this group is not any individual, but how beautifully the four singers work together.

Here is a video of the making of New York Polyphony's album endBeginning:

We've seen this ensemble live and their CD is a must for any serious classical music lover. The album is being released today and is available at Amazon.


Teddy Tahu Rhodes' Tattoo Becomes a Popular Search

A tattooed Teddy Tahu Rhodes in Così fan tutte
We recently noticed that we were getting a lot of hits for a 2008 post about Teddy Tahu Rhodes showing off his tattoo to female reporter. When we explored why there was a sudden interest in his tattoo, we realized that he's been heavily tattooed for the current production of Mozart's "Così fan tutte" at the Washington National Opera.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes' actual tattoo
The Jonathan Miller production runs through March 15th with a cast that also includes Elizabeth Futral, Renata Pokupic, Joel Prieto, William Shimell, and Christine Brandes. Visit the opera company's website to purchase tickets. The 6' 5" New Zealand barihunk received a nice mention from Tim Smith in the Baltimore Sun:

As Guglielmo, Teddy Tahu Rhodes towers over his colleagues physically and reveals a beefy sound to match his animated delivery.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hot New Promo Pictures of Duncan Rock as Don Giovanni

Duncan Rock: A Don Giovanni that makes the Catalogue aria believable
We recently posted about barihunk Duncan Rock being cast in "Don Giovanni: The Opera" at Heaven in London, England.

The opera opens on April 15 and has created a lot of buzz, which you can read about in our previous post. Part of the chatter was that Google Ads had declined the company's advertising because it was too provocative. The production has created lively debates about whether performances like this are good for opera, or not. The opera is not for "purists," but for those who want a fun, frolicking, sexy night of entertainment with the music of Mozart, then you may want to jump online and get tickets.

Behind the scenes rehearsal shot
When we saw the promotional photos for the performance with Duncan Rock, we had to share them with readers. In this production, there is some role switching and the Don pursues men as well as women. One thing is certain, after seeing these pictures, Leporello's "Catalogue Aria" where he sings of his master's conquests will suddenly become quite believable.

Here's the original text in English translation. We suspect that there will some adjustments.

My dear lady, this is a list
Of the beauties my master has loved,
A list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.

In Italy, six hundred and forty;
In Germany, two hundred and thirty-one;
A hundred in France; in Turkey, ninety-one;
But in Spain already one thousand and three.

Among these are peasant girls,
Maidservants, city girls,
Countesses, baronesses,
Marchionesses, princesses,
Women of every rank,
Every shape, every age.

With blondes it is his habit
To praise their kindness;
In brunettes, their faithfulness;
In the white-haired, their sweetness.

In winter he likes fat ones.
In summer he likes thin ones.
He calls the tall ones majestic.
The little ones are always charming.

He seduces the old ones
For the pleasure of adding to the list.
His greatest favourite
Is the young beginner.

It doesn't matter if she's rich,
Ugly or beautiful;
If she wears a skirt,
You know what he does.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Barihunks Luncheon in New York City

Barihunks Luncheon in New York City
Barihunks hosted a luncheon for eight of the hottest singers in New York at Candle 79 today. From left to right are Michael Rice, Jonathan Estabrooks, Randal Turner, Christopher Temporelli, Michael Kelly, Malcolm Merriweather, Ricardo Rivera and Donovan Singletary.

Randal Turner had closed a successful run in Rufus Wainwright's the night before. His "mad scene" in Act 1 was a tour de force performance that will be long-remembered by opera aficionados. The Zurich-based singer will return to the U.S. in May to perform Mendelsohn's "Elijah" with the Spring Choral Festival in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Barihunks hamming it up before the group photo

Michael Rice has given up singing to work at an executive recruiting firm, support his wife Jennifer Rivera's skyrocketing career and devote time to his OperaNow! podcast. He taped some audio at the Barihunks luncheon for his next podcast, so make sure to tune in.

Jonathan Estabrooks is currently filming Schaunard in Puccini's La boheme. We'll have more details closer to the release date. Make sure to check out his vlog, "A Singer's Life." He also taped some footage at the luncheon so check him out on YouTube.

Christopher Temporelli & Donovan Singletary
Christopher Temporelli, who just wrapped up a run as the Judge in Philip Glass's Orphée with Virginia Opera, now heads to Korea for a recording project. Keep an eye out for additional release news on this site.

Michael Kelly just wrapped up another recital at Trinity Wall Street. We'll provide you with the stream as soon as it's available. You can watch his December 2010 recital HERE.

Malcolm Merriweather keeps a busy schedule around New York as a baritone, choirmaster, teacher and conductor with the New York Choral Society.

In March, Ricardo Rivera will perform in the Semi-Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In May, he will perform the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" with the Mannes Opera and Orchestra.

From May 19-June 1, Donovan Singletary will perform Figaro in Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" at the Ft. Worth Opera Festival. In March and April, he can be seen as the Murderer in Verdi's "Macbeth" opposite barihunks Thomas Hampson and Gunther Groissböck.

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The 2012-13 Met Season: A Barihunk View

We weren't going to post about the new Metropolitan Opera season, because we figured everyone has already written about it. We received a couple of emails asking us why we hadn't posted about it, but we still thought that there were better stories. Then we got this email, "I don't want to read about the Met season in the Times, which always leads with the predictable '[fill in soprano name] to open new Met season.' Why aren't you guys letting us know which barihunks are being cast? I've discovered Kyle Ketelsen because of your site and jumped online to buy tickets for his Leporello."

How can we resist that plea?

Mariusz Kwiecien in the Met's Don Giovanni this season
Mariusz Kwiecien does a little strip tease in Elisir:

On September 24, Mariusz Kwiecien will open the season in Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore" opposite Anna Netrebko. The performance will be broadcast live in HD on October 13.

Simon Keenlyside (left) as Prospero menaces Ian Bostridge's Caliban in The Tempest.
Image © 2004 Royal Opera House of Covent Garden
Simon Keenleyside (Prospero) and Christopher Lemmings (Caliban) in a scene from Act 1 of 'The Tempest' recorded at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden:

Undoubtedly, one of the hot tickets will be Simon Keenlyside portraying Prospero in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest." By the way, the entire cast is a bit of eye candy, with Audrey Luna (who is married to barihunk Jordan Shanahan) as Ariel, Isabel Leonard (who is married to barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes) and tenor hunks Alek Shrader, William Burden and Toby Spence. The opera will be broadcast in HD on November 10.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky: Sexy onstage and off
Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Eri Tu from Un Ballo in Maschera:

The ageless and man on seamless legato, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, will open Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" on November 8 as Anckarström opposite Karita Mattila. The opera will be broadcast in HD on December  8.

Peter Mattei

Wagner gets into the barihunk act, as well, when Parsifal opens on February 15, 2013 with the amazing René Pape as Gurnemanz and Peter Mattei as Amfortas. The Live in HD broadcast will be on March 2, 2013.

Guido Loconsolo

On April 4, 2013, the Met goes baroque with Handel's "Giulio Cesare" with Guido Loconsolo as Achilla and countertenor David Daniels in the title role. The Live in HD broadcast will be on April 27, 2013.

Here is Guido Loconsolo singing the catalogue aria from Don Giovanni:


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Opera News features Christian Van Horn

Christian Van Horn (Photo © Brian Kuhlmann 2012)
Christian Van Horn has a leading man's energetic charm and dashing good looks — virtues that were kept somewhat under wraps this past fall, when he was singing Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Crespel in Les Contes d'Hoffmann at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Turandot's Timur at San Francisco Opera. "When I show up for a job and go to have a wig fitting, I can always spot mine — it's the gray one, and it usually has a long, gray beard to go with it." Van Horn has a fair amount of practice playing older men: during his two full seasons as a contract artist at Bayerische Staatsoper, his seventeen roles included a run as Edita Gruberova's father in Norma, an experience he says was "kind of like singing with Angelina Jolie, because [Gruberova] is so wildly famous there. The applause after the show would last for an hour sometimes, and the crowds of people waiting for her outside the theater were unbelievable."

[Read the entire feature at the Opera News website]


You can subscribe to Opera News at their website


Don't forget to buy Randal Turner's CD. He's currently starring in Rufus Wainwright's "Prima Donna" at 
New York City Opera

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lee Poulis as Enrico (Photo by Rod Millington/Sarasota Opera)
Sometimes the sexiest pictures don't show any skin at all. This photo of Lee Poulis as Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at Sarasota is a great example of someone cutting a sexy figure in a period costume with lots of fabric.

The production opened on February 18th, but there are additional performances on February 23, 26 and March 2, 7, 9, 17 and 23. Visit the Sarasota Opera website for ticket information.

The sextet from Lucia at the Met with barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien and Anna Netrebko:


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wes Mason to sing Pelleas at AVA

Wes Mason as seen in the 2012 Barihunks Charity Calendar. From the Ft. Worth Opera's "Before Night Falls"

Barihunk Wes Mason will perform Pelléas opposite soprano Chloé Moore's Mélisande in a performance of the Academy of Vocal Arts’ upcoming production of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande running from February 25th through March 1st.  

Wes Mason and Chloé Moore discuss and perform an excerpt from Pelléas et Mélisande:

For the past seven seasons, The Academy of Vocal Arts has offered as part of its season, a fully staged opera with piano accompaniment in order to showcase AVA’s talented artists in roles they might not otherwise have an opportunity to perform. Often, these are operas that require large orchestras that would not fit into AVA’s small theater. Music director Luke Housner will be the pianist.

Bass Patrick Guetti sings the role of Arkel:

 Zachary Nelson (Golaud) and soprano Sydney Mancasola (Mélisande) sing Act l scene:

There are multiple casts, but Wes Mason will perform Pelléas for the performance on Tuesday, February 28 at 7:30 PM. Patrick Guetti will be performing Arkel in all of the performances. Zachary Nelson will perform Golaud on February 25th and 28th, as well as March 1st. Tickets range from $10-$60 and are available at or 215 735-1685.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Michael Mayes: From BariChunk to BariHunk

Michael Mayes: "Killer" body
We make no secret about Michael Mayes being one of our favorite people in opera. His Texapolitan Opera Roadshow podcast remains one of the most interesting and entertaining shows about classical music and opera anywhere. He's also a great guy, has an amazing stage presence and he's a wonderful singer. What's not to like? We're pretty sure that his performance as Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" at Tulsa Opera is going to put him on the international opera map. Mayes was made for this role and took it so seriously that he dropped 50 pounds and hit the weights. As he puts it, he went from "barichunk to barihunk."

Here's an interview from his ADA artists website where he talks about the role.

How does one prepare to play a character that is convicted of murder?   

Joseph de Rocher is a composite character, meant to embody the spirit of the men that Sister Helen Prejean accompanied on their final walk. For an actor with my background, this is a perfect situation.  While I didn’t grow up a desperately impoverished white boy from Louisiana from a shattered home; I did grow up among some of the poorest people in our country~ what many people today would callously call ‘trailer trash’, an epithet of which I’ve often been on the receiving end.  In my hometown, Cut n Shoot, TX, I played football, went to school, family reunions, church, and got into trouble with countless Joseph de Rochers.  The archetypal scared white boy that grows into am angry white man is a story that sadly, I am more familiar with than I would like to be~ and the experience of living with these kinds of personalities has been key in developing my interpretation of Joseph. I had to do all the things you would expect one to do:  research prison life, pour through Helen’s books, countless seminars and lectures, watch as many documentaries as I could about men on death row so that I could try and grasp the physical and mental gauntlet that these men go through on the way to their demise, etc.  These are all the basics, and nothing surprising to anyone who really stops and thinks about the enormous amount of work and research that goes into a role like this~ but the essence of Joe, the distillation of his nature, the way he walks, talks, reacts to stimuli, what he feels deeply, his fears, his desires; these things came surprisingly easy to me.

It was surprising.  It was as if there was some place, deep in the recesses of my own consciousness that understood this man in ways with which I wasn’t comfortable when I first began.  It actually took me a while to begin the deeper work once I’d been offered the role.  I was unmanned by some of the feelings that would bubble up while I was in deep thought about him.  I would start, and then just leave the project all together~ preferring instead to plumb the ‘depths’ of Escamillo or Papageno’s psychological profile. (people that know opera know how ridiculous that is).  But as February began to loom on the horizon, I began to feel this presence.  My subconscious was doing the work for me, whether I liked it or not, and as I began to meld my work with Heggie’s music, McNally’s words, and Prejean’s material, Joseph began to emerge almost fully formed.  Even as I type this, I find myself unable to effectively articulate what it’s like to be him. It’s not something I feel like I’ve had to go out and find, rather its something deep down inside me, like the pieces of a horrifying weapon that, fortunately, I’ve never assembled.  When this thought occurred to me, I realized that but for a few lucky breaks in life, it very well could have been me in that roadhouse, taking the wrong kind of drugs, indulging the worse kind of vices, allowing the darkness in me to completely obliterate any humanity I had left.  I’ve been that angry.  I know what it feels like to walk right up to the edge of the abyss and look into nothingness and oblivion.  Luckily it usually terrified me so much that I would immediately run from whatever was pushing me in that direction, but just before I turned~ there was always this seductive pull, that made something inside of me want to jump, leap into the darkness and let it completely envelop me.

Michael Mayes and Kirstin Chavez
 When I heard actors talk about wrestling with a character, I honestly always thought it was pretentious bullshit, but Joseph taught me my lesson about hubris, and continues to do so everyday.  Developing this character has really felt like developing a form of schizophrenia.  I don’t feel this way with every character I work on, some of the more complex characters have given me a taste of what its like, but never have I felt so inhabited.  With Joseph, when I’m in the cut, and things are lining up, when I feel that groove~ I feel him…come upon me.  Its truly unsettling.  When the accent is just right, when I’m hitting all of the emotional targets, suddenly, I’m gone and he’s there.  All the anger, the hatred, the fear and bitterness, the rage and terror~ these things I normally have to show when I’m acting~ but with Joseph, its only necessary to be.  Wrestling? Yeah, that’s a good word for it.  I often feel like I have to fight to regain myself after rehearsals, and when I’m done, the residue clings to me like the remnants of a dust storm late into the evening.  I am usually just about back to normal when its time to let him back in for the next rehearsal.  This sounds all very heavy, but its not a unusual phenomenon in other theatrical arts.

One of the more practical aspects of playing Joseph has been the physical transformation that I’ve had to undergo.  Joseph works off his anger and frustration in a scene at the top of Act II by doing push-ups during his one hour of exercise a day.  This definitely changes the way you have to appear onstage~ so as Tulsa began to creep closer in my date book, I began a physical transformation into Joseph that was one of the most challenging I’ve ever encountered.  In order to really get Joseph right, I had to go from Bari-chunk to Barihunk, something that has not gone unnoticed by the popular opera blog that is behind the genesis of that term. (BARIHUNKS)

Michael Mayes: BariChunk to BariHunk
 I dropped 50 lbs, and started hitting the gym muscling up as much as I could and still be able to sing, and I traded in my long wavy auburn locks (a real source of vanity for me) for a skin close high and tight and a style of facial hair popular among white supremacists.  The physical transformation has had as much to do with this feeling of being inhabited by Joseph as the emotional and psychological.  With these physical attributes, I am immediately viewed by strangers as an anti-social individual~ and the looks of disdain, pity, anger, fear that I get just walking around in the world is a marvelous insight into the kinds of daily input that Joseph got from the world around him.

Preparing to play a rapist/murder is not for the faint of heart.  It’s taken it’s toll, just ask my fiance.  Joseph has wreaked havoc in my personal life, there is no denying it. He’s not one of these characters  you can put on at 7:30 and be ready by 8 for the performance.  You can’t put him away until after the last curtain goes down, and even then, I’m not sure I’ll be shut of him.  Despite the turmoil and tribulation that one has to endure when preparing for and performing one of these characters, at the end of the day its one of the most satisfying experiences an actor/singer can have on the stage, and for the first time in my career I can say that I am fully and without reservation doing that which drew me into this business in the first place.

What themes, ideas, or concepts do you wish the Tulsa audience will take with them to contemplate and discuss after the performance?  

This opera does not take a position on the death penalty.  You may get insight into Joseph’s mind, you may understand  the how and why of what he did, but the way the opera is crafted~ you never forget the absolute horror of his crimes, the absolute destruction that his actions have wreaked on the the lives of the families of his victims and of his own family.  Anytime you’re taking on a hot-button issue, the temptation is there to ram your own passionate political belief down the throats of those on the other side.  This temptation is not only resisted, but actively denied by the people behind this piece.  When you get beyond the political theatre, you realize that this opera is not about the death penalty. The death penalty, death row, prison, rape, murder, these things are all incredibly effective settings and plot devices;  but once you boil this piece down to its essence, its truly about forgiveness, grace, and shades of gray.  No matter what your position on the capital punishment, you will not be able to leave the theater without questioning your own stance… and that’s the point of Dead Man Walking, not the statement, but the question.


"Prima Donna" Opens at New York City Opera Today

Rufus Wainwright, Randal Turner & Melody Moore

The New York City Opera is about to pull off an operatic trifecta when it opens Rufus Wainwright's debut opera "Prima Donna" today at 1:30 PM EST. The opera was originally supposed to make its New York debut at the Metropolitan Opera, but they wouldn't schedule it until 2014. So Wainwright took it across the plaza (which is now at BAM, but that's a whole different story). Not only is City Opera winning the battle over "Prima Donna," but both rising superstar Melody Moore and barihunk sensation Randal Turner will be making their debuts with City Opera before they step on the Met stage. These are two singers who are not to be missed on stage, as they both combine great singing with amazing dramatic instincts.

Someone better call Peter Gelb at the Met!

The opera is making its much-awaited U.S. debut after runs at the Manchester International Festival, Sadler’s Wells and Toronto’s Luminato Festival.

The story of Prima Donna revolves around an aging opera singer who is attempting to revive her career amidst self-doubt, failed romance and crippling loneliness. The opera, sung in French, is set in Paris, 1970. The story is very much inspired by Maria Callas' later years in Paris where she was known to lock herself inside her room and listen to old opera recordings.

We wish everyone well on opening day!

Performances run through February 25 and all remaining tickets are just $25. Click HERE to purchase tickets.


Friday, February 17, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Brandon Cedel wins George London Competition

Brandon Cedel & Jonathan Beyer as seen in the Barihunks calendar

Brandon Cedel, who appears in our 2012 Barihunks charity calendar with his partner fellow barihunk Jonathan Beyer, has won the 2012 George London Foundation Competition. Jonathan Beyer won the competition last year with his rendition of  “News has a kind of mystery” from John Adams’s “Nixon in China.” Cedel won this year's competition singing a piece written 150 years earlier, "Vi ravviso o luoghi ameni" from La Sonnambula.

Beyer shot to fame after winning a series of vocal competitions, which we covered on our site. Cedel seems to be following the same path, as he also won the The Canstatter Foundation prize at the Liederkranz Foundation Vocal Competition last month.

Past winners of the George London competition have included mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, soprano Renée Fleming and tenor Matthew Polenzani.

 Cedel can next be seen performing the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Granada Theater with Opera Santa Barbara.

Ramin Karimloo

Theater producer Cameron Mackintosh announced today that popular singer Ramin Karimloo will extend his run playing ‘Jean Valjean’ in the legendary musical “LES MISÉRABLES” at the Queen’s Theatre in London until 31 March 2012.

Although we generally only feature operatic baritones, when we posted Karimloo in March of last year, dressed only in his birthday suit, it created a lot of chatter about whether he was a baritone or if he should even be included on the site. For the record, Karimloo considers himself a "high baritone" and reviewers have commented that he's a lyric baritone with an easy reach into the tenor range.

One thing we know for sure, he's popular with our readers. Since we posted him last year, he has regularly been one of our ten most visited posts.

Karimloo is touring his concert in the U.K. from May 1 through May 26. You can visit his website for additional details. 


"Hot Schrott" and Alex Esposito Heat Up London

Erwin Schrott heating up Covent Garden as the Don

We blogged about the current Don Giovanni at Covent Garden awhile back, because it features an amazing cast. Erwin Schrott as Don Giovanni and Alex Esposito are about as close to dream casting as possible today. We've always maintained that Esposito practically owns the role of Leporello on the world stage today and his performances at Covent Garden have done nothing to alter that assessment. 

Here's what George Hall worte in The Stage:

" Barbara Lluch’s spry revival of Francesca Zambello’s production, the staging comes over with more vitality and point than it has on previous occasions. Partly this is the result of Alex Esposito’s flawless byplay with Schrott as Leporello, in what is opera’s greatest double act. His rough-edged singing and plebeian manner provide the perfect foil to Schrott’s super-confident aristocrat.

The stunning Kate Lindsey as Zerlina with Schrott

Mark Ronan wrote in his theatre review:

Erwin Schrott was a remarkable Don, good looking, devilishly charming, but with a nasty streak hidden by an insouciant devil-may-care attitude. And his singing was equally remarkable, with an easy casualness as if he were simply talking. As his counterpoint and servant, Alex Esposito as Leporello sang and acted the part with utter conviction. His Madamina aria, where he recounts to the lovesick Elvira all Giovanni’s conquests had a wonderful leering quality, and his stage actions were always expressive but never over the top.

Erwin Schrott: Sexy and sensuous

We highly recommend reading Rupert Christiansen's profile on Erwin Schrott in the Telegraph. Performance with the current cast run through February 29th and their are still some seats available at the Royal Opera House website.

Alex Esposito sings "Madamina":


Thursday, February 16, 2012

R.I.P. - Todd Donovan

Todd Donovan
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of baritone and arts administrator Todd Donovan.

Opera and classical music fans in the San Francisco Bay area will remember him for the many hats that he wore with great distinction. First, as a lyric baritone who performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Philhamonia Baroque Orchestra, Lamplighters Music Theater, Eugene Opera, Nevada Opera and others. He then went on to work in arts administration and development for the San Francisco Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Grammy-nominated Cypress String Quartet.

He will be greatly missed. 

You can read his complete obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A little Opera Singer humor & Michael Kelly's Webstream

Click on image to enlarge

We have no idea who created this, but we have to admit were quite amused (and grateful for the inclusion!).

We love the web for a number of reasons, but mainly because it can expose millions of people to opera who otherwise would never hear a note of it. Many young artists have done an amazing job of promoting their careers online, while some superstars are virtually invisible (i.e. - Teddy Tahu Rhodes).

Enjoy Michael Kelly's 2010 concert from Trinity Wall Street:

We first fell in love with barihunk Michael Kelly after seeing his live webstream from Trinity Wall Street in 2010. If you missed it, you're in luck, as we're reposting it above. He also will be back on the web on Thursday, February 23 at 1 PM EST. He'll be joined by soprano Laura Strickling in a concert of music by Tom Cipullo. The program will be announced when the webstream begins. Click HERE on February 23rd to enjoy the concert.


Happy Birthday, John Adams!

Composer John Adams
 John Adams is one of the best known and most often performed of America's composers. Adams was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 15, 1947. During his youth, growing up in Vermont and New Hampshire, he was strongly influenced by the intellectual and cultural institutions of New England. He received both his BA and MA degrees from Harvard University, where he was active as a conductor, clarinetist, and composer. His principal teachers included Leon Kirchner, David Del Tredici and Roger Sessions.

Gerald Finley sings the aria "Batter, my heart"from Doctor Atomic:

In 1971, Adams began an active career in the San Francisco area, teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (1972-83) and serving as new music adviser and composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Symphony (1978-85). 

A number of his pieces have leading roles for baritones, including J. Robert Oppenheimer in Dr. Atomic, Nixon in Nixon in China and the critical roles of the captain, terrorist (Rambo) and Klinghoffer in The Death of Klinghoffer. He also wrote the Walt Whitman-inspiredpiece The Wound-Dresser, which is scored for baritone voice, 2 flutes (or 2 piccolos), 2 oboes, clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, trumpet (or piccolo tpt), timpani, synthesizer, and strings.

Thomas Hampson sings John Adams's The Wound-Dresser:

His creative output spans a wide range of media: works for orchestra, opera, video, film, and dance, as well as electronic and instrumental music. Such pieces as Harmonium, Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, and The Chairman Dances are among the best known and most frequently performed of contemporary American music. In these works he has taken minimalism into a new and fresh terrain characterized by luminous sonorities and a powerful and dramatic approach to form. He was the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer prize.

Joseph Maddalena sings "News, news, news..." from Nixon in China:

Ad for "Nixon in China" at the Eugene Opera
Upcoming performance of operas by John Adams include Nixon in China at the Eugene Opera on March 16 and 18. The role of Nixon will be played by barihunk Lee Gregory.

From March 10-18, the opera will be performed at Lyric Opera of Kansas City with James Maddalena reprising his definitive performance as Nixon, and barihunk Daniel Belcher playing Chou En-Lai. 

Nixon travels to France in April as the Théâtre du Châtelet  produces the opera with barihunks Franco Pomponi in the title role and Kyung Chun Kim as Chou En-Lai.

Sidney Outlaw and Franco Pomponi singing John Adams

The Death of Klinghoffer opens at the English National Opera on February 25th with Alan Opie as Klinghoffer, Christopher Magiera as the Captain and rising young talent Sidney Outlaw as Rambo. If you haven't heard Outlaw perform yet, he is not to be missed.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Opera "Elmer Gantry" wins two Grammy Awards

Keith Phares & Jenny Rivera in Elmer Gantry

The recording of the Milwaukee-based Florentine Opera Company's production of Robert Aldridge's "Elmer Gantry" won two of the three Grammy Awards for which it was nominated.

Composer Robert Aldridge won for "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" for the opera, while the Naxos recording won for classical music's "Best Engineered Album." The recording also was also nominated for "Classical Producer of the Year." The recording features barihunk Keith Phares, who has virtually owned the role. He has performed the work at Montclair State University, Nashville Opera and Florentine Opera.

Keith Phares & Jenny Rivera sing the love duet from Elmer Gantry:

Here is the complete list of classical music Grammy Award winners:

Choral Performance: “Light & Gold,” Eric Whitacre
Classical Contemporary Composition: “Elmer Gantry,” Robert Aldridge & Herschel Garfein
Producer of the Year, Classical: Judith Sherman
Orchestral Performance: “Brahms: Symphony No. 4,” Gustavo Dudamel
Opera Recording: “Adams: Doctor Atomic,” Alan Gilbert, conductor
Best Small Ensemble Performance: Mackey: Lonely Motel - Music From Slide
Best Classical Instrumental Solo: Schwantner: Concerto For Percussion & Orchestra Nashville Symphony.
Best Classical Vocal Solo: Diva Divo - Joyce DiDonato

Tickets Selling Fast for Shows at Lyric Opera of Chicago and New York City Opera

Ashley Brown & Nathan Gunn Photo: Dan Rest

There was some discontent among Lyric Opera of Chicago subscribers when they announced that Jerome Kern's "Show Boat" was going to be part of the season.

However, the lively production, led by barihunk Nathan Gunn as Ravenal has been a huge success. The show was directed by the honorary godmother of Barihunks, Francesca Zambella, who continues to produce and direct some of the most successful shows in opera.

Lawrence A. Johnson in the Chicago Classical Review wrote:
Nathan Gunn was born to play the role of the handsome, irresponsible gambler Ravenal. 
Ashley Brown & Nathan Gunn Photo by Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of Chicago
Performance run through March 17th and are available at the Lyric Opera of Chicago website. Some shows have limited seating, so order today if you plan on attending.

Speaking of limited seating, the New York City is back with a vengeance. Thanks to some generous donors, all remaining seats are just $25.00. Click HERE to buy tickets to see barihunk Randal Turner in Rufus Wainwright's "Prima Donna" or Philip Cutlip and Rod Gilfry in Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte."

The New Yorker recommends Prima Donna


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Leporello cast change for Met's "Don Giovanni"

Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo

The Metropolitan Opera has announced a major cast change involving two barihunks. Barihunk Kyle Ketelsen and international superstar Bryn Terfel will replace barihunk John Relyea in the upcoming run of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Ketelsen and Terfel will each sing four performances of Leporello after Relyea's doctor recommended  vocal rest for the Canadian singer after a run as Attila at the Seattle Opera.

Ketelsen will sing the role on February 21, 24, 29, and March 3; Terfel will sing the role on March 7, 10mat, 14, and 17.

Elina Garanca & John Relyea in Carmen

Ketelsen made his Met debut in 2006 as Angelotti in Tosca and later this season will sing the role of Mr. Flint in the revival of Billy Budd. He has sung Leporello at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatre Liceu in Barcelona, Los Angeles Opera, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Earlier this season he sang Escamillo in Carmen with the Teatro Comunale of Bologna on tour in Japan, followed by appearances at the Houston Grand Opera as Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Fernando in Fidelio.

Kyle Ketelsen sings Leporello's "Madamina, il catalogo è questo":

Don Giovanni, a new production by Michael Grandage that premiered in October, is conducted by Andrew Davis and stars Gerald Finley in the title role, Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ellie Dehn as Donna Elvira, Isabel Leonard as Zerlina, Matthew Polenzani as Don Ottavio, Shenyang as Masetto, and James Morris as the Commendatore.


Reader Submission: Seph Stanek

Seph Stanek: Frequently shirtless on stage

When a reader suggested that we feature Seph Stanek on the site, we instantly agreed that he was barihunk material. Although his career path doesn't seem focused on opera, he has performed Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte with Spartanburg Opera, the Baron in Verdi's La traviata with Lyrique-en-mer and the Notary in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi with Furman Opera. He also was a lead singer during the American and International tour of "Twelve Irish Tenors." Attendees at the Met's production of Aida will be able to spot him as one of the soldiers.

Stanek has mostly made his mark in musicals, as well as appearing on TV in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Mildred Pierce. On stage, he's been seen in Christmastime!, the Dramatists Guild’s production of Sympathy Jones, Ars Nova’s Naughy/Nice, The Augusta Players’ Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the American Theatre of Actors production of Little House on the Ferry.

Seph Stanek sings "The Angel of Death" from Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona nobis pacem:

Stanek is also a member of Figaro, an all-male classical-crossover quartet who perform throughout North and South America.

Stanke is a graduate of Furman University and L’Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy.


Barihunks Coming to Los Angeles; Listen to a Complete Performance of Verdi's "I due Foscari"

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo: Always sexy as Don Giovanni

 The Los Angeles Opera has announced their new season, which opens on September 15th with Verdi's I due Foscari, which deserves to be performed more in the United States. The baritone role of Francesco Foscari will be played by Placido Domingo. The season also includes Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Tosca, Rossini's La cenerentola and Wagner's Flying Dutchman.

Giangiacomo Guelfi sings"Eccomi solo alfine!... O vecchio cor che batti" from I due Foscari:

You can listen to the entire opera with Guelfi and the amazing Leyla Gencer here:

None of the performances have been cast with barihunks, except for the one other opera that they're performing. Of course, that would be the star barihunk vehicle Don Giovanni. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo will return to Los Angeles after a successful run last year in Cosi fan tutte. Joshua Bloom, who we just featured performing Figaro in Australia will be Masetto. Visit the L.A. Opera website for complete details.

Craig Verm & Ryan McKinny: Dream(y) casting

If you're in Los Angeles and looking for a night of barihunks, then you might want to head over to the Hollywood Bowl on August 12th for Verdi's Rigoletto under the baton of conducting wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel. The title role will be sung by baritone Zeljko Lucic, but the smaller roles are filled with barihunks including Alexander Tsymbalyuk as Sparafucile, Ryan McKinny as Monterone and  Craig Verm as Marullo.

You also want won't to miss the rising young tenor David Lomeli who is singing the Duke of Mantua. Visit the Hollywood Bowl website for tickets.

Alexander Tsymbalyuk sings Don Silvas' aria from "Ernani":


Friday, February 10, 2012

Potential Barihunks in Met Opera Midwest Regional Auditions in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The field is set for the Midwest Regional Auditions in Tulsa, Oklahoma for Saturday, February 11th. There will be eleven singers competing, including three mezzos, five tenors and three baritones, who we think might have some barihunk potential.
Adam Hendrickson
Adam Lance Hendrickson began his vocal studies under the direction of Japanese-American soprano, Yoko Shimazaki-Kilburn at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  After performing in many operas including Die Zauberflöte, Madama Butterfly, and Giulio Cesare in Egitto, he starred in the title role of Don Giovanni in Ball State Opera Theatre’s 2009 production.  He graduated with a B.M. in Vocal Performance in May of 2009.  In the fall of 2009, Adam began his graduate studies at Northwestern University.  He was the recipient of the Bienen School of Music’s Eckstein Scholarship which granted him a full-tuition scholarship.  Adam began studying voice with Bruce Hall, who remains his voice teacher to this very day.

Hendrickson performing Mozart in 2009:

Operatic credits at Northwestern include: Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro, Papageno in The Magic Flute, and Frank Maurrant in Street Scene.  Adam was also the featured baritone soloist in the 2011, Northwestern Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the Brahms Requiem under the baton of Robert Harris.
Hendrickson is currently under contract with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Chicago Opera Theatre.

Chris Carr

Chris Carr is a 2011-2012 apprentice artist with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa where he performed in the Marriage of Figaro. Simpson  is currently a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he has performed in Don Giovanni. 

Carr performing Korngold's Tanzlied:

He has also performed in Tosca and  Cosi fan tutte with the Cedar Rapids Opera, as well as in La boheme, Les Mamelles de Tirésias with the Des Moines Metro Opera.

Alex DeSocio, Baritone
Wichita native Alex DeSocio received his BM in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University in 2010. DeSocio was a former division 1 college football prospect until a severe injury ruined his chances of a college career.

During his undergraduate program, he performed the roles of Assan/The Consul, Antonio/The Marriage of Figaro and Figaro/The Ghosts of Versailles. DeSocio attended the Aspen Music Festival in summer 2009. Last January, he performed the role of Silvio in the In Series Theater’s production of I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo. Over the summer, DeSocio performed the role of L’horloge comtoise/L’enfant et les sortilèges (Castleton Festival) under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel. DeSocio is a student of Dominic Cossa. This spring, DeSocio will sing Pip/Miss Havisham’s Fire and Man with a Shoe Sample Kit/Postcard from Morocco.