Sunday, March 1, 2015

Introducing Jeremy Johnson: Winner of 2015 Grand Concours Vocal Competition

The baritone winning streak appears to be continuing in the middle of the decade, as San Diego native Jeremy Johnson took the top prize at the 2015 Grand Concours Vocal Competition. You can check out his winning performance of Tower Scene from Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande below.

Second Prize went to soprano Alexandra Nowakowski and Third Prize to soprano Ashley Fabian.

Johnson is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where his roles included Schaunard in La Bohème and Gladhand in West Side Story. Johnson sang the role of Peter in the touring production of Don Freund's Romeo and Juliet, and has appeared as a featured soloist in Bach's Johannespassion and Liszt's Die Seligkeiten. He performed the roles of Maestro Spinelloccio and Ser Amantio in the Princeton Festival's production of Gianni Schicchi, and in Summer 2013 made his debut as a Young Artist at St Louis Opera Theatre. He sang the role of Schaunard in La Bohème with Opera Experience Southeast in May 2012 and January 2013.

The Franco-American Vocal Academy, which sponsors the competition, was founding in 1993 by tenor William Lewis and is affiliated with the Butler School of Music of the University of Texas. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gianluca Margheri back as Don Giovanni; Debuts new website

Gianluca Margheri from Zomeropera's Don Giovanni
Italian barihunk and calendar model Gianluca Margheri finally has a website, where you can follow his career. It's loaded with great pictures and video. The first that caught our eye is that he'll be taking on Don Giovanni at the Hungarian State Opera from March 20-26. It's a traditional performance of the opera, so expect another shirtless, sexy, testosterone fueled performance like the one from Zomeropera last year.

You can enjoy some excerpts from that performance below or on his YouTube site.

Next up is Rossini's Stabat Mater at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino on May 14th. He'll be joined by tenor Edgardo Rocha and mezzo-soprano Marina Comparato.

We're still baffled why no-one in the United States has engaged this amazing talent. Make sure to check out his website and follow him on Twitter @GianlucaMargher.

Christopher Maltman and Fernando Radó as Don Giovanni
If you can't catch Margheri there are plenty of other barihunk performances of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Christopher Maltman will take on the role Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City from March 17-29. Opéra de Monte-Carlo will feature Erwin Schrott as the Don and Fernando Javier Radó as Masetto with the amazing Sonya Yoncheva as Donna Elvira. The Metropolitan Opera has two remaining performances left with Peter Mattei, Luca Pisaroni and Adam Plachetka as the male leads.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Barihunk duo in Paris Opera's Faust

Ildar Abdrazakov and Damien Pass
The Opéra national de Paris has put together a dream cast for their upcoming production of Gounod's Faust, which opens on March 2nd. It'll will be headed by two barihunks, Ildar Abdrazakov and Damien Pass, who are Méphistophélès and Valentin respectively. Two of the most amazing tenors in the business, Piotr Beczala and Michael Fabiano, will be alternating nights as Faust, while the thrilling soprano Krassimira Stoyanova takes on Marguerite.

Performances run through March 28th and tickets are available online.

After Faust, Abdrazakov heads to the Salzburg Easter Festival for two performances of the Verdi Requiem on March 31st and April 3. Pass will remain at the Bastille to sing the Hunter in Dvorak’s Rusalka from April 3-26 in a Robert Carsen production.

Christiaan Smith-Kotarek making NYC solo debut

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek from his new video "Unusual Way"
Barihunk Chritiaan Smith-Kotlarek will be making his New York City solo recital debut at SubCulture on March 31st.  Accompanied by a jazz combo or with him at the guitar, the repertoire will steer away from opera. Music director Ben Rauhala has arranged a night of Broadway showstoppers to current chart-toppers, with songs by Josh Groban, Aloe Blacc, John Mayer, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the original rock star, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

You can sample Smith-Kotlarek's sexy new video "Unusual Way" here, which will give you a flavor of the evening. Tickets are only $25 and the $40 VIP ticket includes a meet an greet with the singer after the show. Tickets are available online.

In June, Smith-Kotlarek returns to the stage as Billy Bigelow in Carousel at Opera on the Avalon.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Aaron Sørensen in 2 world premieres; Reprising Osmin in Baltimore

Aaron Sørensen's barihunk photo shoot
Bass-barihunk Aaron Sørensen has had an interesting beginning to the new year, performing two world premieres and his second Osmin.

He just released a song cycle by four-time Emmy Award-winning composer Glen Roven that was written with his voice in mind. The original song cycle is based on wine tasting notes from Obsidian Ridge Winery in Sonoma, California that were penned by winemaker Alex Beloz. The text screams for music with phraes like "dancing on the palate" and "a full crescendo of stony tannins." Only Sørensen's rich, deep base could do justice words like "dark hibiscus" which almost demands to be written for the lowest reaches of the human voice.

The song cycle will be premiered at the winery on June 20th and we'll have more details in a future post. There was also a video of the songs taped at Henry's Restaurant in New York City, which you can watch below. The video was directed by the gifted opera director John De Los Santos.

The former Barihunks calendar model also just sang in the world premiere of  Gregory Vajda’s comic opera Georgia Bottoms with fellow barihunk Mike Nyby and the Huntsville Symphony. The opera about the modern South, is based on the national best-seller by Alabama author Mark Childress.

On March 7th he'll sing his second performance of Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail with the Peabody Opera Theatre in Baltimore. Osmin was Sørensen's dream role and he just debuted it with the Houston Symphony last month. The Peabody performance will be directed by Garnett Bruce, who directed their successful Rake's Progress in 2011.

The opera will be performed at the Modell Performing Arts Center in Baltimore and tickets are available online.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Günter Papendell in Calixto Bieto's Gianni Schicchi

Günter Papendell as Achille (left) and
We wouldn't normally think of pairing sexy German barihunk Günter Papendell with provocative director Calixto Bieto in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, but neither would we think of pairing the Puccini comedy with Bartok's bleak Bluebeard's Castle. Leave it to the Komische Oper in Berlin and Bieto to do just that.

Papendell, who've we've seen in various states of undress at the Komische, will play the role of the Schicchi.

The two operatic masterpieces both premiered in 1918, the same year that the Germans surrendered and ended WWI. The works could hardly be more different, and yet they are combined to form an operatic double bill - black Italian comedy meets Hungarian psycho-drama.

The Komische website states, "Little would appear to link Gianni Schicchi and Bluebeard’s Castle - except for their unadorned depiction of the human abyss. That master of melody Giacomo Puccini spices up his story of the family arguing about their inheritance at the deathbed of the patriarch with tearjerkers such as "O mio babbino caro". Béla Bartók penetrates into the depths in the complex landscape of the soul with his dense score. A grim mystery is hidden behind the seven forbidden doors in Count Bluebeard's Castle, and exposing this mystery will prove the downfall of one young woman."
Bluebeard's Castle and Gianni Schicchi at the Komische Oper
Gidon Saks will sing the role of Bluebeard in the Bartok opera. The operas are being performed without intermission, running approximately 2 1/2 hours. Performances run from March 1 through July 8.

This season Papendell can also be seen at the Komische as Don Giovanni, Escamillo, Achille in Handel's Giulio Cesare and Odysseus. In May, Gidon Saks heads across town to portray Nick Shadow in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress at the Deutsche Oper.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reader Submission: Nicholas Aguirre

Nicholas Aguirre
Our latest reader submission is Nicholas Aguirre, a first-year graduate student at University of Alabama. He'll be performing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the University of Alabama Opera Theater on Wednesday, March 4th.

The Alabama native earned his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Vanderbilt University this past spring. He made his debut with the University of Alabama Opera Theater as Archibald Grosvenor in Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience.

He has also performed the role of Ronaldo Cabral in John Musto's Later the Same Evening, scenes from Don Giovanni and Kurt Weill's Street Scene as a participant in the Druid City Opera Workshop. He also performed works by Brahms in the Lieder studio at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

He enjoys songwriting and exercising and is the second oldest of eight children.