Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Michael Mayes, Jesse Blumberg to perform Jake Heggie's Three Decembers

Barihunk Michael Mayes who has been called the definitive Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking is taking on a new role from the composer. From September 27-October 4, he'll be singing the role of Charlie in Three Decembers at Urban Arias. Mayes will be joined by Janice Hall and Emily Pulley. Tickets are available online.

The chamber opera tells the story of family secrets that are uncovered over the course of three Decembers, each a decade apart. Glamorous actress Madeline Mitchell and her two adult children, Charlie and Bea, struggle to reconcile the truth and lies about their lives and relationships. The story is based on a short play by Terrance McNally with a libretto by Gene Scheer.

Kathyrn Bates and Jesse Blumberg in Ricky Ian Gordon's "Green Sneakers"
A number of barihunks have taken on the role of Charlie including Keith Phares in San Francisco and Houston, and Matt Worth in Chicago and Fort Worth. Keith Phares will be singing the role again on December 5, 6 and 7 at the Des Moines Metro Opera. Jesse Blumberg will sing the role with the Atlanta Opera on May 29, 30 and 31 of 2015.

The Dallas Opera has announced the commission of Heggie's next opera, Great Scott, with a libretto by Terrence McNally, set for a premiere on October 30, 2015. It will also star Michael Mayes.

Listen to Stéphane Degout from Edinburgh

Stéphane Degout
French barihunk Stéphane Degout and British pianist Simon Lepper teamed up at the Edinburgh Festival to perform a recital of Gallic songs and miniature operas. You can listen to the entire recital HERE for the next seven days. The program is as follows.

Schubert: Der Zwerg D771
Loewe: Edward 1
Schumann: Belsatzar Op 57
Lizst: Die drei Zigeuner
Weill: Die Ballade vom ertrunkenen Mädchen
Wolf: Der Feuerreiter
Debussy Images
Faure: Automne in B minor Op 18 No 3
Faure: L'Horizon Chimérique Op 118
Liszt: Three Petrarch Sonnets

Degout will be in recital in Brussels on September 12th at La Monnaie. He'll be performing the Mörike-Lieder of Wolf and lieder by Richard Strauss. Tickets are available online.

You can see him on stage again from October 16-29, when he takes on Oreste in the revival of Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide at the Theater an der Wien opposite the stunning  Iphigénie of Véronique Gens. Tickets and additional information are available online.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Introducing Roberto Garcia Fernandez

Roberto Garcia Fernandez
Despite having featured barihunks from across the globe, we've had a dearth of singers from Cuba. We featured Homero Pérez Miranda back in 2009 and extensive coverage of the opera Before Night Falls based on the works of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. So when we learned about the amazing young bass-barihunk Roberto Garcia Fernandez, we were eager to feature him on the site.

Fernandez was born in Havana, Cuba on October 10, 1992 and studied at the Conservatory "Amadeo Roldan." He has performed Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute and the title role of Don Giovanni, Melisso from Handel's Alcina, Colline in Puccini's La boheme, the Priest in Puccini's Tosca, Malatesta from Donizetti's Don Pasquale and the priest from Vicente Lleo's La corte del Faraon.

Tenor Alfredo Kraus sings music from Maria La O:

He has also performed Jose Inocente from Maria La O by zarzuela composer Ernesto Lecuona, a fellow Cuban. Lecuona composed over six hundred pieces, mostly in the Cuban vein, and was a pianist of exceptional quality. He was a prolific composer of songs and music for stage and film. His works consisted of zarzuela, Afro-Cuban and Cuban rhythms, suites and many songs that became Latin standards. They include Siboney, Malagueña and The Breeze And I (Andalucía). In 1942 his great hit Always in my heart (Siempre en mi Corazon) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song; it lost out to White Christmas.

Fernandez has performed the baritone solo in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony three times, the first two directed by Guido Lopez Gavilan and the third one directed by Federico Cortese and the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra. In the United States he has sung at the 2014 Miami Piano Festival and in several concerts directed by Manny Perez.

He is currently a student of his fellow Cuban, Manny Perez, who has worked with Eglise Gutierrez, Elizabeth Caballero and Sidney Outlaw.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Listen to interview with Teddy Tahu Rhodes on ABC Sydney

Teddy Tahu Rhodes (photo on left: Opera Australia; photo on right WSJ)

Check out this half-hour segment with New Zealand barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes on "Weekends with Simon Marnie" on ABC Sydney.  He shares stories about his career, plays some of his favorite movies and music (and you may be surprised), talks about hair loss, his favorite books, future roles and other topics.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes will be opening in Rodger & Hammerstein's King in King and I at the Sydney Opera on September 7th. Did you know that the Maori word "Tahu" means "to set on fire"?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Todd Boyce stars in premiere of Die Antilope

Todd Boyce in Die Antilope
American barihunk Todd Boyce, who is a resident artist at the opera in Luzern, Switzerland, will be starring the world premiere of Johannes Maria Staud's The Antilope opening on September 3rd.

The opera is too difficult to describe, but Boyce does a great job on his blog, where also provides insights into developing the lead role of Victor. Here is a summary of the opera and his role in his own words:
The libretto for Die Antilope is an original creation by poet and author, Durs Grünbein, who, together with the composer, developed the thematic ideas with inspiration from such works as Eleutheria by Samuel Beckett, Herman Melville's Bartleby, as well as Martin Scorsese's After Hours. The characters for our piece are based on cardboard cut-out versions of office colleagues, secretaries, and bosses, as well as detached young adult smart phone addicts, bag-ladies, sadistic doctors, and over-sharing middle-aged women. The opening scene of the opera finds the main character, Victor, at a business party. He is unwilling or unable to join in the celebration or to connect with any of the other characters, and inexplicably throws himself out of the 13th-story window. Before he does so, he sings an aria in which he lists the names of dozens of different types of antelopes from all over the world. The following scenes find Victor in a series of sometimes bizarre, sometimes ordinary situations where he interacts with the other characters or the environment in his own peculiar way.

Playing the part of Victor has posed challenges for me. It's a part so unlike any other part I've played before that at first I was at a loss. During the learning process, I of course knew that Victor would need to be the golden thread which ties the whole production together, but unfortunately for me, he hardly speaks a single coherent word in the whole piece. So I had only a few clues as to his motivations for doing anything at all. The plot (not to be confused with 'storyline' because it's not a story in the normal sense of the word), is a set of abstract scenes, where Victor is present but separate, and in most cases doesn't say anything or speaks in backwards Baudelaire text, or disjointed Esperanto, or just says 'rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.'

Boyce will return to the standard repertory next year when he sings Marcello in Puccini's La boheme and Harlequin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. Visit the Luzerner Theater's website for a complete list of performances.

Richard Alexandre Rittelman in Carmina Burana at UNESCO site

Richard Alexandre Rittelmann
German-Hungarian barihunk Richard Alexandre Rittelmann, who is now based in France, recently completed a photo shoot for the 2015 Barihunks Charity Calendar, which is themed "Viva, Italia!" The above photo is just a headshot teaser for some amazingly hot pictures that will be featured in May of the new calendar.

On August 24, Richard Alexandre Rittelmann will be appearing in one of his signature role, the baritone part of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. This performance will be an adaptation for chamber music scored for two pianos, percussion, a 40-person chorus and soloists. During the performance, video images will be projected onto the walls. Tickets are available online.

This will be Rittelmann's sixth performance of the work, having performed in twice in Paris, with Michel Plasson in Nimes, under the baton of Bernard Tetu in Lyon and with Marco Guidarini in Nice.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vauban's masterpiece, the Besançon Citadel, is considered to be one of the finest in France. The Citadel houses three award-winning museums behind its ramparts, the Museum of French Resistance and Deportation, the Franche-Comté Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Barihunks is currently taking new submissions for the 2015 Barihunks Charity Calendar. The calendar will feature Italian and Italian-American singers, as well as non-Italian singers in Italian themed photos. Submissions should be sent to and must be received by September 21st. All proceeds will once again go to support young artists.

Listen to Simon Keenlyside's Edinburgh Recital

Simon Keenlyside at Edinburgh (right)
For the next four days one can enjoy Simon Keenlyside's amazing recital with Malcolm Martineau from the Edinburgh Festival on August 20th. The program contrasted English songs of regret and lost innocence in the first half with richly romantic German lieder in the second half.

Keenlyside and Martineau bring together songs from Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad, a touching evocation of a vanishing pastoral England, and Vaughan Williams’s Songs of Travel, which explore the innermost thoughts and longings for home of soldiers on the front line.

The rich melodies of Schumann’s gripping mini-drama Ballade des Harfners are a fine contrast to the touching pastoral evocations of Wolf’s Fussreise and Blumengruss. For an encore, Keenlyside performs Britten's The Fly from Songs and Proverbs of William Blake. Click HERE to listen to the recital.

You can next catch Keenlyside live at the Royal Opera House where he opens as the title character in Verdi's Rigoletto, in a cast that includes Saimir Pirgu as the Duke of Mantua, Aleksandra Kurzak as Gilda and fellow barihunk Duncan Rock as Marullo. The opera runs through October 6th and additional information is available online.

Here is the entire program for the Edinburgh recital:

Ireland: Sea Fever
Somervell: Into my heart an air that kills
Vaughan Williams: Youth and Love
Eisler: Spruch 1939
Somervell: There pass the careless people
Butterworth: When I was One and Twenty
Gurney: In Flanders
Butterworth: Think no more, Lad
Butterworth: The Lads in their hundreds
Butterworth: On the Idle Hill of Summer
Ireland: Vagabond
Trad: The three ravens
Eisler: Despite these miseries
Eisler: The only thing that consoles us
Finzi: Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Vaughan Williams: The Vagabond

11:40 (during the interval)
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll

Schumann: Ballade des Harfners
Wolf: Fussreise
Wolf: Denk es, o Seele
Wolf: Blumengruss
Wolf: Lied vom Winde
Wolf: Schlafendes Jesuskind
Wolf: Wie sollt ich heiter bleiben
Wolf: Christblume II
Wolf: Nimmersatte Lieve
Wolf: Lied eines Verliebten
Wolf: Storchenbotschaft