Saturday, March 17, 2018

Barihunks star in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Rising Stars" Concert

Patrick Guetti, Emmett O'Hanlon and Takaoki Onishi
The Lyric Opera of Chicago will showcase their amazing young artists on Saturday, April 7th at the Lyric Opera House in their annual "Rising Stars" concert. Featured in the concert is a trio of singers who have been featured on Barihunks, including baritones Emmett O'Hanlon and Takaoki Onishi, along with bass Patrick Guetti. The three singers are also concluding their tenure with the company's Ryan Opera Center, a training program for young artists.

After leaving the program, Guetti has performances with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Tonkunstler Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra; Takaoki Onishi will perform Tchaikovsky's Iolanta with the Russian National Orchestra at Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and, Emmett O'Hanlon will wrap up a run as Wagner in Gounod's Faust at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Lyric tenor star of the future, Josh Lovell
The concert will feature music by Tchaikovsky, Offenbach, Massenet, Mozart, Verdi, Handel, Bernstein, Puccini and Rossini. Other artists include the gifted young lyric tenor Josh Lovell (keep your eyes and ears on this one!); sopranos Whitney Morrison, Diana Newman and Ann Toomey; mezzo-soprano Lindsay Metzger; contralto Lauren Decker; tenors Alec Carlson and Mario Rojas; and, bass-baritone Alan Higgs.

The concert will also be recorded for broadcast on 98.7WFMT the following day, Sunday, April 8, at 6 PM CST.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Asheville Opera lands world premiere of highly anticipated Borzoni premiere; Second performance in Chicago

Joshua Jeremiah and Trevor Martin
We've always maintained that the smaller houses and festivals are where the best new operas are being performed. So kudos to the Asheville Lyric Opera for landing the highly anticipated world premiere of composer Clint Borzoni and librettist John de los Santos' "When Adonis Calls" on May 11th. Asheville is also the home of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, whose poetry was refashioned into the libretto.

The opera, which was work-shopped at the Fort Worth Opera Festival's Frontiers series of new works in 2015, chronicles the tumultuous correspondence between an established writer and an eager young admirer.

"Two Nooses" from the Fort Worth Opera Festival

The piece is scored for two baritones, string quartet, percussionist and two dancers (and comes with an adult content warning). When Adonis Calls features a low and high baritone, and Asheville Lyric Opera will feature two amazing performers in Trevor Martin and Joshua Jeremiah, as well as two local dancers. The opera will have additional performances on March 12 and 13 and is expected to sell out in the 110 seat Masonic Temple. Tickets are available online.

Composers and opera administrators will tell you that a second performance of a work is often more difficult than the premiere. Remarkably,  Adonis already has a second performance scheduled in Chicago with the Thompson Street Opera Company this Fall. Details are forthcoming. Our site has also learned that discussions are underway for a West Coast premiere.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's beautiful "Stufen" with Musica Marin:

Borzoni, along with Jake Heggie, has become particularly associated for writing major roles and works for low male voices. He has written a song cycle for bass-baritone Tim Hill, several songs for bass-baritone Randal Turner, penned two pieces for String Quartet and baritone for Marco Vassalli, and is currently working on a commission for bass Malte Roesner to be premiered at Musica Marin this year. Turner’s songs appear on his CD, “Living American Composers” and were performed at the 9/11 tribute at the U.S. embassy in Sweden. He also wrote a two act opera titled “Antinous and Hadrian,” which features a baritone lead. His opera The Copper Queen, also to a libretto by John de los Santos, won Arizona Opera's Sparks Competition for new works in a runaway. The opera is based on a true story about the alleged ghost of a prostitute haunting a historic hotel in Bisbee, Arizona.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Robin Adams in first German production of Eötvös' Angels in America

Robin Adams as Prior Walter in Angels in America
British barihunk Robin Adams is the latest singer to portray the role of Prior Walter in Péter Eötvös' operatic adaptation of Angels in America. The show opened on March 10th at the Theater Freiburg and runs through June 3rd. This is the first performance of the opera in Germany.

The opera was originally written for the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris where it premiered in 2004. The cast included barihunks Daniel Belcher and Omar Ebrahim, as well as Barbara Hendricks, Roberta Alexander, Derek Lee Ragin and and Topi Lehtipuu.  

Robin Adams as Prior Walter in Angels in America
Angels in America received its West Coast premiere in 2013 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with barihunk David Adam Moore and Nikolas Nackley as Joe. Moore has also sung the role at the Fort Worth Opera Festival and the Opera Wrocławsa in Poland. Barihunk Andrew Garland sang Prior Walter at the New York City Opera last year to great acclaim, in a cast that included Michael Weyandt as Joe.

Additional cast information and tickets are available online.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Royal Opera to present Dmitri Hvorostovsky tribute

On Sunday, March 18th,  The Royal Opera in London will present a memorial concert in honor of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who died on November 22, 2017.

The concert will feature many of his friends and colleagues and will be conducted by Antonio Pappano with the Royal Opera Chorus. Tickets will go on sale on Monday, March 12th and will be limited to four per person. A cast list has not been posted as of this date.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky made his Royal Opera debut as Riccardo in I puritani in 1992 and appeared in nearly every season from 2001 to 2015. His roles included the great Verdi baritone roles such as Rigoletto, Count di Luna in Il trovatore and Giorgio Germont i La traviata, as well as Valentin in Faust and Tchaikovsky’s dashing Eugene Onegin (the role in which he made his final appearances with the Company in 2015.)

Hvorostovsky considered The Royal Opera his home company, and was much-loved for his glorious voice, big heart and generosity of spirit. He died at his home in London with his wife Florence by his side.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Malte Roesner gets devilish in rarely performed Schwanda the Bagpiper

Malte Roesner
On March 18th, bass-barihunk Malte Roesner will appear as the Devil in Jaromír Weinberger's rarely performed Schwanda the Bagpiper (Švanda dudák) at the Stadttheater Gießen. The opera, which has been translated into 17 languages, will be performed in its more common German translation as Scwhanda, der Dudelsackpfeiffer. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

The two act opera was written in 1926 to a Czech libretto by Miloš Kareš and is based on the drama Strakonický dudák aneb Hody divých žen (The Bagpiper of Strakonice) by Josef Kajetán Tyl, who was a leading figure in the Czech National Revival movement. Schwanda the Bagpiper became highly successful after its premiere, with over 2,000 performances, including at the Metropolitan Opera in 1931 with a cast that included the legendary Friedrich Schorr in the title role and the great Wagnerian contralto Karin Branzell as Queen Iceheart.

The opera fell from the repertory when the composer's music was banned by the Nazi regimes of Austria and Germany during the late 1930s

Michael Eder and Christoph Pohl in Dresden's Schwanda

Jaromír Weinberger (1896-1967) was a Czech born composer, who was naturalized as an American citizen in 1948. He was born into an Austria-Hungarian family of Jewish origin. In 1922, he moved to the United States where he taught at Cornell University and was professor of composition at was is now Ithaca College. During the 1950s, Weinberger moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. In later life, he developed cancer of the brain. This, together with money worries and the neglect of his music, prompted him to take a lethal sedative overdose in August 1967.

The opera tells the fantastical story of a simple farmer who is a notoriously gifted bagpiper.  He and his wife are visited by a thief, Babinski, who is on the run.  His tales of adventure lure Schwanda to agree to play his pipes for a mysterious Queen vexed with melancholy.  Happy again, her spell broken, she proposes to Schwanda, who agrees and gives her a kiss. The original wife arrives and is understandably unhappy, and Schwanda swears that if he kissed the Queen, he would go directly to hell.  Hell obliges, of course, and there Schwanda is tricked into giving the Devil his soul.  The thief Babinski then arrives to save the day, bringing Schwanda his pipes, beating the Devil at cards, and trading his winnings for Schwanda’s soul and triumphant release.

The "Polka and Fugue"from the opera are often heard on symphony concert programs.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Alexander Elliott takes on Barber in Santa Barbara

Alexander Elliott as the Barber of Sevile
Barihunk Alexander Elliott will perform the title role in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at Opera Santa Barbara, which hasn't performed the audience favorite since 2001. The American baritone will be joined by mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoé Velasco, tenor Andrew Bidlack and Nathan Stark as Basilio. Opera Santa Barbara’s Artistic & General Director Kostis Protopapas conducts the production.

Performances are on March 2nd and 4th and tickets are available online

The Barber of Seville premiered in Rome in 1816 with the title Almaviva, o sia L'inutile precauzione (The Useless Precaution). Rossini's opera recounts the events of the first of the three plays by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais that revolve around the clever and enterprising character named Figaro, the barber of the title. Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro, composed 30 years earlier in 1786, is based on the second part of the Beaumarchais trilogy.

Other operas based on the first play were composed by Giovanni Paisiello (1782), Nicolas Isouard (1796) and Francesco Morlacchi (1816). Though the work of Paisiello triumphed for a time, only Rossini's version has stood the test of time and continues to be a mainstay of operatic repertoire.

Elliott next heads to the Orlando Philharmonic to sing Manuel De Falla's Master Peter’s Puppet Show. The one-act opera combines puppets and real characters adapted from one of the episodes of Don Quixote. There is a single performance on April 7th and tickets are available online.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Brandon Cedel in world premiere of "A Wintery Spring"

Brandon Cedel
American barihunk Brandon Cedel will sing in the world premiere of Jordanian-born German composer Saed Haddad’s dramatic lament "A Wintery Spring," which premieres on February 22nd at the Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt. It will have six performances in Frankfurt as part of a co-production with Ensemble Modern and the Frankfurt Opera. It will have one performance in Köln on April 8th.

The piece deals with the current political, social structures and attitudes in the Middle East – without attempting to portray a concrete story about the Arab Spring, but rather searching for paths which might unite people and traditions.

The lament is based on aphorisms by the Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran, who emigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States in 1895. Gibran’s central motifs are life and death, and love as their uniting element.

Michael Porter & Brandon Cedel in A Wintery Spring (Photos: Monika Rittershaus)
The premiere will be combined with the first staged performance of the baroque cantata "Il Serpente di bronzo" (The Bronze Serpent) by the Bohemian baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka, in which God punishes the doubts of the people of Israel with a plague of snakes, making the people realize the errors of their ways.

The composer wrote several outstanding spiritual works for the court in Dresden. This unconventional orchestral vocal work enjoyed a Renaissance in the last third of the 20th century.

Cedel will sing the unnamed bass-baritone role in A Wintery Spring and God (Dio) in The Bronze Serpent. Tickets and additional cast information for the double-bill are available online. Click HERE for the Köln performance.