Friday, May 27, 2016

Jesse Enderle digs in his fangs as Don Giovanni

Jesse Enderle
Barihunk Jesse  Enderle will be singing the title role in Undercroft Opera's Don Giovanni where artistic director Mary Beth Sederburg explores the similarities between the Mozart classic and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Her team created an all-new libretto,  English language libretto where the nobleman preys on brides-to-be.

Performances are on May 28 at 8 p.m. and May 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Undercroft Opera is a Pittsburgh-based company that creates a community for singers and orchestral musicians by offering performance experience to emerging and seasoned local artists. Since their founding in 2006, they have performed Cosi fan tutte, La boheme, Le Nozze di Figaro, La traviata, Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, The MediumL’elisir d’amore, Les Contes d’Hoffmann and a concert version of Don Carlo.

Jesse Enderle is a two-time regional winner in the Metropolitan Opera Regional Council Auditions in Wisconsin. He has performed with the Fort Worth Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Theater Summerfest, Florentine Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Tulsa Opera and the Arbor Opera Theatre.

Baritones comprise half of Lexus Song Quest semi-finalists

Tavis Gravatt and Bradley Christensen
The ten semi-finalists have been selected for the Lexus Song Quest and half of them are baritones. The singers will now work with head judge, soprano Yvonne Kenny, before the Grand Finals singers are selected for the last round at the Auckland Town Hall in July. Around 50 contestants competed in the initial round with judges Graham Pushee and Patricia Price. 

The baritones include Tavis Gravatt, Bradley Christensen, Harry Grigg, Jarvis Dams and Benson Wilson. The remaining singers include sopranos Madison Nonoa, Imogen Thirlwall, Emily Mwila and Sophie Sparrow, as well as tenor Filipe Manu

The Lexus Song Quest will dole out $85,000 in prizes, with the winner receiving a total prize of $50,000, and the runner up receiving an immediate cash prize of $8,000, supported by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, plus a study scholarship of $10,000. Third and fourth place winners receive $1,000 each. A further $15,000 prize, sponsored by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, will be awarded to the singer who has demonstrated great potential through the semi-finals stage of the competition.

Tickets for the Final Lexus Song Quest Gala on July 23 are available online

Barihunk duo in Reimann's Lear at Palais Garnier

Bo Skovhus in Paris Lear (Photo © Elisa Haberer)
Bo Skovhus returned to the title-role of Aribert Reimann’s Lear, this time at the Palais Garnier in Paris. He originally performed the role at the Hamburg Opera in 2012 and 2014, which was recorded on video for the first time. The 2014 performance included fellow barihunk Lauri Vasar as the Duke of Gloucester, who rejoins Skovhus in Paris.

The latest performance opened on May 23rd and will run through June 12. The Paris production in direceted by the provocative director Calixto Bieito and features the crownless king often stripped down, both emotionally and physically.
Lear is one of the most performed modern German operas. There have been 34 new productions since its premiere, - See more at:

Bo Skovhus in Hamburg's Lear:

Lear is one of the most performed modern German operas, having received 34 productions since its 1978 premiere in Munich with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the title role. The U.S. premiere was presented by the San Francisco Opera in June 1981 with Thomas Stewart as Lear.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Birthday Tribute to Composer Clint Borzoni

Composer Clint Borzoni
There are a number of composers who have had an amazing gift for writing for the baritone voice. In an earlier era, Verdi, Wagner, Poulenc and Carl Loewe all wrote timeless music for baritones. In contemporary times, Jake Heggie and Clint Borzoni have kept the tradition alive, with Heggie writing baritone leads for almost every opera.

Randal Turner sings Clint Borzoni's "That Shadow, My Likeness":

Borzoni has written over seventy pieces, including two full-length operas, two one-act operas, a piano concerto, percussion quartet, work for orchestra, two string quartets, several works for chamber orchestra and over forty art songs.

Much of his vocal writing prominently features baritones, including the two lead roles in his recent opera When Adonis Calls, a leading bass role and baritone role in Antinous and Hadrian, two recent works for String Quartet and Baritone (Stufen and Margere Kost) written for Marco Vassalli, a set of Walt Whitman songs for baritone, the song cycle Awake the Dawn written for baritone Seth Kershisnik, and the song cycle Live Oak Growing written for baritones Tim Hill and Randal Turner.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen":

His opera Antinous and Hadrian tells the story of the second century Roman emperor Hadrian and his love for the Greek youth Antinous. It examines the mystery behind the tragic death of the young Antinous. Upon his death, the distraught Emperor declared his beloved a god. Drawing on both historical sources and dramatic imagination the work has been written in the grand opera tradition.

 Wes Mason sings "Two Nooses" from "When Adonis Calls":

Borzoni recently completed his fourth opera, When Adonis Calls, based on the poetry of Gavin Dillard and arranged by John de los Santos. The opera was presented at Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 Frontiers Showcase.

He fifth opera, The Copper Queen, also written with librettist John de los Santos, won Arizona Opera’s new opera competition, Arizona SPARK.

Björn Bürger's Figaro is a box office hit at Glyndebourne; Watch live

Björn Bürger as Figaro
The big hit of the Glyndebourne season is barihunk Björn Bürger's Figaro in Rossini's Barber of Seville, which runs through July 17th with limited availability. The cast also includes Taylor Stayton as Almaviva and Danielle de Niese as Rosina. You can check for tickets HERE.

This appears to be one of those career defining moments for a young singer, as crowds and critics have responded enthusiastically. Mark Valencia in What's on Stage wrote, "The handsome young baritone exudes elegant bonhomie and fourth-wall-breaking razzle-dazzle, and he delivers Rossini's tongue-twisters with an eloquence it would be hard to better." Richard Fairman in the Financial Times wrote, "What fun there is comes from a well-chosen cast. At the top of the class is Björn Bürger’s ace Figaro, sung with brilliance, precision and a nonstop cheery grin, as if it is all no effort at all."

If you can't catch it live, you have two chances to watch in remotely. If you're in the UK, you can see it in a theatre in a live broadcast on Tuesday, June 21 at 6:30 PM. You can find screening near you by clicking HERE.

If you live elsewhere, the performance will be streamed live online on the same day HERE.

Next up at Glyndebourne is Mozart's Marriage of Figaro featuring the barihunk duo of Davide Luciano as Figaro and Gyula Orendt as Count Almaviva. It runs from July 3 to August 24.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Barihunk Benjamin Appl signs with Sony Classical

Benjamin Appl
The sublimely gifted German barihunk Benjamin Appl has signed a contract with Sony Classical. Appl, who was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's last private student, will release a recording of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Grieg and a number of English composers in early 2017.

His first recording on Champs Hill was of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, which he followed with a disc of Schubert lieder from Wigmore Hall with accompanist Graham Johnson.

His next live recital will be at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and will include music by Hahn, Schubert, Muhly and Schumann with James Bailleu on piano. On June 13, he'll appear as Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds with Dame Ann Murray as Dido. 

Edwin Crossley-Mercer to premiere song cycle in Ohio

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
French barihunk Edwin Crossley‐Mercer and American pianist Jason Paul Peterson will premiere a new work by composer Michael Linton as part of their recital at Baldwin Wallace University's Gamble Auditorium on Tuesday, May 24.

"Mute Love" ("Silentium Amoris") is the first of the seventeen‐movement Wilde Songs to be publicly presented. Earlier, the duo premiered Linton's Carmina Catulli at Carnegie Hall in New York, which are based on settings of poems by the Roman poet Catullus. . You can read our previous posts about Carmina Catulli HERE.

A resident of Paris and Berlin, Crossley‐Mercer's repertory ranges from the Baroque through contemporary music. He has performed opera, oratorio, and recitals in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Glyndebourne, Munich, Amsterdam, Nashville, Los Angeles, Strasbourg, New York, Moscow, Dubai and, most recently, in Dallas as Lescaut in Manon by Jules Massenet.

The prize-­‐winning composer Michael Linton has served on the music faculty of Middle Tennessee State University for over two decades where he teaches music theory and history.

The recital is part of Baldwin Wallace's internationally acclaimed bi‐annual "Art Song Festival," a week-­‐long program of recitals and master classes begun in 1985. The festival is also presenting recitals and master classes by mezzo-­‐soprano Susan Graham, tenor Eduardo Valdes and pianist Bradley Moore. Additional information is available online

In January, Crossley-Mercer returns to the Opéra national de Paris to rotate the role of Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte with fellow barihunk Philippe Sly.