Monday, August 3, 2015

Reader Submission: Håvard Stensvold

Our latest reader submission is Norwegian barihunk Håvard Stensvold who made his debut at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen as Masetto in Don Giovanni in 1997. He has gone on to sing Masetto, Don Giovanni and the Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni.  He's made his mark in other Mozart roles, as well, including Papageno in the Magic Flute, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte. He sings primarily in Scandinavia, although he's performed in Belgium, Austria and Spain.

He started performing  as a boy soprano with the Norwegian boys choir Sølvguttene. He went on to study at the Royal Opera Academy in Copenhagen at the Royal Danish Music Conservatory, where one of his instructors was the famed baritone Håkan Hagegård.
Håvard Stensvold  sings "Ho capito" from Don Giovanni:
He's also made his mark in contemporary opera, singing the lead role Bo Berg in Knut Vaage's  Khairos at Norske Opera, Kjell Habbestad's The Maid Of Norway in Bergen, Nielsen's The Little Mermaid, Cecilie Ore's Dead Beat Escapement at Norske Opera, The Soldier in the world premiere of Palmar Johansen's Madonna Furiosa, and one of the leading roles in the world premiere of Anitra Tumsevica’s opera Red.

He also appears as Zebul on the CD of Handel's Jephtha under Fabio Biondi, as well as three recording with with pianist Tor Espen Aspaas, Winter Holidays, Schubert's Winterreise and a Brahms lieder recital.

Morgan Pearse moving back to U.K.; Role debut as Figaro

Morgan Pearse
Morgan Pearse moved to the United States a year ago to become a Studio Artist wtih the Houston Grand Opera where his roles included Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Anthony  in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. He also performed in the Jukebox Concert with the Wolf Trap Opera and Vocal Colors concert in Washington D.C. By all accounts, he impressed the U.S. opera world and will undoubtedly be a regular on American stages.

However, he's now moving back to the U.K. where he studied at the Royal College of Music International Opera School. Fans won't have to wait long to hear him, as he's making his debut as Figaro in Rossini's Barber of Seville at the English National Opera on September 28 for a 10 performance run. The opera will also be broadcast by ENO Screen on October 19th at theatres throughout the U.K. and Ireland.

He'll be joined in the cast by ENO regular Andrew Shore as Bartolo, mezzo Kathryn Rudge in her role debut as Rosina,  the amazing young tenor Eleazar Rodriguez making his company debut as Count Almaviva and fellow barihunk Barnaby Rea as Don Basilio. Last June, Pearse appeared at ENO as Pompeo in Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini.

Additional performances at the London Coliseum are on September 28 and 30, October  3, 9, 15, 19, 24 and 30 and Nov 5 and 11. On November 4th, he'll appear as part of the Samling Young Artists concert at Wigmore Hall along with soprano Susanna Hurrell, tenor Nick Pritchard and bass-baritone Arshak Kuzikyan.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Barihunk duo in Lully's Armide in Innsbruck

Pietro di Bianco & Thomas Lavoie
The barihunks duo of Pietro di Bianco and Thomas Lavoie will appear at this year's Innsbruck Festival of Early Music in Lully's rarely performed Armide. Di Bianco, who was awarded the top prize for men at the Paris Opera Competition last year, will sing the role of Armide's wicked uncle Hidraot, while Lavoie takes on the dual assignment of Aronte and Ubalde.

Lully's Armide premiered at the Paris Opera on February 15, 1685 and was revived numerous times by the company during the 17th century. The opera is in the form of a tragédie en musique, a genre invented by Lully. Unlike most of his operas, Armide concentrates on the sustained psychological development of a character — not the crusader Renaud, who spends most of the opera under Armide's spell, but Armide, who repeatedly tries without success to choose vengeance over love.

Pietro di Bianco sings "De noirs pressentiments" from Iphigénie en Tauride:

The story takes place during the First Crusade, when Armide ensnares her enemy the Christian knight Renaud with her magic spells. At the moment she raises her dagger to kill him, she finds herself falling in love with him. She casts a spell to make him love her in return. Upon returning to her castle, she cannot bear that Renaud's love is only the work of enchantment. She calls on the Goddess of Hate to restore her hatred for Renaud, but fails to escape from her feelings of love for him. The Goddess condemns Armide to eternal love. Before Armide can return to Renaud, two of his fellow soldiers reach Renaud and break Armide's spell. Renaud manages to escape from Armide, who is left enraged, despairing, and hopeless.

Performances are on August 22, 24 and 26. Tickets, cast information and additional festival shows are available online.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Benjamin Appl named ECHO Rising Star

Benjamin Appl
German barihunk Benjamin Appl was just named one of the European Concert Hall Organization's (ECHO) six outstanding young artists to become its Rising Stars. The selected Rising Stars receive professional development support and perform a concert tour across the halls of the ECHO network The ECHO Rising Stars series was founded in 1995 and has shaped the musical careers of many of today’s world class artists.

The aim of the Rising Stars series is to bring young and exceptional young artists to new international audiences. The selected artists are offered unparalleled performance opportunities to present musical programs of their choosing in the major concert halls of Europe. A new element for the 2015/2016 season is that each artist also has a new work commissioned for them as part of the series.  Composer Nico Muhly has been chosen to create a piece for Appl.

Other artists chosen this year are pianist Cathy Krier, cellist Harriet Krijgh, Quatour Zaïde, harrpist Remy van Kesteren and Trio Catch.

Gavan Ring takes 2nd Prize at Concorso Lirico Internazionale

Gavan Ring performing in Portofino
Irish barihunk Gavan Ring, who we introduced to readers back in October 2014, took 2nd Prize at the Concorso Lirico Internazionale Vocal Competition in Portofino, which concluded last night.  Two Russian sopranos, Maria Nazarova and Karina Kheruntc, took 1st and 3rd Prize respectively. Ring was awarded €4000.

The finalists were narrowed down from a field of 120 singers from 28 countries and had 10 minutes in the final round to sing the aria of their choice. The jury was headed by Dominique Meyer, the director of the Vienna State Opera. The top three winners will be invited to audition for the
Vienna State Opera.

Gavan Ring at the 2013 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation Competition:

Gavan Ring can next be seen as Bill Bobstay in Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore at the Edinburgh International Festival opening on August 23 and Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at Opera North opening on October 7th. On November 8th, he'll perform a song recital with accompanist Simon Lepper as part of the Dublin Song Series at Hugh Lane Gallery.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Andrew Garland to present Schubertiade

Andrew Garland

Andrew Garland has been one of our favorite lieder/song recitalists ever since we heard his amazing CD of American composers, which is still available for sale.  The CD features music of Tom Cipullo, Jake Heggie, Lori Laitman and Stephen Paulus and remains one of the best recording of American songs.

On August 7th, Garland will turn his attention to German language lieder in a Schubertiade at the Spire Center for the Performing Arts in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Garland will perform selections from both Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin, as well as selected songs. World's End Trio with guest musicians will also perform the Trout Quintet.

Andrew Garland's American Portraits recital (Complete):

You can catch him on the operatic stage beginning on October 2nd when he performs Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème with the Boston Lyric Opera. The cast includes the real-life barihunk couple of Jonathan Beyer as Marcello and Brandan Cedel as Colline.

Monday, July 27, 2015

West Edge Opera season off to thrilling start

Dan Kempson
If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, you will want to check out the West Edge Opera's current festival which got underway last week. Not only are the first two shows that have opened (Lulu and As One) all the talk of the local opera community, but all three operas feature barihunks.

We managed to get this picture of barihunk Dan Kempson from Act 1 of Laura Kaminsky's As One where he shares the role of Hannah with the thrilling mezzo-soprano Brenda Patterson. The piece is being performed at The Oakland Metro, a punk rock venue reflective of Oakland’s gritty art scene and the ideal space for such a provocative piece. Kempson is shirtless within 5 minutes of the first bar of music.

Kaminsky was inspired to write As One after reading an article in the New York Times in 2008 about a New Jersey marriage in which one of the parties transitioned from male to female, transforming the couple from straight to gay. The opera is based on the life experience of noted filmmaker Kimberly Reed. There are two performances remaining on July 31 and August 8th.

Alban Berg’s Lulu will be performed in the abandoned and decaying 1912 Beaux-Arts train station at 16th Street in Oakland where the movies Funny Lady and RENT were filmed. It opened to rave reviews and has additional performances on August 2 and 8. It features barihunk Zack Altman as the Athlete.

The final opera is Monteverdi’s, Ulysses, which will be staged at the American Steel Studios, a former pipe factory turned six acre art studio that’s now home to steel fabricators, sculptors, vertical aerial and trapeze performers, glass artists, and more. The opera stars Nikolas Nackley in the title role and barihunk Aaron Sørensen as Neptune. It opens on August 1 with additional performances on August 7 and 9.

Tickets and additional cast information is available online.