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The Sexiest Baritone Hunks from Opera
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Ludwig Mittelhammer
Barihunks continue to dominate vocal competitions worldwide, as Ludwig Mittelhammer took first prize in the International Hugo Wolf Song Competition in Stuttgart yesterday. Joined by Jonathan Ware at the piano, the 25-year-old German performed Krenek's Motiv and Auf und Ab, Schubert's Ganymed, An den Mond, Erlkönig, Wolf's An eine Äolsharfe, Der Tambour and Storchenbotschaft

Ludwig Mittelhammer performs Wolf's Fußreise and Benedeit die sel'ge Mutter and Schubert's Auf der Bruck in Round 1:
Ludwig Mittelhammer and Jonathan Ware in the final round of the Wolf Competition:
Mittelhammer was a boy soprano soloist with the famous Tölzer Boys Choir and became a member of the Bavarian Singakademie when his voice changed. He studied with Hartmut Elbert and was twice awarded with the “Bundespreis” at the Jugend-Musiziert Competition in the category ‘Duo-Kunstlied’ in 2007 and the ‘Gesang Solo’ in 2008. 
Since 2009, he has studied at the Hochschule fu¨r Musik und Theater in Munich and at the Bayerische Theaterakademie. In 2011, he joined the Extra Choir of the Bavarian Broadcasting Cooperation, as well as taking master classes with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg.

In 2010, he made his debut as Marco in Puccini‘s Gianni Schicchi at the German-French Forum Young Arts in Bayreuth. In 2013, he performed his first Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in Ulm and Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte in Bad Reichenhall. Earlier this year, he performed Demetrios in Oberteithner’s Aphrodite in Munich.
Mittelhammer was awarded the Special Prize for the best interpretation of a Goethe-Lied by Wolfgang Rihm at the 2014 Mendelssohn Competition in Berlin.
In 2013, the baritone made his debuts with Bochumer Symphoniker, at the International Festival Heidelberger Fru¨hling and with Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, Ludwig Mittelhammer will go on tour with Concerto Köln singing Christus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

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2 days ago | |
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Mariusz_Kwiecien & Marina Rebeka
Lyric Opera of Chicago opened their Diamond Anniversary season in style with a new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni directed by Robert Falls and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The cast includes two of the most popular barihunks on this site, Mariusz Kwiecien as the Don and Kyle Ketelsen as his sidekick Leporello. The vocally resplendent cast also includes Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ana María Martínez as Donna Elvira and Andriana Chuchman as Zerlina.

Lyric Opera of Chicago was quite generous in supplying pictures to the press, so we thought we'd share some of the best. The opera runs through October 29th and tickets are available online.

Don't forget to read Mariusz Kwiecien interview on their blog about singing Don Giovanni.

Kyle Ketelsen & Mariusz Kwiecien
Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

Mariusz_Kwiecien &Andrea Silvestrelli

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3 days ago | |
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Edwin Crossley-Mercer in a Dior trenchcoat (Photo: Karl Lagerfeld)
We posted about barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer in Robert Carsen's production of Rameau’s Platée set at 31 Rue Cambon, birthplace of the Chanel fashion empire. Crossley-Mercer's Jupiter was styled as a Karl Lagerfeld lookalike with white ponytail and dark glasses. Juno, the queen of the gods, was decked out as Coco Chanel.

Karl Lagerfeld and Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Lagerfeld, an opera fan in his own right, attended a performance at the Opéra Comique and even greeted the singer backstage. The production also played at the Theater an der Wien and at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Lagerfeld must have been quite impressed with what he saw, because he followed up with a photo shoot of the popular baritone shooting him in a variety of couture.

Beginning on April 17, 2015, Crossley-Mercer will appear in another Robert Carsen production when he sings Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Paris Opera.

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4 days ago | |
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Christopher Burchett
Christopher Burchett, who has managed to appear on this site in his underwear more than virtually any other barihunk, will be more fully clothed for his next appearance. On Sunday, September 28th, he'll be portraying Andrew in David Lang‘s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field at Roulette in Brooklyn.

The opera is based on an 1888 Ambrose Bierce story of the same name. It's about a slave owner in the pre-civil war American South who walks across his field and disappears, in plain view of his family, his neighbors and his slaves, forever altering the relationships among them. Everyone around him has his or her own view of what that disappearance means, of why it had to happen, and of what will happen now that there is a ‘hole’ where a man used to be.

The Difficulty of Crossing a Field is intended to cross between opera and theater worlds, mixing arias with spoken text, emotional melodies with intense drama. It is written for 5 principals and a small chorus, and the accompaniment is for string quartet on stage, both as the “orchestra” and as part of the set. Ultimately, it is an opera in which the damage done by slavery leaks from the physical to the metaphysical world.

The opera is presented by Beth Morrison Projects and tickets are available online.

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5 days ago | |
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Benjamin Curtis (Photo: Lauren Roberts- Wichita Falls Times Record News)
We featured Benjamin Curtis in a post about Lee Hoiby, but it was mostly about the composer and not the singer. After seeing this picture of him in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief with Opera Breve, we realized that we may have had it backwards. In the post, we featured Curtis singing Hoiby's sublime Private First Class Jesse Givens.

Curtis received his master of music from the Eastman School of Music and was a finalist in the Friends of Eastman Opera competition. He was awarded the Jury Honors award from the Eastman School of Music and the Outstanding Vocalist of the Year award from Liberty University. He was also a finalist in the annual Rochester Classical idol Competition held by the Rochester Oratorio Society.

In addition to the scene from The Old Maid and the Thief, he performed Billy in Carousel with Opera Breve. With the Loudoun Lyric Opera he performed the Pirate King in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance and Peter in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. 

Opera Breve is a New York-base company that provides young and emerging artists the opportunity to perform roles in the standard and modern operatic repertoire. You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter

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5 days ago | |
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John Brancy: Fox and foxy
Opera San Antonio rolled out its initial season with Tobias Picker's chamber opera Fantastic Mr. Fox. Of course, what would make more sense than casting your fox with a foxy barihunk?  John Brancy takes on the title role in an impressive cast that also includes mezzo Renee Rapier as Mrs. Fox, tenor Theo Lebow as Mr. Porcupine, countertenor Andrey Nemzer as Agnes the Digger, Jonathan Blalock as Mr. Mole, Tynan Davis as Rita the Rat, soprano Elizabeth Futral as Miss Hedgehog, baritone Andrew Craig Brown as Boggis, tenor Edwin Vega as Bunce and baritone Gabriel Preisser as the gun-happy Bean. Andrew Craig Brown and Gabriel Preisser have both been featured on this site.

For those unfamiliar with story, Brancy's Mr. Fox is virtually moribund after having his tail shot off by money-loving farmers, only to become happy again after outwitting his enemies.

The new company has a hit on their hands, as the entire run at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater is completely sold out. Rumor has it that other companies are already looking at picking up the production.

Five years in the making, Opera San Antonio has produced its first fully staged opera after earlier organizing recitals and partnering with the San Antonio Symphony for a semi-staged production of  Dvorák’s Rusalka. Next up for the company, which is being led by Tobias Picker, is Richard Strauss’ Salome, a far cry from the children's story Fantastic Mr. Fox.


You can listen to an interview with John Brancy on Texas Public Radio by clicking HERE

Gabriel Preisser has a busy schedule coming up. to be a busy couple months. On October 5 and 6, he heads to Philadelphia for a recital with Lyric Fest of German lieder. He then sings Escamillo with Florida Opera Theatre in Orlando on October 17 and 19, and then again in Duluth, Minnesota with the Lyric Opera of the North on November 15. On November 23, he'll sing Orff's Carmina Burana at the new Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando.

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6 days ago | |
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Christian Zaremba as Ashby and Andrew Lovato as Sonora (Photo: Michal Daniel)
Apparently, Don Giovanni isn't the only opera that deliver barihunks in bunches. We recently posted about a barihunk duo in Puccini's La fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West), only to find out that the Minnesota Opera has doubled the eye candy and presented a barihunk quartet in their current production.

Led my the amazing and ageless Greer Grimsley in the critical role of Jack Rance, the opera also features Andrew Lovato as Sonora, Rodolfo Nieto as Castro and Christian Zaremba as Ashby. We recently featured Lovato when he was part of the Santa Fe Apprentice Artist Program. Zaremba and Nieto are new to this site and have both somehow managed to sneak below our radar.

Greer Grimsley as Jack Rance (Photo: Michal Daniel)
Zaremba made his debut this summer at the Glimmerglass Festival as the bass soloist in David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion and appeared as Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. Other credits include Il Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen and Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca, as well as Don Basilio in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Long Island Opera and Capitol Heights Opera. This past season, he was the bass soloist in Handel's Messiah with the Annapolis Chorale and Mozart's Requiem with the St. Cloud Orchestra.

He made his debut with Minnesota Opera last season as Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Lamoral in Richard Strauss' Arabella and the Innkeeper in Puccini's Manon Lescaut). He returns to the Minnesota Opera next season as Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen.

Rodolfo Nieto
Rodolfo Nieto has appeared with the Minnesota Opera in various roles including Horatio in Thomas' Hamlet, Johann in Massenet's Werther, Scottish Soldier #1 in the world premier of Puts' Silent Night, Joseph in Wuthering Heights, and Colline in Puccini's La bohème. Other roles include Alidoro in Rossini's La cenerentola with Lakes Area Music Festival, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte with Green Mountain Opera Festival, and Don Alfonso in Mozart's Così fan tutte with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater. 

There are additional performances of La fanciulla del West on September 25, 27 and 28. Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

Nicholas Nelson
UPDATE: We've just learned that it's actually a quintet of barihunks, but the Minnesota Opera didn't list the complete cast, so we missed Nicholas Nelson as Jim Larkens. (SHAME ON THEM!!!)

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7 days ago | |
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Ildar Abdrazakov ( Jason Bell)
It's been a good month for Ildar Abdrazakov, who is getting a lot of great press coverage for being the featured star in the opening of the Metropolitan Opera - an honor usually reserves for sopranos and tenors. He was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and now this segment appeared in Vanity Fair with a stunning photo by Jason Bell:
It could almost be the plot of an opera: a dark, dashing descendant of both Genghis Khan and Tamerlane appears and sweeps all before him. But in the case of Russian-born bass Ildar Abdrazakov—“I’m one-fourth Tatar and three-fourths Bashkirian,” he says with a smile—it happens to be true. A native of Ufa, the capital of the Russian republic of Bashkortostan (also known as Bashkiria), Abdrazakov, 37, has emerged in the past few years as one of the most sought-after young basses in the operatic world. He was pitch-perfect as the brooding prince in the Metropolitan Opera’s production last season of Borodin’s Prince Igor. But what Abdrazakov actually likes best is Italian opera: “I only started singing the Russian roles when I came west,” he says. His supple, burnished bass shines in the lyrical Rossini-to-Verdi canon, along with his comedic flair.

This season he’ll star in a new Met production of Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by Richard Eyre, set in 1920s Seville. Abdrazakov made his debut as Figaro at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1998 and has since sung the part of Mozart’s beloved servant more than a hundred times. “There are many aspects of the role,” he says. “Comedy, drama, some lyric tones.” He keeps it fresh by always “finding something new, a small departure.” Abdrazakov loves working with the Met’s music director, James Levine, who will be conducting Figaro when it opens on September 22. “For him the acting is just as important as the music,” he says. “Even a hand gesture has to connect. It’s very organic—everything all together. He’s a genius.”

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7 days ago | |
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Sergey Khalikulov
Meet Sergey Khalikulov, who will be singing the title role in the Waffle Opera's upcoming performances of Mozart's at the Creativity Theater in San Francisco. Waffle Opera is a brand new opera company founded by young artists with the purpose of promoting young artists. He'll be performing the role on October 24 and November 1 and alternating with Spencer Dodd, who performs on October 25 and November 2. Tickets are available online.  

Sergey Khalikulov attended the San Francisco School of the Arts in the vocal department
and participated in many of their musical productions. A dean’s honor roll graduate from the UCLA
Herb Alpert School of Music, he received his B.A. in music, studying voice with Vladimir Chernov.

At Opera UCLA he performed Mr. Gobineau in Menotti’s The Medium, Antonio in Mozart’s
Le Nozze Di Figaro, Pallante in Handel’s Agrippina, and Hercules in the West Coast premieres of
Cavalli’s Giasone and the Immigration Officer in the West Coast premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Flight.
Sergey Khalikulov
He recently received his Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying voice with César Ulloa. Past SFCM productions include Betto in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, the Narrator/Mysterious Man  in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Kander and Ebb’s And the World Goes Round, Friedrich Bhaer in Adamo’s Little Women, Ariodate in Handel’s Serse, Man with the Cornet Case in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, and the title role in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.

Recently, Sergey played Lt. Cable in Foothill Music Theater’s production of South Pacific. This year, Sergey is completing a Post Graduate Diploma at SFCM. Upcoming roles include, the title role in Don Giovanni, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, George in Sunday in the Park with George, Dulcamara in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore, and Superintendent Budd in Britten's Albert Herring.

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8 days ago | |
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Ildar Abdrazakov (Julie Platner, The Wall Street Journal)
In opera, tenors are the men falling in love, singing their hearts out and basking in ovations after hitting the high notes.

But operatic basses, with low voices suited to kings, gods and villains, rarely get the girls—or popular attention. Which can lead to some friendly ribbing.

"Tenors always cry like babies," said Ildar Abdrazakov, a bass, who rolls his eyes at all the onstage whining from his artistic frenemies. "Wimps."

On Monday, Mr. Abdrazakov will hit a career milestone: He is the title character in the Metropolitan Opera's season opener, a new production of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro. "

At age 37, the Russian-born Mr. Abdrazakov's relative youth makes his ascent atypical, since the bass voice typically reaches maturity later in life. He has already anchored major productions at the Met, including Verdi's "Attila" and Borodin's "Prince Igor," and he is now marketable enough that he was featured in the Met's advertising for the 2014-15 season.

"Ildar is unusual because he has been singing leading roles for years," said the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb. "With Ildar, you have the new great bass."

There will be plenty of opportunities for comparison, with several other basement-rattling voices featured this season. For the first time since 1984, the Met is presenting a bass in concert: the 50-year-old René Pape, who sings on Sept. 28 in addition to appearing in "Macbeth" and "The Magic Flute." Then in March comes "Don Carlo," which will include two basses: Ferruccio Furlanetto and James Morris, both in their 60s.

[CONTINUE AT WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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8 days ago | |
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