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The Sexiest Baritone Hunks from Opera
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Wallis Giunta and Quirijn de Lang in Trouble in Tahiti
The U.K.'s Opera North is presenting a new series dubbed "Little Greats," which are six operas that run about an hour each and are presented as a double-bill. To entice new opera attendees, tickets start for as little as £10. The series will include Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, Janácek's Osud, Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial by Jury and will run from September 16 to October 21.

Dutch barihunk Quirijn de Lang will be featured in both L'enfant et les sortilèges as the Grandather Clock and Tom Cat and in Trouble in Tahiti as Sam, one half of a bickering married couple.

Quirijn de Lang
The operas will be performed in Leeds starting on September 16, Kingston starting on October 26, Nottingham starting on November 1, Newcastle starting on November 8 and Salford Quays starting on November 15. Ticket information is available online.

Quirijn de Lang can currently be seen as Selim in Rossini's Il Turco in Italia at the Garsington Opera through July 15. On July 29, he'll be featured in "A Night at the Opera," a concert with full orchestra with Opera North featuring soprano Jeni Bern.

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Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photo courtesy of Des Moines Metro Opera)
American barihunk Craig Verm is returning to the role of Billy Budd at the Des Moines Metro Opera on July 1, 9, 11 and 14. Verm has become a popular singer of Benjamin Britten's title character. Verm performed Billy to great acclaim at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago in 2013.

The production will feature a number of other singers familiar to readers, including Zachary James as the evil John Claggart, Michael Adams as Donald, Emmett O'Hanlon as the Novice's Friend and barihunk turned hunkentenor Chris Carr as Maintop. 

In 2007, Verm first appeared in the opera as the Novice's Friend in Pittsburgh opposite the Billy Budd of Nathan Gunn and the thrilling Claggart of Greer Grimsley. The production was directed by the woman who inspired Barihunks, Francesca Zambello.

Emmett O'Hanlon, Zachary James as Claggart and Michael Adams
Billy Budd had its world premier at London’s Royal Opera House on December 1, 1951 conducted by the composer with the role of Captain Vere sung by Britten’s partner Peter Pears. In 1966, in preparation for a television broadcast, Britten cut the score from four acts to two with a prologue and epilogue, which has become the standard version for the opera.

The libretto was written by the English novelist E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier, and is based on the short novel Billy Budd by Herman Melville. The book was first published posthumously in London in 1924. Melville began writing the work in November 1888, but left it unfinished at his death in 1891. The novella was discovered in manuscript form in 1919 by Raymond M. Weaver, who was studying Melville's papers as his first biographer.

Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photos courtesy of Des Moines Metro Opera)
The first production of the opera Billy Budd in Russia occurred 100 years after the birth of Britten at St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre in 2013. Billy Budd received its United States premiere in 1952 at the Indiana University Opera Company with Jack Gillaspy in the title role.

Britten originally intended the title role for Sir Geraint Evans, but he felt that the role sat to high for his voice, so he switched to the role of Mr. Flint. Britten then opted for barihunk Theodor Uppman to replace Evans in the title role. The performance launched Uppman's international career and he went on to become one of the definitive Billy Budd's off all-time. Uppman sang in an acclaimed performance in 1970 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which included Sir Geraint Evans as Claggart and Richard Lewis as Vere.

A number of famous barihunks have sung the role of Billy Budd, who many believe was secretly desired by the evil Claggart. Famous barihunk Billy Budd's include John Chest, Simon Keenlyside, Richard Stilwell, Nathan Gunn, Rod Gilfry, Bo Skovhus, Thomas Hampson, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Peter Mattei, Lauri Vasar, Lucas Meachem, Jacques Imbrailo, Daniel Belcher, Roderick Williams, Iurii Samoilov and Liam Bonner.

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Dashe Cellars in Oakland and German bass Malte Roesner
Malte Roesner, who is making his U.S. stage debut with West Edge Opera in Vicente Martín y Soler's The Chastity Tree (see our post), will also be making his U.S. concert debut at Dashe Cellars on July 22 performing lost Soler songs along with his wife soprano Aurora Perry, hunkentenor Sam Levine and accompanist Bob Mollicone on fortepiano.

The concert tickets also include wine from Oakland's Dashe Cellars, a premiere California winery that uses traditional and natural winemaking techniques, including small-lot fermentation, the use of indigenous yeasts, and little-to-no fining or filtration. Their wines frequently score 90+ points in leading wine magazines. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

The concert will feature music by Soler and his Viennese contemporaries Mozart, Antonio Salieri, Franz Xaver Süßmayr and the blind, female composer Maria Theresia von Paradis. The concert will explore the musical landscape of 18th century Vienna, where all of the composers on the program either knew each other or inspired each other. Another common thread will be texts by the famed librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.

Malte Roesner
Roesner is performing two sets of music that have not been heard since the 18th century: Soler's "Songs and Duets for the Princess of Wales," which he found in an archive in London, and a set of songs by Süßmayr that he unearthed from the Austrian National Library. Perry will be singing Soler's "Songs for Miss Miller" and selections from Mozart, while Levine will sing Paradis' "Songs for the Duchess of Saxony" and songs by Salieri.

Despite being born in New York City, Roesner was raised in Germany and has focused his career in Europe. During his decade as a fest singer at the Staatstheater Braunschweig he portrayed more than fifty roles in the baritone repertory. He took some time off to retrain as a basso cantante and auditioned in the United States last year, eventually landing one of the few principle roles for a bass, Doristo in The Chastity Tree at West Edge Opera. Tickets are on sale HERE.

Roesner, who also trained as a musicologist, was hugely responsible for unearthing many of the lost manuscripts for this program.

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Mathias Hausmann (left) and Günter Papendell (right)
Barihunks Günter Papendell and Mathias Hausmann are rotating the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich, Germany through July 12th. The production is being guided by the Viennese actor and director Herbert Föttinger, who is mostly associtate with the Theater in der Josefstadt. His concept is to look at Don Giovanni as a conglomerate of freedom, anarchy, seduction and sex; one who women desire and men desire to be.

Papendell will be joined by Levente Páll as Leporello, Christoph Filler as Masetto, Sergii Magera as the Commendatore, as well as Jennifer O'Loughlin as Donna Anna, Lucian Krasznec as Don Ottavio, Camille Schnoor as Donna Elvira and Sophie Mitterhuber as Zerlina. Papendell, can still be seen at his home base at the Komische Oper, where he's simultaneously performing Jason in Reimann's Medea on July 2 and 15. He'll be perfoming Don Giovanni in Munich on June 27 and July 6, 8, 9 and 12.

Günter Papendell in Don Giovanni in Munich
Mathias Hausmann will be singing Don Giovanni on June 26 and July 1, 2, 5 and 8. He'll be joined by Matija Meic as Leporello, Christoph Filler as Masetto, Christoph Seidl as the Commendatore, as well as Sophia Brommer as Donna Anna, Szabolcs Brickner as Don Ottavio, Nadja Stefanoff as Donna Elvira and Mária Celeng as Zerlina. On July 16, he'll perform in Händel's Alexander's Feast with the company. This Fall, he heads to the Oper Leipzig where he'll take on the role of Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlo

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Roman Ruckhofer in Silbersee (left)
22-year-old Austrian barihunk Roman Ruckhofer was suggested to us after he performed in Kurt Weill's Silbersee at the Theater im Palais at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.

Ruckhofer started his career as a leading performer with choirs he graduated with distinction. He started with the HIB.art.chor of Liebenau, one of Austria’s leading high school choirs, which has won numerous prizes worldwide. He was awarded a First Prize in the Youth Vocal Solo Competition with Green Guys at the Golden Gate International Choral Festival in 2015.

Since 2014, he has been studying voice at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. His repertoire ranges from sacred music to musical theater and contemporary music from the 21st century. He has already performed on international stages in Croatia, Norway, Canada and the United States. He recently was awarded a full scholarship to attend the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz in 2017.

When he's not focused on music he is busy studying law.


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Dmitri Hvorostovsky at Cardiff in 1989
As we wrap up the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, we're recalling the most famous show down of all, which was the 1989 "Battle of the Baritones" between Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Bryn Terfel.

The Siberian barihunk went on to win the competition and, of course, both men have gone on to sensational international careers. Hvorostovsky sangs two pieces from Verdi, Rodrigo's aria "O Carlo, ascolta" from Don Carlo and "Eri tu che macchiavi" from Un ballo in maschera, "Ja vas lyublyu" from Tchikovsky's Queen of Spades.

The late, great soprano Elizabeth Soderström, who was one of the judges in 1989, famously marked a series of exclamation marks on her scorecard as she listened to Hvorostovsky sing. The performance wasn't as easy as it looked, as Hvorostovsky has just listened to Bryn Terfel over the speakers and, for the first time, realized that he could lose the competition. When he went out on stage, he was determined to give it 110%, but almost fainted when he took, not one, but two long phrases in Rodrigo's aria on a single breath. The gambit obviously paid off and the singer is still known 28 years later for his ability to float long Verdian phrases on a single breath.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky's 1989 performance at Cardiff:

The win also came with a bid of levity, as an excited Hvorostovsky grabbed the crystal trophy from the Lord Mayor before she could hand it to him. He also won more than the trophy and prize money, as Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave him a huge apartment in the middle of Moscow as a prize for his win.

He later moved from Moscow to London after his family felt threatened by the Russian mafia.

The "Battle of the Baritones" has never been repeated, although many believed that this year's competition might have been the year, with its rich crop of top notch low voices. However, in 2013, there was a "Battle of the Mezzos" when Jamie Barton squared off against Daniela Mack, Barton grabbing the crystal trophy.

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Samuel Ramey and Ildar Abdrazakov
Lovers of low voices in the San Francisco Bay Are area in for a real treat this summer, as their local PBS station KQED has announced that both Verdi's Attila and Boito's Mefestofle will be aired.

Attila will feature a veritable feast of Verdi low voices, led by the legendary Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role, Quinn Kelsey as Ezio and Samuel Ramey as Pope Leo I. The 1846 masterpiece about the legendary warrior who is tormented by internal doubts will air on Thursday, August 3 on KQED Channel 9.
Verdi’s 1846 masterpiece about a legendary warrior who is tormented by internal doubts, will air on Thursday, August 3 on KQED 9 - See more at: https://sfopera.com/about-us/press-room/press-releases/KQED-Attila-Mefi/#sthash.LC1AnggY.dpuf
Boito’s Mefistofele will feature barihunk Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role accompanied by Ramón Vargas and Patricia Racette. The retelling of the Faust legend will be telecast on Thursday, August 24th. Adventurous opera goes can also see Abdrazakov as Attilla, as he will be singing the role in April at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Barihunk afficionados will recall that Samuel Ramey attained barihunk status before the word was even coined, when he sang Mefistofele at the San Francisco Opera in 1989 in a cast that included Daniel Harper as Wagner, Gabriela Benacková as Margherita and Dennis O'Neill as Faust. He secured his barihunk status as Attila in 1991 with the company, in a cast that included Elizabeth Connell as Odabella, Vladimir Chernov as Ezio, Philip Skinner as Pope Leo I and Craig Estep as Uldino.

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Zachary Gordin sporting his Barihunk tee shirt at the gym
Barihunk calendar model Zachary Gordin is replacing fellow barihunk Hadleigh Adams in the Festival Opera's double-bill on Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins.

Gordin will sing Nedda's lover Silvio, whose affair with Canio's wife leads to the play-within-a-play's tragic turn. He'll be joined by Hope Briggs as Nedda, Alex Boyer as the jealous husband Canio and Laura Bohn as Anna, who will be led by Michael Morgan in the pit.

The Seven Deadly Sins is a satirical ballet chanté in seven scenes. Setting out on a journey across America to aid her poverty-stricken family, Anna I - manifested as two facets of one personality, one who sings and one who dances - finds herself on a seven-year, seven-city quest where she ultimately encounters each of the seven deadly sins. Anna I will be sung by Laura Bohn, who will be joined by Gordin, Kirk Eichelberger, Jonathan Smucker and Robert Norman, with Bryan Nies conducting.

With a libretto by Bertold Brecht, The Seven Deadly Sins was an artistic triumph at its premiere in Paris, but was not performed in the United States until twenty-five years later in 1958, with Lotte Lenye singing the role of Anna I.

There will be two performances of the double-bill on Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, just a short train ride from both San Francisco and Oakland. Tickets are available online.

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Zachary Gordin on the cover of Queer.de
The founder of Barihunks was interviewed by Kevin Clarke for the gay German blog Queer.de. You can read the entire interview in German HERE or read the English translation below.