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The Sexiest Baritone Hunks from Opera
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Nathan Gunn
Two of the most famous children’s classics have been turned into a musical extravaganza by composer Rob Kapilow and recorded for posterity. Barihunk Nathan Gunn sings The Polar Express while Isabel Leonard sings Gertrude McFuzz. They are accompanied by the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra and members of the Broadway Youth Ensemble.

With The Polar Express Kapilow took fragments from traditional Christmas carols and weaved them into various parts of the score. He also created musical scenes with the book’s illustrations with the hope that you can follow along with book in hand. Pre-orders of the CD are now available on Amazon and will be available on November 1st.

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John Brancy (Photo Dario Acosta ©)
John Brancy is making his debut at Oper Frankfurt this month, singing Sonora in Christof Loy's staging of La Fanciulla del West. It's been a busy season for the baritone from Mullica Hill, New Jersey, who first attracted attention with his clean, bright, unaffected singing when he was an undergraduate at Juilliard. Brancy began 2014 in Gotham Chamber Opera's January production of Charpentier's Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers, then spent February in British Columbia, as Harlequin in Pacific Opera Victoria's Ariadne auf Naxos. Much of March was devoted to recitals, first in a Carnegie Hall "Discovery Day" all-Schubert program with Graham Johnson, then on a three-venue tour with pianist Mario Antonio Marra that took the team from Santa Barbara, California, to Manhattan's National Opera Center. [Continue reading at OPERA NEWS]

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Florian Spiess
Almira was George Frideric Handel's first opera, composed when he was just 19 years old. The opera was first performed in Hamburg in January 1705 where is returns to the Staatsoper on October 21st. Handel arrived in Hamburg in the summer of 1703 and played as a violinist in the theatre at the Gänsemarkt, as well as playing the harpsichord with the orchestra. Much of the music is in the French orchestral style with a mix of Italian and German style arias. The story deals with the universal operatic themes of love, power and jealousy.

Singing the role of Raymondo, King of Mauretania, is the imposing Austrian bass Florian Spiess, who is new to this site.  He began singing as a member of the Wiltener Sängerknaben (Wilten Boys' Chorus), before becoming the boy soprano soloist with the Vienna Boys' Choir from 1990-1994.

Florian Spiess
His formal vocal training began at the Tyrolean Conservatory where he performed in Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods and as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni. He continued his studies at the Vienna Music University including one year on a German-Austrian Richard Wagner Foundation scholarship.

In 2009, he became a  member of the Landestheater Linz where he sang Silvano in Cavallis La Calisto, Figaro in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, three roles in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann and Jupiter in Rameau's Platée.  From 2010-2013, he was a member of the Volksoper Wien where he sang in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Puccini's Tosca and Turandot, and Verdi's Rigoletto.

After a season on the roster of the opera at the Volkstheater Rostock, he joined the ensemble of  the Hamburg State Opera. His roles have included Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen, the Priest/Badger in Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen and the Speaker of the Temple/Second Armoured Man inMozart's Die Zauberflöte.

Future performances include Biterolf in Wagner's Tannhäuser and Colline in Puccini's La Bohème.
Tickets and additional cast information for Almira is available online.

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Hadleigh Adams in Castor & Pollux (left)
Australia's Pinchgut Opera just announced that they will be presenting the Southern Hemisphere premiere of Vivaldi's Bajazet. Starring in the title role will be barihunk Hadleigh Adams, who is wrapping up his second season as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. Adams is returning to Pinchgut after a successful run as Pollux in their production of Rameau's Castor & Pollux in 2012.

Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735 and is a pastiche of Vivaldi's own arias, as well as those by Johann Adolph Hasse, Geminiano Giacomelli, Nicola Porpora and Riccardo Broschi. The opera is also known as Il Tamerlano and the story was also successfully set to music by Handel.

Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria />
Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria />Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/pinchgut-opera-launches-2015-season#sthash.jSqY461i.dpuf
Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/pinchgut-opera-launches-2015-season#sthash.jSqY461i.dpufThe libretto revolves around romantic entanglements and love triangles and the struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Andronico, Tamerlano’s Greek ally, who is also in love with Asteria.

Hadleigh Adams as the Marquis in San Francisco Opera's La traviata (left)
Vivaldi wove into the opera an underlying tale of power struggles and invasion, reflective of the ones going on at the time, when Neopolitan operas were trouncing their local Venetian counterparts in popularity. Music associated with Neapolitan composers is thus cleverly designated to the invaders Tamerlano, Irene and Andronico.
Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/pinchgut-opera-launches-2015-season#sthash.jSqY461i.dpuf
Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/pinchgut-opera-launches-2015-season#sthash.jSqY461i.dpuf
Performances of Vivaldi’s Bajazet will be on July 4, 5, 7 and 8 at City Recital Hall Angel Place in Sydney.  Also in the cast is Christopher Lowrey as Tamerlano, Helen Sherman as Irene, Emily Edmonds as Asteria and Russell Harcourt as Andronicus.

Adams has maintained a busy schedule this season while a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, having sung the Marquis in La Traviata, Grand commissioner in Madame Butterfly and Jailer in Tosca. He also performed Gendarme in Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias with San Francisco's innovative young company Opera Parallèle.

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Anush Avetisyan (far left) and André Courville
We're still mystified when we post about a singer and someone comments, "But can he sing?" Baritones (including a large percentage of barihunks) have been winning major singing competitions at a rate so high that this era has been dubbed the "Golden Age of Baritones." Composers like Ricky Ian Gordon have publicly marveled at the rich supply of amazing baritones and mezzos, while composer Jake Heggie is now writing most of his male leads for lower voices.

The latest barihunk to walk away with top honors is André Courville, who won the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia last night. He sang Sorge infausta una procelia from Handel's Orlando. Other barihunks in the competition were Jared Bybee, who performed O Carlo, ascolta from Verdi's Don Carlo, and Michael Adams, who performed Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse from Thomas' Hamlet.

The Oreste A. and Arturo Giargiari Bel Canto Competition was founded by Raymond F. Giargiari in memory of his father and brother, both opera fans and AVA devotees. Originally, vocal selections from the "bel canto" repertoire were performed exclusively, but over the years the competition has grown to include Italian, French, German, and English language arias from a variety of periods. Past winners include tenors James Valenti and Stephen Costello, and soprano October Opera News cover girl Angela Meade.  AVA Master Vocal Coach Danielle Orlando prepares and accompanies the singers.

The competition concert will be broadcast online today at 4pm EST/1pm PST You can listen and vote for your favorite singer online.

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Richard Alexandre Rittelmann

Richard Alexandre Rittelmann, who will appear in this year's Viva, Italia! Barihunks Charity Calendar, is reprising his stunning performance in Harrison Birdwhistle's Punch & Judy at the Armel Opera Festival in Budapest.

This year's festival is alternating at three locations, with performances of Sándor Márai's Embers, Mozart's Mitridate, a comtemporary production of Beaumarchais' Figaro, and the one-act play Parody, the winner play of the first composer-competition of Armel Festival.

With Punch & Judy, Harrison Birtwistle and his librettist Stephen Pruslin created a stylized tragedy full of grotesque moments, the music of which is just as capable of portraying a monstrous being as it is of portraying love. Their work opens up a positively other-worldly realm, full of fairground illusions and insane twists.


Richard Alexandre Rittelmann
To this day, the opera has retained its polarizing effect. Just a few minutes into the action, Punch brutally murders his own child and Judy—and as the plot progresses, he ends up killing almost everyone else he encounters. Only Pretty Polly, whom he practically worships, is allowed by him to live. But eventually, Punch is overcome by horrible nightmares and the music begins to change in character.

The Festival runs until October 17th, which will culminate with an Awards Ceremony where the best production, best performer and the audience-awarded production will be announced. The winning opera will once again be staged at the opera festival in Avignon on June 3, 2015.

If you can't attend the Festival, you're in luck, as Punch & Judy will be streamed on the German-French cultural channel, Arte Concert on October 14 at 10 AM PST/1 PM EST/7 PM in Budapest. Click HERE to watch the broadcast. The site even has a convenient countdown clock, so you won't miss the show.


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Vittorio Prato and Maxim Mironov
Two of the sexiest men in opera are collaborating for "D'amor sospiro" (I breathe for love) on November 27th, at the Grand Hall in St.Petersburg. Hunkentenor Maxim Mironov and barihunk Vittorio Prato will be joined by soprano Eleanor Lyons for an evening of arias and duets accompanied by the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra.


Prato's solo pieces will include "Hai già vinta la causa" from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Belcore's aria "Come Paride vezzoso" from Donizetti's L'elisir d’amore,  and Enrico's aria "Cruda, funesta smania" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. The two men will join forces to sing Figaro and Count Almaviva's duet "All'idea di quel metallo" from the opera Il barbiere di Siviglia, as well as Nemorino and Belcore's duet "La donna è un animale" from the opera L'elisir d’amore. Prato will team up with Lyons to perform Norina and Malatesta's duet "Pronta io son" from Donizetti's Don Pasquale.

Tickets are available online

Vittorio Prato will be featured in this year's 2015 Viva, Italia! Barihunks Charity Calendar, which will be on sale shortly.

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Ludwig Obst
We'd like to introduce our readers to the Munich-born German barihunk Ludwig Obst, who began his musical training with Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden as a member of the renowned Tölzer Boys Choir from 1998-2004. During this time he also was heard for the first time as an operatic soloist singing Sang Miles in Benjamin Britten's The Turn Of The Screw at the Komische Oper in Berlin.

Since 2010, he has studied Voice at Berlin’s Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler, working first with fellow barihunk Hanno Müller-Brachmann and since 2011 with Bernd Riedel. During his studies, he has studied song repertoire and interpretation with Wolfram Rieger and Thomas Quasthoff, as well as participating in masterclasses with Christine Schäfer and Rudolf Piernay. He sang several operatic roles at the Hochschule, including Papageno Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Dr.Falke in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus.
Ludwig Obst in La Serva Padrona vs. Fuga  (photo: Musica Sequenza)
As a soloist he performs frequently with the Lautten Compagney Berlin, directed by Wolfgang Katschner, and the choirs Sing-Akademie zu Berlin and Staats- und Domchor Berlin. In 2013 he debuted at the Theater Bonn (with the dance-oratorio Maria XXX by Heike Henning), as well as at the Festival de Torroella de Montgrì in Catalonia and at the Trigonale Festival for Ancient music in Austria. He also sang the lead role in Musica Sequenza’s production, Opera del Futuro I (La Serva Padrona vs. Fuga) under the direction of Burak Özdemir in Radialsystem Berlin. In 2014 he appeared in Halle’s prestigious Handel Festival as Isacio in Händel’s Riccardo Primo, conducted by Wolfgang Katschner.
 Ludwig Obst singing Mozart as a member of the Tölzer Boys Choir:
He appears regularly in recital with the pianist Paul Heller, most recently in recitals of Schubert’s Winterreise, Schumann’s Heine-Liederkreis op.24 and settings of Hölderlin poems.

Ludwig Obst is supported by the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, a scholarship program of the German government. In addition to being a gifted singer, he is a composer who had one of his pieces performed by the Tölzer Boys Choir in July 2007.

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Christopher Bolduc as Marcello in Wiesbaden
American barihunk Christopher Bolduc made his role debut as Marcello in Puccini's La boheme on Friday night at the Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden, Germany. Icelandic director Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson, who is the new general director at the opera company, set the piece in a world of nostalgic fairy book charm, complete with a carousel.

Bolduc, who has impressed European audiences with performances at Oper Köln, Glyndebourne and Theater Basel is now on the permanent roster of the the opera in Wiesbaden where he's also wrapping up a run in Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten today. He'll reprise his performance in that opera in May 2015. In between, he'll be singing Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia and the King's Herald in Wagner's Lohengrin. American audiences will remember Bolduc from his stunning portrayal of Jake in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys in his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2013. 

The current cast performs through October 30th with Matias Tosi taking over the role of Marcell beginning on November 14th.  Tickets and additional cast information are available online.

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Ryan McKinny
Bass-Barihunk Ryan McKinny will join soprano Amanda Majeski in kicking off the 2014-15 season of the George London Foundation for Singers with a joint recital at Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. The recital will be McKinny's New York recital debut. The two singers are both past winners of the George London Award.

McKinny will sing three selections from Schubert's Schwanengesang, Die Frist ist um from Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer, and Se vuol ballare from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Together they will perform If I Loved You from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel.

The performance is on Sunday, November 9, 2014, at 4:30 PM, with pianist Ken Noda. Additional information is available online.

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