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The Sexiest Baritone Hunks from Opera
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Zach Owen, Jared Bybee and Michael Adams
Seven of the seventeen winners of the Metropolitan Opera regional competitions were baritones or basses, many of whom are familiar to our readers. Those who advanced will perform in the semi-finals on March 15th in a closed competition before judges. The winners will then advance to the Grand Finals Concert on March 22nd and perform two arias with conductor Fabio Luisi and the Met Orchestra.

The seven low male voices in the semi-finals are Michael Adams, baritone (Gulf Coast Region: Fort Worth, Texas); Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone (Western Region: Mobile, Alabama); David Leigh, bass (Eastern Region: New York, New York); Zachary Owen, bass-baritone (Midwest Region: Stillman Valley, Illinois); Reginald Smith, Jr., baritone (Southeast Region: Atlanta, Georgia); Matthew Turner, bass (Mid-South Region: Jackson, Kentucky) and Jared Bybee, baritone (Middle Atlantic Region: Modesto, California)

The Grand Finals Concert, which is held in the Met auditorium and open to the public, will be hosted by soprano Angela Meade, who herself first came to prominence in 2007 as a winner of the National Council Auditions. Meade will also sing an aria with the orchestra while the judges are deliberating. At the end of the concert, winners will be announced, each of whom will receive an individual cash prize of $15,000.

Other semi-finalists include mezzo-soprano Jenni Bank, soprano Sarah Cambidge, soprano Marina Costa-Jackson, tenor William Davenport, mezzo-soprano  Allegra De Vita, tenor Joseph Dennis, soprano Kathryn Henry, mezzo-soprano Anne Maguire, mezzo-soprano Deniz Uzun,  and mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez.

Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert begin at $25 and may be purchased at the Met Box Office, by phone at 212-362-6000, or online at www.metopera.org.

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Bran Baron
We've gotten know bass-baritone Brad Baron through Twitter and love following his tweets @BaronAsInRed. We've been meaning to post him many times over the last two years. In fact, he's been recommended to us by a few of his colleagues, particularly while working at the Des Moines Metro Opera. When we say his latest selfie...we knew it was time!

He has peformed Sir Anthony Absolute in the New York premiere of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals with the Bronx Opera Company, Harapha in Handel’s Samson and premiered The Soldier in the first orchestra performance of Theo Popov’s Once Upon the Wind with The Secret Opera. At the aforementioned Des Moines Metro Opera he sang the role of an Old Gypsy in Bizet's Carmen and one of Flora's attendants in Verdi's La traviata at their 2014 Festival.  He sang in the first public performance of Clint Borzoni’s opera Antinous and Hadrian as the High Priest with operamission.


He was an Encouragement Award winner in the Violetta DuPont Competition, a finalist in Classical Idol 8, a semi-finalist in the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition, and a semi-finalist in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition.  He will be a resident artist at the Ohio Light Opera this summer.

In addition to his work as a he singer, he's an actor and writer. His play 140 Characters or Less had its first reading as a part of the Annual Short Play Festival at Luna Stages. Brad is the author of five full-length plays and many more one acts. His full-length play Where We Always Go received its first staged reading as a part of the New Playwrights Series with The Villagers Theater in Somerset, New Jersey, and his play Homochondria had its regional premiere as a part of the Ringwald Theatre’s Gay Play Series in Michigan.

In addition to writing plays, Baron is a published contributing writer for a number of online blogs. He periodically writes for the site GayGamer.net and also cultivates his own personal blog.

Baron graduated from Princeton University with an AB in English and Certificates in Theatre and Vocal Performance. He is currently in pursuit of his Masters of Music at Louisiana State University.

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Barihunk Jason Duika is new to the site. He was a finalist last year in the James Toland Vocal Competition and is currently a young artist with the Palm Beach Opera, where he is covering major roles. In December, he joined soprano Liana Guberman to sing in Ben Moore's Enemies, A Love Story at the company's outdoor concert.

In April 2014, he took the stage at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern auditorium to sing the duet Si pel ciel, from Verdi’s Otello opposite tenor Andrew Lunsford, and the aria Di provenza from Verdi’s La traviata. In April 2013, he sang the baritone solos in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Spring Masterworks concert at Alma College in Michigan.

Jason Duika at the James Toland Vocal Competition:
In 2012, he covered baritone Kyle Pfortmiller in the role of Valentine in Gounod’s Faust at the Utah Festival Opera in Logan, and in the winter of 2013, he joined the Wichita Grand Opera to cover the roles of the Count in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Iago in Verdi’s Otello.

In 2009, while in graduate school at Portland State University, Duika sang the role of Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff opposite veteran baritone Richard Zeller. Among Duika’s other performance credits are the title roles in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at Portland State and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

Duika holds a Bachelor of Arts in voice from Alma College, a Masters of Music in voice performance from Portland State University, and a Performer Diploma in opera from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, where he performed the title role of Dr. Falke in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

On March 26th, the Palm Beach Opera Young Artists will perform in a Liederabend at the Royal Poinciana Chapel. Tickets are available online.

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Barbara Strozzi, Ethel Smyth and Lori Laitman
Barihunks is celebrating Women's History Month, by highlighting some of the great women composers who left a legacy for the baritone voice. Recently, the Metropolitan Opera was criticized for announcing their new season, which for the 111th straight year included no works by women composers. That's not the case elsewhere, as Kaija Saariaho's operas are being performed this season in Linz, Helsinki and Amsterdam, while Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland opens in London on March 8th.

For centuries composition was not considered an appropriate role for women and, even when they did composer, their works were not taken seriously. Fortunately, a rich legacy of works by women composers is available online. Here are a few of our favorites (and this list is by no means comprehensive!).

Barbara Strozzi was a gifted singer and composer in the 17th century. Encouraged by her father Giulio Strozzi, a noted librettist and dramatist in his own right, she wrote eight volumes of dramatic vocal music. Many of her songs were set to lyrics penned by her father. He music is marked by chromatic tensions, expressive lines and long virtuoso vocal runs.

Kirk Eichelberger sings Barbara Strozzi's L’eraclito amoroso: 
Francesca Caccini was born into the Medici court and was a gifted composer, singer, lutenist, poet, and music teacher of the early Baroque era. She was also known by the nickname "La Cecchina," originally given to her by the Florentines. She was the daughter of composer Giulio Caccini. Her 1625 work comedy-ballet, La liberazione di Ruggiero, has been widely considered the first opera by a woman composer. She composed 32 songs, wrote music for the court, penned liturgical music and at least 16 stage works.

Francesca Caccini's La liberazione di Ruggiero:

The Hamburg born Fanny Mendelssohn is the sister of the composer Felix Mendelssohn, who was also an acclaimed pianist and composer in her own right. She is also the granddaughter of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. She showed prodigious musical ability as a child and began to write music, but was limited by prevailing attitudes of the time toward women.

She composed over 460 pieces of music, including her famous Piano Trio in D-minor, Opus 11 . A number of her songs were originally published under her brother's name in his Opus 8 and 9 collections.

She died in Berlin in 1847 of complications from a stroke suffered while rehearsing one of her brother's oratorios, The First Walpurgis Night. Her brother died less than six months later from the same complications.

Maarten Koningsberger sings Fanny Mendelssohn's Fichtenbaum und Palme and Traurige Wege::

Clara Schumann is the half of the composing team that included her husband Robert. She was not only a formidable talent as a composer, but a gifted pianist who premiered many of the works of Johannes Brahms. Her songs, not as well known as her works for piano, are among the treasures of her creative work and can take their place with the best of the German Lieder repertoire.

Robert Schumann had always urged her to compose songs, and he even undertook the necessary negotiations to get them published. Despite this, many of her songs have been erroneously attributed to Robert. All of Clara's songs published during her lifetime were written after her marriage to Robert and almost every song was intended as a Christmas or birthday gift for her husband. Her songs were performed by the leading male and female singers of the nineteenth century throughout the concert halls of Europe. In 1906, the her Ihr Bildnis and Liebst du um Schönheit.

Schumann was a unique phenomenon, honored and respected during her lifetime. Her triumphs as a musician may have compensated in part for the many personal tragedies she endured: the lengthy mental illness and death of her husband in 1856, the hospitalization of her incurably ill adult son Ludwig in 1870, and the deaths of three adult children: Julie in 1872, Felix in 1879, and Ferdinand in 1891.

Thomas Hampson sings five songs by Clara Schumann:
Ethel Smyth was an English composer and a member of the women's suffrage movement, whose father strongly objected to her becoming a composer. Her compositions include songs, works for piano, chamber music, orchestral and concertante works, choral works, and operas. In her mid-50s, she began to gradually lose her hearing and managed to complete only four more major works before deafness brought her composing career to an end.

Her opera The Wreckers is considered by some critics to be the most important English opera composed during the period between Purcell and Britten. Her operas Der Wald remains the only opera by a woman composer ever produced at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

In recognition of her work as a composer and writer, Smyth was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1922. Smyth had several passionate affairs in her life,, most of them with women. She died in 1944 at the age of 86.

Ethel Smyth's Mass in D:
Ruth Crawford Seeger was a modernist composer active primarily during the 1920s and 30s and an American folk music specialist from the late 1930s until her death. She was a prominent member of a group of American composers known as the "ultramoderns," and her music influenced later composers including Elliott Carter.

Her reputation as a composer chiefly rests on her New York compositions written between 1930 and 1933, which are concerned with dissonant counterpoint and American serial techniques. She was one of the first composers to extend serial processes to musical elements other than pitch, and to develop formal plans based on serial operations.

Judith Weir CBE is a British composer and Master of the Queen's Music. She studied with Sir John Tavener at the North London Collegiate School and subsequently with Robin Holloway at King's College. Her music often draws on sources from medieval history, as well as the traditional stories and music of her parents' homeland, Scotland. Although she has achieved international recognition for her orchestral and chamber works, Weir is best known for her operas and theatrical works.

She has written seven full length operas, many of which were commissioned by the English National Opera. Her operatic writing has been compared to Benjamin Britten.

George Mosley sings Judith Weir's Blackbirds and Thrushes:

Lori Laitman is an American composer of vocal music. She has composed over 250 songs, setting the words of classic and contemporary English-language poets, including the lost voices of poets who perished in the Holocaust.

Her opera, The Scarlet Letter, to a libretto by David Mason (based on the Nathanial Hawthorne classic), will receive its professional premiere at Opera Colorado in May 2016 starring Elizabeth Futral. The one-hour adaption for five voices and piano will premiere in March 2015 with the Young Artists of Opera Colorado. Her children's opera, "The Three Feathers," to a libretto by Dana Gioia (based on a Grimm's fairy tale), was commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech and premiered on October 17, 2014.

The title song of her cycle "Men With Small Hands" refers to a small child gazing up at adults, whose heads appear to be disproportionately tiny. "Refrigerator, 1957" contains an unopened jar of maraschino cherries, brimming with fascination to someone weaned on bland food, and "A Small Tin Parrot Pin" uses internal rhyme and wordplay to smirking effect, coupled with Laitman's light, brisk vocal writing. But the final song might have been the funniest: "Snake Lake," in which the singer uses an overly sibilant "s" in every word that that has one.??

Andrew Garland sings Snake Lake by Lori Laitman:
After centuries of being discouraged from composing, women composers are finally coming into their own. Finland's Kaija Saariaho, Russia's Sofia Gubaidulina and Korea's Unsuk Chin are all making a major mark on the opera scene. Meanwhile, on the concert stage the works of Clara Schumann and Barbara Strozzi are gaining in popularity, while women like Laitman, Rebecca Saunders, Tansy Davies and Liza Lim are making a distinct mark on the contemporary music scene.

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Brenda Harris as Eleanor Iselin (left) and Matthew Worth as Sergeant Raymond Shaw; Leonardo Capalbo as Captain Ben Marco (right) Photos (c) Michal Daniel
Kevin Puts' latest opera The Manchurian Candidate is having its world premiere at the Minnesota Opera on Saturday, March 7th. The cast includes four barihunks who have been featured on this site, led by Matthew Worth in the pivotal role of Sergeant Raymond Shaw. Joining him in the cast are Christopher Job as Senator Thomas Jordan, Christian Zaremba as General Tracy and Andrew Lovato as Young Raymond. Added to the mix is hunkentenor Leonardo Capalbo as Captain Ben Marco.

The Manchurian Candidate is part of Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative, a program designed to invigorate the operatic repertoire with an infusion of contemporary works. The opera follows Kevin Puts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning first opera Silent Night, also led by Michael Christie and with a libretto by Mark Campbell, which Minnesota Opera premiered in 2011.

Matthew Worth in rehearsals for The Manchurian Candidate:
The Manchurian Candidate is based on a 1959 novel by Richard Condon, which inspired two film adaptations. In the story, Captain Ben Marco, Sergeant Raymond Shaw and the rest of their infantry platoon are kidnapped during the Korean War and brainwashed to believe that Shaw saved their lives in combat –for which Congress awards him the Medal of Honor. Years after the war, Marco begins having a recurring nightmare about Shaw murdering two of their men while under observation by Chinese and Soviet officials. When Marco learns that another soldier from the platoon has been suffering the same nightmare, he determines to solve the mystery.

The opera runs from March 7-15 and tickets are available online.

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Steven LaBrie
Today is über-barihunk Steven LaBrie's birthday, which reminded us that he's about to open in Dallas Opera's production of Puccini's La boheme with a barihunk trio that also includs Alexander Vinogradov and Jonathan Beyer. LaBrie will be singing Schaunard, Vinogradov takes on Colline and Beyer sings Marcello. Performances run from March 13-29 and tickets are available online.

After Dallas, Labrie heads off to Washington D.C. to sing the fiendishly difficult baritone part in Orff's Carmina Burana at the Kennedy Center on April 12th. The performance celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at Catholic University and features their symphony orchestra and chorus.  

Alexander Vinogradov and Jonathan Beyer
We originally featured Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov back in 2009. After this performance, he heads off to Geneva where he'll charm the Carmen of Sonia Ganassi from May 8-17th.

Jonathan Beyer will grab some scissors as he takes on Figaro in The Barber of Seville with the Opera Theater of Saint Louis form  May 23-June 27th. You can check out Beyer's la la la-ing his way through Largo al factotum on his website, along with many other great sound clips.

The Dallas Opera season wraps up with Tchaikovsky's Iolanta. Tickets and additional cast information is available on the Dallas Opera website

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Artur Rucinski backstage as di Luna in Venice and at the Rosenblatt Recitals

Artur Rucinski may want to just follow tenor turned "baritone" Placido Domingo around, as he's slated to replace him for the second time in less than a year. After replacing him this summer at the Salzburg Festival, he's now jumping in for him as the Count di Luna in Berlin. 

Domingo's foray into the baritone range has been met with a mixed critical reaction and has caused many in the music industry to question whether this change of fach should continue.

Artur Rucinski sings of Mieczyslaw Karlowicz songs:
Rucinski is a formidable baritone talent in his own right. He made his debut at the National Opera in Warsaw in 2002 and was launched to stardom in 2010 when he sang Eugene Onegin in Berlin with  Daniel Barenboim.

In 2013, he made his Covent Garden debut as Germont in Verdi’s La traviata, a role he's currently performing in Berlin. Upcoming roles include Ashton in Lucia in Hamburg and Zurich, Don Giovanni in Paris and his Metropolitan Opera debut as Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly in 2016.

The singer with the most roles in the history of opera has dropped one from his baritone register. Placido Domingo has pulled out of Il Trovatore in Berlin, La Scala and this summer’s Salzburg Festival, saying he can’t manage Count Luna again.
Salzburg has replaced him with Artur Rucinski, who stood in for Domingo last summer.
- See more at: http://slippedisc.com/2015/03/domingo-drops-a-role/#sthash.Q4pJ0SZk.dpufThe singer with the most roles in the history of opera has dropped one from his baritone register. Placido Domingo has pulled out of Il Trovatore in Berlin, La Scala and this summer’s Salzburg Festival, saying he can’t manage Count Luna again.
Salzburg has replaced him with Artur Rucinski, who stood in for Domingo last summer.
- See more at: http://slippedisc.com/2015/03/domingo-drops-a-role/#sthash.Q4pJ0SZk.dpufThe singer with the most roles in the history of opera has dropped one from his baritone register. Placido Domingo has pulled out of Il Trovatore in Berlin, La Scala and this summer’s Salzburg Festival, saying he can’t manage Count Luna again.
Salzburg has replaced him with Artur Rucinski, who stood in for Domingo last summer.
- See more at: http://slippedisc.com/2015/03/domingo-drops-a-role/#sthash.Q4pJ0SZk.dpuf

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The baritone winning streak appears to be continuing in the middle of the decade, as San Diego native Jeremy Johnson took the top prize at the 2015 Grand Concours Vocal Competition. You can check out his winning performance of Tower Scene from Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande below.

Second Prize went to soprano Alexandra Nowakowski and Third Prize to soprano Ashley Fabian.


Johnson is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where his roles included Schaunard in La Bohème and Gladhand in West Side Story. Johnson sang the role of Peter in the touring production of Don Freund's Romeo and Juliet, and has appeared as a featured soloist in Bach's Johannespassion and Liszt's Die Seligkeiten. He performed the roles of Maestro Spinelloccio and Ser Amantio in the Princeton Festival's production of Gianni Schicchi, and in Summer 2013 made his debut as a Young Artist at St Louis Opera Theatre. He sang the role of Schaunard in La Bohème with Opera Experience Southeast in May 2012 and January 2013.

The Franco-American Vocal Academy, which sponsors the competition, was founding in 1993 by tenor William Lewis and is affiliated with the Butler School of Music of the University of Texas. 

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Gianluca Margheri from Zomeropera's Don Giovanni
Italian barihunk and calendar model Gianluca Margheri finally has a website, where you can follow his career. It's loaded with great pictures and video. The first that caught our eye is that he'll be taking on Don Giovanni at the Hungarian State Opera from March 20-26. It's a traditional performance of the opera, so expect another shirtless, sexy, testosterone fueled performance like the one from Zomeropera last year.

You can enjoy some excerpts from that performance below or on his YouTube site.



Next up is Rossini's Stabat Mater at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino on May 14th. He'll be joined by tenor Edgardo Rocha and mezzo-soprano Marina Comparato.

We're still baffled why no-one in the United States has engaged this amazing talent. Make sure to check out his website and follow him on Twitter @GianlucaMargher.

Christopher Maltman and Fernando Radó as Don Giovanni
If you can't catch Margheri there are plenty of other barihunk performances of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Christopher Maltman will take on the role Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City from March 17-29. Opéra de Monte-Carlo will feature Erwin Schrott as the Don and Fernando Javier Radó as Masetto with the amazing Sonya Yoncheva as Donna Elvira. The Metropolitan Opera has two remaining performances left with Peter Mattei, Luca Pisaroni and Adam Plachetka as the male leads.

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Ildar Abdrazakov and Damien Pass
The Opéra national de Paris has put together a dream cast for their upcoming production of Gounod's Faust, which opens on March 2nd. It'll will be headed by two barihunks, Ildar Abdrazakov and Damien Pass, who are Méphistophélès and Valentin respectively. Two of the most amazing tenors in the business, Piotr Beczala and Michael Fabiano, will be alternating nights as Faust, while the thrilling soprano Krassimira Stoyanova takes on Marguerite.

Performances run through March 28th and tickets are available online.

After Faust, Abdrazakov heads to the Salzburg Easter Festival for two performances of the Verdi Requiem on March 31st and April 3. Pass will remain at the Bastille to sing the Hunter in Dvorak’s Rusalka from April 3-26 in a Robert Carsen production.

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