Monday, January 22, 2018

Paul La Rosa in tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires

Paul La Rosa rehearsing Maria de Buenos Aires in San Diego
Barihunk Paul La Rosa will taking on the role of El Payador (the gaucho minstrel) in Astor Piazzolla's tango infused opera Maria de Buenos Aires. The San Diego Opera is presenting four performances of the increasingly popular piece between January 26-28, with a 7 PM and 10 PM curtain on the 27th. Tickets are available online.

The opera will be directed by John de los Santos, who has directed the piece throughout the country, and will direct it again with barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco at the Fort Worth Opera Festival from April 27 and May 5. Paul La Rosa's tango partner will be soprano Aubrey Babcock.

The opera opens with Duende (the Narrator) who relates the story of Maria, a prostitute born in the slums “one day when God was drunk … with a curse in her voice.” Maria is seduced by the rhythms of the tango and soon becomes “the most sorcerous singer and lover” in Buenos Aires. However, her “fatal passion” arouses the wrath of robbers and brothel madams who shoot her to death, and bury her in an unmarked grave. In death, Maria is pulled into a dreamlike Hell where she encounters the choral circus of psychoanalysts who dissect her to the core. She makes a resurrection of sorts when the Duende summons her to return as a Shadow, give birth to a new Maria, and haunt the sordid streets of Buenos Aires which she once walked.

Director John de los Santos talks about Maria de Buenos Aires:

Unlike most who contributed to the origins and development of the tango, Piazzolla came from a different background. He was a classically trained, refined musician and composer. Piazzolla undoubtedly made tango available to a wider audience and helped extend its boundaries, both stylistically and geographically. For that, he was equally admired and criticized, but it is almost universally recognized that Piazzolla’s style lent tango worldwide cultural legitimacy, even in what is known as the realm of “classical” music.

Besides being an extraordinarily talented composer, he was also an exceptional bandoneon player. Piazzolla drew from classical and contemporary sources as well as from the deep roots of tango, creating a powerful synthesis that propelled it from being in some regards a thing of the past to a contemporary language, reinvigorating the style.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Andrew Garland featured in world premiere of Holocaust opera

Andrew Garland
American barihunk Andrew Garland will sing Abe in the world premiere of Gerald Cohen and Deborah Brevoort's opera Steal a Pencil for Me with Opera Colorado, which opens on January 25th and runs through January 30th. Tickets are available online.

The opera is a true story about a group of Dutch Jews who are deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the last year of World War II. Surrounded by horrors of the Holocaust, Jaap and Manja Polak’s already fragile marriage dissolves as he turns his attentions to Ina Soep. The couple struggles to survive at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, while surrounded by torture, disease, starvation, and death. The secret lovers exchange passionate letters written with stolen pencil stubs, keeping their hopes and hearts alive in a time of  darkness.

Andrew Garland sings The Gallows Tree:

In a happy ending to the real life story, Jaap and Ina Polak stayed married for 70 years after surviving the horrors of the concentration camp!

The Massachusetts native moved to Colorado last year to join the voice faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In February, Garland will join Camerata Pacifica for a series of lieder recitals in California with accompanist Warren Jones in Ventura, San Marino and Santa Barbara.

Seth Carico to debut title role in Dead Man Walking

Seth Carico
Add Seth Carico to the impressive list of barihunks who have sung Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. The Berlin-based, Tennessee native will take on the role in five performances with the Minnesota Opera between January 27 and February 3, 2018. Tickets are available online.

He'll be joined in the cast by Catherine Martin as Sister Helen, Emily Pulley as Mrs. de Rocher, Karen Slack as Sister Rose, Benjamin Sieverding as George Benton, Dennis Petersen as Father Grenville, Andrew Wilkowske as Owen Hart, Mary Evelyn Hangley as Kitty Hart, Andy Acosta at the Motorcycle Cop and William Clay Thompson as a Prison Guard.

You can read an interview with Seth Carico on Opera Sense talking extensively about taking on this challenging role.

Seth Carico sings the Torreador's Aria from Carmen:

Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s memoir that inspired the Oscar-winning movie of the same name, the opera recounts her courageous struggle to provide spiritual guidance to a condemned Louisiana murderer in the months leading up to his execution. The opera has become the most performed new opera of the 21st century and opening in Madrid on January 26th will be a production with Michael Mayes and Joyce Di Donato.

After he wraps up Dead Man Walking, Carico will return to his home base of Berlin on February 21st for a performance of Cilea's L'Arlesiana with an all-star cast that includes Dolora Zajick, Markus Bruck and Joseph Calleja.

Other barihunks who have sung the role of Joseph de Rocher include Philip Cutlip, Etienne Dupuis, David Adam Moore, Zachary Gordin, Morgan Smith, Johan Reuter, Daniel Okulitch, Jordan Shanahan, Thomas Gunther, John Arnold, John Packard and Marcus DeLoach.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Watch Nicolas Courjal's role debut live as four villains in Tales of Hoffmann

Nicolas Courjal as the Four Villains (photos by Alain Hanel)
On January 22nd, the internet opera site will feature bass-barihunk Nicolas Courjal making his role debut as the four villains- Lindorf, Coppelius, Miracle and Dapertutto - in Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d’Hoffmann).

The live broadcast is from the Opera of Monte-Carlo and features and all-star cast led by Juan Diego Flórez in the title role and Olga Peretyatko as the the four women he's enchanted with. Both singers are also making their role debuts. The broadcast begins at 8 PM Monte Carlo time on (2 PM EST/11 AM PST. Click HERE to watch the broadcast.

Nicolas Courjal sings "Elle ne m'aime pas" from Don Carlos: 

The production is being staged by Jean-Louis Grinda and conducted by Jacques Lacombe. There will be additional performances on January 25, 28 and 31.

Upcoming performance for the 44-year-old French singer include the role of Rodolfo in Bellini's La Sonnambla in Lausanne on February 9th and 11th and Phanuel in Massenet's Hérodiade in Marseilles in March with Béatrice Uria-Monzon in the title role.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Quirijn de Lang in updated and abridged Hamlet

Quirijn de Lang as Hamlet
OPERA2DAY in Den Haag in the Netherlands will present barihunk Quirijn de Lang as the title character in Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet. The innovative company has reduced the 3 1/2 hour opera to just over 2 hours, by eliminating the ballet and streamlining the story, including an ending that combines the two existing versions of the opera.

The cast also includes Lucie Chartin as Ophélie, Martijn Sanders as Claudius, Martina Prins as Gertrude, Jan Willem Schaafsma as Laërte  and Patrick Pranger as Horatio. The opera is a co-production with the New European Ensemble. The opera will be performed in 20 different venues throughout the region between January 17th and April 11th. Tickets and locations are available online.

OPERA2DAY was founded to bring opera to new audiences by presenting old standards in contemporary settings.

Philippe Sly to perform Schubert songs with guitar

Philippe Sly as Zebul (left)
Canadian barihunk Phillipe Sly will kick off the second half of Tucson Guitar Society's International Artist Concert Series on February 3rd. He'll be joined by his frequent collaborator guitarist John Charles Britton in songs by Franz Schubert.

The duo will perform sixteen arrangements of Schubert songs for guitar and voice. Schubert owned many guitars and played the instrument at home. It is believed that many of his 600 songs were penned for his Schubertiades on the guitar. The duo has also recorded the songs on the album "Schubert Sessions," which was released in 2016 and is available on iTunes.

Sly is currently performing as Zebul in Handel's Jephtha at the Opera National de Paris through January 30th. The cast, under the baton of William Christie, includes Ian Bostridge in the title role, Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Storgé, Katherine Watson as Iphis and Tim Mead as Hamor. Tickets are available online.

Upcoming performances includes the Fauré Requiem with the Minnesota Orchestra, Schubert's Winterreise in Ferme de Villefavard, France, Bach's St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music and Rachmaninov's Aleko with the Montreal Symphony.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Christopher Bolduc in Czech premiere of 4-act Billy Budd

Christopher Bolduc as Billy Budd in Prague
Blond barihunk Christopher Bolduc, who likes like he was born to sing the role of the handsome young sailor Billy Budd, will perform the role in the Czech premiere of Benjamin Britten's original four act version. The composer later revised the opera as a two-act opera with a prologue and an epilogue, which is how it generally performed today.

The opera will be performed at the Czech National Opera and features the Losers Cirque Company, a group of dancers and acrobats. The troupe helps director Daniel Špinar delve into the destructive power of sexuality that the composer wrote about in this piece, as well as Death in Venice. Bolduc physically resembles Theodor Uppman, who Britten chose for the world premiere (after Geraint Evans withdrew).

Christopher Bolduc as Billy Budd with the Losers Cirque Company
The opera is based on Herman Melville’s eponymous novel and tells the story of what took place on board a British battleship during the Napoleonic Wars. Britten was also a passionate pacifist, who possessed a great sense of justice, and he personally resented violence, be it in war conflicts or committed on individuals. All these topics are afforded a significant role in the opera, in which a handsome, naïve and trustful youth becomes the object of hatred on the part of a sadistic manipulator, master-at-arms Claggart, who falsely accuses Billy of inciting the crew to mutiny.

Christopher Bolduc as Billy Budd with the Losers Cirque Company
Billy inadvertently kills his torturer and is duly sentenced to death. Captain Vere faces an agonising decision: should he pardon the innocent boy, or should he abide by the law of war? He does not prevent the tragedy and the memory of his fateful failure will haunt him throughout his life. Billy Budd is the composer's second “nautical” opera, in which the sea, the rocking of the waves and the gusts of wind are reflected in every single bar of music.

Performances run from January 18-28, and again on April 25 and 27 .