Friday, July 25, 2014

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo performs Verdi's Requiem on PBS

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo and the Hollywood Bowl
The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performance of Verdi's Requiem from last summer, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth will be broadcast on PBS's Great Performances, Friday, August 1 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

The performance features Italian barihunk Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, a favorite of Los Angeles audiences, where he has performed in Bizet's Carmen and Mozart's Don Giovanni. He'll be joined by soprano Julianna Di Giacomo, mezzo Michelle DeYoung and hunkentenor Vittorio Grigolo, as well as the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the L.A. Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.

D'Arcangelo is currently at the Salzburg Festival performing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni, which he will then perform in Oslo. He returns to the United States in the same role in February 2015 at the newly revived and reorganized San Diego Opera.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Zachary James on PBS "Sweeney Todd" with Emma Thompson

Zachary James in PBS' "Sweeney Todd" (right)
Keep an eye out for a tall, sexy, bald guy with a muscle shirt during the September 26th broadcast of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on PBS. That's Zachary James, who has sung the title role in Sweeney Todd, but appears as part of the ensemble in this production.

The show, which stars Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson and legendary opera singer Byrn Terfel, will air as part of public television's Live From Lincoln Center.  Audra McDonald, who hosts the broadcast, also appears in the uncredited role of the beggar woman.

The production, directed by Lonny Price and conducted by Alan Gilbert, played to sold out crowds at Avery Fisher Hall from March 5 through March 8.

Zachary James returns to the operatic stage from September 15-20, when he portrays Abraham Lincoln in Philip Glass' The Perfect American. The opera imagines the final months of Walt Disney’s life, including mythical imaginings of Abraham Lincoln and Andy Warhol. British baritone Christopher Purves will be portraying Walt Disney. Additional information and tickets are available online.

In October, he returns to the United States to take on the title role in Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle opposite soprano Megan Nielson at Opera Ithaca

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Barihunk Tom Forde in new Doritos commercials

Doritos Loaded and barihunk Tom Forde as "Omar" the 7-11 clerk
Doritos has a new ad campaign out for their Doritos Loaded product, which is a warm, nacho-cheese-filled, triangular cheese stick coated with Dorito powder?

A few weeks ago, the product was launched in Los Angeles before the nationwide July 2nd launch of the product. The is even a fan website and a hashtag on Twitter (#DoritosLoaded) where consumers can post their reactions to the new snack.

At 1:24 of the ad barihunk Tom Forde makes a hysterical appearance as Omar the 7-11 clerk.

For those of you trying to keep your barihunk figures, we should warn you that a box of four bites has 6 grams of fat, 360 calories and 1,080 milligrams of sodium.

You can catch more of Tom Forde on both television and in the theater. On August 16, he'll appear on the National Geographic show "Brain Games." He'll be appearing in two shows with the Madison Opera next year, Judge Turpin in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and Basilio in Rossini's Barber of Seville. Sweeney Todd runs will be performed on February 6, 7 and 8 and the cast includes the amazing Meredith Arwady as Mrs. Lovett. The Barber of Seville will be performed on April 24 and 26. Visit the Madison Opera website for additional information.

Ryan Kuster in Weber rarity "Euryanthe"

Ryan Kuster as Escamillo at Virginia Opera
Bard SummerScape 2014 is presenting Carl Maria von Weber's rarely performed Euryanthe with barihunk Ryan Kuster as Lysiart. There will be five performances running from July 25-August 3. Revivals of the complete opera are rare, especially in the United States, where it has not been seen since the Metropolitan Opera’s 1914 staging 100 years ago. A check on Opera Critic showed the last fully staged performance at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2010. Oper Frankfurt will present the opera next April with Erika Sunnegardh, Eric Cutler, Heidi Melton and James Rutherford.   

Ryan Kuster, who was part of the prestigious Merola Opera Program and Adler Fellows in San Francisco, has become an audience favorite on the West Coast.  In 2012, he made his symphonic debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic singing the role of Masetto in their highly acclaimed production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, directed by Christopher Alden and conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. At the San Francisco Opera he has performed the Mandarin in Puccini's Turandot, Astolfo in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen (for families), Count Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto, the 4th Noble in Wagner's Lohengrin,  Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca.

The rest of the cast, which will be directed by Kevin Newbury,  includes Ellie Dehn as Euryanthe, William Burden as her fiancé Adolar, Wendy Bryn Harmer as Euryanthe’s rival Eglantine and Peter Volpe as King Ludwig. Performances will be at the beautiful Frank Gehry-designed Sosnoff Theater at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.T Tickets are available online.

Weber's greatest single success was probably his 1821 opera Der Freischütz. With his next opera, Weber wanted to break new ground. So in Euryanthe the spoken dialogue disappeared, replaced by continuous music. However, even the composer's great music couldn't save the opera from a ridiculous libretto, which has attributed to its relative obscurity. Perhaps the most well-known music from the opera is its overture, which is often performed by orchestras. It uses material from the opera, including Adolar's rebuttal of Lysiart and his second act romance.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vittorio Prato's busy year of Donizetti

Vittorio Prato working out and in Rameau's Les Indes Galantes
Italian barihunk Vittorio Prato just made his debut in Bad Kissingen, Germany as Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (Der Liebestrank for our German readers).  Prato was a replacement for Fabio Capitanucci, who had a scheduling conflict with the Montpellier Festival. From all accounts Prato was a huge success and we have some rehearsal footage of him singing the village sergeant's aria "Come Paride vezzoso."

Prato will be singing some obscure Donizetti this Fall at the Bergamo Music Festival when he sings Max in Betly, ossia La capanna svizzera. It's been a busy year for him singing Donizetti, having performed Doctor Malatesta in Munich and Verona.

Betly is a one act opera giacosa that was composed during the summer of 1836. It is a love story full of pastoral naïveté, whose humor is both gentle and pointed. There are a number of comic scenes for Max and his regiment, as they try to intimidate Betly, and turn the quaking Danielle into a hero for her. The text for Betly was adapted from a libretto by Eugene Scribe for an opera called La Chalet

Betly premiered on August 24, 1836 at the Teatro Nuovo of Naples. It was very well received, and remained popular until the middle of the century when its popularity died out. It has begun to regain favor in recent years and Donizetti intended it to be performed with another of his one-act operas, Il Campanello.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Barihunky season at innovative West Edge Opera

Hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock and barihunks Kenneth Kellogg and Efraín Solis
The innovative West Edge Opera in Berkeley, California is once again challenging audiences with a performance of Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox in an alternative space. The opera will take place in the foyer of the Ed Roberts Campus, which is an internationally recognized center dedicated to disability rights and universal access.

The cast includes some eye candy, as well, with hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock and barihunks Kenneth Kellogg and Efraín Solis. The female side of the cast is rounded out by Sara Duchovnay, Molly Mahoney and Nicole Takesono. Performances are on July 27, August 2 and August 8, and tickets are available online.

The interior of the Ed Roberts Campus and V. Savoy McIlwain
Philip Glass' opera set to the poetry of counter-culture poet Allen Ginsberg. The text deals with a variety of topics from the 1950's through the 1980's ranging from the sexual revolution, eastern philosophy, drugs, the environment, the threat of nuclear destruction, Iran-Contra scandal and meditation. The six vocal parts were thought to represent six archetypal American characters- a waitress, a policeman, a businessman, a cheerleader, a priest, and a mechanic.

Unlike other Glass operas that deal with social issues, Hydrogen Jukebox is sung in English. In other operas, he has used languages unfamiliar to most opera-goers, including Sanskrit for Satyagraha, ancient Egyptian for Akhnaten, Latin for the CIVIL warS, or just numbers and syllables in Einstein on the Beach.

The rest of the West Edge Opera season includes Puccini's La bohème and Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair, cast with an abundance of barihunks. La bohème features casting appropriate to a venue dedicated disability rights, as blind barihunk Brandon Keith Biggs will sing Colline in a cast that also includes Jordan Eldredge as Schaunard and V. Savoy McIlwain as Marcello. Biggs sight impairment is due to having Leber's Congenital Amaurosis, a rare inherited eye disease that appears at birth or in the first few months of life, and affects around 1 in 80,000 of the population. Performances are on July 26, August 1st and 10th. Tickets are available online.

Jake Heggie, who is one of the world's premiere composers for the baritone voice, rounds out the season with his The End of the Affair, based  on Graham Greene’s novel. It will feature Keith Phares in the key role of Maurice Bendrix. Performances are on August 3, 7 and 9 and tickets are available online.

Pietro di Bianco in Paris Opera Awards

Pietro di Bianco
We recently posted about barihunks Sam Roberts-Smith and Yu Di appearing in the Final 50 of the Paris Opera Awards. 

We've now learned that another of our favorite barihunks will be in the Final 50, as well. Italian barihunk Pietro di Bianco, who we introduced to readers back in February, will also be competing to make it into the Final 10, where contestants will perform with a full orchestra in a gala concert in honor of soprano Joan Sutherland. The singers will perform not just for the Grand Jury, but for agents and music professionals from across the globe. 

Yu Di and Sam Roberts-Smith
After the performance, three male and three female singers will be selected as winners, with a prize of €5000 (US $6750) for 1st place, €3000 (US $4050) for 2nd place and €1000 (US $1350) for 3rd place.  Special prizes for Best Artistic Performance and Audience Favorite will earn the winners €1000.

The competition starts with 50 singers and ends with prizes for three male and three female singers. Ten singers will perform in a gala finale on November 19th. Each singer can place two video clips on their profile and the public can vote for their favorite singers. 
Make sure to check out the Paris Awards website and cast your vote. The site is in French, but many pages are translatable to other languages by clicking on the flags on the top right of the page. 

Pietro di Bianco as Leporello in Paris:

Born in 1983, Pietro Di Bianco studied piano at the Conservatoire Giuseppe Martucci of Salerno, where he graduated in 2004. He studied chamber music at the Accademia nazionale de Santa Cecilia and won several national competitions. He was hired as a piano accompanist at the music conservatories in Salerno and Potenza.
He then took up singing at the conservatory in Aquila and graduated in 2009. He worked with the great soprano Renata Scotto at the opera in Santa Cecilia and with the legendary baritone Renato Bruson in Sienna. He was a finalist at the 62nd Concours européen Associazione lirica concertistica Italiana at the Teatro de Como. He is currently honing his skills with the Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaiwanska. 
He recently received critical acclaim for his performance as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra National de Paris in a cast that featured fellow barihunk Damian Pass as Masetto.