Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Birthday Tribute to Composer Clint Borzoni

Composer Clint Borzoni
There are a number of composers who have had an amazing gift for writing for the baritone voice. In an earlier era, Verdi, Wagner, Poulenc and Carl Loewe all wrote timeless music for baritones. In contemporary times, Jake Heggie and Clint Borzoni have kept the tradition alive, with Heggie writing baritone leads for almost every opera.

Randal Turner sings Clint Borzoni's "That Shadow, My Likeness":

Borzoni has written over seventy pieces, including two full-length operas, two one-act operas, a piano concerto, percussion quartet, work for orchestra, two string quartets, several works for chamber orchestra and over forty art songs.

Much of his vocal writing prominently features baritones, including the two lead roles in his recent opera When Adonis Calls, a leading bass role and baritone role in Antinous and Hadrian, two recent works for String Quartet and Baritone (Stufen and Margere Kost) written for Marco Vassalli, a set of Walt Whitman songs for baritone, the song cycle Awake the Dawn written for baritone Seth Kershisnik, and the song cycle Live Oak Growing written for baritones Tim Hill and Randal Turner.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen":

His opera Antinous and Hadrian tells the story of the second century Roman emperor Hadrian and his love for the Greek youth Antinous. It examines the mystery behind the tragic death of the young Antinous. Upon his death, the distraught Emperor declared his beloved a god. Drawing on both historical sources and dramatic imagination the work has been written in the grand opera tradition.

 Wes Mason sings "Two Nooses" from "When Adonis Calls":

Borzoni recently completed his fourth opera, When Adonis Calls, based on the poetry of Gavin Dillard and arranged by John de los Santos. The opera was presented at Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 Frontiers Showcase.

He fifth opera, The Copper Queen, also written with librettist John de los Santos, won Arizona Opera’s new opera competition, Arizona SPARK.

Björn Bürger's Figaro is a box office hit at Glyndebourne; Watch live

Björn Bürger as Figaro
The big hit of the Glyndebourne season is barihunk Björn Bürger's Figaro in Rossini's Barber of Seville, which runs through July 17th with limited availability. The cast also includes Taylor Stayton as Almaviva and Danielle de Niese as Rosina. You can check for tickets HERE.

This appears to be one of those career defining moments for a young singer, as crowds and critics have responded enthusiastically. Mark Valencia in What's on Stage wrote, "The handsome young baritone exudes elegant bonhomie and fourth-wall-breaking razzle-dazzle, and he delivers Rossini's tongue-twisters with an eloquence it would be hard to better." Richard Fairman in the Financial Times wrote, "What fun there is comes from a well-chosen cast. At the top of the class is Björn Bürger’s ace Figaro, sung with brilliance, precision and a nonstop cheery grin, as if it is all no effort at all."

If you can't catch it live, you have two chances to watch in remotely. If you're in the UK, you can see it in a theatre in a live broadcast on Tuesday, June 21 at 6:30 PM. You can find screening near you by clicking HERE.

If you live elsewhere, the performance will be streamed live online on the same day HERE.

Next up at Glyndebourne is Mozart's Marriage of Figaro featuring the barihunk duo of Davide Luciano as Figaro and Gyula Orendt as Count Almaviva. It runs from July 3 to August 24.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Barihunk Benjamin Appl signs with Sony Classical

Benjamin Appl
The sublimely gifted German barihunk Benjamin Appl has signed a contract with Sony Classical. Appl, who was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's last private student, will release a recording of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Grieg and a number of English composers in early 2017.

His first recording on Champs Hill was of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, which he followed with a disc of Schubert lieder from Wigmore Hall with accompanist Graham Johnson.

His next live recital will be at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and will include music by Hahn, Schubert, Muhly and Schumann with James Bailleu on piano. On June 13, he'll appear as Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds with Dame Ann Murray as Dido. 

Edwin Crossley-Mercer to premiere song cycle in Ohio

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
French barihunk Edwin Crossley‐Mercer and American pianist Jason Paul Peterson will premiere a new work by composer Michael Linton as part of their recital at Baldwin Wallace University's Gamble Auditorium on Tuesday, May 24.

"Mute Love" ("Silentium Amoris") is the first of the seventeen‐movement Wilde Songs to be publicly presented. Earlier, the duo premiered Linton's Carmina Catulli at Carnegie Hall in New York, which are based on settings of poems by the Roman poet Catullus. . You can read our previous posts about Carmina Catulli HERE.

A resident of Paris and Berlin, Crossley‐Mercer's repertory ranges from the Baroque through contemporary music. He has performed opera, oratorio, and recitals in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Glyndebourne, Munich, Amsterdam, Nashville, Los Angeles, Strasbourg, New York, Moscow, Dubai and, most recently, in Dallas as Lescaut in Manon by Jules Massenet.

The prize-­‐winning composer Michael Linton has served on the music faculty of Middle Tennessee State University for over two decades where he teaches music theory and history.

The recital is part of Baldwin Wallace's internationally acclaimed bi‐annual "Art Song Festival," a week-­‐long program of recitals and master classes begun in 1985. The festival is also presenting recitals and master classes by mezzo-­‐soprano Susan Graham, tenor Eduardo Valdes and pianist Bradley Moore. Additional information is available online

In January, Crossley-Mercer returns to the Opéra national de Paris to rotate the role of Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte with fellow barihunk Philippe Sly. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Barihunk duo in Zürich Pelleas et Melisande

Kyle Ketelsen, Corinne Winters and Jacques Imbrailo
Barihunks Jacques Imbrailo and Kyle Ketelsen are starring in the Zürich Opera's production of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, which Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov has set in a contemporary living room and dining room. This marks Imbrailo's debut with the company.

Corinne Winters and Kyle Ketelsen
Tcherniakov opts to view Debussy's symbolic opera through the lens of Freudian analysis. Ketelsen's Golaud is portrayed as a psychoanalyst who has brought his patient, Mélisande, home for more intensive analysis after finding her weeping in the forest. This production makes Golaud very much the center of focus in the opera. Golaud never learns the reason for Mélisande’s melancholy, nor where she comes from, but she exerts a great fascination over him and he videotapes her therapy.


For those not familiar with the piece, the opera is tragic love triangle involving two noble half-brothers, Golaud and Pelléas, and the enigmatic Mélisande, who comes into their lives unexpectedly after a tremendous and undisclosed personal calamity. She marries Golaud, but he is soon convinced of her illicit union with his brother, and his jealous rage ends in Pélleas’ murder.  Mélisande dies after giving birth to a child.

Tickets and additional cast information is available online

Friday, May 20, 2016

Barihunk duo in world premiere of gay-themed Les Feluettes

Tenor Jean-Michel Richer & barihunk Étienne Dupuis (right in both photos)
In March, we briefly mentioned the world premiere of Australian composer Kevin March and Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard's opera Les Feluettes (Lilies) at Opéra de Montréal. The production opens tomorrow and runs through May 28. It features barihunk Étienne Dupuis as the main character Simon Doucet and hunkentenor Jean-Michel Richer as the Count Vallier de Tilly, who is in love with Simon. Barihunk Tomislav Lavoie plays the crucial role of Father Saint-Michel.

Tenor Jean-Michel Richer and barihunk Étienne Dupuis (right)
The opera is based on the play, which tells the story of the confession of an aging prisoner to a bishop. Through the confession we learn that the bishop and the prisoner were part of a gay love triangle and that the bishop was responsible for the death of a young man many years ago. The play was was made into a film called Lilies, which was directed by John Greyson. All of the roles in the opera, including the female roles of La Comtesse Marie-Laure de Tilly and Mademoiselle Lydie-Anne de Rozier, are sung by men as the story is told by actors in an all-male prison.

The term Feluette is Quebec expression with its root in the word fluet, (thin, frail in appearance) which, in common parlance of the time, referred to men who were weak, frail, or effeminate.

The opera will be performed at Pacific Opera Victoria from April 20-30 with Jean-Michel Richer reprising his role. Tickets for the Montréal performances are available online.

You can read more about the opera in Richard Burnett's article in DailyXtra.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Opera San José adds two barihunks to repertory roster

Colin Ramsey (Photo by Richard Corman)
Opera San José is adding four new singers to its roster for the 2016-17 season, including barihunks Brian James Meyer and Colin Ramsey. Ramsey is familiar to our readers, having appeared numerous times, but Meyer is making his debut. The company is a resident company that keeps singers on its roster for the season like many European houses.

However, Brian James Myer is not new to Opera San José, having performed Masetto in Don Giovanni during the 2013-14 season, Angelotti in Tosca in 2015-16 season, Alessandro/Enrico in the world premiere of Where Angels Fear to Tread and the Second Priest in The Magic Flute.

Meyer made his debut with the Florida Grand Opera this season. He has also performed Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Silvio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci with Sarasota Opera, Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni Opera Las Vegas, Yakuside in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Albert in Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe with Chautauqua Opera. This season at Florida Grand Opera, he will be seen as Figaro in performances of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

Brian James Myer
He holds a bachelors’ degrees in music education and romance languages from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is also a composer who has published a choral octavo that was performed by Santa Barbara Music.

Bass-barihunk Colin Ramsey will be performing Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Basilio in Rossini's Barber of Seville with Opera San José. On May 22, he'll be performing the National Anthem at the USA Water Polo Olympic Trials at the University of Southern California. 

Colin Ramsey sings the Catalog Aria from Don Giovanni:

He has performed Mr. Kofner in Menotti's The Consul at both the Seattle Opera and Opera Santa Barbara. He made his debut with the Austin Lyric Opera as Il Frate in Verdi's Don Carlo, as well as his debut with Green Mountain Opera Festival as Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola. He has also performed with Austin Lyric Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pacific Music Works, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. and Wolf Trap Opera.

Ramsey is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music where he sang Giorgio in the US Premiere of Paisiello’s Nina, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, and Sparafucile in RigolettoHe recently took 3rd Prize in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the Rocky Mountain Region.