23 January 2008

Izzy or izzn't he?

La Cieca's cher public will breathe a sigh of relief when she informs them that internet it-boy Izzy Anderson is, in fact, over 18. According to an email from YouTube impresario Wen Arto, Izzy is 23 and an aspiring performer. Wen continues, "Izzy wants to sing opera very badly but he is busy with ... nursing school."

The email enclosed a few photos of which La Cieca thought this one was the most charming.

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22 January 2008

Hunk 10, Tenor 3

A gifted amateur by the name of Izzy Anderson takes on Verdi's Duke of Mantua.

Mr. Anderson is one of the regulars on the must-see Wenarto YouTube site. (That's the celebrated Wenarto himself conducting this selection, though usually he is found center stage.)

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29 December 2007


A number of the cher public have asked for more photos of hunkalicious Jonas Kaufmann, with a several of you specifially requesting a image without the tenor's accustomed facial stubble. Well, one of La Cieca's dear readers has obliged by sending a snapshot of Kaufmann before he stopped shaving, or possibly before he even started shaving.

The reader recalls performing with Der Junge Jonas circa 1997 when he "still sang Rossini and The Student Prince." A particularly vivid memory is of "Jonas in biker spandex for Proben in Heidelberg!" (The image of Mr. Kauffman's dinner companion has been obscured for reasons of privacy.)

And now here's some contemporary video of the unstubbled Kaufmann in action, singing The Student Prince.

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27 December 2007

Isn't it romantic?

Jummy Jonas Kaufmann records his recital CD Romantic Arias, due for release in March.

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21 December 2007

Have Yourself a Hunky Little Christmas

UPDATE: The YouTube clip of Stephen Costello singing "O Holy Night" is no longer available. Given Stephen's ubiquity on YouTube, though, surely it can't be long before another performance of this song goes live, and La Cieca promises to link as soon as her veritable army of sources inform her. In the meantime, here's another number. Right religion, even if it's the "wrong" holiday.

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17 November 2007

"Today is dedicated to Uranus"

You know that Vivaldi opera everyone's been talking about? (Yeah, La Cieca realizes that sentence looks absurd, but read on.) Anyway, here's the already infamous nude scene for tenor Zachary Stains from the opera Ercole sul Termodonte, or, as it is more generally known in this country, "Hercules versus the Dental Hygienist." (NSFW, obviously, since Mr. Stains' "original instrument" is clearly visible.)

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03 November 2007

Lookism? Again?

Yet another rehash of the great voice vs. waistline debate, this time in the Chicago Daily Herald. Nicole Cabell laments the scarcity of European gyms, while "hunken-tenor" Joseph Kaiser plants his feet firmly on both sides of the fence by declaring, "Essentially if you can be healthy about being healthy, that's the balance to find because there's a lot of unhealthy ways to be 'healthy.'"

Usual suspects Deborah Voigt and Nathan Gunn offer no comment, but "bari-hunk" Mariusz Kwiecien is willing go on the record that he is "not an extremely good looking guy." (Obviously he didn't take a good look at this photo accompanying the article!)

Is anyone surprised to hear that the most sensible one of the bunch is the mezzo? "There is no denying the influence of the mass media culture of today on opera, but I think it's naïve to think that the idea of 'glamour' is nothing new to opera," says Joyce DiDonato. "Look at all the old diva photos from the 1920s and '30s and you see many svelte, sexy ladies at the height of their powers."

La Cieca herself couldn't say it more eloquently, so she'll turn the program over to radiant Rosa Ponselle. The diva is 39 here, just a year before her retirement from the Met:

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19 October 2007

A waist is a terrible thing to mind

Tenor Marcelo Alvarez is seen just after reading a Bloomberg News review of his performance in Luisa Miller at the Verdi Festival in Parma. Was it really all that bad? Well, you decide.

Critic James Amott had nothing but praise for Alvarez's singing, rhapsodizing "Alvarez gave everything, from delicate pianissimo moments to dramatic Italianate wailing. He made the most of the aria 'Quando le Sere al Placido'.''

However (and this is a big however), Amott went on to complain that Alvarez is "falling into the classic singer's trap: a rapidly expanding waistline.

"The myth that great opera singers somehow gain from being fat has been proven false by the likes of Alfredo Kraus, Maria Callas and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Alvarez's size undermines his performance by making his acting look clumsy and comical."

La Cieca confesses she is a bit confused by the mixed signals sent by critic Amott, since later in the review he drools over ". . . Parma Ham and Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese. As you walk down the high street, stick your nose into one of the many delicatessens and you'll never forget that scent."

Now, in the interest of fairness (and La Cieca thinks her cher public will agree that she has always professed an interest in fairness), it should be pointed out that Alvarez was not the only target of Mr. Amott's ire. "Soprano Fiorenza Cedolins, as Luisa, sang beautifully," Amott opines, "but she had an awful hairdo and a frumpy costume, making it tough to see why Rodolfo was so smitten."

Veteran baritone Leo Nucci, one presumes, brought in his own costumier and hairdresser, since Amott has nothing unpleasant to say about his toilette. In fact, the critic calls Nucci "very watchable" and reports that "the audience went bananas" at the end of Miller's cabaletta.

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13 October 2007

The season begins. Finally.

"The Metropolitan Opera's opening week offered two super-starry nights that more than offset a misfired new production across the plaza at the New York City Opera." After some rather frustrating technical delays, our JJ's reviews of the Met's Roméo and Lucia, plus the NYCO's Cav/Pag, are at last online at Gay City News. (Perhaps at this point they can be read for historical significance, if nothing else.)

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10 October 2007

Hunkentenor manqué

In the words of the immortal Leonard Pinth-Garnell, "Monumentally ill-advised!"

UPDATE: The video has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been removed from YouTube. There are a few stills, however, on the tenor's website.

By the way, if you think the costume looks familiar, that's because you've seen it before.

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08 October 2007

Hunkentenor des jours passés

One of La Cieca's dear colleagues (a Signor Maldè) forwarded some interesting information about this early but definitive example of the hunkentenor.

The name of the gentleman (the tenor, that is, not the informant) was Eddy Ruhl, and he is perhaps best known for his recording of Cavaradossi in the notorious Vassilka Petrova Tosca. A protégé of the legendary Rosa Ponselle, he sang Des Grieux opposite Beverly Sills' role debut as Manon in Baltimore. Ruhl's talent was recognized as early as his teen years when he performed "at functions and concerts for people such as Mrs. Evelyn Walsh McLean (last private owner of the Hope Diamond)."

But, more to the point, according to the a website in tribute to the late tenor, "At one time Eddy Ruhl had been asked to play the role of Tarzan in the motion pictures; however, true to his art, he turned it down and continued singing."


05 October 2007

"Hunkentenor" makes broadcast debut

UPDATE: And now, my dears, we've even reached the AP! (How long before we're on the UP and every other damn P?)

La Cieca's young, young, young friend Maury D'anatto writes: "Too funny, La Cieca: did you coin hunkentenor? Because there was just this intermission interview with Joseph Kaiser that went somewhat off the rails as Margaret Juntwait asked JK if he had heard people call him a hunkentenor, and then through some rather complicated chain of associations, he revealed that he sleeps naked. It was awkward/hilarious."

Well, yes, La Cieca will have to plead "guilty" to coining this suddenly mainstream term; however it is you, cher public, who have catapulted it into the lexicon. Brava, you go on like this!

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27 September 2007


Stepdaughter Sieglinde summarizes the critical reaction in blog and print to Stephen Costello's Met debut. No surprises here for La Cieca, who observed equivalent ecstasy in real time during her Monday night online chat:

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26 September 2007

Bendel bonnet, Shakespeare sonnet, Mickey Mouse

Maury D'annato: "Isn't there probably some sort of unspoken crypto-paleo-musico-semantic rule governing that baritone=top and tenor=bottom?"

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04 September 2007

Eisen zu pumpen

Here's the original (or, La Cieca supposes she should say, Das Original) of that endlessly-forwarded and endlessly-discussed article about alleged "doping" in the opera world, as published in Die Presse. Now, what catches La Cieca's eye here is the description of the beta blocker whistleblower quoted in the article: "Der Tenor und Bodybuilder Endrik Wottrich."

A Google image search for "Endrich Wottrich" yielded this photo (click to enlarge):


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22 August 2007

Kaiser's role

La Cieca has just learned that tenor Joseph Kaiser will make a "surprise" Met debut October 3, singing the role of Roméo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. He will also sing performances on October 6 and 11, replacing the ailing Rolando Villazón.

Kaiser stars as Tamino in Kenneth Branagh's film of The Magic Flute and will reprise this Mozart role later in the Met season. He appeared as Narraboth in Lyric Opera of Chicago's Salome last season, a performance about which the always reliable David Shengold wrote, "The most consistently satisfying vocalism came from Joseph Kaiser, a young tenor on the brink of stardom . . . he sang the challenging high phrases with clarity and shine."

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26 July 2007

Das Traumboot

Bayreuth scion-apparent Katharina Wagner's production of Die Meistersinger opened yesterday at the Festspielhaus.

As you can see, this production is rather curiously cast with David Beckham as Walther and Aprile Millo as Eva.

Oh, well, all right, La Cieca must have her little joke, you know. The tenor is in fact Klaus Florian Vogt, whom many of you heard sing Lohengrin at the Met back in 2006, and, if this photo is anything like accurate, is indeed the "Traumboot" above referenced.

Now, be honest, cher public. If you saw this fellow approaching on a boat, would you even notice that it was drawn by a swan? No, La Cieca didn't think so.

Oh, and of course, that's not La Millo up there with the paint-spattered decolletage. More's the pity, La Cieca must say, because surely if it were Millo singing the soprano part in the quintet, it would be more nearly in tune than this snippet from the Generalprobe.

For those of you interested in Ms. Wagner's Konzept, here's a feature from German TV.

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14 June 2007


A glimpse of beloved soprano Gabriella Benackova in an unusual role: Emilia Marty in Vec Makropulos. Tete-de-peau tenor Roman Sadnik is Gregor.

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11 May 2007

Dear Abbé

La Cieca's favorite baby hunkentenor Stephen Costello is back on the YouTubes, this time singing Des Grieux in Manon.

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12 April 2007

Give me my robe...

La Cieca has just heard that the 2007 Richard Tucker Award winner is tenor Brandon Jovanovich, pictured here at a concert given recently in honor of long-time Tucker colleague Eleanor Steber.

Career Grant winners for 2007 are Meredith Arwady, contralto; Jason Collins, tenor; and Stephen Costello, tenor. La Cieca regrets to inform you that she does not have any photos of Mr. Costello in a towel at the moment, but, after all, summer is just around the corner.

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25 March 2007

My son the gypsy

Hunka hunka burning tenor Darío Volonté jumped into San Diego Opera's production of Il trovatore last night, replacing Nicola Rossi Giordano as Manrico. (Does Rossi Giordano ever actually sing anywhere? All La Cieca has ever heard about is his cancellations.) Anyway, this is Mr. Volonté's second time out with SDO, following up on his Calaf in 2004.

The Argentine tenor's Dick Johnson (the role, La Cieca means! Stop it!) can be readily found for downloading and enjoyment on the various opera share sites. Meanwhile, why isn't this guy singing at the Met?

Il trovatore runs through April 4 at San Diego Opera.


23 February 2007

Pourquoi me déshabillier?

A quick perusal of the website of Giuseppe Filianoti suggests that the honey-toned tenor might well be dubbed "the Nathan Gunn of Italy." Well, that's not completely accurate, because Filianoti doesn't take off his shirt in every operatic role. But even without singing, he does make something utterly poetic of the dying Werther:

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