‘Parsifal’ in Paris

On May 24, 28, 31, June 3, 6, 9 and 12, Brian Mulligan will return to the Opéra National de Paris as Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal, following his successful house debut as Créon in Enescu’s Œdipe which took place this past fall. This critically acclaimed production by award-winning director Richard Jones places the spiritual drama in the residence of a contemporary sect, bringing the story to the twenty-first century.

Under the baton of Simone Young, the thrilling cast will also feature Reinhard Hagen as Titurel, Kwangchul Youn as Gurnemanz, Falk Struckmann as Klingsor, Marina Prudenskaya as Kundry and Simon O’Neill as Parsifal.

Performances take place at Opéra Bastille.

Photos: Dario Acosta

Irish National Opera Debut in Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’

This month, Brian Mulligan will make his much-anticipated house debut with Irish National Opera where he will reprise the tyrannical Don Pizarro in Beethoven’s Fidelio. He has garnered much acclaim for his portrayal of the role with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette proclaiming “Baritone Brian Mulligan in particular distinguished himself as the villainous Don Pizarro, delivering powerful melodies with malevolent passion.” 

This exciting new production by award-winning theatre director Annabelle Comyn will also feature a fantastic roster of artists, including Sinéad Campbell-Wallace as Leonore, Robert Murray as Florestan, Daniel Sumegi as Rocco, Dean Powers at Jaquino, David Howes as Don Fernando and Kelli-Ann Masterson as Marzelline with Fergus Sheil leading from the podium. The performances will take place on November 7, 9, 10, 12, 13 at the Gaiety Theatre.

Photo: Dario Acosta

Œdipe in Paris

Brian Mulligan stars as Créon in Œdipe at the Opéra Bastille from September 20 to October 14. He’s joined by Christopher Maltman in the title role, Clive Bayley as Tirésias, Adrian Timpau as Thésée, Yann Beuron as Laïos, Ekaterina Gubanova as Jocaste, Clémentine Margaine as the Sphinge, Anna-Sophie Neher as Antigone and Anne Sofie von Otter as Mérope. Ingo Metzmacher conducts the production by Wajdi Mouawad.

Götterdämmerung & Das Rheingold at Lyric Opera of Chicago cancelled due to COVID-19

Brian Mulligan’s upcoming performances in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s thrilling Ring cycle have regrettably been canceled because of coronavirus concerns. Mulligan was set to make his highly anticipated role debut as Wotan in Das Rheingold and to return to the role of Gunther in Götterdämmerung. 

Marking the Lyric’s fourth time to present Wagner’s epic four-opera saga, director David Pountney placed the production in a darkly imaginative future. Music Director and Principal Conductor Sir Andrew Davis was set to conduct the expanded Lyric Opera Orchestra and an all-star cast. The extraordinary creative team included set designer Robert Innes Hopkins (expanding original designs by the late Johan Engels), costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca, lighting designer Fabrice Kebour, and choreographer Denni Sayers. Statement regarding COVID-19 cancellations from Lyric Opera of Chicago:

“At a press conference on Thursday, March 12, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a State and City mandate that all large-scale events exceeding 1,000 individuals be canceled for the next 30 days as a preventive measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 disease (coronavirus). Additionally, the State and the City encouraged that community events of 250 people or more should be canceled until May 1. This encompasses the time period of our long-planned and highly-anticipated Ring cycle. With great regret, we have no option but to cancel all three Ring cycles and the preceding two performances of Gotterdammerung.” For more information, click here.

 

 

‘Fidelio’ with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

On January 24 & 26, Brian Mulligan stars as the malevolent Don Pizarro in concert performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th anniversary of his birth this year, the PSO presents Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, under the baton of Manfred Honeck.

Mulligan shares the stage with a spectacular roster of soloists, including Eric Cutler as the title role, Nicole Chevalier as Leonore, Alexander Elliott as Don Ferrando, Wei Wu as Rocco, Rachele Gilmore as Marzelline, David Portillo as Jacquino, Thomas Shivone as Prisoner, and Don Marinelli as the narrator. For more information, visit the pittsburghsymphony.org

Puccini’s ‘Le Willis’ now available on CD

Opera Rara’s new recording of Puccini’s Le Willis, featuring Brian Mulligan as Guglielmo, is now available on CD format via Opera Rara and Amazon. Based on the new Ricordi critical edition, and reconstructed by musicologist Martin Deasy, the studio recording was taken at London’s Henry Wood Hall in November 2018. The original one-act version of Puccini’s first opera was successfully premièred at Milan’s Teatro Dal Verme but was never published and has not been heard since 1884. This marks Opera Rara’s first venture into the musical world of Puccini and its second verismo project.

Based on the short story Les Willis by French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr – based in turn on the legend of the Vila who appear in the ballet Giselle – Le Willis was composed for a competition in 1883. While Puccini’s work did not even earn an honourable mention, his supporters helped fund its first production the following year in Milan. This, in turn, won the 24-year-old composer – already hailed as Verdi’s successor – a contract with Italy’s leading publisher, Ricordi. At Ricordi’s request, Puccini set about revising the work, creating a two-act version with additional arias for the soprano and tenor; and this is the form in which the work has been performed ever since.

Returning for her second collaboration with Opera Rara, Ermonela Jaho sings the role of Anna. Armenian tenor Arsen Soghomonyan will make his UK debut as her lover Roberto, and Brian Mulligan sings the role of her father Guglielmo. Opera Rara’s Artistic Director Sir Mark Elder conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Debut in Enescu’s rarely performed ‘Oedipe’ at the Salzburg Festival

This month, Brian Mulligan makes his debut as Créon in George Enescu’s rarely performed work, Oedipe, featuring a new production by Achim Freyer at the Salzburg Festival. Oedipe tells not only the oedipal tragedy but also the whole life cycle of this tragic-mythical figure, musically placing it at the center. Ingo Metzmacher conducts the Vienna Philharmonic, the Vienna State Opera Chorus, and the Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor for this rare masterwork of the 20th century.

On August 11, 14, 17 & 24 at the Felsenreitschule, Mulligan shares the stage with a world-class ensemble including Christopher Maltman as the title role, John Tomlinson as Tirésias, Vincent Ordonneau as Le Berger, David Steffens as Le Grand Prêtre, Gordon Bintner as Phorbas, TIlmann Rönnebeck as Le Veilleur, Boris Pinkhasovich as Thésée, Michael Colvin as Laïos, Anaïk Morel as Jocaste, Ève-Maud Hubeaux as La Sphinge, Chiara Skerath as Antigone, and Anna Maria Dur as Mérope. On August 17, Oe1 will broadcast the recorded performance from August 11, beginning at 7:30 PM. For more information about the broadcast, click here.

© SF/Monika Rittershaus

‘Old Fashioned’ named a Critics Choice by Opera Now and Opera News

Brian Mulligan’s second solo recording Old Fashioned, featuring beloved songs of the early twentieth century, was selected as a Critics Choice by Opera Now in May, and by Opera News in August. Released by Bridge Records, Mulligan and pianist Craig Rutenberg curated this program to represent a breadth of composers and musical styles, honoring an incredible period of music in America. Purchase links and more information about Old Fashioned is available via Brian’s Recordings.

“The home page of Brian Mulligan’s website highlights a review stating that he possesses ‘a voice that rich, secure, and really, really big’, and I am happy to concur – it is indeed a very generous and at times noble baritone. This recording is very forward in its sound, but I can confirm that heard live (as in Puccini’s Le Villi a few months ago in London), Mulligan’s voice is indeed pretty sizeable. In Old Fashioned he performs songs made popular by the great American baritones of the 20th century, such as Nelson Eddy, Lawrence Tibbett and Leonard Warren, sailing through them from a whisper to a roar. He sounds very comfortable in this repertoire, from the ardent romanticism of d’Hardelot’s Because to the goonish On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine, famously performed by Laurel and Hardy. So it is not claiming to hit the intellectual heights, but it is hugely enjoyable. Mulligan is abetted by his skillful pianist, Craig Rutenberg, who as well as providing endless spread chords also makes his own spontaneous vocal exclamation of joy in one song – how Mulligan keeps singing I don’t know; it certainly made me laugh out loud.” ~Opera Now

“The CD presents a fine selection of the kind of concert song that has long since vanished from the active repertory, with a style floating somewhere between popular and semi-classical. These numbers predate the universal use of microphones and require good, solid technique.

Modern audiences have heard a few of these numbers in concerts by Thomas Hampson or Nathan Gunn, but Mulligan offers a more oaken and substantial timbre, recalling American singers such as Richard Bonelli and Robert Weede…Mulligan’s baritone is generally firm and up to the challenges of dynamics and range this repertory demands.

The sentimental “Roses of Picardy” (1916) stands out for effective intimacy, as does the familiar stanzaic Romberg chestnut.

Mulligan delivers the words with admirable clarity; the texts are available on his website. Ironically, his nostalgic project should prove a welcome novelty for many listeners.” ~Opera News

Golaud at the Dutch National Opera

This month, Brian Mulligan sings Golaud in Olivier Py’s new production of Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy), part of the 2019 Holland Festival at the Dutch National Opera. Based on a symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck about a vicious love triangle entangling two brothers and one woman, Debussy’s work is regarded as an impressionist masterpiece and it is the only opera the composer completed.

Performances will take place on June 5, 8, 12, 16, 18, 23 & 27, with Mulligan joining a starry cast including  Paul Appleby and Elena Tsallagova in the title roles, Peter Rose as Arkel, Gregor Hoffmann & Maximilian Leicher as Le Petit Yniold, Michael Wilmering as Le médicin, Katia Ledoux as Geneviève, and Frederik Bergman as Le berger. Stéphane Denève leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Sharpless in Amsterdam

From April 23 until May 13, Brian Mulligan sings Sharpless in Robert Wilson’s staging of Puccini’s heartbreaking Madama Butterfly at the Dutch National Opera.

The role of Cio-Cio-San is sung by Elena Stikhina, Suzuki by Enkelejda Shkosa, and Pinkerton by Gianluca Terranova (DNO debut). Jader Bignamini conducts.

Bachtrack sung his praises for his performance as Sharpless at the Opernhaus Zürich:

“…the evening’s strongest performance was Brian Mulligan’s Sharpless, who cautions the headstrong and irreverent Pinkerton that it is a “great sin to … break a trusting heart”. Sharpless is moral standard, cultural interface and master of diplomacy all in one – an easy fellow to like anyway – but Mulligan sang the role with authority and bravado.”