Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Abominable Showman, May 18, 2013

Saskatchewan native and 2013 McGill graduate Gordon Bintner has made the tricky transition from student operas to the world’s great stages look effortless – and he’ll do it again in L’Opéra de Montréal’s new production of Manon, Jules Massenet’s classic of the French opera repertoire…
by Richard Burnett
(production photos by Yves Renaud)

My new favourite website Barihunks defines a “barihunk as “any hunk who sings in the baritone and bass/baritone range. Singers must be professional, semi-professional or serious students with real potential.”

Real potential for singing, of course. 

But Saskatchewan native Gordon Bintner – who plays the role of Lescaut in L’Opéra de Montréal’s new production of Massenet’s classic French opera Manon at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier beginning tonight – he knows that in today’s digital world of opera, fitness, youth and good looks will help him connect with young mainstream audiences.

So when I show Bintner that Barihunks has labelled him “opera's new Golden Boy,” the bass-baritone smiles broadly.

“That’s cool!” he says proudly. “I believe I have to be in good shape. It’s always been important but nowadays it’s even more important. There’s this baritones-without-shirts thing happening. There are physical aspects you need to be ready for. Even in this production [of Manon] there’s lots of physicality, jumping and running around. And when you’re a tenor or baritone, you are also expected to lift women when [the director] asks you to. 

“It’s fundamentally about the music, but opera is now reaching out in a mainstream kind of way to younger people.”

Young folks like the 24-year-old Bintner who didn’t start out at McGill as an opera singer.

“I’ve always been a singer but I never listened to opera [as a kid],” Bintner explains. “I did musicals. But I figured I could do this in my third year of college with the support of teachers who said I could do it.”

That faith has paid off. 

Bintner made his European debut singing the role of Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème with Angers Nantes Opéra in France and last summer sang the role of Nardo in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera at the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco. 

Bintner makes his debut with L'Opéra de Montréal this week after winning the Grand Prize in the OSM Standard Life Competition. He also won First Prize and the People's Choice Award in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2012 Ensemble Studio Competition after winning First Prize in the Trois-Rivières Symphony Orchestra Voice Competition in the spring of 2011.

A Masters of Opera and Voice student who also received his bachelors degree from McGill’s Schulich School of Music, Bintner is pretty excited at all the prospects that lay before him.

With Marianne Fiset
“I just finished my last semester!” Bintner says with a big smile, as we high-five each other. “My professors and dean are really happy for me! I’ve been doing professional work for a couple years now, but [with school finished] now I can really focus on my career.”

In L’OdeM’s production of Manon, Bintner will co-star alongside renowned Canadian soprano Marianne Fiset (as Manon) and international Portugese tenor Bruno Ribeiro (as Des Grieux) – although at press time L’OdeM announced that Ribeiro will be replaced by American tenor Richard Troxell for the premiere.

“It’s nice to be singing in my adopted home town, the whole team here is wonderful and I have to say my colleagues are great, everybody’s been really welcoming,” Bintner says. “But I have to admit that I’m still nervous. I got the butterflies even though I’m at ease in this role [because] I worked it a lot before I came here.”

If that’s not enough, Bintner’s parents are also flying in from the West Coast to attend their son’s debut with L’Opéra de Montréal.

Then there’s all those young opera fans who first discovered Bintner on Barihunks.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” Bintner says, running his fingers through his curly blonde locks. “I can’t wait!”

L’Opera de Montreal’s 2012-2013 season-closing production of Jules Massenet’s classic French opera Manon runs at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier on May 18-21-23-25 at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Running time:  3 hours with 2 intermissions. Click here for more info and tickets.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting article, well written and I hope one day I will have the opportunity to hear Gordon Bintner!


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