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Bryan Hymel, Tenor

Intanto amici, qua, Beviamone un bicchiere. Viva il vino spumeggiante, Nel bicchiere scintillante …

By Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana

Friends, come here! Let's drink a glass. Hail to the bubbly wine, Sparkling in the glass…” so goes the aria from Cavalleria Rusticana, and Bryan Hymel, the American tenor who’s taking the world of opera by storm, certainly has a lot to toast these days. Dubbed ‘the new Pavarotti’ by many, Bryan’s vocal talents take him to London this season, where he performed in Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci at the Royal Opera House. As a partner for these productions, Clos19 caught up with him to get a tenor’s take on the true art of hosting…

How do you define good taste?

I have found that good taste is all about balance - between light and dark or a term we use in Opera “chiaroscuro” in Italian, the fruit and the tannins, etc - just the right amount of each to to contrast and compliment the subtle characteristics of each that might be lost if thy weren’t next to each other.

If your voice was a drink, what would it be?

Maybe a French red - more Burgundy than Bordeaux, I think.

What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to food and drinks?

Rare old whiskeys - Scotch or bourdon and Foie gras.

What does the art of hosting mean to you?

Picking the right guests and then picking a fun and different menu with great wines. I love to bring back new discoveries from my travels back to my friends and family in New Orleans. So after 6-8 months on the road in multiple countries, there are lots to share. One example is a Greek cordial called Mastiha from the island of Chios. The flavor is truly unique and everyone who has tried it has loved it. Most specialty spirit stores can get it if they don’t carry it and I much prefer it to ouzo and the other anise flavored cordials from the Mediterranean.

What is your definition of a great evening? Is there a magical ingredient?

Again, a great mix of friends and family is paramount; but for me, music is the magical ingredient. Growing up in New Orleans Jazz was the soundtrack of our lives - the jazz & heritage festival, Mardi gras, bluegrass and zideko. If there’s a grand piano near, you can bet that music will flow as freely as the wine.

What is your ideal setting for enjoying a fine meal and drinks with your circle, the people you love?

I quiet corner or room where we can hear each other without having to shout and a tasting menu with wine pairings. The Square in London is one of my favorites.

When entertaining at home, what is your secret weapon?

Super cold vodka. Of course I keep the bottle in the freezer, but I then shake it for 2 min so that some of the vodka freezes into little shards which float on top. Then, I serve it in large blue crystal martini glasses.

What is your favourite moment during the holiday season?

Without a doubt, Christmas Eve – the family gatherings, the cold night air, the Christmas music playing, midnight mass – all of it.

Do you have a hosting ritual at Christmas time?

Unfortunately, I almost always work on Christmas, so we usually have Christmas later in January in New Orleans - complete with full Christmas dinner!!

What does your 2017 New Year’s Eve look like?

I’ll be singing performances of La Boheme in Munich, but it’s a wonderful city and one of my favorite roles, so I’m not complaining!!

You are performing this winter in Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci at the Royal Opera House in London. What are you looking forward to during your stay in London and this performance?

Certainly it is all the Christmas lights, the trees and the reindeer in Covent Garden.