Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mezzo Kate Jackman's "Top 10 Worst Opera Villains"

At Barihunks, we find baritones to be sexy and seductive, like Douglas Williams. Could a face like this be a villain?

The beautiful, funny and gifted mezzo-soprano Kate Jackman penned a list of the "Top 10 Worst Opera Villains" for the wonderful blog Operagasm. Of course any list about villains will invariably include some baritones, as many composers consider it the perfect voice for devils, killers, rapists and evil husbands. In fact, six of her ten villains are baritones or basses. (For the record, we think the baritone voice is sexy, sultry, seductive and virile).

Falk Struckmann as Kaspar in Vienna

Her baritone and bass villains include Kaspar from Der Freischutz, of whom she writes:

I get it. You don’t want to go to hell. Understandable.

But tricking some poor, love-sick sap into shooting his beloved Agathe, just so you can get three more miserable years on Earth seems excessive. And how did that plan work out for you? She’s alive, everyone else is happy, and you are burning in a fiery pit for all eternity. Good game.
Barihunk Kyle Ketelsen as Nick Shadow in London

 Nick Shadow from The Rake's Progress:
The Shadow Master. The Puppeteer. You pull the strings of poor, feckless Tom.  You give him money, loose women, a bearded wife (that’s right, BEARDED), and a magic bread maker, and in doing so make him penniless, loveless, hopeless, and eventually lifeless (as in DEAD). You evoke ruin, disaster, and shame from the second you appear until the instant you sink back into the depths of Hades. You, sir, are a scoundrel.
Barihunk Marco Vratogna as Iago with Carlo Ventre as Otello in Frankfurt

Iago from Otello:

Much like the same-named, cartoon parrot in Disney’s Aladdin, you perch on Otello’s shoulder and spew deceit.

I get that you hate Otello and want him to suffer, but was it really worth going through this whole elaborate plan? Couldn’t you just off the guy and be done with it? And, honestly, what did Desdemona ever do to you? Why does she have to be collateral damage? You had to know that you were not going to walk away from this without facing the consequences.

But you didn’t care, did you? You are just a hateful little worm, aren’t you?
Stephen Costello as Faust) with barihunk Greer Grimsley asMéphistophélès in San Diego

Mephistopheles from Faust:

Really, just don’t even talk to him. It’s not worth it and you will regret it in the long haul.

Take the story of Faust as a cautionary tale: He’s old; he has a lot of regrets. Suddenly, Mephistopheles appears and promises to make him young and virile in exchange for his soul. Stupid Faust agrees, and four acts later he is being dragged down into perdition.

Mephistopheles is just about as bad and scary as they come. Watch the Church Scene in the middle of the night and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Lado Ataneli as Barnaba and Violeta Urmana as Gioconda in the stunning Pizzi production

Barnaba from La Gioconda:

Gentlemen, take note. When a lady tells you she is not interested in your advances, you should:
a) Move on. Fish in the sea blah blah blah


b) Attempt to woo her with the standard flattery, flowers, dinner, etc. She may eventually develop romantic feelings for you.

When a lady tells you she is not interested, you should NOT:

a) Denounce her blind, elderly mother as a witch in front of the entire town.

b) Drown said elderly mother in the Venetian canals.

Your lady will not love you for it and may just stab herself in the gut to get away from you.
And her #1 evil villain is, of course, Scarpia (who we have actually found to be quite sexy in some productions, which adds a whole different element to the seduction scene):

María José Siri as Tosca and Claudio Sgura as Scarpia at the Savonlinna Festival

Scarpia from Tosca  Congratulations, Scarpia. You are the nastiest of the nasty characters in Opera.

Nobody likes you. Everyone was happy to see you die.  

Well, let’s recap: You arrested a painter and had him tortured where his lover, a singer, could hear his screams. You then attempted to seduce the singer, like she’d be in any kind of mood for nookie when her lover is being tortured in the next room… and she could hear
his screams. You made her promise to give herself to you in exchange for his life, and then had him executed anyway.  

Seriously, dude. If anyone deserved to get stabbed in the chest by a vengeful soprano, it’s you.

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