Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Barihunk" Vanessa Bousay to appear in San Francisco

Erik Chalfant a.k.a. Vanessa Bousay
Vanessa Bousay, a drag character created by classically-trained baritone Erik Chalfant will appear in a cabaret show at San Francisco's famed Martuni's on Sunday, January 11th at 7 PM.

Her set will include "I'll Be Seeing You," "Three Queens In A Fountain," "Spring Came Back To Vienna," "Copacabana," "Good Morning Baltimore" and many more.

Chalfant, who studied with the legendary operatic soprano Phyllis Curtin, created the character of Vanessa Bousay as a tribute to the woman he dubs his "teacher, mentor and friend." He holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from Boston University, School For The Arts. He is an alumnus of the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the Britten-Pears School For Advanced Musical Studies in Aldeburgh, England.

On July 5th, she performed the National Anthem before 26,000 people at AT&T Park for the San Francisco Opera's annual "Opera at the Ballpark." Chalfant beat out 70 other contestants who had submitted videos to classical radio station KDFC's "Star-Spangled Sing-Off.”


Zachary Gordin: Killer Body in Killer Role


The Dayton Opera has announced that über-barihunk Zachary Gordin is replacing John Arnold in their production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. The role of the accused killer Joseph de Rocher should be a natural fit for the gym toned singer, who is required to sing an aria while doing pushups. This is Gordin's role debut and first appearance with the Dayton Opera. Singing the critical role of Sister Helen Prejean will be mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin.  

Performances are on February 27 and March 1st. Their season continues with another barihunk, Matthew Worth, in the oft-shirtless role of Zurga in Bizet's Pearl Fishers. There will be two performances on April 17 and 19. Additional information and tickets for both operas are available online.

Dead Man Walking at the Mälmo Opera with Samuel Jarrick (left) and Rasmus Mononen (far right)
Dead Man Walking, has quickly entered the standard repertory since its San Francisco premiere in 2000. Amazingly, this was Heggie's first opera and it has become a star vehicle for baritones and especially barihunks. The role of Joseph De Rocher has been sung by numerous barihunks, including Michael Mayes, Philip Cutlip, Etienne Dupuis, Jordan Shanahan, Samuel Jarrick, Daniel Okulitch, Mel Ulrich. Thomas Gunther, John Arnold, David Adam Moore, Marcus DeLoach.

Ben Wager to perform in two very different, very spectacular spaces

(L-R) Oslo Opera House, Ben Wager, duPont Children's Hospital
In the coming year, American bass-barihunk Ben Wager will be singing in two spectacular buildings, which couldn't be more different.

On January 16th, he'll kick off a new collaboration between OperaDelaware and the duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware for performances in the stunning atrium of their new health care facility. The series was designed to demonstrate the transformative healing power of music in health care. The performances begin at noon, and are open to patients, staff, friends, family, and to the public. Wager started his career in the chorus of OperaDelaware.
Calixto Bieto's racy Carmen
He then heads to Oslo, Norway to perform Bizet's Carmen in arguably the most stunning opera house in the world, which also has the most perfect acoustics of any theater. He'll be performing in Calixto Bieto's racy and somewhat controversial production of the popular opera, which is famous for a fellatio scene that takes place behind a car and poor Zuniga getting kicked to death, only to be pissed on as he lay dying. That thankless role will be sung by Musa Ngqungwana. Additional cast and ticket information is available online.

Wager returns to the U.S. in the Spring to sing Angelotti in Puccini's Tosca with Lyric Opera of Kansas City from April 18th – 26th.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Seth Carico gets Barihunk treatment in Berlin press

Seth Carico in the Berliner Morgenpost
Seth Carico was recently featured in the Berliner Morgenpost in a wonderful profile that begins with his barihunk status. The article perfectly captures him as a singer who combines great singing, with a physique made for the stage and amazing acting ability. The article is available online, but requires a login.

His recent portrayal of Kassandra (Cassandra) in Iannis Xenakis' Oresteia at the Deutsche Oper Berlin had critics and audiences raving. His shirtless pictures on Barihunks tripled our daily readership! For anyone who hasn't seen Carico live, it's worth a trip to wherever he's singing.

Seth Carico in The King & I (left) and Oresteia (right)
Carico, who has been a part of the ensemble at the Deutsche Oper Berlin since 2010, will have a busy season this year. Major roles include Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with fellow barihunk Davide Luciano as Belcore, Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with fellow barihunk John Chest as the Count and the Police Chief in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Nadine Secunde. If you can't make it to Berlin, he'll be singing in Verdi's Falstaff at the 100th Anniversary mainstage season of the Seagle Music Colony this summer in upstate New York.


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Monday, December 29, 2014

Andrè Schuen making major debuts in 2015

Andrè Schuen
 Andrè Schuen who lit up our pages with his shirtless pictures from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore from Graz is making some major debuts in 2015. But first he kicks off the New Year with a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic that includes Handel's Dixit Dominus, Zelenka's Te Deum and Bach's Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied.

On February 16th, he makes his debut as Figaro at the Theater an der Wien in Giovanni Paisiello's rarely performed version of Il Barbiere di Siviglia under early music specialist René Jacobs. The opera was adapted from Beaumarchais' play Le Barbier de Séville by librettist Giuseppe Petrosellini and premiered in Saint Petersburg in 1782. The plot of the Paisiello opera and the Rossini version closely resemble each other, with the main difference being Petrosellini's libretto putting greater emphasis on the love story and less on the comic aspects.

Performances run through February 27th and tickets are available online. On March 6, the work will be performed at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.

Fans in the U.K. will finally have the chance to see Schuen live when he makes his Wigmore Hall debut on March 22nd. Joined by pianist Daniel Heide, he'll perform Schumann’s Liederkreis Op. 24, Frank Martin’s Jedermann and three Harfenspieler songs from Wolf’s Goethe-Lieder. Tickets are on sale now online.  

He currently has no U.S. engagements on his calendar.  


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Hadleigh Adams featured in Pinchgut Opera promo materials

Hadleigh Adams in Pinchgut Opera's marketing
We've always wondered why some opera companies don't use their singers in their marketing materials, particularly when they have marketable appearances. We were thrilled to see that Pinchgut Opera in Australia has Hadleigh Adams' notoriously handsome face prominently featured on their marketing materials for Vivaldi's Bajazet.

The performances will be the Southern Hemisphere premiere of the opera. Hadleigh Adams is wrapping up his second season as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and returning to Pinchgut after a successful run as Pollux in their production of Rameau's Castor & Pollux in 2012.

Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735 and is a pastiche of Vivaldi's own arias, as well as those by Johann Adolph Hasse, Geminiano Giacomelli, Nicola Porpora and Riccardo Broschi. The opera is also known as Il Tamerlano and the story was also successfully set to music by Handel.

Hadleigh Adams in Pinchgut Opera's Castor & Pollux
Vivaldi wove into the opera an underlying tale of power struggles and invasion, reflective of the ones going on at the time, when Neopolitan operas were trouncing their local Venetian counterparts in popularity. Music associated with Neapolitan composers is thus cleverly designated to the invaders Tamerlano, Irene and Andronico.
Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/pinchgut-opera-launches-2015-season#sthash.jSqY461i.dpuf
Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a rarely performed operatic tragedy, premiered in Verona in 1735. An opera of romantic entanglement and love triangles, Bajazet tells the tale of a struggle for power between Bajazet, ruler of the Turks, and Tamerlano, ruler of the Tartars. When Bajazet’s daughter Asteria is threatened with marriage to the invading ruler, she conspires to murder him. The plot thickens after Tamerlano’s former betrothed, Irene, turns up to reveal the scheme, having taken issue with being pushed aside onto Tamerlano’s Greek ally (Andronico) who, unfairly, is also in love with Asteria - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/pinchgut-opera-launches-2015-season#sthash.jSqY461i.dpuf

Adams has maintained a busy schedule this season while a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, having sung Schaunard in La boheme, the Marquis in La Traviata, Grand commissioner in Madame Butterfly and Jailer in Tosca. He also performed Gendarme in Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias with San Francisco's innovative young company Opera Parallèle.

Performances are on July 4, 5, 7 & 8  2015 at City Recital Hall Angel Place in Sydney. Tickets go on sale on February 9th, so mark your calendars. Also in the cast is Christopher Lowrey as Tamerlano, Helen Sherman as Irene, Emily Edmonds as Asteria and Russell Harcourt as Andronicus.

Zachary Gordin in our Barihunks Charity Calendar
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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Bo Skovhus to perform double-bill of operatic rarities

Bo Skovhus in Reimann's Lear
One of our most popular posts with readers was entitled "Lauri Vasar Strips Down for Il Prigioniero," which prompted us to put up a follow up post with additional photos of the barihunk in his scivvies. So imagine our excitement when we found out that über-barihunk Bo Skovhus would be performing the piece with Oper Köln in March and April 2015.

Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero is a 7-part, 50-minute opera which was first broadcast by the Italian radio station RAI on December 1, 1949. The work is based on the short story La torture par l'espérance ("Torture by Hope") from the collection Nouveaux contes cruels by the French writer Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam and from La Légende d'Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak by Charles de Coster. Some of the musical material is based on Dallapiccola's 1938 choral work Canti di prigionia.


Despite the taxing nature of the role, Skovhus will return after intermission to sing an equally demanding role, that of the bass solo in Bernd Alois Zimmerman's Ekklesiastische Aktion: Ich wandte mich und sah an alles Unrecht das geschah unter der Sonne ("I turned and saw all the injustice there was under the sun")

Bo Skovhus and Silvana Dussmann in The Merry Widow: 

The 35-minute piece is scored for two speakers, bass soloist, and large orchestra, with text based on the words of the Preacher in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. The work also requires enormous physical stamina, as it includes the stamping of feet, gesturing, jumping and performing in various yoga-like poses.

The piece was commissioned by the city of Kiel for the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Ekklesiastische Aktion was Zimmermann's final composition before he killed himself and the music quotes Bach's, "Es ist genug" (It is enough). That section is played fortissimo by trumpets and trombones in a jolting expression of mortality.

Bo Skovhus is currently singing the role of Graf Danilo in Franz Lehár's Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) at Oper Köln. Tickets and additional cast information for both shows are available online.

David Adam Moore & Xavier Rivera
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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Aaron Sørensen & Kevin Thompson to make role debuts as Osmin

Kevin Thompson & Aaron Sørensen
Two of our very favorite (really, really) low voices will be making their respective role debuts as Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio)

The coveted Mozart bass role will be sung by Aaron Sørensen with the Houston Symphony Orchestra on January 23 and 25 under the baton of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. The cast also includes Lauren Snouffer as Konstanze, Paul Appleby as Belmonte, Rafael Moras as Pedrillo and Abigail Dueppen and Blonde. It will be performed in concert performance. Tickets are available online.

Matti Salminen sings "O, wie will ich triumphieren":


A month later Kevin Thompson will take on the role with West Bay Opera under the baton of José Luis Moscovich and directed by barihunk Eugene Brancoveanu. Performance will run from February 13-22.  The cast also includes Nikki Einfeld as Kostanze, Michael Desnoyers as Belmonte, Tapan Bhat at Pedrillo adn Chelsea Hollow as Blonde. Tickets are available online.

Osmin, who the Pasha's comically sinister overseer of the harem, is a send-up of earlier stereotypes of Turkish despotism. Osmin's music includes some of the composer's most spectacular and vocally challenging music. His Act 3 aria "O, wie will ich triumphieren" includes characteristic 18th century coloratura passage work, and twice goes down to a low D (D2), one of the lowest notes demanded of any voice in opera. In the aria, Osmin sings of the delight that he will have when Pedrillo, Belmonte, Blondchen, and Konstanze are all hanged. The first Osmin was Ludwig Fischer, a bass noted for his wide range and skill in leaping over large intervals with ease. 

Eleven basses show off their Low D:

Osmin's other arias are "Solche hergelaufne Laffen" from Act 1, where he explains in graphic detail why he does not like Pedrillo. Also in Act 1 is "Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden," when he sings a song while picking figs, not realizing that Belmonte is watching. His song advises the listener to reward your love with kisses and make her life great. It also advises the young lover to lock up your woman's other lovers, lest they tempt her to forget her faithfulness. 


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Barihunks "Best of 2014"

It's time for our annual year-end wrap up with our "Best of 2014" feature where we highlight our favorite posts. Many of these were actually chosen by our readers, as we closely followed how much traffic each of our posts were receiving.
(L-R top row) Björn Bürger, Malte Roesner, Michael Mofidian (L-R, bottom row) Ivan Oreščanin, Mattia Olivieri and Davide Luciano
BEST NEWCOMERS: There were six singers who we introduced to readers this year that generated amazing traffic to our site. In fact, they were so popular that we decided to lead off our annual tribute with them. German Björn Bürger, German-American Malte Roesner, Scotsman Michael Mofidian, Serbian Ivan Oreščanin, and Italians Mattia Olivieri and Davide Luciano. You can click on their names to read the original posts. This is what the future of opera looks like and sounds like, which seems encouraging.

Previously unpublished photos of Italian barihunk Ernesto Petti
Jens Søndergaard and Saïd Pressley
BEST READER SUBMISSION: Our best posts continue to come from our readers and this year was no exception. Few singers generated more interest than Ernesto Petti on both our blog and in our calendar, where he appears as part of our August feature. Since we couldn't run all of his photos in our calendar, we've added some new photos above.

Honorable mention has to go to Jens Søndergaard and Saïd Pressley, both of whom proved immensely popular with our readers.

Bottom Row - Austin Siebert, George Arvidson, Clay Thompson, Nate Mattingly, Mason Jarboe, Michael Miller
Top Row - Keith Browning, Trevor Martin, Michael Hewitt, Damian Faul
 
(L-R) Sarah Larsen, Michael Todd Simpson, Steven LaBrie, Joseph Lattanzi & Colin Ramsey

BEST GROUP PHOTOS: We love it when we see our tee shirts being modeled by the hottest barihunks in opera, so imagine our glee when we were sent a photo featuring TEN stunning men all gathered together at the Seagle Music Colony in upstate New York. Michael Hewitt ended up being featured in our Viva, Italia! Barihunks Calendar, as well. It turns out that the family names on his mother's side are DiPane and Mazzola.

On the other side of the continent at the Seattle Opera, our tee shirts ended up on four of the cast members in their production of Menotti's The Consul. The opera starred four barihunks, including Michael Todd Simpson as John Sorel, Steven LaBrie as the Police Agent, Joseph Lattanzi as Assan and Colin Ramsey as Mr. Kofner. The four singers showed off their Barihunk tee shirts on the set with soprano Sarah Larsen, who played the secretary. Joseph Lattanzi also appeared in our 2012 calendar.

Bevan Bühler
BEST TWITTER DISCOVERY: Canadian barihunk Bevan Bühler posted the following on Twitter: "My life goal is to be listed on barihunks." Of course, we obliged and he instantly became one of our most viewed posts of the year. The former model and emerging singer clearly caught the eye of many of our readers.


HOTTEST PHOTO: As one might imagine, we get sent a lot of photos and press materials from opera companies and publicists. Most of them are pretty useless and clearly were not sent with our mission in mind. So when an email arrived from the Los Angeles Opera touting their upcoming production of Andrè Previn's Streetcar Named Desire, we were pretty sure that it would be filled with glossy pictures of soprano Renee Fleming. Much to our delight, it included these AMAZING photos of Ryan McKinny, whose voice and body just get more amazing with each passing year. He has become the quintessential barihunk in our view.

Agrippina cast (L-R) Hadleigh Adams, Peabody Southwell, Nathan Medley, Jamie-Rose Guarrine, Jennifer Rivera, Zachary Wilder and Douglas Williams
HOTTEST OPERA CAST: Who would've thought that the sexiest cast in opera this year would be found at Opera Omaha for their production of Handel's Agrippina. The opera featured former model and rising superstar Hadleigh Adams as the emperor Claudio. In the role of Pallante, one of two men that Agrippina pledges to marry, was Doug Williams a rising superstar in the baroque music world, who could easily grace the cover of GQ.

Stéphane Degout and Franco Pomponi
HOTTEST NUDE SCENE: For a dramatically sensible use of nudity, nothing could surpass Stéphane Degout and Franco Pomponi alternating the role of Hamlet in director Olivier Py's production of the Ambroise Thomas opera at La Monnaie in Brussels. Degout also performed the role at Theater an der Wien.

Paul Robeson as photographed by Nickolas Murray
HOTTEST HISTORICAL NUDE: We received a lot of appreciative email from readers who didn't know about the legendary Paul Robeson's nude modeling past. Robeson did some nude modeling for photographer Nickolas Murray, who later went to photograph President Eisenhower, painter Freda Kahlo, actresses Colleen Moore and Greta Garbo, and the Lucky Strike girls. Robeson also posed nude for Italian-American sculptor Antonio Salemme. Born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1898, Robeson made his singing recital and his film debut in 1925. His resonant bass was a major highlight in the London production of "Show Boat" particularly with his powerful rendition of "Ol' Man River." Paul Robeson may have been the original barihunk!

(L-R) Doug Carpenter, Michael Scarcelle & (Jacques) L'Oiseleur Longchamps
BEST CALENDAR MODELS: Perhaps the smartest thing that we did this year was to give our Barihunks Charity Calendar money directly to singers who participated, rather than to organizations. The level of appreciation was enormous and we heard about how the funds paid for lessons, coachings, music, rent and travel to competitions.  

Doug Carpenter walked away with our top prize of $500 for submitting the picture that best exemplified this year's theme "Sexy and Italian." One of our judges was so conflicted about having to choose a winner that she offered up an additional $500 to be split between the runner-ups,  Michael Scarcelle & (Jacques) L'Oiseleur Longchamps. Everyone was a winner.


Dan Kempson
BEST GRAMMY AWARD NOMINEE: Barihunk Dan Kempson received a well-deserved GRAMMY Award nomination for his portrayal of the critical role of Orestes on Darius Milhaud's trilogy L'Orestie d'Eschyle on the Naxos label. The performance, which is up for Best Opera Recording, also features Sidney Outlaw as Apollo, as well as the University of Michigan Choirs and Symphony Orchestra, which amounted to some 350 musicians.


Philippe Sly
BEST NEW CD:  The ridiculously talented Philippe Sly released "In Love’s Minstrels" with accompanist Michael McMahon. They perform English music from the late 19th and early 20th century by Healey Willan, John Ireland, Roger Quilter, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. The CD is available at Amazon, as well as on Spotify.

Pietro di Biano and Matija Meić
BEST COMPETITION WINNERS: 2014 was yet another year where barihunks dominated international singing competitions (so, to all of you naysayers, YES, THEY CAN SING, TOO!). Few performances were more exciting than Barihunks Calendar model Pietro di Bianco winning the prestigious Paris Opera Competition or Matija Meić taking two prizes at the Mirjam Helin Competition, with both becoming overnight sensations.

Cyril Rovery
BEST MEN'S FITNESS MODEL: The European edition of the August 2014 edition of Men's Health magazine featured French barihunk Cyril Rovery in a feature called "Baryton Man." Rovery studied at the Marseilles Conservatoire graduating in 2000. In 1999, he won 1st Prize at the Symphonies d’Automne International Competition in Mâcon and in 2002 he won the Siena International Competition for Singers. He's been a regular at Marseille singing Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca, the Duke of Verona in Roméo et Juliette and Monterone in Verdi's Rigoletto.

Edwin Crossley-Mercer poses for Karl Lagerfeld
BEST PROFESSIONAL MODEL SHOOT: When fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld attended a performance of Robert Carsen's production of Rameau’s Platée at the Opéra Comique, he must have been as impressed as us with barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer. Crossley-Mercer's Jupiter was styled as a Karl Lagerfeld lookalike with white ponytail and dark glasses and the designer greeted the singer backstage and offered to do a photo shoot of the barihunk, shooting him in a variety of couture.


BEST PHOTO IN DRAG: Barihunk Daniel Okulitch, who has appeared in various states of dress and undress in his career, finally appeared in a dress when he donned this stunning getup as Jove in Francesco Cavalli's La Calisto at the Cincinnati Opera. Okulitch's drag wasn't some German regie concept that was imported to Cincinnati, but an actual part of the plot. Jove, the ruler of the gods, hatches a plan to wend his way into the heart and bedroom of Calisto by donning a Diana-like disguise. But when Jove’s wife Juno, sung by Alexandra Deshorties, catches wind of the scheme, her fury knows no bounds. As many singers know, Cincinnati has one of the best make-up artists on their staff, so Okulitch was in good hands.


BEST MAGAZINE FEATURE: Baritones became the new cover boys this year, as Aubrey Allicock appeared in OUT Magazine, Simon Keenlyside on the cover of Opera News, Ildar Abdrazakov in VANITY FAIR, Morgan Smith in Opera News, and Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek in Bleep magazine. But our favorite feature was the Opera News' Sound Bites article on John Brancy.  The New Jersey native had an exciting year, with major debuts at Oper Frankfurt in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West and the Kennedy Center for a recital dedicated to the 100th anniversary of WWI. This enormously talented and innovative artist is clearly destined for stardom and it was nice to see Opera News take notice.

Emmanuel Franco
BEST SINGER/DANCER: Mexican-American barihunk Emmanuel Franco caught our attention as one of the three baritones competing in the finals of the 50th International Vocal Competition in 's-Hertogenbosch, Holland. The 30-year-old singer has performed throughout Mexico, the United States and Europe, but he also has a true passion for dancing. While a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he founded a zumba class in a nearby gym. After  graduation, he was certified as zumba instructor before moving to The Netherlands, where he has become a popular instructor (who even sings occasionally during class).

Giorgio Caoduro
BEST ROLE DEBUT: Giorgio Caoduro's role debut as Rigoletto couldn't have come at a better time for Opera Australia. They had just weathered a rough couple of weeks dealing with the Tamar Iveri scandal, a soprano who had referred to gay people as "fecal matter" on her Facebook site. Caoduro's performance at the Joan Sutherland Theatre was a major revelation that allowed people to put the scandal on the back burner. Caoduro had previously performed in the opera as Marullo opposite Placido Domingo's Rigoletto in the movie version. The Opera Australia cast also included two other barihunks, Sam Dundas as Ceprano and Luke Gabbedy as Marullo.

A protester at The Death of Klinghoffer (left) and Aubrey Allicock
BIGGEST SCANDAL: The most talked about action in opera this year happened off the main stage, as John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer at the Met turned out protesters who claimed the opera was anti-Semitic and glorified terrorism. Making his Met debut in that production was upcoming barihunk Aubrey Allicock as the terrorist Mahmoud. He shares critical moments in the opera with fellow barihunk Paulo Szot, who sang the role of the Captain. Regardless of how you felt about the piece, it was great to see a worldwide discussion about an opera. 

Had it not been for The Death of Klinghoffer, we would have listed the BARITONE BLACKOUT at the OPERALIA competition in Los Angeles as our biggest scandal. Despite 11 of the 40 competitors being baritones in the competition, not a single baritone made it to the final round. Many felt that a top prize winner should have come from the talented field of low voices that included Igor Bakan, Aleksey Bogdanov, Alexandre Duhamel, Dan Kempson, Alexey Lavrov, Alex Lawrence, Shea Owens, Damien Pass, Pavel Shmulevich, Anatoli Sivko and Ivan Thirion.

(L-R) Philippe Sly, Elliot Madore & Gordon Bintner
BEST TENOR BLACKOUT: We couldn't feel too bad about the Barihunk Blackout at Operalia because 1,360 miles north of Los Angeles in Edmonton, Alberta, their Symphony was presenting a "No Tenors Allowed" concert. The program featured Canadian barihunks Gordon Bintner, Elliot Madore, and Philippe Sly, who joined forces with conductor Bill Eddins for a program of from music from Bizet's Carmen, Verdi's Macbeth, Rossini's Barber of Seville, and Wagner's Tannhäuser.

Charles Castronovo (left) and Erwin Schrott (right)
BEST BARIHUNK/HUNKENTENOR BATTLE: We all know that there is tremendous competition between baritones and tenors, but it reached new heights when barihunk Erwin Schrott went after hunkentenor Charles Castronovo's soul. The social media regular wrote on Twitter, "Dear Faust @CharlieTenor, meet me @ Laeiszhalle, Hamburg tonite 7:00 PM. Don't forget: bring soul! Tschüs! Méphy x"

Castronovo was singing Faust opposite Schrott's Méphistophélès in Gounod's opera in Baden-Baden, and the duo were joined by fellow barihunk Jacque Imbrailo, who was Valentin.


BEST PERSONAL STORY: Speaking of souls, it's rare for an artist to bare his or her soul in an interview, but that's just what Hadleigh Adams did in an interview with San Francisco's leading LGBT paper, the Bay Area Reporter. He minced no words in talking about what it was like to be effeminate, not to fit in with the other boys, having a friend commit suicide and facing challenges with family. We also had the privilege of hearing him turn this very personal story into an evening of song, which we think would be a hit on the recital circuit. Adams just wrapped up his second year at the prestigious San Francisco Opera Center Adler Fellows‎ and is surely destined for a great career in opera. It's one thing to grow as an artist, but Hadleigh Adams has shown us how amazing it is to watch someone grow as a human being.

Duncan Rock
BEST ANNOUNCEMENT: In our opera travels, we frequently get asked why certain European singers haven't appeared in the U.S. Topping that list is Duncan Rock (now that Edwin Crossley-Mercer has sung in America). So imagine the excitement surrounding the highly-anticipated U.S. stage debut of British Barihunk sensation Duncan Rock, which will occur not far from another rock, Plymouth Rock. The Boston Lyric Opera has snagged the charismatic fan favorite to portray the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni next season. Performances will run from May 1-10, 2015. His gender bending performance in Don Giovanni: The Opera at London's famous nightclub Heaven was a huge sensation.

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke

Dan Kempson
BEST NEW OPERA: The world premiere of Laura Kaminsky's opera "As One," which explores the revelatory and redemptive journey of a transgender individual, opened on September 4th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the real-life married couple of mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and barihunk Kelly Markgraf. The opera was a critical success and will be reprised at Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University in April 2015 with Markgraf and again at West Edge Opera in July/August 2015 with Dan Kempson. who will be joined by the Friction String Quartet at the Oakland Metro Opera House.

Kaminsky was inspired to write the opera after reading an article in the New York Times in 2008 about a New Jersey marriage in which one of the parties transitioned from male to female, transforming the couple from heterosexual to homosexual.


Finally, we have to close with our favorite email of the year, which came from a reader in Michigan back in May. "Dear Barihunks, I was pleasantly surprised when I came upon your website. It is surprisingly intelligent and well-written. I have learned about singers that were heretofore unknown to me and you have exposed me to much new music. I've also learned about opera competitions and smaller companies that I would not have read about elsewhere. For this I am eternally grateful, but frankly, I'd much prefer more pictures and less text."


Lastly, if you enjoyed Barihunks this year and if you like supporting young artists, please order your Charity Calendar today, so that we can keep up our tradition if assisting the hottest young talent in opera. Our calendar features 19 of the most amazing singers, who also happen to be easy on the eyes. Order NOW by clicking below. Thank you for your support.
Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.