Monday, May 30, 2016

Introducing British barihunk Sam Duffield

Sam Duffield
We saw this sexy picture of British barihunk Sam Duffield on Twitter (@Samuel_Duffield) and realized that we had to introduce him to the world. The North Yorkshire native is currently in his second year of study as an undergraduate at the Royal College of Music.  

He was a member of Leeds Youth Opera for two years before accepting his place at conservatoire, where he made his debut as Martin in Bernstein's Candide. He went on to play Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen and Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the latter of which the Leeds Civic Arts Guild nominated him for ‘Best Male Performer.’ At the Welsh National Youth roles included Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Anaeas.     

In October 2015, he represented the Royal College of Music at the Junior Kathleen Ferrier Awards.     Duffield has performed solo recitals and concerts around Yorkshire as well as oratorio and sacred works. Highlights have included Vivaldi's Magnificat and Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb at Ripon Cathedral.     

In the summer of 2014 he co-founded the student led company Bitesize Opera. The company is run by young professionals and aims to provide opportunities to singers who are currently studying at conservatoire or are on the threshold of their careers. Most recent performances include a series of Mozart opera scenes where Duffield's roles were the title role of Don Giovanni, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Nardo in La finta giardiniera.    

Duffield is also a gifted sketch artist and you can view his work online

Michael Nagy to portray gay king Edward II in Berlin

Edward II and Michael Nagy
Barihunk Michael Nagy will play the title role in Swiss composer Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini  new opera about Edward II. The piece will be performed from February 19-March 9 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with hunkentenor Ladislav Elgr singing the role of his alleged lover Piers de Gaveston.

The libretto by Thomas Jonigk focuses entirely on the role of the outsider Edward II and looks at society’s attitude towards homosexuals both then and now. Whether the close bond between Edward and Gaveston in the early 14th century was sexual in nature remains a contested issue, but among art circles Edward II has long been an icon of the gay movement. Gaveston was decapitated for being gay and King Edward II was executed in 1327 by having a red hot roasting spit shoved into his anus.

The subject matter inspired Christopher Marlowe’s bloody 1593 play about the self-assertive strivings of the hapless English king, the 1923 version by Bertolt Brecht of the same name and Derek Jarman’s 1992 famous film adaptation “Edward II.” 

Scartazzini most recent operatic work was The Sandman, which premiered in 2012 at the Theater Basel with Christof Loy directing. Tickets for Edward II are on sale now online.

Nagy can next be heard on June 9 and 10 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzing performing Bach's St Matthew Passion with Peter Mattei and Ann Hallenberg. On June 19 and 20, he joins tenor Klaus Florian Vogt for Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Munich Philharmonic. 

Barihunk duo in Chicago Summer Opera's Albert Herring

Gabriel Di Gennaro (Photos: Kirsten Miccoli and Elliot Mandel)
It's rare that we get a barihunk submission for singers appearing in the same show, especially singing the same role. But that's what happened just two days apart when readers submitted both Alessio Tranchell and Gabriel Di Gennaro who are rotating the role of Mr. Gedge in Britten's Albert Herring with the Chicago Summer Opera on June 16 and 19.

Gabriel Di Gennaro is returning to the opera Albert Herring, in which he previously sang the bass role of Superintendent Budd with the University of Delaware Opera Theatre. Recently, Chicago audiences have seen Di Gennaro as Florian in Princess Ida with The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème with Opera Ouvert, and Antonio in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with /kor/ productions.

He has been a  young artist with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh's SummerFest, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, where he covered the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, and OperaWorks. A collaboration with the VOX 3 Collective has added two unique experiences to his résumé: Golaud in a lecture recital of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande presented by Richard Stilwell, and The Dance Master/Mars in the Chicago premiere of Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade. He has performed the world premiere of Scott Wasserman's song cycle Even for Wars and his The Giving Tree. both by composer Scott Wasserman.

Alessio Tranchell
Alessio Tranchell started his singing career performing with pop punk bands before embarking on a classically trained career as a choral conductor and baritone. He has a BA in Voice from Gordon College and is getting his MM in Voice and Conducting from Houghton College.

This summer he joined the Russian Opera Workshop at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia as Orlik in Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa. At Houghton Lyric Theater he has sung Belcore in Donizetti's L’Elisir D’Amore, M. Reyer in The Phantom of the Opera and the title role in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Tranchell joined Finger Lakes Opera (NY) in the summer of 2015 as a Young Artist performing in L’Elisir D’Amore. He recently conducted the premiere recording of Sarah Hutchings’ opera Rodman in North Korea, which was a finalist for the American Prize in Opera Composition.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Barihunk duo sweeps Zandonai Competition

Kim Hankyol and Tobias Greengalgh
Barihunks Kim Hankyol and Tobias Greengalgh took top honors at the 2016 International Competition for 'Zandonai Young Opera Singers on Saturday, May 28th. Second Prize was awarded to Italian soprano Selene Zanetti and Japanese tenor Naoki Miyasato content. Third Prize went to Korean tenor Kim Keonwoo and Italian soprano Clarissa Costanzo.

Tobias Greenhalgh sings "O Carlo Ascolta" from Verdi's Don Carlo:

Greenhalgh actually walked away with six prizes for the night,
including role prizes at the Tiroler Festspiele ERL, Theatro Sao Pedro- Sao Paolo, and the National Opera Ukraine, the Musica Riva Festival Prize, and the Premio Opera World Prize. 

Greenhalgh is currently singing the role of Peter in Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel at the Wiener Kammeroper.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Randal Turner returns home for two concerts


Randal Turner: The original "Barihunk in Bed"
Zürich-based barihunk Randal Turner, is returning to his native Indiana for two shows. The first is an intimate concert at the Waynetown Baptist Church with accompanist Karen Wilkinson. The concert is near the farm with Turner grew up before heading off to Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and eventually the International Opera Studio of the Zurich Opera. The performance is on Sunday, May 29th at 10:30 AM.

Turner is back home to perform the role of Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen with the Indianapolis Symphony. Turner first performed the role in Sassari in Sardinia in 2002, and has subsequently sung it in Linz, Austria and Luzern, Switzerland. He will be joined by the Latvian mezzo-soprano Oksana Volkova as Carmen and tenor Evan Bowers as Don José. Performances are on June 10 and June 12 and tickets are available online. 

Randal Turner and Enrique Ambrosio perform "Je suis Escamillo" from Carmen:

Turner has appeared numerous times in our Barihunks charity calendar and was the beneficiary of the proceeds being used to help fund his CD of Living American Composers, which includes music by Jake Heggie, Clint Borzoni, Ricky Ian Gordon, Glen Roven and Julia Schwartz. He was also the original "Barihunk in Bed," which is our calendar theme this year. Singers who want to submit pictures for this year's calendar should send them to Barihunks@gmail.com.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Jesse Enderle digs in his fangs as Don Giovanni

Jesse Enderle
Barihunk Jesse  Enderle will be singing the title role in Undercroft Opera's Don Giovanni where artistic director Mary Beth Sederburg explores the similarities between the Mozart classic and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Her team created an all-new libretto,  English language libretto where the nobleman preys on brides-to-be.

Performances are on May 28 at 8 p.m. and May 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Undercroft Opera is a Pittsburgh-based company that creates a community for singers and orchestral musicians by offering performance experience to emerging and seasoned local artists. Since their founding in 2006, they have performed Cosi fan tutte, La boheme, Le Nozze di Figaro, La traviata, Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, The MediumL’elisir d’amore, Les Contes d’Hoffmann and a concert version of Don Carlo.

Jesse Enderle is a two-time regional winner in the Metropolitan Opera Regional Council Auditions in Wisconsin. He has performed with the Fort Worth Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Theater Summerfest, Florentine Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Tulsa Opera and the Arbor Opera Theatre.

Baritones comprise half of Lexus Song Quest semi-finalists

Tavis Gravatt and Bradley Christensen
The ten semi-finalists have been selected for the Lexus Song Quest and half of them are baritones. The singers will now work with head judge, soprano Yvonne Kenny, before the Grand Finals singers are selected for the last round at the Auckland Town Hall in July. Around 50 contestants competed in the initial round with judges Graham Pushee and Patricia Price. 

The baritones include Tavis Gravatt, Bradley Christensen, Harry Grigg, Jarvis Dams and Benson Wilson. The remaining singers include sopranos Madison Nonoa, Imogen Thirlwall, Emily Mwila and Sophie Sparrow, as well as tenor Filipe Manu

The Lexus Song Quest will dole out $85,000 in prizes, with the winner receiving a total prize of $50,000, and the runner up receiving an immediate cash prize of $8,000, supported by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, plus a study scholarship of $10,000. Third and fourth place winners receive $1,000 each. A further $15,000 prize, sponsored by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, will be awarded to the singer who has demonstrated great potential through the semi-finals stage of the competition.

Tickets for the Final Lexus Song Quest Gala on July 23 are available online

Barihunk duo in Reimann's Lear at Palais Garnier

Bo Skovhus in Paris Lear (Photo © Elisa Haberer)
Bo Skovhus returned to the title-role of Aribert Reimann’s Lear, this time at the Palais Garnier in Paris. He originally performed the role at the Hamburg Opera in 2012 and 2014, which was recorded on video for the first time. The 2014 performance included fellow barihunk Lauri Vasar as the Duke of Gloucester, who rejoins Skovhus in Paris.

The latest performance opened on May 23rd and will run through June 12. The Paris production in direceted by the provocative director Calixto Bieito and features the crownless king often stripped down, both emotionally and physically.
Lear is one of the most performed modern German operas. There have been 34 new productions since its premiere, - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/features/bo-skovhus-aribert-reimanns-lear#sthash.29yof3yS.dpuf

Bo Skovhus in Hamburg's Lear:

Lear is one of the most performed modern German operas, having received 34 productions since its 1978 premiere in Munich with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the title role. The U.S. premiere was presented by the San Francisco Opera in June 1981 with Thomas Stewart as Lear.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Birthday Tribute to Composer Clint Borzoni

Composer Clint Borzoni
There are a number of composers who have had an amazing gift for writing for the baritone voice. In an earlier era, Verdi, Wagner, Poulenc and Carl Loewe all wrote timeless music for baritones. In contemporary times, Jake Heggie and Clint Borzoni have kept the tradition alive, with Heggie writing baritone leads for almost every opera.

Randal Turner sings Clint Borzoni's "That Shadow, My Likeness":

Borzoni has written over seventy pieces, including two full-length operas, two one-act operas, a piano concerto, percussion quartet, work for orchestra, two string quartets, several works for chamber orchestra and over forty art songs.

Much of his vocal writing prominently features baritones, including the two lead roles in his recent opera When Adonis Calls, a leading bass role and baritone role in Antinous and Hadrian, two recent works for String Quartet and Baritone (Stufen and Margere Kost) written for Marco Vassalli, a set of Walt Whitman songs for baritone, the song cycle Awake the Dawn written for baritone Seth Kershisnik, and the song cycle Live Oak Growing written for baritones Tim Hill and Randal Turner.

Marco Vassalli sings Clint Borzoni's "Stufen":

His opera Antinous and Hadrian tells the story of the second century Roman emperor Hadrian and his love for the Greek youth Antinous. It examines the mystery behind the tragic death of the young Antinous. Upon his death, the distraught Emperor declared his beloved a god. Drawing on both historical sources and dramatic imagination the work has been written in the grand opera tradition.

 Wes Mason sings "Two Nooses" from "When Adonis Calls":


Borzoni recently completed his fourth opera, When Adonis Calls, based on the poetry of Gavin Dillard and arranged by John de los Santos. The opera was presented at Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 Frontiers Showcase.

He fifth opera, The Copper Queen, also written with librettist John de los Santos, won Arizona Opera’s new opera competition, Arizona SPARK.

Björn Bürger's Figaro is a box office hit at Glyndebourne; Watch live

Björn Bürger as Figaro
The big hit of the Glyndebourne season is barihunk Björn Bürger's Figaro in Rossini's Barber of Seville, which runs through July 17th with limited availability. The cast also includes Taylor Stayton as Almaviva and Danielle de Niese as Rosina. You can check for tickets HERE.

This appears to be one of those career defining moments for a young singer, as crowds and critics have responded enthusiastically. Mark Valencia in What's on Stage wrote, "The handsome young baritone exudes elegant bonhomie and fourth-wall-breaking razzle-dazzle, and he delivers Rossini's tongue-twisters with an eloquence it would be hard to better." Richard Fairman in the Financial Times wrote, "What fun there is comes from a well-chosen cast. At the top of the class is Björn Bürger’s ace Figaro, sung with brilliance, precision and a nonstop cheery grin, as if it is all no effort at all."

If you can't catch it live, you have two chances to watch in remotely. If you're in the UK, you can see it in a theatre in a live broadcast on Tuesday, June 21 at 6:30 PM. You can find screening near you by clicking HERE.

If you live elsewhere, the performance will be streamed live online on the same day HERE.

Next up at Glyndebourne is Mozart's Marriage of Figaro featuring the barihunk duo of Davide Luciano as Figaro and Gyula Orendt as Count Almaviva. It runs from July 3 to August 24.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Barihunk Benjamin Appl signs with Sony Classical

Benjamin Appl
The sublimely gifted German barihunk Benjamin Appl has signed a contract with Sony Classical. Appl, who was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's last private student, will release a recording of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Grieg and a number of English composers in early 2017.

His first recording on Champs Hill was of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, which he followed with a disc of Schubert lieder from Wigmore Hall with accompanist Graham Johnson.

His next live recital will be at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and will include music by Hahn, Schubert, Muhly and Schumann with James Bailleu on piano. On June 13, he'll appear as Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds with Dame Ann Murray as Dido. 

Edwin Crossley-Mercer to premiere song cycle in Ohio

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
French barihunk Edwin Crossley‐Mercer and American pianist Jason Paul Peterson will premiere a new work by composer Michael Linton as part of their recital at Baldwin Wallace University's Gamble Auditorium on Tuesday, May 24.

"Mute Love" ("Silentium Amoris") is the first of the seventeen‐movement Wilde Songs to be publicly presented. Earlier, the duo premiered Linton's Carmina Catulli at Carnegie Hall in New York, which are based on settings of poems by the Roman poet Catullus. . You can read our previous posts about Carmina Catulli HERE.

A resident of Paris and Berlin, Crossley‐Mercer's repertory ranges from the Baroque through contemporary music. He has performed opera, oratorio, and recitals in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Glyndebourne, Munich, Amsterdam, Nashville, Los Angeles, Strasbourg, New York, Moscow, Dubai and, most recently, in Dallas as Lescaut in Manon by Jules Massenet.

The prize-­‐winning composer Michael Linton has served on the music faculty of Middle Tennessee State University for over two decades where he teaches music theory and history.

The recital is part of Baldwin Wallace's internationally acclaimed bi‐annual "Art Song Festival," a week-­‐long program of recitals and master classes begun in 1985. The festival is also presenting recitals and master classes by mezzo-­‐soprano Susan Graham, tenor Eduardo Valdes and pianist Bradley Moore. Additional information is available online

In January, Crossley-Mercer returns to the Opéra national de Paris to rotate the role of Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte with fellow barihunk Philippe Sly. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Barihunk duo in Zürich Pelleas et Melisande

Kyle Ketelsen, Corinne Winters and Jacques Imbrailo
Barihunks Jacques Imbrailo and Kyle Ketelsen are starring in the Zürich Opera's production of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, which Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov has set in a contemporary living room and dining room. This marks Imbrailo's debut with the company.

Corinne Winters and Kyle Ketelsen
Tcherniakov opts to view Debussy's symbolic opera through the lens of Freudian analysis. Ketelsen's Golaud is portrayed as a psychoanalyst who has brought his patient, Mélisande, home for more intensive analysis after finding her weeping in the forest. This production makes Golaud very much the center of focus in the opera. Golaud never learns the reason for Mélisande’s melancholy, nor where she comes from, but she exerts a great fascination over him and he videotapes her therapy.

 

For those not familiar with the piece, the opera is tragic love triangle involving two noble half-brothers, Golaud and Pelléas, and the enigmatic Mélisande, who comes into their lives unexpectedly after a tremendous and undisclosed personal calamity. She marries Golaud, but he is soon convinced of her illicit union with his brother, and his jealous rage ends in Pélleas’ murder.  Mélisande dies after giving birth to a child.

Tickets and additional cast information is available online

Friday, May 20, 2016

Barihunk duo in world premiere of gay-themed Les Feluettes

Tenor Jean-Michel Richer & barihunk Étienne Dupuis (right in both photos)
In March, we briefly mentioned the world premiere of Australian composer Kevin March and Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard's opera Les Feluettes (Lilies) at Opéra de Montréal. The production opens tomorrow and runs through May 28. It features barihunk Étienne Dupuis as the main character Simon Doucet and hunkentenor Jean-Michel Richer as the Count Vallier de Tilly, who is in love with Simon. Barihunk Tomislav Lavoie plays the crucial role of Father Saint-Michel.

Tenor Jean-Michel Richer and barihunk Étienne Dupuis (right)
The opera is based on the play, which tells the story of the confession of an aging prisoner to a bishop. Through the confession we learn that the bishop and the prisoner were part of a gay love triangle and that the bishop was responsible for the death of a young man many years ago. The play was was made into a film called Lilies, which was directed by John Greyson. All of the roles in the opera, including the female roles of La Comtesse Marie-Laure de Tilly and Mademoiselle Lydie-Anne de Rozier, are sung by men as the story is told by actors in an all-male prison.

The term Feluette is Quebec expression with its root in the word fluet, (thin, frail in appearance) which, in common parlance of the time, referred to men who were weak, frail, or effeminate.

The opera will be performed at Pacific Opera Victoria from April 20-30 with Jean-Michel Richer reprising his role. Tickets for the Montréal performances are available online.

You can read more about the opera in Richard Burnett's article in DailyXtra.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Opera San José adds two barihunks to repertory roster

Colin Ramsey (Photo by Richard Corman)
Opera San José is adding four new singers to its roster for the 2016-17 season, including barihunks Brian James Meyer and Colin Ramsey. Ramsey is familiar to our readers, having appeared numerous times, but Meyer is making his debut. The company is a resident company that keeps singers on its roster for the season like many European houses.

However, Brian James Myer is not new to Opera San José, having performed Masetto in Don Giovanni during the 2013-14 season, Angelotti in Tosca in 2015-16 season, Alessandro/Enrico in the world premiere of Where Angels Fear to Tread and the Second Priest in The Magic Flute.

Meyer made his debut with the Florida Grand Opera this season. He has also performed Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Silvio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci with Sarasota Opera, Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni Opera Las Vegas, Yakuside in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Albert in Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe with Chautauqua Opera. This season at Florida Grand Opera, he will be seen as Figaro in performances of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

Brian James Myer
He holds a bachelors’ degrees in music education and romance languages from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is also a composer who has published a choral octavo that was performed by Santa Barbara Music.

Bass-barihunk Colin Ramsey will be performing Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Basilio in Rossini's Barber of Seville with Opera San José. On May 22, he'll be performing the National Anthem at the USA Water Polo Olympic Trials at the University of Southern California. 


Colin Ramsey sings the Catalog Aria from Don Giovanni:


He has performed Mr. Kofner in Menotti's The Consul at both the Seattle Opera and Opera Santa Barbara. He made his debut with the Austin Lyric Opera as Il Frate in Verdi's Don Carlo, as well as his debut with Green Mountain Opera Festival as Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola. He has also performed with Austin Lyric Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pacific Music Works, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. and Wolf Trap Opera.

Ramsey is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music where he sang Giorgio in the US Premiere of Paisiello’s Nina, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, and Sparafucile in RigolettoHe recently took 3rd Prize in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the Rocky Mountain Region.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Janis Apeinis to appear in world premiere in Latvia

Janis Apeinis
Janis Apeinis will appear in the world premiere of Ēriks Ēšenvalds’ new opera “The Immured”  at the Latvian National Opera on May 19th. There will be two additional performances and tickets are available online.

The Immured is an opera about the construction of a library, and the sacrifices without which nothing great can ever be created. It’s a modern-day legend, whose sources are found in the folklore of various European cultures, as well as in modern Latvian society. The heroes of this tale are artists and masons, librarians and politicians, their love and betrayal, faith and responsibilities.

The opera is based on an idea and original libretto written by Inese Zandere as a poem; Zandere wrote it in honor of and as an ode to poet Knuts Skujenieks, who has also rendered numerous European folktales into Latvian. This libretto won second place in the Latvian National Opera Libretto Contest.

Apeinis can next be seen as the Count di Luna in Verdi's Il trovatore, which opens on June 5th.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Barihunks take top honors at Loren Zachary Vocal Competition

Jarrett Ott (Photo: Dario Acosta)
John Viscardi
Two barihunks took 2nd and 3rd Prize at the Loren L. Zachary Vocal Competition for Young Opera Singers in Los Angeles today. Soprano Vanessa Vasquez took top honors, followed by John Viscardi and Jarrett Ott. Last year, barihunk Andre Courville took 1st Prize and was awarded $12,500.

Other past winners include tenor Brian Jagde, soprano Sydney Mancasola, bass Scott Conner, soprano Joyce El-Khoury, tenor Brian Hymel, soprano Nadine Sierra and countertenor Brian Asawa, who recently passed away.

Jarrett Ott will be singing Masetto at the Santa Fe Opera from July2-22. The cast includes fellow barihunks Daniel Okulitch as Don Giovanni and Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello.

John Viscardi can next be heard in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with Opera Philadelphia on June 11th.

Introducing Hungarian barihunk Attila Dobak


Attila Dobak in The Merry Widow (left) at Boston Lyric Opera
Jesse Blumberg and David McFerrin, two barihunks who we've frequently featured on this site, just performed in Lehar's The Merry Widow with the Boston Lyric Opera. Not featured in the credits was another barihunk, Attila Dobak, who was in a minor role, but has major barihunk chops.

Dobak was born in Budapest, Hungary and studied clarinet when he was seven and piano when he was twelve. He was inspired to study voice after watching the 3 Tenors Concert with Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo. He started studying voice at age sixteen and eventually was accepted into the Béla Bartok Conservatory of Music in Budapest, where he majored in Classic Voice and Opera. He also has a Masters Degree in Marketing & Communications from Corvinus University in Budapest.


He went on to study at the Longy School of Music at Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Longy and Opera North (where he was a young artist), he performed Bartolo and Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, and Gideon March in Mark Adamo's Little Women.

In 2014, Dobak was invited to perform at the Miami Summer Music Festival by Michael Rossi, the conductor of the Washington National Opera, where he sang Figaro in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. He also appeared on NBC giving a solo opera performance with the Miami Summer Music Festival Orchestra.


He is currently based in Boston, where he is a member of the Boston Lyric Opera. In addition to The Merry Widow, he appeared in their production of Puccini's La boheme.

His goal in life is to become an opera/crossover singer and you can find examples of him singing opera on his YouTube page, as well as covers of Bruno Mars, Josh Groban and Broadway musicals.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Barihunks dominate Moniuszko Vocal Competition

Andrzej Filonczyk and Leon Kosavic
Barihunks took two of the top prizes at the Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition and five total prizes, as Andrzej Filonczyk won First Prize for male singers and Leon Kosavic won Third Prize. Andrzej Filonczyk also won the prize for Most Promising Polish Singer and another prize affording him the opportunity to perform with the orchestra. Leon Kosavic also won the Best Polish Performance by non-Polish singer

Second Prize for men went to countertenor Jakub Orlinski and First Prize for women went to Salome Jicia. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Six baritones/basses in Moniuszko finals

Leon Kosavic in Round 2 of the Moniuszko Competition
Almost 40% of the finalists in the 2016 Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition will be basses and baritones. Advancing to Saturday's final round will be Polish bass Krzysztof Bączyk, Polish baritone Andrzej Filończyk, Ukrainian baritone Dmytro Kalmuchyn, Croatian baritone Leon Kosavic (who has been featured on this site), Ukrainian baritone Oleksandr Kyreiev and Moldavian baritone Adrian Timpau.

 In the final round Filończyk will perform the Death of Posa from Verdi's Don Carlo and Moniuszko's "Czemuż mnie w chwilach" from Halka, Bączyk will sing "Damit dich niemand war" from Weber's Der Freischütz and "Gdzie wielkość Polski?" from Szeligowski's Bunt żaków, Kalmuchyn will perform "Ah, per sempre" from Bellini's I puritani and "Czemuż mnie w chwilach" from Moniuszko's Halka, Kosavic will sing "Per me giunto" from Verdi's Don Carlo and "Nakaż niech ożywcze słonko" from Moniuszko's Verbum nobile, Kyreiev is also singing Moniuszko's "Czemuż mnie w chwilach" from Halka and Thomas' "O vin, dissipe la tristesse" from Hamlet, and Timpau is singing Racmaninov's "Ves tabor spit" from Aleko and Kúrpinski's "Śpiewka Nikity Dobrzem zrobił" from Zamek na Czorsztynie.

Krzysztof Bączyk and Andrzej Filończyk sing the I puritani duet:

Leon Kosavic sings Ah! Per sempre:


You can watch the finals HERE on Saturday, May 14 starting at 6 PM CEST (9 AM PST/NOON EST)

Other finalists include Polish mezzo Kinga Borowska, Georgian soprano Salome Jicia, Korean tenor Keon Woo Kim, Russian mezzo Iuliia Mennibaeva, Polish soprano Sylwia Olszyńska, Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orlińska, American soprano Jacqueline Piccolino, British tenor Adam Smith, Polish soprano Ewa Tracz and Polish soprano Joanna Zawartko.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Watch a Bevy of Barihunks in Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition

Marcin Hutek and Daniel Mirosław
Polish barihunks Marcin Hutek and Daniel Mirosław are just two of a bevy of barihunks performing in the 9th International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition, which will take place from May 9-14 in Warsaw. Phase I will be held with piano on May 9 and 10, Phase II with piano on May 11 and 12, and the Grand Finale with orchestra on May 14. Stage I will feature 87 singers chosen by the selection panel and they will sing two pieces (an operatic aria from the 18th–19th century and a Polish song from the 19th–20th century in the original or a translation).

The competition will be transmitted live online HERE. You can read about some of the competitors below. The Phase I broadcast begins at 10 AM CEST, Warsaw time (1 AM PST/4 AM EST).

You can listen to Marcin Hutek HERE and Daniel Miroslaw HERE. Below is a sampling of the baritones and basses competing this year. Previous prize winners include barihunk Mariusz Kwiecień, Aleksandra Kurzak, Wioletta Chodowicz, Urszula Kryger, Małgorzata Walewska and Marcin Bronikowski.

Hubert Zapiór
Hubert Zapiór is scheduled to sings Mozart, Chopin, Donizetti, Britten, Piotr Czajkowski and Moniuszko. He was born in 1993 and studied at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music and the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. A prize-winner of national and international singing competitions, including 3rd prize at the 8th Leyla Gencer Voice Competition in Istanbul. A participant in the Young Talents Development Programme at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw. He has performed the title role of Don Giovanni (Mozart) at the Świętokrzyska Philharmonic and the Warsaw Chamber Opera, and at the latter company has appeared in a number of shows in the Youth Stage project as well as being Count Almaviva in a student production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. You can listen to him HERE.

Iurii Samoilov
Iurii Samoilov, who has appeared on this site and in our charity calendar, is scheduled to sing Bellini, Mozart, Britten Glière, Mieczyslaw Karłowicz, Massenet and Szymanowski.  He was born in 1988 and graduated from the National Academy of Music of Ukraine in Kiev (2011). He has taken part in projects for young artists at the Salzburg Festival and the Rossini Festival in Pesaro. A member of the opera studio at the Frankfurt Opera since 2012, where his roles include Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and the title part of Julius Caesar in the opera by Handel as well as parts in operas for children (the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni). In 2015 he debuted in Basel as Guglielmo in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. His concert repertoire has taken him to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and London’s Royal Albert Hall, among other venues.

Petro Ostapenko
Petro Ostapenko is scheduled to sing Verdi, Moniuszko, Bellini, Orff, Dezsö Zador, Władysław Źeleński and Piotr Czajkowski. He was born in 1988 and studied at the National Music Academy of Ukraine from 2008-2013. In 2010 he became a soloist at the National Operetta Theatre in Kiev, where he debuted in the role of Freddy in Loewe’s My Fair Lady and Maurice in Kálmán’s Das Veilchen vom Montmartre. A participant in the Ion Dacian Operetta Festival in Bucharest. In 2013 he was a participant in the opera studio of Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and in the 2014/15 season performed there in La Cenerentola (Dandini) and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Officer) by Rossini.

Krzysztof Baczyk
Krzysztof Baczyk is scheduled to sing music from Henryk Czyż, Rachmaninov, Bellini, Stravinsky, Borodin, Weber and Tadeusz Szeligowski. He was born in 1990 and graduated from the Academy of Music in Poznań. He has been working regularly with Poznań’s Teatr Wielki since 2011, where his roles include Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro. He also performs at the Polish National Opera in Warsaw and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. A prize-winner and finalist of vocal competitions, including the Andrzej Hiolski Competition in Kudowa-Zdrój (2014). A participant in the Young Talents Development Programme at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera and the Opera Creation Workshops at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, part of the European Network of Opera Academies.
Thomas Faulkner
Thomas Faulkner is scheduled to sing music by Mozart, Weinberg, Richard Strauss, Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov, Moniuszko and Handel. He was born in 1983 and graduated from Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music. He is a member of the Opera Studio at Oper Frankfurt, where he has performed among others the roles of the Police Inspector in Der Rosenkavalier and the Wigmaker in Ariadne auf Naxos by R. Strauss and the Old Passenger in Weinberg’s The Passenger. He has also performed at the Scottish Opera (Banquo in Verdi’s Macbeth), the Wexford Festival Opera (Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore and Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute) and in productions of the British Youth Opera (Bartolo in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and the title role in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale). He is also in demand as a concert soloist.

Andrezej Filończyk
Andrezej Filończyk is scheduled to sing Bellini, Mieczyslaw Karłowicz, Piotr Czajkowski, Weinberger, Verdi and Moniuszko. He was born in 1994 and studies at the Academy of Music in Wrocław. Since 2014 he has been a participant in the Young Talents Development Programme at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera. A prize-winner of many vocal competitions, including the International Vocal Competition in Petrovice (1st prize) and the Music Without Borders International Vocal Competition in Druskininkai (2nd prize). In 2015 he debuted at Poznań’s Teatr Wielki in the role of Tonio in I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo, and also performed the title role of Eugene Onegin in the opera by Tchaikovsky. He also works with the Polish National Opera in Warsaw, where he has sung the role of the Commissioner in Madama Butterfly by Puccini.

Łukasz Hajduczenia
Łukasz Hajduczenia is scheduled to sing Handel, Moniuszko, Rossini, Korngold and Piotr Czajkowski was born in 1985 and in 2010  graduated from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. He continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (with Laura Sarti) and at the opera faculty of London Associated Studios. A prize-winner of many vocal competitions, including the Ada Sari International Vocal Art Competition in Nowy Sącz. His repertoire includes a number of leading opera parts; he also performs a wide range of oratorio, chamber and contemporary music. He recently recorded a CD with a cycle of songs by Dariusz Przybylski (DUX).

Piotr Halicki
Piotr Halicki is scheduled to sing Bellini, Chopin, Mozart, Britten, Rachmaninov, Piotr Czajkowski, and Moniuszko. He worn in 1985 and studied at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in 2007-2012. In 2012 he started working with the Teatr Wielki in Łódź, making his debut in the role of Scarpia in Tosca by Puccini, and the next year – with the Warsaw Chamber Opera (debuting as Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart). A prize-winner of Polish and international vocal competitions. His opera repertoire includes the part of Jontek (Moniuszko’s Halka), Marcello (Puccini’s La Bohème) and Demetrius (Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Barihunk duos alternating roles in Brno double bill of Martinů and Purcell

David Nykl, Ondrej Mraz and Jiří Brückler (L-R)
The National Theatre in Brno is presenting a double-bill of Bohuslav Martinů's rarely performed Epic of Gilgamesh along with Henry Purcell frequently performed Dido and Aeneas from May 13 to June 10.

The cast is loaded with barihunks, including David Nykl, who we introduced to readers back in 2014, and Ondrej Mraz, who are alternating the bass role in the Martinů and the Sorceress in the Purcell.
Jiří Brückler and Jiří Hájek are alternating the baritone part in the Martinů and Aeneas in the Purcell.

Martinů created the Epic of Gilgamesh at the height of his exile period while staying in the South of France, only four years before his death. He reached for the oldest surviving literary text, and in composing his work employed the universally recognized translation into Elizabethan English made in 1928 by the archaeologist and Oxford professor Reginald Campbell Thompson. Deeply captivated by the epic from the dawn of Babylonian history, Martinů only began the compositional work after meditating on the philosophical essence of the text for several years.

Listen to a complete recording of the Epic of Gilgamesh here:


The Epic of Gilgamesh consists of three parts of almost equal length: Gilgamesh, The Death of Enkidu, and Invocation. It is scored for soloists (soprano, tenor, baritone and bass), narrator, mixed choir and orchestra. Martinů wrote it for Paul Sacher’s chamber orchestra, a fact reflected in the score. Although Martinů said that he “would need to express himself with greater orchestral might”, the sound of Gilgamesh is monumental.

The work was premiered in January 1958 in Basil, Switzerland. Martinů presented his idea of semi-staging the work to the conductor, desiring to “animate” Gilgamesh, to create “an illusion of action.” However, Sacher rejected the idea and performed the work as a concert oratorio.

Ondrej Mráz, who is new to this site studied voice at the University of Performing Arts in Bratislava and graduated in 2006. He became a soloist of the State Theatre in Košice and won the Literary Fund Prize for his portrayal of Mephistopheles in Gounod's Faust. At the National Theatre, he has appeared as Luther and Crespel in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann, Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Titurel in Wagner's Parsifal and Count Vilém in Dvořák's The Jacobin.

32-year-old Jiří Brückler was born in Liberec in northern Bohemia, where he started his career in music as a member of various children’s choirs. He then studied voice at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Music in Prague. He performs regularly at the National Theatre in Prague and the State Opera in Prague.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

NEWS FLASH: Marco Vassalli steps in as Pelléas in Linz

Marco Vassalli in the Loire Valley (left) and as Pelléas in Osnabrück (right)
It's not just Wagnerian Christine Goerke making last minute splashes in big roles, as barihunk Marco Vassalli stepped in at the last minute last night as Pelléas at the Landestheater Linz for the ailing Iurie Ciobanu. The production of Debussy's Pelléas and Mellisande also features fellow barihunk Ville Lignell.

Vassalli, whose voice is perfectly suited to the role of Pelléas, last performed the role at the Stadttheater Osnabrück in the winter of 2010. He's currently in the midst of a run of Roman Cycowski's Die Comedien Harmonists. You can also read about upcoming debut in Sweat of the Sun in a previous post. The opera runs from May 28-31.

On June 12, he can be heard in a lieder recital at the Museumssaal Überlingen featuring the music of Schumann and Wolf. Next season he returns to the Staatsoper Hannover for a reprisal of Leonard Bernstein's Candide.

Ville Lignell and Myung Joo Lee in
Pelléas et Mélisande at the Landestheater Linz (© Karl und Monika Forster)
There are three remaining performances left of Pelléas and Mellisande on May 20 and 24, and June 27.  Tickets and additional information is available online.

Ville Lignell, who is part of the ensemble at the Landestheater Linz, can be seen there in The Merry Widow, McTeague and La traviata.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Are the Hunkentenors a threat to Barihunks?

Hunkentenors Ed Lyon, Glenn Seven Allen & Derek Chester
We've noticed that they're a bunch of tenors online who are getting their bodies in great shape, matching their beautiful voices. We asked three of the most stunning of them to answer questions about their fitness routines and whether barihunks better watch their backs. We chose three of the most gifted singers, including Americans Glenn Seven Allen and Derek Chester, and Brit Ed Lyon. 

1) What got you started in fitness? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I've always been active and played 6 sports at various time in high school.  The issue for me has been consistency.  Starting on Dec. 1st, I made a conscious decision to rededicate myself to a complete makeover, as far as my health is concerned.  I committed to a 30 day diet called the Whole30, which really jump-started all of my health goals.  I lost 25 lbs in 30 days and put myself in a place to really be selective about what foods I would be willing to put in my body.  From there, I started to educate myself about smart, sustainable ways to train my body to add pure lean muscle mass.  I've added almost 20lbs of lean muscle since March 1st, and really feel that I'm only getting started.  I also practice the Alexander Technique and make sure to never contract/restrict my spine, even when doing the heaviest squats, deadlifts, etc.

Ed Lyon: I was the most inactive child and young man you can possibly imagine - an exercise dodger of the first order. I only really started working out when I was 29.  It occurred to me that if I didn’t carpe that particular diem, it would only get harder to be in good shape as I got older.  I suppose it was a combination of things which pushed me to get a PT and really commit to working out.  The main one was the increasingly competitive world of singing - I struck me then that there were so many good singers out there, and frankly less and less work.  Given that we live in an increasingly visual society, and that opera, in order to remain relevant to other contemporary performing arts (be it theatre, film, pop music, jazz or dance) has to reflect that, so it’s artists must remain relevant and recognisable to their audience.  There is an expectation for both men and women to have a physique to do the role, while of course acknowledging the primacy of vocal ability.  So it seems only logical that we, as performers, should aim to fulfill as many of those expectations as possible - both on stage and for marketing purposes.

Derek Chester: I wasn't very physically active growing up.  I was (and still am) a huge video game and music nerd, and I focused all my energies there.  I was never particularly gifted at sports so I left that to others.  I was drum major in the marching band. I did however run the 1600 and 3200 in track and field during high school but I really wasn't very good at it.  At the University of Georgia, as an undergrad, I found I needed a place to escape from all things music and from other musicians.  I found the gym.  I took a running class, met some of the exercise science and kinesiology majors who eventually became my gym bros who knew everything and taught me everything they were learning. I began lifting pretty seriously.  At Yale School of Music, the pressures of the training, classwork, and performance, and my newlywed status caused me to fall of the bandwagon.  I spend a year working and studying in Germany on a Fulbright scholarship and I really let myself go.  Couldn't resist eating Berliners and döner kabobs and drinking limitless beer.  When I came back to the states, I was a full 225 lbs.  I really turned my life after that, and fitness became a more important part of my life, though not as important as it is now.  I fluctuated between 190 and 200, would go through phases of serious dieting and training, but ultimately, never really committed fully.  I was on the road gigging some 180 days a year, and found it was easier to just kind of dabble and maintain.  I was always making slow gains, but I was still ultimately doughy.  When I moved to Colorado and took my university job at UNC, I was able to be more selecting with my performing and establish a more stable routine. I really starting training hard core last year, running two half marathons, and undergoing some serious body building bulking and cutting programs.   After my most recent and most successful cut phase yet, I have lost almost 30 pounds in 4 months, and have truly transformed my body type and composition, finally achieving true, serious results.  I plan on sticking with this serious training for a while.  It's a great hobby for me to obsess over, I feel better than ever, plus I've the benefit of being married to the owner and instructor of a fitness franchise, so I have a constant support system and someone to share my fitness journey with.

Hunkentenors Glenn Seven Allen, Ed Lyon and Derek Chester
2) Do you feel that being in shape helps you on stage? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I can honestly say that my singing has never been stronger.  I sing by engaging muscles that expand and support my throat and diaphragm. i.e. my lats, my glutes, obliques, etc.  I never contract my abs or my ribs when singing.

Ed Lyon: I suppose Question 1 sort of answers Question 2.  The stage has the opposite effect to television, in that people who are giants in real life, or have very distinctive features, are often normalised by the stage - a kind of natural makeup (as on screen, small features, even a small physique, are advantageous).  Particularly now I have started singing German repertory, I have found being in better shape, and carrying a bit more healthy weight, has helped me to appear more substantial and physically strong and present than I might otherwise have done.  Looking at the curtain calls from Tristan/Dutchman/Tannhäuser at Covent Garden, even at 184cm and 85kg I look boyish next to these massive guys.  If someone is going to believe in you as a soldier, or a knight, or even a heroic lover, it helps to have a physique to do the role.  That said, I have also lost out on roles because people have felt I wasn’t ‘vulnerable’ looking or ‘boyish’, or indeed that I looked too athletic.  Particularly in stuff set in period, an obviously ‘gym built’ physique in the 1800s can look incongruous, so it is important to resist the urge to get bigger for its own sake.

Derek Chester: It's an increasingly visual art form, and the expectations singers have really shifted as of late.  It's not necessarily a good thing, though I would be lying if I said I didn't hope to benefit from it professionally if possible. Ultimately, I think the art needs to focus primarily on the voice, so we don't lose the quality and lower our standards in singing to display a hot body and a pretty face on stage.  However,  it does make me hyper aware of the reality of our business.  I think training singers need to keep this in mind, and be sure to not only train the voice, but the entire package.  I do mostly concert work and oratorio with early music and symphony orchestras, but I get a chance to do an opera production or two a year. I think being fit and health conscious definitely helps me when on the road and when on the stage.  Sometimes I get asked to do things that I might not get asked to do otherwise, and I feel that makes me a more versatile performer and balanced actor.  I think there is also an advantage in auditions, to strive to present more than just solid technique.  I had to bench press and squat a soprano last year in a production of Cosi with Opera Ft. Collins I did with your amazing barihunk Gregory Gerbrandt.  I'm sure there will be more opportunities lined up for me to use my fitness to my advantage on stage in the future.  It's also nice to feel good about having to take off your shirt or bare your guns for a production.  As long as you can deliver vocally, it's all beneficial.

Hunkentenors Glenn Seven Allen, Ed Lyon and Derek Chester
3) How do you respond to people who say that working out can restrict proper breathing for singers? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I have never felt more confident, capable and ambitious in all facets of my life and am recognizing that physical/mental health and daily commitment to personal growth is the foundation for everything I do.  I have very clear goals on multiple levels in my career and put them first on a daily basis.  And I am seeing the results in a big way!  This is radically different for me, as I now see how 'asleep' I really was in my life and career.  Setting goals and holding only yourself accountable is the key.  Thoughts/dreams become actual things when one takes daily action....

Ed Lyon: With regards to the effects of training on the voice, I can honestly say that my singing has only improved the stronger I have got.  Of course, straining the voice when lifting, not stretching properly, or simple physical fatigue from exercise can affect singing.  For someone unused to working out, yes, their singing will be temporarily affected by sore tired muscles, or strain where there previously was none.  But fallacies like ‘you can’t have a six pack and sing’ are a total fiction.  Everyone has a six pack just as everyone has quads and hamstrings.  It’s just a choice how much fat covers them, or what kind of condition they’re in.  Interestingly, very few trainers will recommend much ‘ab’ work these days, as big core exercises like dead lifts, squats, cleans, kettle bell swings and pull ups all work the abdominals as part of the core.  Crunches are so 1990. As for breathing, any restrictions are probably to do with stiffness, soreness, or strain which comes from not looking after the body properly when working out or when recovering.

Derek Chester: I was just having this conversation with singer another one of your barihunks, Ryan Kuster, who is a pretty fit guy with a stellar instrument and stage presence.  I personally don't feel having a six pack makes by breath tight at all, but I do know that every body and technique reacts differently.  Also, I sing generally light lyric repertoire, and maybe this would be a bigger issue for me if I ever feel the voice wanted to fach up.  I'm really interested in exploring this because I feel some fitness myths for singers need to be debunked.  Much of what we are told is passed down from a previous generation in which Hollywood image and opera intersected much less.  Since then the business has changed and there have been so many advances in exercise science.  I am convinced there an optimal way for singers to still craft their physique without hindering technique.  There are a few exercises I avoid in the weight room, and I never vigorously near performances. I especially think there are ways to reduce throat tensions with heavier weight. I keep a very pressurized air flow through pursed lips and certainly don't do much directly around neck in terms of lifting.  Singers mustn't use passed down fitness myths as an excuse to not take care of there bodies.  After all, our bodies are our instruments.  I think at some point in every singers fitness journey they should work with a pro to find a regimen that fits them personally without restricting technique.  It can be done.  I'm likely going to get certified to be a personal trainer and take some online physiology and exercise science classes.  I would like this to be an outlet for future research and publication for me in the academic world.  I figure I'm already passionate about fitness, and I take great joy in helping other singers with tips and tricks that have worked for me. 

Derek Chester, Ed Lyon and Glenn Seven Allen (Clockwise from upper left)
4) Do we need to start thinking about a Hunkentenors site and should the barihunks feel a challenges coming from their higher voiced colleagues? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I would LOVE it if you would start a Hunkentenor site, btw!!!!

[You can follow Glenn on Instagram at g7fittenor and on Twitter @g7tenor].

Ed Lyon: I thought there was a hunkentenor site once upon a time!  I think there will always be a competition between the voice types - the truth is that there are very few lothario tenor roles (I know, Duke of Mantua etc) compared with baritone ones; we tend to be more princely in our affections.  But I do see a lot of guys in amazing shape coming through now - particularly (and unsurprisingly) from America in both voice types.  There may even come a point where it becomes helpful not to be the buff guy, when the buff guy becomes the norm.  My real feeling about it all is that opera audiences deserve help with their suspension of disbelief - after all, singing a drama is already quite a stretch.  If the voice is all that matters, then let’s do concert versions. But I don't think there’s anything wrong with expecting your Don Giovanni to be attractive, your Semele to be irresistible, your Tom Rakewell to be charming or your Hercules to be buff, as there isn't for your Falstaff to be fat, or your Eschenbach to be older.  It is, and should remain, secondary to vocal considerations, but an audience used to television and cinema are going to find it much more appealing an art form if there’s some hint of verisimilitude and contemporary correlation between what they experience in mainstream culture and what they see on the opera stage.

[You can follow Ed Lyon on Instagram at lionotenor and on Twitter @Ed_Lyon]

Derek Chester: I love what you guys do here. You certainly draw a crowd with your material.  I think there are enough fit tenors out there to warrant our own site, but there is something endearing about letting the baritones have something of their own to be proud of.  They have a hell of a time.  If the hunkentenor thing never happens, you can still keep up with my journey with fitness and singing including my current training programs, tips, and info on staying fit and active on the road by following my Instagram @fittenor.  You can keep up with my calendar, videos, production shots etc. on my Facebook group www.facebook.com/dchestertenor.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Zachary Gordin's sexy photos are blowing up the internet


Our feature on barihunk Zachary Gordin has not only proven to be one of our most popular posts in our seven year history, but it was just featured in INSTINCT Magazine's online site. Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Zachary Gordin's hot pix from Dead Man Walking

Zachary Gordin preparing for Dead Man Walking

On April 23, Zachary Gordin reprised his successful performance of convicted killer Joseph De Rocher at the Shreveport Opera, which he performed the previous year at the Dayton Opera. We caught him to ask him about performing the role and got him to agree to share some amazingly hot pictures of him getting tattoed for the performance. He's not only got a killer body and amazing voice, but he proves himself to be smart, insightful and thoughful, as well.


Upcoming performances for Zachary Gordin include Orff's Carmina Burana on May 28th with Chora Nova in Berkeley and a recital of Schumann's Dichterliebe at St. Joseph's Basillica in Alameda, California.

Other upcoming performances of Dead Man Walking include Michael Mayes at the Washington Opera, David Adam Moore at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Daniel Okulitch at the Vancouver Opera.

1. What does it mean for this to be performed in the state where the alleged crime actually happened? 
ZG: Louisiana, and specifically Caddo Parish (where Shreveport is) has been notorious for the death penalty, and executions. While there hasn’t been an execution carried out in Louisiana since 2010 (and before that, 2002), there is definitely a strong history for capital punishment there. What’s exciting as an opera singer, is that it’s almost impossible for us to be part of telling a story with local, living roots. There were people on both sides of this production being mounted in Shreveport: lots of excitement to support it, as well as the flip side… I heard a few remarks from local residents that there were people boycotting the production because they took personal issue with Sister Helen, and her political stance. It hadn’t crossed my mind, being from the San Francisco Bay Area, that there would be some strong opposition. You never encounter these personal, sometimes heated, stories when you’re doing operas composed by Verdi, or Mozart, wether or not the story/characters have a historical basis. That really increases the weight and stakes of the production, and ultimately adds to the work’s depth and power. 
Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking (Photos by Clint McCommon)

2. What does this role mean to you and how has it changed for you with subsequent performances? 
ZG: It started out as a daunting journey, January of 2015, when I got the eleventh-hour call from Dayton Opera to learn and perform it. Before that I never considered it, partly because of the darkness of the character, and partly because it’s incredibly intense for the voice. There’s a lot of shouting/screaming, having to do push-ups and go right into an aria, and so on… I read the story, looked over the score, and I was hooked! I knew it would be a good fit, and wanted the challenge of a character who had done some truly monstrous things. I had a month before staging rehearsals began in Dayton to learn the opera, and had the great opportunity to work with Jake Heggie to prepare it. A lot of energy in the first production I did was spent on getting it “right” - making sure I was faithful to the score (the music isn’t easy! Huge thanks to Maestro Jerome Shannon for getting me through it), and being as honest as I could about telling Joe’s story (with the help of Gary Briggle, our stage Director). Even that whirlwind first time left me with the sense that I was participating in something that was so much bigger than me. That was deeply meaningful, and made the weight of taking on that character a little lighter. 

The second time around, with the Shreveport Opera production, I knew the music inside-out and didn’t have to think pitches/counting as much. The amount of freedom THAT gives a singer is incredible. I knew “my Joe” already, and was prepared for what that head space would feel like. Everyone else in that cast was in the opera for the first time, so it felt great to be able to encourage and support my cast mates having been through it all and come out the other side changed for the better. It’s always a deeply emotional, and spiritually penetrating experience to work on this opera - no matter what role you’re in. Showing up for each other, and being present in the stories of these characters really bonds a cast. I’ve made some very dear friends through this process. 
Gillian Lynn Cotter and Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking
(Photos by Clint McCommon)

3. What is the core message of this opera for you. 
ZG: Love! There are so many aspects of love, and what love can make manifest in people: the young love of the two victims, the love of their parents who are experiencing such a tragic loss, the love of Joe’s mother for a son who did some horrific things and will die, the love Joe was seeking and not getting which drove him to the drugs/alcohol that influenced him in his heinous act, the love of Sister Helen for Joe and his soul, and God’s love for us all… There are big themes of forgiveness, redemption, and the value of human life.  
Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking
(Photos by Clint McCommon)

4. Did you have a chance to meet the real Sister Prejean? How do you play off of that character when performing?
ZG: Yes, several times. She’s one of those special people who raises the temperature of whatever room she walks into. To talk with her, and hear her stories first-hand is such a gift. A real, living, and down-to-earth example of someone who is living their purpose. Knowing how her first few meetings went with Patrick Sonnier gives a lot of info to use in the body language, inflection, and feel of the scenes we do in the opera. Again, in opera we almost NEVER get to talk to the source material. It takes the mystery away, but it also raises the stakes of your responsibility as an artist. I always want to be faithful to the story.
Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking
(Photos by Clint McCommon)

5. What aspects of your own personality come out in your portrayal of Joseph de Rocher?
ZG: The similarities in the story of Joe’s childhood and my own are a good starting point. It was a rough start for both of us, and I can see how with a series of different choices my path could look very similar to his. There’s a lot of sympathy for him in that realization. Joe had to cultivate a tough exterior in life, and in prison. For me, it was growing up in the ghetto of Oakland that toughened me up. Joe loved music, tried to stay groomed and presentable, what people thought of him must have mattered… I can relate. The white supremacist element of this character is probably the one thing I struggled with and gave up on. I couldn’t really let that in - so I left it in the hands of my makeup team to add that element. Keep in mind, Joseph De Rocher is based on a combination of people, so there’s wiggle room for interpretation. Every Joe I play will be slightly different based on the production. While I’ve never raped or murdered anyone offstage, we’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t… As an actor, or storyteller, we have to dig into the pain and discomfort of the situations we’re presented with, and be totally transparent about it. It’s a difficult edge to ride the wave of emotion while having to function vocally/physically. Taking it over the edge in rehearsals helps identify how far I can go as an actor without making the singing suffer.    
Zachary Gordin getting tattoed for Dead Man Walking

6. Do you like sporting tattoos? Do you find them sexy on others?
ZG: I don’t have any of my own, but these experiences with Joe have made me curious… It was fun being covered in “ink” (apart from their meaning) and getting reactions to it, but then being able to remove it with a team of two people and a pile of alcohol swabs (that was cold!). I think tattoos are hot on the right people… I wouldn’t say it’s a fetish, but they definitely catch my eye and draw me in. If I do go ahead and get some, I’ll be sure to have BARIHUNKS post the pics! ;-)