HOTTEST BARIHUNK PHOTO OF 2011 - CHRISTOPHER JOHNSTONE
|Christopher Johnstone: Model singer|
We couldn't believe it when we saw Christopher Johnstone's new website this year. The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music graduate defines himself as a "Singer, Actor, Model" and it's tough to argue with it. The lyric baritone has sung with the Glimmerglass Opera, Lyric Opera San Diego, Opera Pacific, Cincinnati Pops, Boston Pops and performing Poulenc’s Le bal masqué for Baritone and Chamber Orchestra with Maestro James Levine of the Metropolitan Opera.
HOTTEST BARIHUNK PHOTO OF 2011 (RUNNER UP) - NICHOLAS NELSON
|Nicholas Nelson: Singer or Abercombie & Fitch model?|
When we first saw these pictures, we thought they were from an Abercombie & Fitch
catalogue. If there is any question left in anyone's mind that singers are taking better care of their bodies these days, these pictures should dispel those thoughts. Nelson is currently with the Portland Opera Studio, one of the beneficiaries of funds from our 2012 Barihunks charity calendar.
BEST STUDIO RECORDING - HENK NEVEN
|Henk Neven: Best baritone studio CD of the year|
Henk Neven was nominated for a presitigious Gramophone Award in the category of "Solo Vocal." Neven was nomintated for his recording of Carl Loewe's "Ballades" and Robert Schumann's Liederkreis with Hans Eijsackers on piano. It's an amazing recording that should belong in everyone's playlist.
BEST TREND - LIVING AMERICAN COMPOSERS
|Daniel Okulitch, Randal Turner & David Adam Moore|
The music of living American Composers was all the rage this year. Barihunks Randal Turner and Daniel Okulitch both released brilliant CDs based on the theme. The Five Burroughs Music Festival run by barihunk Jesse Blumberg featured music by living American composers, including performances from fellow barihunk David Adam Moore. The New York Festival of Song, under one of our favorites, Steven Blier, also continued to deliver some of the best new American music on the scene.
BEST NEWCOMERS - PHILIPPE SLY and DOMINIK KöNINGER
|PHILIPPE SLY and DOMINIK KöNINGER|
We had a great post this year which asked the question: Can barihunks sing? If there was any question about it, two newcomers to the site Philippe Sly and Dominik Köninger quickly dispelled the myth. Sly blew away audiences during his brief tenure at the Merola Opera Program and went on to win the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. He was identified early on as a favorite to win the competition and his version of Schubert's haunting Der Erlkönig
drew comparisons to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and other great baritones.
In a year where baritones won almost every vocal competition, German barihunk Dominik Köninger took the top prize at the 2011 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. His seamless phrasing and beauty of tone instantly became the talk of European impresarios and critics.
BEST NUDE SCENE - CHRISTOPHER MALTMAN IN "JUAN"
|Christopher Maltman in Juan|
Ever since we posted that Christopher Maltman appeared nude in Kasper Holten's abbreviated and updated film version of Mozart's "Don Giovanni," our inbox was filled with queries asking us where they could see the film. Unfortunately, the film had VERY limited release in the U.S. and wasn't made available on DVD to North Americans. Fortunately, a fan of our site directed us to this LINK
where the film can be viewed online for free. We suspect that they're getting a sudden uptick in traffic.
BEST AND WORST OPERAS OF THE YEAR
BEST - HYDROGEN JUKEBOX IN FT. WORTH
WORST - GRISELDA IN SANTA FE
|Dan Kempson & Justin Hopkins|
The Ft. Worth Opera Festival continues to establish itself as a mandatory summer stop for any serious opera fan. This year's production of Phillip Glass' "Hydrogen Jukebox" was the surprise hit of the year. Directed by the Lawrence Edelson and featuring barihunks Dan Kempson and Justin Hopkins (who often appeared only in boxers), the production made an excellent case for this opera entering the standard repertory.
|Gronk working on the Griselda sets|
If you were looking for a short night at the opera, then you should have been at the Santa Fe Opera's production of Vivaldi's "Griselda." Director Peter Sellars and artist Gronk created an incoherent updating of a baroque masterpiece that had people scrambling for the exits. After Act 1
Santa Fe was filled with opera goers at local bars asking, "What the hell was that?"
BEST AND WORST DIRECTORS
BEST: JOHN DE LOS SANTOS
WORST: MICHAEL GRANDAGE
|John de los Santos and Michael Grandage|
We return to Ft. Worth for our best young director, John de los Santos, who brought such vibrancy to Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado" that it seemed like a brand new hit show. We've been featuring a video of his work in our sidebar, as we think that his work should be more widely known to opera fans. He will be working on his first Wagner opera this year, when he joins the creative team at the Dallas Opera for their "Tristan und Isolde."
We've always had great respect for Michael Grandage as an actor and for much of his theatrical work. However, he needs to stay away from the opera house. He is the antithesis of everything that this site stands for, which is making opera accessible and interesting to modern audiences, as well as making it sexy when appropriate. He took all of the sexual tension out of Britten's "Billy Budd" at Glyndebourne and then mounted what the Guardian called a "disastrously dull" Don Giovanni at the Met. Two operas that thrive on sexual tension were basically emasculated by Grandage.
BEST BARIHUNK FEAST - MINNESOTA OPERA'S "SILENT NIGHT"
Kevin Puts' opera "Silent Night" contains more sexy men than a World Cup soccer championship. There were four barihunks in the premiere at the Minnesota Opera who had appeared on this site before, including Mike Nyby, Gabriel Preisser, Ben Wager and Liam Bonner, as well as Andrew Wilkowske. The opera is based on the screenplay for Joyeux Noël
by Christian Carion and recounts a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history.
BEST BARIHUNK WEDDING - ZACH ALTMAN & DAN KEMPSON
|Zach Altman & Dan Kempson|
This isn't you're grandmother's world of opera anymore. Baritones aren't the villains anymore, they're getting married to each other. Two of the most popular barihunks on this site tied the knot this year, Zach Altman and Dan Kempson. We wish them well!
YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD AWARD - NATHAN GUNN
|Nathan Gunn as Tarquinius in Vienna|
We're going to leave you with Nathan Gunn, whose popularity with Barihunks fans is off the charts. The 41-year-old singer still looks hotter than guys twenty years his junior. He returned to the role of Tarquinius in Vienna this year and still looked as sexy as when he sung the role in Philadelphia years ago. He's also about to return to the role of Billy Budd, which is often performed by guys 10-20 years younger. Gunn also promotes his fitness routine, which we think is good for opera and good for the singers.
HAVE A GREAT 2012!!!