Friday, December 20, 2013


It's time for for annual feature highlighting the best of the year on Barihunks. This is our most popular post every year and we spent weeks combing through the archives to present you the "BEST OF 2013"!!!

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek and Zachary Gordin
1.     Hottest photos - Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek & Zachary Gordin: We can't even begin to tell you the chatter that these two photographs created. They are both featured in our 2014 Barihunks Charity Calendar and have instantly become fan favorites. For any of you doubters out there, these guys not only look hot, but they can sing! Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek recently wrapped up a run as Schaunard in La Bohème with Kentucky Opera and will be part of the Virginia Opera young artist program in 2014. Gordin is a popular singer and coach with San Francisco Bay Area audiences. He was a huge hit at the Olympic Music Festival in Washington last year singing Hahn and Schumann. He's been asked back this year to perform "Arias and Arguments: From Love to Loss in Four Acts."

Xavier Edgardo & Doug Carpenter
2.     Most Popular Barihunks: Doug Carpenter and Xavier Edgardo: It's almost impossible to gauge who the most popular barihunks are on the site. If you go purely by hits, any singer who showed a lot of skin onstage (especially if they went the full monty!), will generate a disproportionate amount of traffic. If we look at comments, emails and who we get asked about the most, then Puerto Rico's Xavier Edgardo and America's Doug Carpenter lead the pack. Edgardo, who was a standout as a young artist and choral performer in Puerto Rico is headed to San Francisco next year to further hone his talents. Carpenter won the prestigious Lotte Lenya Competition this year, which you can enjoy in its entirety HERE.

Romain Dayez
3.     Hottest Newcomer –  Romain Dayez: We introduced readers to this 24-year-old Belgian singer back in February and he's proved as fascinating as he is sexy. Although much of his early career was focused on oratorios and baroque repertoire, he is constantly involved in innovative new programming, including performances with the Parisian rappers Milk Coffee & Sugar. He is currently the director of the ALLIAGE Art Project. His most recent show with Alliage was "De Profundis" featuring the music of Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and Solange Labbe. We tried to get him in the calendar this year, but couldn't get a Hi-Res photo. Keep your fingers crossed for 2015!

Evan Hughes
4.     Best Reader Submission – Evan Hughes: California native Evan Hughes came to our attention as a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist  program. He

Morgan Smith

5.      Best opera on DVD – Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick, San Francisco Opera & Morgan Smith: Composer Jake Heggie keeps turning out great operas and the San Francisco Opera captured an incredible performance of his latest piece, Moby-Dick. The all-star cast includes barihunk Morgan Smith, Jay Hunter Morris, Stephen Costello, Jonathan Lemalu, Talise Trevigne and is conducted by Patrick Summers. Smith plays the critical role of Captain Ahab's first mate Starbuck, the first mate and family man who tries desperately to dissuade Ahab from his single-minded, suicidal pursuit of Moby-Dick. The role includes more beautiful baritone music from Jake Heggie in the aria "Captain Ahab? I must Speak with you." Few, if any, composers have written for more baritone leads than Jake Heggie. For that, we are eternally grateful.

Duncan Rock, Curtis Sullivan and Kyle Ketelsen
6.     Best Live Performances - Duncan Rock (Rape of Lucretia – Glyndebourne); Curtis Sullivan (Abduction - Opera Atelier); Kyle Ketelsen (Faust -Méphistophélès): There were some amazingly hot performances from barihunks this year, but these three stood out for vocalism, characterization and critical acclaim. Financial Times music critic Andrew Clark, commented, "Musically and physically Duncan Rock’s Tarquinius has an imposing muscularity." Curtis Sullivan brought a sexiness to the role of Pasha Selim in the Opera Atelier's Abduction from the Seraglio which made us wonder why Konstanze wanted to be rescued. Kyle Ketelsen was the ultimate sexy, bad boy with his shirtless portrayal of Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust in Zurich.

Left photo: Wes Mason, Michael Mayes, John Boehr & Anthony Reed. Right Photo: Jonathan Estabrooks, Philip Kalmanovitch, Cairan Ryan, Andrey Andreychik, & Pierre Rancourt
7.     Best group photos - Barihunks lunch in Ft. Worth; The "5 Barihunks" at "Jeunes ambassadeurs lyriques": Some group photos are serious, some not so serious. As our regular readers know, we occasionally host a Barihunks Lunch when a number of singers are in one location at any given time. The gatherings in Ft. Worth are always raucous and entertaining, especially when Michael Mayes and Wes Mason are at the table. Mason kept the group entertained with some amazing impesonations, while Michael Mayes was...well, he was Michael Mayes, as intense and entertaining off-stage and on-stage. (And you gotta love those Barihunk tee shirts!). Jonathan Estabrooks gathered five barihunks at the recent "Jeunes ambassadeurs lyriques" benefit gala. We can't think of a better way to warm up on a cold Canadian evening. 

Top: Muhammad Ali and Soloman Howard; Bottom: Emile Griffith and Aubrey Allicock
8.     Hottest Opera singer playing an Athlete– Soloman Howard as Muhammad Ali; Aubrey Allicock as boxer Emile Griffith: There were two sexy barihunks portraying boxers this summer, continuing the trend of librettos being based on contemporary subject from the news. These are usually dubbed CNN Operas, but perhaps the term ESPN Opera should be coined, as there are at least two operas in the works about baseball. Bass-Barihunk Soloman Howard portrayed Muhammad Ali in the world premiere of composer D.J. Sparr's "Approaching Ali" at the Washington National Opera and drew rave reviews for his portrayal. Aubrey Allicock took on the story of the lesser known boxer Emile Griffith in Tereence Blanchard' s Champion at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. The bisexual boxer who killed boxer Benny Paret in a 1962 title match, died five weeks after the premier of the opera.

9.     Hottest Athlete playing an opera singer Justin Tucker: Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has some major accomplishments under his belt for only being 23 years old. He has a Super Bowl ring and while playing for the University of Texas in 2011, he kicked the game winning field goal against arch rival Texas A&M University as the clock expired. Tucker hasn't just made a name for himself with his legs, he also has a serious set of pipes. A music major at the University of Texas, Tucker claims he can sing opera in seven different languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Russian). He showed off his Italian skills recently by singing "Deh vieni alla finestra" from Mozart's Don Giovanni for Dr. Pepper's "1 of a Kind" web campaign, which debuted on YouTube.

10.  Best barihunks on Twitter – Luca Pisaroni & James Newby: We discovered James Newby via some Twitter messages going back and forth between friends suggesting one should be on Barihunks. 20-year-old James Newby then tweeted, "...this accolade could complete me as a human being!" We checked out Newby, who is in his second year of study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London and figured that we'd complete him as a human being. His tweets also led us to discover his barbershop quartet Short, Back and Sides singing "To Russia With (Gay) Love.” The video is intended to show the worldwide support for LGBT Russians from people across the globe.

      Luca Pisaroni is a big star with a big presence on Twitter. He regularly posts updates about the cities he's visiting, the music he's performing, concerts with his father-in-law Thomas Hampson, and adventures with his dogs Lenny and Tristan. His wife Cate Pisaroni is also worth following. She is clearly his biggest fan and adds great content and commentary. In the age of self-marketing on the internet, this duo is the best.

11.  Best Barihunk Feature – Approval Matrix NY Magazine & Buzzfeed feature: In the Summer, Barihunks made the NY Magazine's "Approval Matrix" for the week of August 19th. The site landed in the HIGHBROW and BRILLIANT quadrant! We were joined by a pretty illustrious group that includes Orson Welles' rediscovered film "Too Much Johnson," PBS' "Judy & Gwen" all-female co-anchor team, Hanya Yanagihara's novel "The People in the Trees," Jeff Bezos, new owner of the Washington Post, Alissa Quart's "Republic of Outsiders" and Sophie Fontanel's "French spinster by choice."

      We weren't completely sure what "highbrow" really meant, but Virginia Woolf said, "There can be no two opinions as to what a highbrow is. He is the man or woman of thoroughbred intelligence who rides his mind at a gallop across country in pursuit of an idea." We'll take it.

Barihunk Xavier Edgardo and the Urban Dictionary
12.  Biggest Barihunk news – Urban Dictionary: August was a pretty heady month for us, as we also were entered into the Urban Dictionary.  

      BARIHUNK DEFINITION: A handsome or pretty baritone. Especially, but not exclusively,  one who removes his shirt for the sake of opera.  EXAMPLE: I'm going to the Marriage of Figaro because I like the opera but also to see the barihunks on display.

Sam Dundas: Yes, he sings in the shower
13.  Hottest Barihunk Singing in the Shower – Sam Dundas: We generally reserve our "skin shots" to pictures from productions, but when we saw this photo of Sam Dundas by Herald Sun photographer Craig Borrow we knew that we had to post it for readers. Dundas is one of the biggest talents from "Down Under" and he recently won the coveted $42,000 Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship. The prize allowed Dundas to come to the United States for six weeks of work on the opera skills of his choice. He has a busy year ahead with Opera Australia where he will be singing Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Prosdocimo in Rossini's The Turk in Italy (in swim trunks!), Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto, Belcore in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, and Dr Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale.

Gregory Jebaily
Vasil Garvanliev
14.  Best Selfies – Gregory Jebaily and Vasil Garvanliev: We discovered South Carolina native Gregory Jebaily on the Operaticus Facebook site, where singers talk about keeping their voices and bodies in shape. They also tend to post lots of pictures and watching Gregory Jebaily transform into an "Echt-Barihunk" has been a joy. Jebaily made his operatic debut as Wagner in Dayton Opera’s April 2010 production of Gonoud’s Faust. He returned the next year as a Dayton Opera Artist in Residence and performed the role of Hortensius in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment. For the past two years he's also been a studio artist with Kentucky Opera where he sang Dancaïro in Carmen and Hermann in Enemies: a love story by Ben Moore.

      Vasil Garvanliev takes the hottest selfies in the world. PERIOD. This Macedonian-Canadian singer has mastered the artform like no on else. We were so impressed with his work that he's appeared regularly on our Facebook sidebar and Twitter images. His calendar photos this year were highly original and slightly provocative. We can see why the visually conscientious Opera Atelier has made him a permanent member of their roster. Next season he'll be performing in their production of Lully's Persee, which will also be performed at Versailles, France.

15.  Best Underwear Shots – Christopher Burchett (Soldier Songs), Lauri Vasar (Il Prigoniero): Directors seem to love getting barihunks to strip down to their scivvies and we're not complaining! Two of the hottest performance in a pair of briefs this year came from Lauri Vasar as the Prisoner in Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero at Opéra de Lyon and Christopher Burchett in David T. Little's Soldier Songs in New York City. We'll let the pictures do the talking.

Andrew Garland (left) and William Berger (right)
16.  Best Solo CD's – Andrew Garland and William Berger: If you love gingers, you can't find two barihunks who are hotter and who sing better than these two guys. Andrew Garland is a favorite of ours and his release on GPR Records entitled "American Portraits" is destined to be become a classic among American art song recitals. The CD features music by Stephen Paulus, Jake Heggie, Lori Laitman and Tom Cipullo. William Berger's new release is so new that we haven't even featured it on the site yet, but Hommage à Trois with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the brilliant conductor Nicholas McGegan is one of the most delightful releases that we've heard in years. The recording pays hommage to three of the 18th century’s finest composers,  Mozart, Haydn, and Cimarosa and also features acclaimed soprano Carolyn Sampson in the duets. Berger was featured on the site for his amazing BariChunk to BariHunk transformation.

Kathryn Bates Williams and Jesse Blumberg in Green Sneakers
17.  Best Barihunk Solo Show – Green Sneakers at the Ft. Mason Center in San Francisco: We're huge fans of "Black Box Opera," where the intensity of a performance is immediate and close up. Ricky Ian Gordon is one of the busiest and most popular composers in all of opera today, but his works were not performed in San Francisco until January of this year. With help from a Barihunks Charity Calendar grant, Jesse Blumberg, the Del Sol Quartet and the talented young director John de los Santos put on a show for the ages. Audience members were in tears at the end of Gordon's most personal composition. The entire cast will reprise the performance with Opera Piccola of San Antonio on May 10 & 11 as part of a double bill with Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice.

Jud Arhur in a model shot and as Fafner
18.  Best Nude Scene – Jud Arthur as Fafner: Director Neil Armfield's Der Ring des Nibelungen at Opera Australia was quite the buzz even before it opened. Of course, our readers were buzzing about barihunk Jud Arthur's surprising entry from his cave as the mortally wounded Fafner, splattered with blood and completely naked. In the scene, Fafner, stripped bare, warns Siegfried of the Ring's power.

      Jud Arthur was born in New Zealand, worked as a farmer in Mosgiel, and then began a career as a professional rugby player. He's been one of the most popular regulars at Opera Australia for a decade now and also moonlights as a professional model.

19.  Best Ad Campaign – Glory Denied, Fort Worth Opera Festival: The ad campaign for Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied was literally stopping traffic this year. The innovative company, which brilliantly combines standard repertory with new works, created quite the buzz with these bus benches featuring barihunk Michael Mayes. Mayes portrayed Colonel Floyd James (Jim) Thompson, America’s longest-held prisoner of war. The opera looks back on Thompson's years as a captive in Vietnam and features Mayes in the title role. Fort Worth Opera often challenges their ticket holders with new works and the productions are often the audience favorites. This year they will present Daniel Crozier & Peter M. Krask's With Blood, With Ink and Kevin Puts' Silent Night with David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's JFK slated for the following season. Also, the aforementioned John de los Santos will direct Bizet's Pearl Fishers, part of their standard repertory along with Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.

Ryan McKinny backstage and onstage in Flying Dutchman
20.  Hottest Wagnerian – Ryan McKinny: When did Wagner become so sexy? Between Jud Arthur's naked Fafner and Ryan McKinny's smoking hot, leather clad Dutchman at the Glimmerglass Festival, we're beginning to see a trend that we really like. The Glimmerglass production was directed by the Queen Mother of barihunks, Francesca Zambello, and also featured the amazing soprano Melody Moore as Senta. All we can say is "ho-jo-to-ho-ho-jo-to-ho-ho-jo-to-ho."

21.  Best “Breakout” performance – Erik E. Larsen pants busting: Our post about Erik E. Larsen landed us in hot water with Facebook, who removed the post after a complaint from an offended reader (yes, Victorian England still exists!). We try to keep it (relatively) tasteful on Barihunks, but what do you expect us to do when someone tweets this photo with the caption "Hulked out of my pants" and hashtags it #Barihunks?  That's what Erik E. Larson (@unamplified) did on Twitter, so why not share it with our readers? Larsen is finishing his second year of study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and performed in their recent production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. He is also a member of the Madison Opera chorus. We hope to see (ahem) lots more of Erik Larsen (ahem, ahem). However, if he keeps tweeting about his love of "fried cream cheese" he may end up on BariChunks.

Steven Labrie and Peter Brathwaite
22.  Best Barihunk Supermodels – Steven Labrie MAC and Peter Brathwaite “Dockers”: Barihunk Steven LaBrie probably never guessed that he'd have something in common with drag icon RuPaul, but they are now both models for M∙A∙C Cosmetics. In July, the New York City-based company posted a notice that they were looking for a "classically trained male opera singer that has a young, hip, edgy appearance...Theatrical flair encouraged. Acting ability a plus." Labrie was chosen out of a slew of finalists and is now seen in ad campaigns and at promotional appearances for M∙A∙C.

      If that model in the Dockers ad looks familiar, it might be because you've seen him on a London opera stage, on the cover an Amore CD or even in the Barihunks calendar. Peter Brathwaite was chosen as a brand ambassador for the pants company Dockers. He was named one of four "Men of Style" in their new campaign.  The Dockers' "Men of Style" campaign showcases some of the most influential men in the world of style and their stories.

Separated at Birth: Ben Affleck and Wes Mason
23.  Best Doppelganger – Wes Mason/Ben Affleck: When we looked at Wes Mason's new photos by Barihunk's official photographer Michael Yeshion, it struck us that he was channeling a pretty serious Ben Affleck look with the baritone beard and seductive "stare at the camera and look serious" pose. You can visit Mason's new website at
Erik Anstine in the Alps (nice tee shirt!)
24.  Hottest tee shirt model – Erik Anstine in the Alps: Let's face it, we've seen some sexy photos of baritones in their BARIHUNK tee shirts, but there is something about these pictures of Erik Anstine sleeveless up in the Swiss Alps that made us want to strap on our boots and hit the slopes. Anstine is currently on the roster of the Zurich Opera, where he performed Masetto in their new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni with fellow barihunk Peter Mattei in the title role and Wagner in Gounod's Faust alongside fellow barihunks Elliot Madore and Kyle Ketelson. Next season he can also be seen alongside the great mezzo Cecilia Bartoli in a Christof Loy production of Handel's Alcina.  Check out the entire 2013/2014 season at the Opernhaus Zürich website.

Morgan Pearse
25.  Best Barihunk Crack – Morgan Pearse “Imeneo”: What better way to wrap up our year end feature than with a shot of a rear end? Barihunk Morgan Pearse showed a little crack in his performance of the title role of Handel's Imeneo with the London Handel Festival. Pearse is the Royal College of Music’s inaugural Joan Sutherland Scholar studying with Russell Smythe. He was recently awarded top prize in the Singers Section of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition.
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  1. I miss Randall Turner ...

  2. LOVE barihunks!!! Best blog EVER!

  3. Great review of year but think barihunk Chris Herbert with New York Polyphony should have made some mention with their big greakthru

  4. Now I'm embarrassed. I didn't read the description of the Fafner scene before I enlarged the photo, trying to figure out what that was on his costume. Lo and behold! no costume. At all. I don't know which is worse; that I took a closer look, or that I had to take a closer look to figure out what it was...