BEST NEW OPERA (tie): Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek's Breaking the Waves
|John Moore, Kiera Duffy and the cast of Breaking the Waves
The opera is based on the Oscar-nominated 1996 film by Lars von Trier and tells of the story of a woman's sexual desires and confessions after her husband becomes paralyzed. The opera was performed with a "mature audience" warning in Philadelphia, as it involved nudity from the leads. More importantly, the opera is a riveting piece of theater.
BEST NEW OPERA (tie): JFK at Forth Worth Opera
|Daniel Okulitch as LBJ and Matt Worth as JFK
Fort Worth was a fitting setting for the opera, as it was the last place that the President slept before being gunned down in Dallas. JFK left the Hotel Texas (now the Fort Worth Hilton) on the rain-soaked morning of November 22, 1963, and spoke to thousands who had waited in the rain to hear him speak. Those remarks were to be his final public speech.
HOTTEST NEW BARIHUNK TO THE SITE: Basque Barihunk Vincent Simonet
|Basque barihunk Vincent Simonet
This summer he performed Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola at the Centre Européen de Musique. He was asked by French composer Philippe Mazé to sing at the 100-year anniversary of the Cathedral of Monaco (Saint Nicholas Cathedral). The cathedral is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco where many of the Grimaldis are buried, including Prince Rainier III and his wife Grace Kelly.
Simonet is also one of the initiators of the charity recital "Ensemble pour les Enfants Malades" (Recital for the Sick Children) which is a benefit for the Pediatric Immuno-Hematology Department at the Hôpital Necker de Paris. We love a barihunk who does charity work!
HOTTEST PERFORMANCE: Hadleigh Adams in Powder Her Face at West Edge Opera
|Hadleigh Adams as The Duke in Powder Her Face
Such was the case with Thomas Adès' provocative Powder Her Face starring barihunk Hadleigh Adams, hunkentenor Jonathan Blalock and sexy soprano Emma McNairy, who previously made waves with her sizzling Lulu with the company. Adams sang the roles of the vapid Duke (for which he strips down completely!), the condescending hotel manager, and the hypocritical judge who condemns the Duchess.
The opera was brilliantly directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer, which the Financial Times dubbed "buoyant" and "exhilirating."
Upcoming performance for Adams include Jonathan Dove's Flight with Opera Parallèle and Puccini's La fanciulla del West with the Michigan Opera Theater.
|Ryan McKinny as Amfortas
BEST BARIHUNK CHARITY WORK: Michael Hewitt/Cancer Research
|Michael Hewitt (from our calendar and buffing up for charity work!)
Michael is also featured in July in our 2017 "Barihunks in Bed" calendar. He will make his company debut with the Glimmerglass Opera in 2017 in the role of Jud Fry in Oklahoma!
Hewitt also has a fitness website and he says that consistency is the key to staying in shape and that you can't outwork a poor diet.
BEST NEW SOLO WORK FOR BARITONE: Clint Borzoni's Two German Songs for Baritone and String Quartet, sung by Marco Vassalli
Composer Clint Borzoni and barihunk Marco Vassalli worked on this commission over Skype after the German singer chose Hermann Hesse's Stufen and Hilde Domin's Margere Kost for his text. Musica Marin presented the works, which were inspired by adding something other than Samuel Barber's Dover Beach to the repertory for baritone and string quartet. Vassalli performed all three pieces at two sold out concerts in the former home of Ansel Adams in San Francisco.
Borzoni, one of the most talented young composers on the scene is now Musica Marin's "Composer-in-Residence." Barihunk Edward Nelson will perform the composer's new arrangement of his aria "Two Nooses" from his opera When Adonis Calls, arranged for baritone, viola, cello and piano. Borzoni's opera The Copper Queen won the Arizona Opera's award for best new opera.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN AN OPERETTA: Dominik Köninger in Oscar Straus' The Pearls of Cleopatra
The operetta has been on the shelves for more than eighty years and was written before the composer fled the Nazi Anschluss in 1939. As the Roman Officer, Köninger is shown in some pretty sexy situations and there also plenty of scantily clad, energetic performers on stage, adding to the lively Cabaret feel of the pre-Nazi Weimar Republic.
The operetta is viewable on the OperaPlatform. We sure hope that someone else produces this work using this Barrie Kosky production, which is perfect in every way.
BEST "OVERNIGHT SENSATION": Björn Bürger
|Björn Bürger as Don Giovanni and the Barber
There is no such thing as an overnight sensation, as years of coaching, training and performing goes into any singer's career, but Bürger may have had just such a moment this year. His performance in the title role of Rossini's Barber of Seville at the Glyndebourne Festival was the talk of the town, where his cast mates included Taylor Stayton as Almaviva and Danielle de Niese as Rosina.
The Guardian said that Bürger "dominates with singing of great bravado and warmth," while The Express wrote that he sang "beautifully...and acted with impressive energy.' 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."
BEST APPEARANCE IN AN ADULT MAGAZINE: Edward Miskie in Britain's Mascular Magazine
|Edward Miskie (right) in Mascular Magazine
However, Miskie shows more skin in our new calendar than he did in his photoshoot with Brooklyn-based photographer Ron Amato for the magazine's feature entitled "Pride." Whether in a suit or staring out shirtless from his bed, this is one sexy man who holds his own with any of the models in Mascular Magazine. Check it out for yourself.
BEST JOKE THAT WE PLAYED ON READERS: Nathan Gunn and Anna Netrebko appearing in Wagner's Ring at the MET
|Nathan Gunn would make one sexy Wotan. Check out that spear.
BEST INTERVIEW: Malte Roesner discussing fitness routineand his fach change
He is featured prominently in both our 2016 calendar and our "2017 Barihunks in Bed" calendar. Roesner, who is one of the most intelligent singers on the scene, also translates operas, having translated both Jake Heggie's For a Look or a Touch and Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park from English to German.
In our interview with him, the always fascinating singer discussed his recent fach change from baritone to bass, his workout routine, his month-long audition tour in the US and why it's “all about the bass.” You can read the entire interview HERE.
BEST WEIGHT LOSS: Lucas Meachem
Prompted by being forced to deal with high cholesterol and the new age of HD opera broadcasts, Meachem took his wife's advice and switched to a plant-based diet, which led to an amazing physical transformation.
When he took the stage as Doctor Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale at the San Francisco Opera, Meachem had slimmed down a remarkable 45 pounds (20.4 kilos). He also sounded as luxurious and resonant as ever.
He told us, "I used to rail against the system for it's unfairness that weight is even an issue when it came to my voice. For me vocal prowess should be the main determining factor of an opera singer but I realized that I couldn't play by those rules anymore. The fact is it's easier to change yourself than the system. So instead of resisting, I decided to change myself."
You can read the entire interview HERE.
On an unrelated note, Meachem won the San Francisco Opera's inaugural "Emerging Star of the Year" competition, whose goal is to engage the community in the thrill of experiencing artists on the cusp of greatness, and to build awareness among the broader opera-going public of San Francisco Opera's leadership in nurturing and showcasing new talent.
BEST GATHERING OF A BARIHUNK SEXTET IN ONE PLACE (tie): A Midsummer Night's Dream at Teatro Amilcare Ponchielli Cremona and Lakes Area Music Festival
Prior to 2016, the most barihunks that we had ever featured on one stage at the same time was four. It seemed like this year at least two companies decided to blow that number out of the water, as both the Teatro Amilcare Ponchielli Cremona and the Lakes Area Music Festival decided to present operas with SIX barihunks performing together.
|Zachary Altman and Nicholas Masters (top); Dario Shikhmiri, Rocco Cavalluzzi, Federico Benetti and Paolo Ingrasciotta (bottom l-r)
The cast list for Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Teatro Amilcare Ponchielli Cremona, included Zachary Altman as Bottom, Nicholas Masters as Quince, Dario Shikhmiri as Starveling, Rocco Cavalluzzi as Snug, Federico Benetti as Theseus and Paolo Ingrasciotta as Demetrius.
|Eric Broker, Andrew Lovato, Sam Parkinson, John Taylor Ward, Rodolfo Nieto and Benjamin Sieverding
All we have to say for 2017, is bring us more performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
BEST SHIRTLESS APPEARANCE: Alessio Arduini in Così fan tutte
|Alessio Arduini in Così fan tutte
Imagine our reaction when we watched the BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the Royal Opera House production of Mozart's Così fan tutte with a shirtless Alessio Arduni as Guglielmo. German director Jan Philipp Gloger made his house debut with the new production using librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte’s alternative title for the opera: "The School for Lovers." The ROH cast a vocally and visually impressive cast to live up to the title, which included Corinne Winters as Fiordiligi, Angela Brower as Dorabella, Daniele Behle as Ferrando, Johannes Martin Kränzle as Don Alfonso and Sabina Puértolas as Despina.
Arduini is currently performing Marcello at the Metropolitan Opera on Januray 6,11 and 14.
SEXIEST SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT: Zachary Gordin on Instagram
|Zachary Gordin on Instagram
The fitness buff also serves on the voice faculty of Sonoma State University and operates a private vocal studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. Upcoming performances include "Mozart at the Opera" with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio on January 22 and a recital with accompanist Brian Nies at the Green Music Center in Sonoma.
We particularly love him because he includes us in his bio, "Gordin is also widely recognized as the face of the website Barihunks, which celebrates physically fit and vocally-talented operatic baritones from around the globe."
THANK YOU AGAIN TO ALL OF OUR READERS, AS 2017 WILL MARK OUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY. WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO PROMOTING SINGERS IN THE BARITONE TO BASS RANGE AND ENCOURAGING AND FUNDING NEW REPERTORY FOR THOSE VOICES.