Friday, February 26, 2016

Introducing Bari-chunk to Bari-HUNK Nathan Rodriguez

Nathan Rodriguez
We found out about barihunk Nathan Rodriguez on Twitter when his friend hunkentenor Michael Merullo posted a picture of the two them with the message "#littlewomen rehearsal with my favorite #barihunk @n-rod1." Of course, we had to check it out and discovered another amazing bari-chunk to bari-hunk transformation. He lost over 40 pounds and went from a 36' waist to a 31" waist. Most importantly, he addressed some potentially serious health issues. We think he turned out pretty damn sexy! You'll want to read our interview with him about his transformation.

Besties: Michael Merullo and Nathan Rodriguez
1. You're new to Barihunks, so tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born, raised and went to school in Connecticut. I moved to Boston a couple years ago to start grad school at a conservatory, but decided to hold off and do my own thing. I wanted to take advantage of performance opportunities in the city while working to support myself and trying to avoid adding a mountain of debt. It has been a very friendly place and I have a bunch of upcoming engagements, including John Brooke in MetroWest Opera’s production of Little Women, The Miller in OperaHub’s touring production of El Gato con Botas, and Mr. Lundquist in Nextdoor Theater’s production of Little Night Music. I’m excited for the next audition season and learning new roles in both opera and musical theater.

Barihunk Nathan Rodriguez & Hunkentenor Michael Merullo
2. We found about you because your friend tenor Michael Merullo tweeted about you with #barihunk. Did you know that he was going to do that?
Michael is a very talented, young tenor and a close friend. I met him through singing here in Boston. He’s super supportive and has really encouraged me in my singing and fitness endeavors. He's even trained with me for running races. I knew he was taking a selfie in rehearsal, but didn’t know about the hashtag. We’ve always joked about my #pathtobarihunk but I didn’t think it would actually happen. He called me at 1am one night and said “Dude, Barihunks just reached out to me on Twitter about you, it’s real!” I hung up thinking he was kidding and it was way past my bedtime.

3. What got you interested in singing and where are you with your studies/career?
I was always musically inclined. I sang in choirs, performed in musicals, and played viola for years. I was initially going to start a musical theater program for undergrad but decided to go to my state school that had a classical music program. “Not interested,” I thought. I majored my first year in Romance Languages and International Affairs. A friend in the music program convinced me to audition for voice since I’d be singing in the languages I was learning and so that I could receive more scholarships. The school also had an alliance with the Met and we attended shows frequently. After getting into the program and going to the Met for the first time, I was hooked.

Now I sing in the Boston area and have had some awesome opportunities here, particularly working with an incredible up-and-coming conductor, Lidiya Yankovskaya. Next season, I’ll be taking the YAP plunge and auditioning alongside all the other super talented, young opera singers. See ya then Opera America, fingers crossed.
Nathan Rodriguez: Before & After
 4. Tell us about your process from being overweight to getting in shape. How did being overweight effect your self-esteem, confidence and self-image?
I had many weight fluctuations post college. I had always tried to be somewhat active, but was very inconsistent. I let my schedule dictate my level of fitness. The busier I was, the less I exercised or focused on what I ate.

I also had a heart condition that reached a peak last year. I wasn’t allowed to exert myself for over 8 months while doctors figured it out and came up with a game plan. I gained weight, lost stamina, and was even having trouble singing. Being 205lbs at only 5’7” was a definite low point for me. I looked in the mirror and wondered how I’d be considered for roles in my voice type (e.g. the strapping brother, the handsome soldier, the sly best friend) if I wasn’t convinced myself, physically or in terms of vocal confidence. After recovering from multiple cardiac ablations that thankfully fixed my issues without having to implant a defibrillator, my cardiologist gave me the “all clear” to get physical again (like Olivia Newton-John). I had NO EXCUSES.

I sought an online trainer who provided a nutrition and workout plan, a 12-week program of lifting, cardio, and meal prep. It was up to me to execute it. Over the summer, I lost 25lbs, but more importantly 12% body fat. I was becoming leaner with more muscle. I took up running again and trained for a half-marathon, finishing in less than 2 hours, which felt fantastic. A friend of mine also introduced me to yoga, which has made a huge impact. With all that I lost almost 40lbs over 6 months. I went from a size 36 waist to a 31. Now, I feel great and ready to tackle new projects with confidence.
Nathan Rodriguez finishing a half marathon
5. What is your workout routine and do you workout with someone?
Now, I do a combination of everything. I lift and do more full-body workouts. I run when the weather is nice out. I do yoga 3-4 times a week, and I watch what I eat. I stick to proteins, veggies, fruits, and complex carbs for the most part. Do I have occasional pizza, ice cream and beer? Heck yes! But it’s all about balance.

I also enjoy the process of getting in shape and appreciate the philosophy that something is always better than nothing in terms of getting workouts in. I love to challenge my body and don’t focus as much on results, but rather making physical activity a part of my daily routine, a definite priority. I look forward to trying new forms of fitness. I might try crossfit and have always wanted to row so those are on my list. I’m not opposed to a workout/running/yoga buddy, but I usually make exercise into “me” time. It helps regulate my stress-level, helps me to assess and prioritize my goals, and I avoid competition that can get in the way of my own fitness achievements. However, someone to hold me accountable is always welcome and I love encouraging others get to their own fitness happy places :)
Nathan Rodriguez as Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore
6. What would be your dream role to sing in opera?
Figaro in Il Barbiere would be an epic win. I’d also love to sing some Verdi roles one day… I’ll give it a decade or so. I don’t limit myself to opera and would love to do crossover and be the emcee in Cabaret or a Sweeney Todd. The list is endless, really. I like it all!

Nathan Rodriguez trying on an old pair of pants
7. Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with opera or fitness.
So many singers have day jobs to sustain themselves. I’m fortunate to work at an incredible genetics research institute and I’m looking to grow into grants administration. I take classes in non-profit management on the side and would love to eventually use this skill-set to help non-profit arts organizations secure and manage funds. I’m a big advocate for singers developing other professional skills. Focusing on what can benefit the world of arts and music is crucial for our industry’s survival.

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