We want to thank all of our readers for a successful year and to all of you who bought our 2012 Barihunks Charity Calendar. Our goal on this site is to support young artists and to support the art form of opera. We sell tee shirts, CDs and calendars on this site and give every penny of profit to support baritones, who we feel have wrongfully lived in the shadow of tenors and sopranos for too long. We love that this site has brought baritones to the forefront of numerous discussions about opera. Our favorite comment of the year came from a composer who told us, "Thanks to your site, I'm now writing leading roles for baritones."
It's time to celebrate our our "Top 25 of 2012."
1. HOTTEST PHOTO: DOUGLAS WILLIAMS
|Douglas Williams (Photo: Kevin McDermott)|
2. MOST POPULAR: DUNCAN ROCK
When we asked readers to email us with suggestions for our "Top 25" feature our inbox was filled with messages titled "Duncan Rock." The star of "Don Giovanni: The Opera" at London's Heaven nightclub, proved that he's not just a hot body by winning the £10,000 Chilcott Award given to a “major young artist with the potential to make an international impact.” He gets an outrageous number of hits on our site and we look forward to following his career in years to come.
3. HOTTEST NEWCOMER(S):
VASIL GARVANLIEV, GORDON BINTNER & AUBREY ALLICOCK
at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Aubrey Allicock will star as bisexual boxer Emile Griffith in an opera written by jazz great Tereence Blanchard with a libretto by playwright Michael Cristofer and co-starring mezzo Denyce Graves. Allicock became an instant fan favorite at the Opera Theatre where he played Mamoud in The Death of Klinghoffer in 2011 and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland in 2012. We're pretty sure that Allicock is going to look pretty hot in any shirtless scenes playing Griffith.
4. BEST OPERA(S): DER FREISCHÜTZ AT OPERA ATELIER AND L'ELISIR D'AMORE IN GRAZ
|Andrè Schuen (Foto © Werner Kmetitsch/Oper Graz)|
|Vasil Garvanliev backstage|
5. BARIHUNK FEAST: ERWIN SCHROTT, DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY & ILDAR ABDRAZAKOV AT TENOR CHARLES CASTRONOVO'S CD RELEASE PARTY
|Schrott, Hvorostovsky, Castronovo and Abdrazakov (Photo Credit: Charles Martin)|
6. BEST READER SUBMISSION: BELTRAN IRABURU
7. HOTTEST TEE SHIRT MODEL(S): ZACHARY GORDIN & DAN KEMPSON
Dan Kempson's chose to model his BARIHUNK tee shirt with his chest showing and he ended up making men and women swoon across the globe. Other than Duncan Rock, Kempson received the most gushing praise from readers for our "Top 25" feature. Kempson, another former Merola graduate, has the brains to match his voice and is destined for a long, successful career in this business. [Pictured at top of this post].
8. BEST FEATURE ON BARIHUNKS: MÄNNER MAGAZINE
|"SHOW ME YOUR SIXPACK"|
9. BEST "BARI-CHUNK TO BARI-HUNK" TRANSFORMATION: CHRIS CARR
|Chris Carr: before and after Sparticus|
10. BEST BARIHUNK DRAG QUEENS: SETH CARICO & MICHAEL MAYES
|Michael Mayes (L) and Seth Carico (R)|
11. BEST SOLO CD: SIMON KEENLYSIDE'S "SONGS OF WAR"
|Simon Keenlyside in The Tempest and his new CD "Songs of War"|
12. BEST COMPLETE OPERA: DON GIOVANNI
Let's face it, without Mozart's Don Giovanni, we would have a lot more spare time on our hands at Barihunks. How often do we find three gorgeous barihunks cast together in this opera as Don Giovanni, Leporello and Masetto? This recording featured the rich bass-baritone of Luca Pisaroni as Leporello, with his crystal clear diction, warm tone and perfect comic timing. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo brings a darker sound that we often hear as Don Giovanni along with rhythmic precision and an Italianate sensuality AND sexuality that is lacking in many performances. The addition of Konstantin Wolff as Masetto is luxury casting in an already delightful recording that belong in any music collection.
13. BEST MOVIE RELEASE: KASPER HOLTEN'S "JUAN"
|Christopher Maltman in JUAN|
14. BEST HOMEMADE VIDEO: "THE MOST WONDERFUL MEMES"
Another Canadian who we're unabashedly crazy about is our calendar's Mr. July Jonathan Estabrooks. He's one of the most creative and interesting performers around. He travels with his video camera and hosts "A Singer's Life" on YouTube (you really should subscribe). His video of "The Most Wonderful Memes" went quasi-viral, garnering over 14,000 views in its first eight days. We tried to start an online movement to get him on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which was one of his goals. It hasn't happened yet, but we're not giving up. If anyone can make opera appealing to the next generation, it's Estabrooks. ELLEN, IF YOU'RE READING THIS, PLEASE BOOK HIM!
15. OUR FAVORITE HUMANITARIAN HUNK: CHRISTOPHER HERBERT
|Christopher Herbert: all-around good guy|
Christopher Herbert just can't seem to pass up helping out a noble cause. He played a huge role with "Sing for Hope," which was "founded by opera singers with a desire to lift their voices for social change, Sing for Hope mobilizes world-class artists – from classical musicians to photographers to Broadway performers – who donate time and talent in volunteer service programs that benefit schools, hospitals and communities."
On November 10th, he pitched in again singing The Hurricane Sandy relief concert benefited the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which is gathering donations to provide essential living supplies to New Yorkers in need – including food, water, blankets, baby supplies and other emergency items. You can still donate by visiting www.nyc.gov/fund.
16. BEST BARIHUNK DOCUMENTARY: PHILIPPE SLY "IN DREAMS, EN RÊVES, IN TRÄUMEN"
We were mesmerized by this 15-minute documentary about the making of Philippe Sly's first studio album with renowned pianist Michael McMahon. The film was lovingly produced by his brother Mathieu Sly, who appears to be as gifted a filmmaker as his brother is a singer.
Another Canadian and another singer from the Merola Opera Program, Sly becomes a member of the prestigious Adler Fellowship Program at the San Francisco Opera where he will make his mainstage debut as Guglielmo in 'Così fan tutte' under music director Nicola Luisotti. He also will tour Canada in recital with the Debut Atlantic Series.
17. OUR FAVORITE WAGNERIAN: GREER GRIMSLEY
|Greer Grimsley as Wotan|
18. BEST HUNK OVER 60 (MAKE THAT 70!): SAMUEL RAMEY
|Samuel Ramey as Attila|
19. HOTTEST UNDERWEAR MODEL: TIMOTHY MCDEVITT
|Timothy McDevitt: Will Calvin Klein be calling?|
Timothy McDevitt recently took some gorgeous photos with professional photographer Charles Quiles whose work is definitely worth checking out. We love it when professional photographers see opera singers as underwear models, because if THAT doesn't change the image of opera being a bunch of fat ladies with horns, nothing will. The increasingly buff singer has had a busy year since graduating. He just wrapped up performing in Jonathan Dawe’s COSÌ FARAN TUTTI (They’ll All Do It!) a prequel to Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. Highlights for McDevitt from earlier this year include Philip Glass' Les Enfants Terribles with the North Carolina Opera, Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts with the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and appearances at the Swiss Ball and Lotus Club in New York.
20. OUR FAVORITE DIVAS:
JOYCE DIDONATO, SUSAN GRAHAM & ANNA CATERINA ANTONACCI
Joyce DiDonato is our "Honorary Barihunk" and her quote from Twitter graces our homepage. Nothing she does is anything short of spectacular. On her latest disc "Drama Queens," she sings Semiramide who conquers Asia and parts of Africa after her husband dies, Mary Stuart who in a Catholic fervor plots to kill the English monarch, Fredegund who strangled her rival and succeeded her as queen and Cleopatra who reigned over Egypt for 21 years. She imbues every character with her luscious mezzo and great dramatic purpose. What's not to love?
Gorgeous, statuesque and blessed with unbelievable dramatic instincts, Susan Graham can dominate a stage regardless of who is singing opposite to her. Her Dido's in both the Berlioz and Purcell operas are unmatched in our time and arguably of any other time. One could also make a claim that her Iphigénie in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride is probably unsurpassed in the history of opera. For an American, her French lieder has more luster and shine than any French singer we can think of.
|Anna Catarina Antonacci|
21. OUR FAVORITE TENORS: NOAH STEWART, ED LYON & GLENN SEVEN ALLEN
So who are our favorites?
Let's start with Noah Stewart, one of the nicest guys in the business and a MAJOR talent to be reckoned with. His debut recording NOAH made him the first black musician to top the U.K. classical charts. Another Merola graduate, he's gone on to become a fan favorite at the Michigan Opera Theater. He's prompted a few opera glasses to be raised with shirtless portrayals of Nadir in Bizet's Les Pecheurs de Perles and Radames in Verdi's Aida.
|English tenor Ed Lyon|
|Glenn Seven Allen|
22. & 23. WORST OPERA AND WORST DIRECTOR: DON GIOVANNI/MICHAEL GRANDAGE
|Michael Grandage and his dull Don Giovanni|
Our first gripe is so bad that we're not only combining two into one, but we're repeating a criticism from last year. Our biggest disappointment in 2011 was director Michael Grandage sucking the life and sexual tension out of Billy Budd at Glyndebourne. We respect his work as a director of straight theater like his work on Frost/Nixon, but we were hoping that he would stay away from opera.
Fear struck us when we learned that he was directing Don Giovanni at the Met this year. We hoped that Billy Budd was an anomaly, but the reviews quickly confirmed our worst fears. NY Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote, "There is nothing particularly gripping about Mr Grandage's work here." The New York Observer called it "disastrously dull, a non-event," The Financial Times panned it as "essentially unimaginative," and the Associated Press summed it up as "disappointing, dull." With bright young talents like John De Los Santos and Damiano Michieletto, we're baffled why opera companies seem so tempted by Grandage and his habit of making opera an interminable experience.
24. OUR BIGGEST GRIPE: PLACIDO, LEAVE BARITONE ROLES TO BARITONES!!!
|Placido Domingo as Rigoletto|
25. OUR FAVORITE THING: YOU
Opera obviously wouldn't exist without devoted fans like you. We encourage you to keep attending the opera and to give to the arts, even if it's only a few dollars or euros. We love our readers more than you can imagine. Your clever emails and "Reader Submissions" make it a pleasure to keep this blog going. We've thought about retiring this site more than once, but inevitably a new singer or a great performance comes along that inspires us to keep posting. (Sometimes it's a really hot photo!).
A special THANK YOU to all of you who bought a Barihunks calendar. This is a fun way for us to raise money, engage singers, show off some skin and support the arts. Many of you have begged us to do a "full monty" calendar. Although we easily know of a dozen singers who would participate, the calendar is bought by everyone from grandmothers and mothers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, artistic administrators, music schools and fans of sexy men. We can't tell you how many times we've seen one hanging up in an office and even the elderly saleslady at the Santa Fe Opera gift shop mentioned it to us.
You can show your appreciation to us by buying a calendar today and we'll keep the site alive AND continue to support your favorite singers!