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The Sexiest Baritone Hunks from Opera
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Attila Dobak in The Merry Widow (left) at Boston Lyric Opera
Jesse Blumberg and David McFerrin, two barihunks who we've frequently featured on this site, just performed in Lehar's The Merry Widow with the Boston Lyric Opera. Not featured in the credits was another barihunk, Attila Dobak, who was in a minor role, but has major barihunk chops.

Dobak was born in Budapest, Hungary and studied clarinet when he was seven and piano when he was twelve. He was inspired to study voice after watching the 3 Tenors Concert with Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo. He started studying voice at age sixteen and eventually was accepted into the Béla Bartok Conservatory of Music in Budapest, where he majored in Classic Voice and Opera. He also has a Masters Degree in Marketing & Communications from Corvinus University in Budapest.

He went on to study at the Longy School of Music at Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Longy and Opera North (where he was a young artist), he performed Bartolo and Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, and Gideon March in Mark Adamo's Little Women.

In 2014, Dobak was invited to perform at the Miami Summer Music Festival by Michael Rossi, the conductor of the Washington National Opera, where he sang Figaro in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. He also appeared on NBC giving a solo opera performance with the Miami Summer Music Festival Orchestra.

He is currently based in Boston, where he is a member of the Boston Lyric Opera. In addition to The Merry Widow, he appeared in their production of Puccini's La boheme.

His goal in life is to become an opera/crossover singer and you can find examples of him singing opera on his YouTube page, as well as covers of Bruno Mars, Josh Groban and Broadway musicals.

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2 months ago | |
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Andrzej Filonczyk and Leon Kosavic
Barihunks took two of the top prizes at the Stanislaw Moniuszko Vocal Competition and five total prizes, as Andrzej Filonczyk won First Prize for male singers and Leon Kosavic won Third Prize. Andrzej Filonczyk also won the prize for Most Promising Polish Singer and another prize affording him the opportunity to perform with the orchestra. Leon Kosavic also won the Best Polish Performance by non-Polish singer

Second Prize for men went to countertenor Jakub Orlinski and First Prize for women went to Salome Jicia. 

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Leon Kosavic in Round 2 of the Moniuszko Competition
Almost 40% of the finalists in the 2016 Stanislaw Moniuszko Vocal Competition will be basses and baritones. Advancing to Saturday's final round will be Polish bass Krzysztof Baczyk, Polish baritone Andrzej Filonczyk, Ukrainian baritone Dmytro Kalmuchyn, Croatian baritone Leon Kosavic (who has been featured on this site), Ukrainian baritone Oleksandr Kyreiev and Moldavian baritone Adrian Timpau.

 In the final round Filonczyk will perform the Death of Posa from Verdi's Don Carlo and Moniuszko's "Czemuz mnie w chwilach" from Halka, Baczyk will sing "Damit dich niemand war" from Weber's Der Freischütz and "Gdzie wielkosc Polski?" from Szeligowski's Bunt zaków, Kalmuchyn will perform "Ah, per sempre" from Bellini's I puritani and "Czemuz mnie w chwilach" from Moniuszko's Halka, Kosavic will sing "Per me giunto" from Verdi's Don Carlo and "Nakaz niech ozywcze slonko" from Moniuszko's Verbum nobile, Kyreiev is also singing Moniuszko's "Czemuz mnie w chwilach" from Halka and Thomas' "O vin, dissipe la tristesse" from Hamlet, and Timpau is singing Racmaninov's "Ves tabor spit" from Aleko and Kúrpinski's "Spiewka Nikity Dobrzem zrobil" from Zamek na Czorsztynie.

Krzysztof Baczyk and Andrzej Filonczyk sing the I puritani duet:
Leon Kosavic sings Ah! Per sempre:

You can watch the finals HERE on Saturday, May 14 starting at 6 PM CEST (9 AM PST/NOON EST)

Other finalists include Polish mezzo Kinga Borowska, Georgian soprano Salome Jicia, Korean tenor Keon Woo Kim, Russian mezzo Iuliia Mennibaeva, Polish soprano Sylwia Olszynska, Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orlinska, American soprano Jacqueline Piccolino, British tenor Adam Smith, Polish soprano Ewa Tracz and Polish soprano Joanna Zawartko.

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Marcin Hutek and Daniel Miroslaw
Polish barihunks Marcin Hutek and Daniel Miroslaw are just two of a bevy of barihunks performing in the 9th International Stanislaw Moniuszko Vocal Competition, which will take place from May 9-14 in Warsaw. Phase I will be held with piano on May 9 and 10, Phase II with piano on May 11 and 12, and the Grand Finale with orchestra on May 14. Stage I will feature 87 singers chosen by the selection panel and they will sing two pieces (an operatic aria from the 18th–19th century and a Polish song from the 19th–20th century in the original or a translation).

The competition will be transmitted live online HERE. You can read about some of the competitors below. The Phase I broadcast begins at 10 AM CEST, Warsaw time (1 AM PST/4 AM EST).

You can listen to Marcin Hutek HERE and Daniel Miroslaw HERE. Below is a sampling of the baritones and basses competing this year. Previous prize winners include barihunk Mariusz Kwiecien, Aleksandra Kurzak, Wioletta Chodowicz, Urszula Kryger, Malgorzata Walewska and Marcin Bronikowski.

Hubert Zapiór
Hubert Zapiór is scheduled to sings Mozart, Chopin, Donizetti, Britten, Piotr Czajkowski and Moniuszko. He was born in 1993 and studied at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music and the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. A prize-winner of national and international singing competitions, including 3rd prize at the 8th Leyla Gencer Voice Competition in Istanbul. A participant in the Young Talents Development Programme at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw. He has performed the title role of Don Giovanni (Mozart) at the Swietokrzyska Philharmonic and the Warsaw Chamber Opera, and at the latter company has appeared in a number of shows in the Youth Stage project as well as being Count Almaviva in a student production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. You can listen to him HERE.

Iurii Samoilov
Iurii Samoilov, who has appeared on this site and in our charity calendar, is scheduled to sing Bellini, Mozart, Britten Glière, Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, Massenet and Szymanowski.  He was born in 1988 and graduated from the National Academy of Music of Ukraine in Kiev (2011). He has taken part in projects for young artists at the Salzburg Festival and the Rossini Festival in Pesaro. A member of the opera studio at the Frankfurt Opera since 2012, where his roles include Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and the title part of Julius Caesar in the opera by Handel as well as parts in operas for children (the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni). In 2015 he debuted in Basel as Guglielmo in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. His concert repertoire has taken him to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and London’s Royal Albert Hall, among other venues.

Petro Ostapenko
Petro Ostapenko is scheduled to sing Verdi, Moniuszko, Bellini, Orff, Dezsö Zador, Wladyslaw Zelenski and Piotr Czajkowski. He was born in 1988 and studied at the National Music Academy of Ukraine from 2008-2013. In 2010 he became a soloist at the National Operetta Theatre in Kiev, where he debuted in the role of Freddy in Loewe’s My Fair Lady and Maurice in Kálmán’s Das Veilchen vom Montmartre. A participant in the Ion Dacian Operetta Festival in Bucharest. In 2013 he was a participant in the opera studio of Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and in the 2014/15 season performed there in La Cenerentola (Dandini) and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Officer) by Rossini.

Krzysztof Baczyk
Krzysztof Baczyk is scheduled to sing music from Henryk Czyz, Rachmaninov, Bellini, Stravinsky, Borodin, Weber and Tadeusz Szeligowski. He was born in 1990 and graduated from the Academy of Music in Poznan. He has been working regularly with Poznan’s Teatr Wielki since 2011, where his roles include Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro. He also performs at the Polish National Opera in Warsaw and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. A prize-winner and finalist of vocal competitions, including the Andrzej Hiolski Competition in Kudowa-Zdrój (2014). A participant in the Young Talents Development Programme at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera and the Opera Creation Workshops at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, part of the European Network of Opera Academies.
Thomas Faulkner
Thomas Faulkner is scheduled to sing music by Mozart, Weinberg, Richard Strauss, Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov, Moniuszko and Handel. He was born in 1983 and graduated from Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music. He is a member of the Opera Studio at Oper Frankfurt, where he has performed among others the roles of the Police Inspector in Der Rosenkavalier and the Wigmaker in Ariadne auf Naxos by R. Strauss and the Old Passenger in Weinberg’s The Passenger. He has also performed at the Scottish Opera (Banquo in Verdi’s Macbeth), the Wexford Festival Opera (Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore and Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute) and in productions of the British Youth Opera (Bartolo in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and the title role in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale). He is also in demand as a concert soloist.

Andrezej Filonczyk
Andrezej Filonczyk is scheduled to sing Bellini, Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, Piotr Czajkowski, Weinberger, Verdi and Moniuszko. He was born in 1994 and studies at the Academy of Music in Wroclaw. Since 2014 he has been a participant in the Young Talents Development Programme at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera. A prize-winner of many vocal competitions, including the International Vocal Competition in Petrovice (1st prize) and the Music Without Borders International Vocal Competition in Druskininkai (2nd prize). In 2015 he debuted at Poznan’s Teatr Wielki in the role of Tonio in I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo, and also performed the title role of Eugene Onegin in the opera by Tchaikovsky. He also works with the Polish National Opera in Warsaw, where he has sung the role of the Commissioner in Madama Butterfly by Puccini.

Lukasz Hajduczenia
Lukasz Hajduczenia is scheduled to sing Handel, Moniuszko, Rossini, Korngold and Piotr Czajkowski was born in 1985 and in 2010  graduated from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. He continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (with Laura Sarti) and at the opera faculty of London Associated Studios. A prize-winner of many vocal competitions, including the Ada Sari International Vocal Art Competition in Nowy Sacz. His repertoire includes a number of leading opera parts; he also performs a wide range of oratorio, chamber and contemporary music. He recently recorded a CD with a cycle of songs by Dariusz Przybylski (DUX).

Piotr Halicki
Piotr Halicki is scheduled to sing Bellini, Chopin, Mozart, Britten, Rachmaninov, Piotr Czajkowski, and Moniuszko. He worn in 1985 and studied at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in 2007-2012. In 2012 he started working with the Teatr Wielki in Lódz, making his debut in the role of Scarpia in Tosca by Puccini, and the next year – with the Warsaw Chamber Opera (debuting as Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart). A prize-winner of Polish and international vocal competitions. His opera repertoire includes the part of Jontek (Moniuszko’s Halka), Marcello (Puccini’s La Bohème) and Demetrius (Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

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2 months ago | |
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David Nykl, Ondrej Mraz and Jirí Brückler (L-R)
The National Theatre in Brno is presenting a double-bill of Bohuslav Martinu's rarely performed Epic of Gilgamesh along with Henry Purcell frequently performed Dido and Aeneas from May 13 to June 10.

The cast is loaded with barihunks, including David Nykl, who we introduced to readers back in 2014, and Ondrej Mraz, who are alternating the bass role in the Martinu and the Sorceress in the Purcell.
Jirí Brückler and Jirí Hájek are alternating the baritone part in the Martinu and Aeneas in the Purcell.

Martinu created the Epic of Gilgamesh at the height of his exile period while staying in the South of France, only four years before his death. He reached for the oldest surviving literary text, and in composing his work employed the universally recognized translation into Elizabethan English made in 1928 by the archaeologist and Oxford professor Reginald Campbell Thompson. Deeply captivated by the epic from the dawn of Babylonian history, Martinu only began the compositional work after meditating on the philosophical essence of the text for several years.

Listen to a complete recording of the Epic of Gilgamesh here:

The Epic of Gilgamesh consists of three parts of almost equal length: Gilgamesh, The Death of Enkidu, and Invocation. It is scored for soloists (soprano, tenor, baritone and bass), narrator, mixed choir and orchestra. Martinu wrote it for Paul Sacher’s chamber orchestra, a fact reflected in the score. Although Martinu said that he “would need to express himself with greater orchestral might”, the sound of Gilgamesh is monumental.

The work was premiered in January 1958 in Basil, Switzerland. Martinu presented his idea of semi-staging the work to the conductor, desiring to “animate” Gilgamesh, to create “an illusion of action.” However, Sacher rejected the idea and performed the work as a concert oratorio.

Ondrej Mráz, who is new to this site studied voice at the University of Performing Arts in Bratislava and graduated in 2006. He became a soloist of the State Theatre in Košice and won the Literary Fund Prize for his portrayal of Mephistopheles in Gounod's Faust. At the National Theatre, he has appeared as Luther and Crespel in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann, Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Titurel in Wagner's Parsifal and Count Vilém in Dvorák's The Jacobin.

32-year-old Jirí Brückler was born in Liberec in northern Bohemia, where he started his career in music as a member of various children’s choirs. He then studied voice at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Music in Prague. He performs regularly at the National Theatre in Prague and the State Opera in Prague.

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Marco Vassalli in the Loire Valley (left) and as Pelléas in Osnabrück (right)
It's not just Wagnerian Christine Goerke making last minute splashes in big roles, as barihunk Marco Vassalli stepped in at the last minute last night as Pelléas at the Landestheater Linz for the ailing Iurie Ciobanu. The production of Debussy's Pelléas and Mellisande also features fellow barihunk Ville Lignell.

Vassalli, whose voice is perfectly suited to the role of Pelléas, last performed the role at the Stadttheater Osnabrück in the winter of 2010. He's currently in the midst of a run of Roman Cycowski's Die Comedien Harmonists. You can also read about upcoming debut in Sweat of the Sun in a previous post. The opera runs from May 28-31.

On June 12, he can be heard in a lieder recital at the Museumssaal Überlingen featuring the music of Schumann and Wolf. Next season he returns to the Staatsoper Hannover for a reprisal of Leonard Bernstein's Candide.

Ville Lignell and Myung Joo Lee in
Pelléas et Mélisande at the Landestheater Linz (© Karl und Monika Forster)
There are three remaining performances left of Pelléas and Mellisande on May 20 and 24, and June 27.  Tickets and additional information is available online.

Ville Lignell, who is part of the ensemble at the Landestheater Linz, can be seen there in The Merry Widow, McTeague and La traviata.

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Hunkentenors Ed Lyon, Glenn Seven Allen & Derek Chester
We've noticed that they're a bunch of tenors online who are getting their bodies in great shape, matching their beautiful voices. We asked three of the most stunning of them to answer questions about their fitness routines and whether barihunks better watch their backs. We chose three of the most gifted singers, including Americans Glenn Seven Allen and Derek Chester, and Brit Ed Lyon. 

1) What got you started in fitness? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I've always been active and played 6 sports at various time in high school.  The issue for me has been consistency.  Starting on Dec. 1st, I made a conscious decision to rededicate myself to a complete makeover, as far as my health is concerned.  I committed to a 30 day diet called the Whole30, which really jump-started all of my health goals.  I lost 25 lbs in 30 days and put myself in a place to really be selective about what foods I would be willing to put in my body.  From there, I started to educate myself about smart, sustainable ways to train my body to add pure lean muscle mass.  I've added almost 20lbs of lean muscle since March 1st, and really feel that I'm only getting started.  I also practice the Alexander Technique and make sure to never contract/restrict my spine, even when doing the heaviest squats, deadlifts, etc.

Ed Lyon: I was the most inactive child and young man you can possibly imagine - an exercise dodger of the first order. I only really started working out when I was 29.  It occurred to me that if I didn’t carpe that particular diem, it would only get harder to be in good shape as I got older.  I suppose it was a combination of things which pushed me to get a PT and really commit to working out.  The main one was the increasingly competitive world of singing - I struck me then that there were so many good singers out there, and frankly less and less work.  Given that we live in an increasingly visual society, and that opera, in order to remain relevant to other contemporary performing arts (be it theatre, film, pop music, jazz or dance) has to reflect that, so it’s artists must remain relevant and recognisable to their audience.  There is an expectation for both men and women to have a physique to do the role, while of course acknowledging the primacy of vocal ability.  So it seems only logical that we, as performers, should aim to fulfill as many of those expectations as possible - both on stage and for marketing purposes.

Derek Chester: I wasn't very physically active growing up.  I was (and still am) a huge video game and music nerd, and I focused all my energies there.  I was never particularly gifted at sports so I left that to others.  I was drum major in the marching band. I did however run the 1600 and 3200 in track and field during high school but I really wasn't very good at it.  At the University of Georgia, as an undergrad, I found I needed a place to escape from all things music and from other musicians.  I found the gym.  I took a running class, met some of the exercise science and kinesiology majors who eventually became my gym bros who knew everything and taught me everything they were learning. I began lifting pretty seriously.  At Yale School of Music, the pressures of the training, classwork, and performance, and my newlywed status caused me to fall of the bandwagon.  I spend a year working and studying in Germany on a Fulbright scholarship and I really let myself go.  Couldn't resist eating Berliners and döner kabobs and drinking limitless beer.  When I came back to the states, I was a full 225 lbs.  I really turned my life after that, and fitness became a more important part of my life, though not as important as it is now.  I fluctuated between 190 and 200, would go through phases of serious dieting and training, but ultimately, never really committed fully.  I was on the road gigging some 180 days a year, and found it was easier to just kind of dabble and maintain.  I was always making slow gains, but I was still ultimately doughy.  When I moved to Colorado and took my university job at UNC, I was able to be more selecting with my performing and establish a more stable routine. I really starting training hard core last year, running two half marathons, and undergoing some serious body building bulking and cutting programs.   After my most recent and most successful cut phase yet, I have lost almost 30 pounds in 4 months, and have truly transformed my body type and composition, finally achieving true, serious results.  I plan on sticking with this serious training for a while.  It's a great hobby for me to obsess over, I feel better than ever, plus I've the benefit of being married to the owner and instructor of a fitness franchise, so I have a constant support system and someone to share my fitness journey with.

Hunkentenors Glenn Seven Allen, Ed Lyon and Derek Chester
2) Do you feel that being in shape helps you on stage? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I can honestly say that my singing has never been stronger.  I sing by engaging muscles that expand and support my throat and diaphragm. i.e. my lats, my glutes, obliques, etc.  I never contract my abs or my ribs when singing.

Ed Lyon: I suppose Question 1 sort of answers Question 2.  The stage has the opposite effect to television, in that people who are giants in real life, or have very distinctive features, are often normalised by the stage - a kind of natural makeup (as on screen, small features, even a small physique, are advantageous).  Particularly now I have started singing German repertory, I have found being in better shape, and carrying a bit more healthy weight, has helped me to appear more substantial and physically strong and present than I might otherwise have done.  Looking at the curtain calls from Tristan/Dutchman/Tannhäuser at Covent Garden, even at 184cm and 85kg I look boyish next to these massive guys.  If someone is going to believe in you as a soldier, or a knight, or even a heroic lover, it helps to have a physique to do the role.  That said, I have also lost out on roles because people have felt I wasn’t ‘vulnerable’ looking or ‘boyish’, or indeed that I looked too athletic.  Particularly in stuff set in period, an obviously ‘gym built’ physique in the 1800s can look incongruous, so it is important to resist the urge to get bigger for its own sake.

Derek Chester: It's an increasingly visual art form, and the expectations singers have really shifted as of late.  It's not necessarily a good thing, though I would be lying if I said I didn't hope to benefit from it professionally if possible. Ultimately, I think the art needs to focus primarily on the voice, so we don't lose the quality and lower our standards in singing to display a hot body and a pretty face on stage.  However,  it does make me hyper aware of the reality of our business.  I think training singers need to keep this in mind, and be sure to not only train the voice, but the entire package.  I do mostly concert work and oratorio with early music and symphony orchestras, but I get a chance to do an opera production or two a year. I think being fit and health conscious definitely helps me when on the road and when on the stage.  Sometimes I get asked to do things that I might not get asked to do otherwise, and I feel that makes me a more versatile performer and balanced actor.  I think there is also an advantage in auditions, to strive to present more than just solid technique.  I had to bench press and squat a soprano last year in a production of Cosi with Opera Ft. Collins I did with your amazing barihunk Gregory Gerbrandt.  I'm sure there will be more opportunities lined up for me to use my fitness to my advantage on stage in the future.  It's also nice to feel good about having to take off your shirt or bare your guns for a production.  As long as you can deliver vocally, it's all beneficial.

Hunkentenors Glenn Seven Allen, Ed Lyon and Derek Chester
3) How do you respond to people who say that working out can restrict proper breathing for singers? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I have never felt more confident, capable and ambitious in all facets of my life and am recognizing that physical/mental health and daily commitment to personal growth is the foundation for everything I do.  I have very clear goals on multiple levels in my career and put them first on a daily basis.  And I am seeing the results in a big way!  This is radically different for me, as I now see how 'asleep' I really was in my life and career.  Setting goals and holding only yourself accountable is the key.  Thoughts/dreams become actual things when one takes daily action....

Ed Lyon: With regards to the effects of training on the voice, I can honestly say that my singing has only improved the stronger I have got.  Of course, straining the voice when lifting, not stretching properly, or simple physical fatigue from exercise can affect singing.  For someone unused to working out, yes, their singing will be temporarily affected by sore tired muscles, or strain where there previously was none.  But fallacies like ‘you can’t have a six pack and sing’ are a total fiction.  Everyone has a six pack just as everyone has quads and hamstrings.  It’s just a choice how much fat covers them, or what kind of condition they’re in.  Interestingly, very few trainers will recommend much ‘ab’ work these days, as big core exercises like dead lifts, squats, cleans, kettle bell swings and pull ups all work the abdominals as part of the core.  Crunches are so 1990. As for breathing, any restrictions are probably to do with stiffness, soreness, or strain which comes from not looking after the body properly when working out or when recovering.

Derek Chester: I was just having this conversation with singer another one of your barihunks, Ryan Kuster, who is a pretty fit guy with a stellar instrument and stage presence.  I personally don't feel having a six pack makes by breath tight at all, but I do know that every body and technique reacts differently.  Also, I sing generally light lyric repertoire, and maybe this would be a bigger issue for me if I ever feel the voice wanted to fach up.  I'm really interested in exploring this because I feel some fitness myths for singers need to be debunked.  Much of what we are told is passed down from a previous generation in which Hollywood image and opera intersected much less.  Since then the business has changed and there have been so many advances in exercise science.  I am convinced there an optimal way for singers to still craft their physique without hindering technique.  There are a few exercises I avoid in the weight room, and I never vigorously near performances. I especially think there are ways to reduce throat tensions with heavier weight. I keep a very pressurized air flow through pursed lips and certainly don't do much directly around neck in terms of lifting.  Singers mustn't use passed down fitness myths as an excuse to not take care of there bodies.  After all, our bodies are our instruments.  I think at some point in every singers fitness journey they should work with a pro to find a regimen that fits them personally without restricting technique.  It can be done.  I'm likely going to get certified to be a personal trainer and take some online physiology and exercise science classes.  I would like this to be an outlet for future research and publication for me in the academic world.  I figure I'm already passionate about fitness, and I take great joy in helping other singers with tips and tricks that have worked for me. 

Derek Chester, Ed Lyon and Glenn Seven Allen (Clockwise from upper left)
4) Do we need to start thinking about a Hunkentenors site and should the barihunks feel a challenges coming from their higher voiced colleagues? 

Glenn Seven Allen: I would LOVE it if you would start a Hunkentenor site, btw!!!!

[You can follow Glenn on Instagram at g7fittenor and on Twitter @g7tenor].

Ed Lyon: I thought there was a hunkentenor site once upon a time!  I think there will always be a competition between the voice types - the truth is that there are very few lothario tenor roles (I know, Duke of Mantua etc) compared with baritone ones; we tend to be more princely in our affections.  But I do see a lot of guys in amazing shape coming through now - particularly (and unsurprisingly) from America in both voice types.  There may even come a point where it becomes helpful not to be the buff guy, when the buff guy becomes the norm.  My real feeling about it all is that opera audiences deserve help with their suspension of disbelief - after all, singing a drama is already quite a stretch.  If the voice is all that matters, then let’s do concert versions. But I don't think there’s anything wrong with expecting your Don Giovanni to be attractive, your Semele to be irresistible, your Tom Rakewell to be charming or your Hercules to be buff, as there isn't for your Falstaff to be fat, or your Eschenbach to be older.  It is, and should remain, secondary to vocal considerations, but an audience used to television and cinema are going to find it much more appealing an art form if there’s some hint of verisimilitude and contemporary correlation between what they experience in mainstream culture and what they see on the opera stage.

[You can follow Ed Lyon on Instagram at lionotenor and on Twitter @Ed_Lyon]

Derek Chester: I love what you guys do here. You certainly draw a crowd with your material.  I think there are enough fit tenors out there to warrant our own site, but there is something endearing about letting the baritones have something of their own to be proud of.  They have a hell of a time.  If the hunkentenor thing never happens, you can still keep up with my journey with fitness and singing including my current training programs, tips, and info on staying fit and active on the road by following my Instagram @fittenor.  You can keep up with my calendar, videos, production shots etc. on my Facebook group

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Our feature on barihunk Zachary Gordin has not only proven to be one of our most popular posts in our seven year history, but it was just featured in INSTINCT Magazine's online site. Check it out HERE.

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Zachary Gordin preparing for Dead Man Walking

On April 23, Zachary Gordin reprised his successful performance of convicted killer Joseph De Rocher at the Shreveport Opera, which he performed the previous year at the Dayton Opera. We caught him to ask him about performing the role and got him to agree to share some amazingly hot pictures of him getting tattoed for the performance. He's not only got a killer body and amazing voice, but he proves himself to be smart, insightful and thoughful, as well.

Upcoming performances for Zachary Gordin include Orff's Carmina Burana on May 28th with Chora Nova in Berkeley and a recital of Schumann's Dichterliebe at St. Joseph's Basillica in Alameda, California.
Other upcoming performances of Dead Man Walking include Michael Mayes at the Washington Opera, David Adam Moore at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Daniel Okulitch at the Vancouver Opera.

1. What does it mean for this to be performed in the state where the alleged crime actually happened? 
ZG: Louisiana, and specifically Caddo Parish (where Shreveport is) has been notorious for the death penalty, and executions. While there hasn’t been an execution carried out in Louisiana since 2010 (and before that, 2002), there is definitely a strong history for capital punishment there. What’s exciting as an opera singer, is that it’s almost impossible for us to be part of telling a story with local, living roots. There were people on both sides of this production being mounted in Shreveport: lots of excitement to support it, as well as the flip side… I heard a few remarks from local residents that there were people boycotting the production because they took personal issue with Sister Helen, and her political stance. It hadn’t crossed my mind, being from the San Francisco Bay Area, that there would be some strong opposition. You never encounter these personal, sometimes heated, stories when you’re doing operas composed by Verdi, or Mozart, wether or not the story/characters have a historical basis. That really increases the weight and stakes of the production, and ultimately adds to the work’s depth and power. 
Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking (Photos by Clint McCommon)

2. What does this role mean to you and how has it changed for you with subsequent performances? 
ZG: It started out as a daunting journey, January of 2015, when I got the eleventh-hour call from Dayton Opera to learn and perform it. Before that I never considered it, partly because of the darkness of the character, and partly because it’s incredibly intense for the voice. There’s a lot of shouting/screaming, having to do push-ups and go right into an aria, and so on… I read the story, looked over the score, and I was hooked! I knew it would be a good fit, and wanted the challenge of a character who had done some truly monstrous things. I had a month before staging rehearsals began in Dayton to learn the opera, and had the great opportunity to work with Jake Heggie to prepare it. A lot of energy in the first production I did was spent on getting it “right” - making sure I was faithful to the score (the music isn’t easy! Huge thanks to Maestro Jerome Shannon for getting me through it), and being as honest as I could about telling Joe’s story (with the help of Gary Briggle, our stage Director). Even that whirlwind first time left me with the sense that I was participating in something that was so much bigger than me. That was deeply meaningful, and made the weight of taking on that character a little lighter. 
The second time around, with the Shreveport Opera production, I knew the music inside-out and didn’t have to think pitches/counting as much. The amount of freedom THAT gives a singer is incredible. I knew “my Joe” already, and was prepared for what that head space would feel like. Everyone else in that cast was in the opera for the first time, so it felt great to be able to encourage and support my cast mates having been through it all and come out the other side changed for the better. It’s always a deeply emotional, and spiritually penetrating experience to work on this opera - no matter what role you’re in. Showing up for each other, and being present in the stories of these characters really bonds a cast. I’ve made some very dear friends through this process. 
Gillian Lynn Cotter and Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking
(Photos by Clint McCommon)

3. What is the core message of this opera for you. 
ZG: Love! There are so many aspects of love, and what love can make manifest in people: the young love of the two victims, the love of their parents who are experiencing such a tragic loss, the love of Joe’s mother for a son who did some horrific things and will die, the love Joe was seeking and not getting which drove him to the drugs/alcohol that influenced him in his heinous act, the love of Sister Helen for Joe and his soul, and God’s love for us all… There are big themes of forgiveness, redemption, and the value of human life.  
Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking
(Photos by Clint McCommon)

4. Did you have a chance to meet the real Sister Prejean? How do you play off of that character when performing?
ZG: Yes, several times. She’s one of those special people who raises the temperature of whatever room she walks into. To talk with her, and hear her stories first-hand is such a gift. A real, living, and down-to-earth example of someone who is living their purpose. Knowing how her first few meetings went with Patrick Sonnier gives a lot of info to use in the body language, inflection, and feel of the scenes we do in the opera. Again, in opera we almost NEVER get to talk to the source material. It takes the mystery away, but it also raises the stakes of your responsibility as an artist. I always want to be faithful to the story.
Zachary Gordin in Dead Man Walking
(Photos by Clint McCommon)

5. What aspects of your own personality come out in your portrayal of Joseph de Rocher?
ZG: The similarities in the story of Joe’s childhood and my own are a good starting point. It was a rough start for both of us, and I can see how with a series of different choices my path could look very similar to his. There’s a lot of sympathy for him in that realization. Joe had to cultivate a tough exterior in life, and in prison. For me, it was growing up in the ghetto of Oakland that toughened me up. Joe loved music, tried to stay groomed and presentable, what people thought of him must have mattered… I can relate. The white supremacist element of this character is probably the one thing I struggled with and gave up on. I couldn’t really let that in - so I left it in the hands of my makeup team to add that element. Keep in mind, Joseph De Rocher is based on a combination of people, so there’s wiggle room for interpretation. Every Joe I play will be slightly different based on the production. While I’ve never raped or murdered anyone offstage, we’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t… As an actor, or storyteller, we have to dig into the pain and discomfort of the situations we’re presented with, and be totally transparent about it. It’s a difficult edge to ride the wave of emotion while having to function vocally/physically. Taking it over the edge in rehearsals helps identify how far I can go as an actor without making the singing suffer.    
Zachary Gordin getting tattoed for Dead Man Walking

6. Do you like sporting tattoos? Do you find them sexy on others?
ZG: I don’t have any of my own, but these experiences with Joe have made me curious… It was fun being covered in “ink” (apart from their meaning) and getting reactions to it, but then being able to remove it with a team of two people and a pile of alcohol swabs (that was cold!). I think tattoos are hot on the right people… I wouldn’t say it’s a fetish, but they definitely catch my eye and draw me in. If I do go ahead and get some, I’ll be sure to have BARIHUNKS post the pics! ;-)

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Miles Wilson-Tolliver
Our latest Reader Submission is barihunk Miles Wilson-Tolliver, who will be singing Dancaïre in Bizet's Carmen and Bill Calhoun in Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate this summer with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Additional information is available online.

We asked Miles if he'd be willing to answer a few questions, so readers could get to know him a little better. Read it to find out why he's called "Pork Chop."

1. What drew you to a career in opera? 
I am sure, just like many others, I was a complete Musical Theatre kid in high-school. I did a lot of singing in church and some choral work in the classical tradition, but never opera. Sarah Armstrong, my high-school music teacher heard something different in my voice and asked me to study privately with her. My interest in opera just grew from there and by senior year I was looking and auditioning for opera Programs around the country. I always have to add that the very first opera I saw in person was Wagner's Der Fliegender Holländer! And at 17, I was ready to sing Wotan! LOL.

2. You're singing in both Carmen and Kiss Me, Kate this summer. Do you have a preference singing opera or musicals?
I prefer to sing opera. I find it opera more challenging for me, and I think it is the most gratifying art form. I always love giving it my all!

Miles Wilson-Tolliver
3. What are your thoughts about singers taking care of their bodies as well as their voices? Do you have a routine to stay in shape?
Taking care of my body and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, has become the only way to sing to my fullest potential at all times. I don't know how to stress it enough. It is so vital to be healthy, physically, mentally and spiritually. I go to the gym about five or six times a week. And I follow the Men's Health fitness routine. Monday is Chest and Triceps. Tuesday is Back and Biceps. Wednesday is abs and cardio, Thursday is shoulders. Friday is lower body and core strength. Saturday is rest day. Sunday is church, which in my opinion is an exercise in and of itself. Especially going to a southern black Pentecostal church. LOL

4. Are there any roles in particular that you really hope to get to perform someday?
I would love to play Wolfram in Tannhäuser! But we'll see not quite there yet!

5. What other passions do you have aside from music?
I love to cook. My mom and her mom taught me how very young. I make a mean southern home-cooked meal. I fry so many pork chops that "Pork Chop" has become my nickname, given by my best friend. My favorite meal to cook: Fried pork chops, southern baked mac and cheese, and green beans with pork fat. MMMMMM

Miles Wilson-Tolliver
6. What do you listen to other than opera?
I often listen to gospel, Kim Burrell is my favorite singer, I love country music and hip hop and R&B.

7. Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with opera.
I am pretty handy. I have spent summers working as an all around handy man. It's something I'm good at because I pick up fast and I'm good and trial and error. However, I don't get enjoyment out of it. I also am a member of Phi Delta Theta!

8. Do you have any idea who submitted you to Barihunks or is it a surprise?
I know who submitted me. Thanks Joele! :)

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