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The Sexiest Baritone Hunks from Opera
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Lucas Meachem (Photo: Natasha Sadikin, 2016)
We recently had the opportunity to see Lucas Meachem as Doctor Malatesta in the San Francisco Opera's hilarious production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale directed by Laurent Pelly. We instantly noticed that Meachem not only sounded the best that we'd heard him in years, but he looked imposing and statuesque with his new physique.  We later learned that he'd lost 45 pounds (20.4 kilos).

Meachem has two more performances of the opera on October 12 and 15 (tonight's performance will be sung by fellow barihunk Edward Nelson). The cast also includes the brilliant Maurizio Muraro in the title role, Lawrence Brownlee as Ernesto, Heidi Stober as his lover Norina and Bojan Knežvic as the Notary. Tickets are available online. 

We decided to ask him about his new physique and here is what he had to say.

Maurizio Muraro and Lucas Meachem in Don Pasquale (Photo: SF Opera)
1. What prompted the weight loss?

This past January, my doctor discovered that I had high cholesterol and he advised me to do something about it. Searching for solutions, my wife introduced me to some documentaries on health and the environment that had a lasting impact on me. It opened my eyes. Alternatively, with the advent of the Met HD and various opera publications, I had to accept that opera has become more visually intensive than in the past. I felt like I was missing out on roles, even losing some roles because of my looks or size. For whatever the reason, I was left out of casting decisions because I didn't look the part. I wanted to make a change and eliminate that factor for any casting director or company. I felt like I deserved more for the voice I had and the body I didn't.

"The fact is it's easier to change yourself than the system. So instead of resisting, I decided to change myself." - Lucas Meachem
I don't like any of the discrimination shown towards larger singers, men and women alike. It is a conversation I've had with opera singers around the world and I sympathize with them. I know this can be a disheartening thought but in this competitive industry, body image ends up being a deciding factor sometimes rather than one's true talent. I've been a Barihunk and I've been a Barichunk but the thing that's always been there is my voice.

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.

2. How did you do it.I became a vegan.

As a vegan, I eat a plant-based diet. I center my meals around vegetables and go from there. I cut out dairy, meat, eggs, sugar, and alcohol. I also cut out carbs after 4pm and try to eat an early dinner. That's tough with a performing schedule where I'm done with a show at 11pm. With how strict I normally eat, it's ok to cheat once in a while when I go out. I know that everything I eat is a choice, not a confinement.

I've tried so many diets through the years. My weight has been up and down like a roller coaster.  Finally, I've found a moral implication in my diet. Living a life of compassion motivates me and inspires me to be a better person for myself and the world.


Lucas Meachem as Dr. Malatesta (Photo: SF Opera)
3. Tell us about singing Dr. Malatesta

Malatesta is more difficult than your average opera role because you have to have many different faces--it's a real "faccia doppia". Those faces seem to change with each production. The acting is a challenge, but vocally it's straightforward bel canto. This role is suited to a lyric baritone with solid coloratura. Although it's not an overwhelmingly gratifying role, I enjoy singing it because it's a real team effort. It's an ensemble piece and you end up becoming very close with your colleagues, out of art and necessity.

4. What does the San Francisco Opera mean to you, having come through the Merola young artist program and the Adler Fellowship Program at the San Francisco Opera?


The San Francisco Opera is my home. I walk in that house and shake hands with 20 people before I hit the rehearsal room. I feel well-respected and well-loved, and it's a two-way street. I couldn't be happier that Matthew Shilvock and Greg Hinkel are working there, since they're both dear friends of mine. One of my most cherished accomplishments in San Francisco was singing "Barber of Seville" as a Merolini in 2003 and then returning ten years later to sing it on the main stage.

The SF Opera is one of those gold standard opera house. It's the kind of opera house you wish other opera houses could be. It's when all of the elements come together to make a truly fulfilling artistic experience. From the general director to the stage management team, from the security guards to the orchestra members, each factor is world-class. Artists leave knowing that they have participated in something truly outstanding.

Our 10th Anniversary "Barihunks in Bed" calendar is now on sale and available by clicking on the Lulu button below. 

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Malte Roesner from his recent Barihunks photo shoot
When we first met Malte Roesner in France last year, he was singing as a baritone and wrapping up a decade long run at the Staatstheater Braunschweig (State Theater of Brunswick). Since that time, he has gone through a fach change to bass and recently came to California for a series of coachings and auditions, hoping to make his U.S. debut in the near future.

He is featured prominently in this year's calendar, "Barihunks in Bed," and it's his gorgeous face that graces the cover. We asked him a few questions about this newest stage of his career.

Malte Roesner from his recent Barihunks photo shoot
1. What prompted the fach change?

I have always had an extension in the bottom of my range that is unusual for a baritone, and I remember that when I was studying, I had to be mindful not to  cover and transition into the passaggio "too early“. But, then again, at  20-something years old my timbre seemed too bright for a lower fach, and, after  all, I had the top notes.  So I started my career as a baritone at the Brunswick National Theater and sang  55 roles there over the course of ten and a half years. 

The older I got, the  harder it became to maintain the high baritone tessitura. Regardless, if you are hired for a certain repertoire in the fest-system you, of course, have to sing  it. After I left Brunswick, I  took some time to refocus on technique and come back to my natural voice. Because a singer's identity is often  tied to his or  her voice-type, it didn't even occur to me to try out bass repertoire at first.  It took my voice teacher telling me to just bring absolutely anything I wanted  and felt comfortable with to my lesson for me to start experimenting with lower  repertoire.  I started with bass-baritone arias, but as my voice started to relax into the  new range, I also added in real bass repertoire.

One of the first low bass arias I worked on was Sarastro, because I remembered a rehearsal for a Magic Flute revival – I was singing Papageno – where I jokingly sang a few of Sarastro's  lines down to the low F in the first finale. Afterwards the Monostatos came up  to me and told me that it sounded as if I was actually more at home down there.

Malte Roesner from his recent Barihunks photo shoot
2. What are you working on for rep?

Six months is not a long time for a fach change and my voice is still settling and my timbre  still darkening. So I am trying to stay open minded about what to sing and just take the cues from my voice, but basso cantante seems to describe  it best at the moment. 

For my first auditions I combined some bass-baritone repertoire, like Figaro and Pizarro, with real bass repertoire, like Don Basilio and Sarastro. This seems  appropriate since even some of the greatest basses of the past, e.g. Ezio Pinza  or Cesare Siepi, (I am honestly just looking at rep and not comparing myself), used to straddle the fence in their youth – youth of course being a very  relative term for a bass. 

Recently a friend of mine and two great coaches that I had the chance to work  with in California gave me a few recommendations.  Some of my next projects are  going to be Kaspar from Weber's Freischütz, Boito's Mephistophele and Floyd's Susanna

I am really looking forward to continuing this journey

Malte Roesner from his recent Barihunks photo shoot
3. You recently came to California. Tell us about your visit.

Except for the the top-tier, the European and the North American opera-worlds  are quite separated. I am in the rare situation that, because I was born in New  York to German parents, I have dual citizenship which allows me to work in both  areas without a visa. This is why ever since I started singing professionally, I  had the plan to one day also sing in the US. 

When a patron and Barihunks invited me to California for an audition tour, I of  course jumped at the chance.  In September, I had the opportunity to prepare my very first auditions in San Francisco and Los  Angeles as a bass. with some of the best coaches I have ever worked with, and then audition for a couple of great companies in the Bay Area. 

Leaving the practice room for the first time after such a transition can be daunting, so I am really happy about the very positive feedback that supports my  decision for the fach change. 

But of course my month in California was not just all work. I fell in love with the Bay Area; exploring San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, and spent more time wine-tasting with a former sommelier as my guide in the wine country than I would like to admit (note to self: it's good to be a bass). I tasted  amazing food from all over the world. Most notably, I had the chance to eat at  one of the restaurants of Dominique Crenn, the highest rated female chef in the  world. I got to hear great opera and a concert that merged Jazz with classical  and northern African influences. I spend time in museums, thrift stores and spas, in nature, on a ferry and on a roller-coaster. I went to a baseball game and a drag show with Latrice Royale. I even got to have lunch with Jake Heggie and talk to him about my translation of one of his operas (For a Look or a Touch) and he turned out to be an extremely nice guy. 

But most importantly I met kind, generous and wonderful people and made new friends.  As one can tell I just had the worst time ...

Malte Roesner from his recent Barihunks photo shoot
4. What is your workout routine?

After an injury a few years ago, I unfortunately had to stop training martial arts for a while. I  started doing a work out method called EMS (Electro Myo Stimulation) instead  that is unfortunately not FDA approved in the States yet. I used the fitness-level I got there to start testing my limits and tried all kinds of things. I built some muscle-mass with squats and barbell complexes and then I  got really lean with HIIT (high intensity interval training). 

At the moment I am more interested in functional fitness.  I do heavy multi-joint barbell lifts for strength, kettlebell and bodyweight  HIIT workouts for conditioning, and some yoga; because yoga is just good for you.  For me, the combination of these methods covers all aspects of fitness I need  for my well-being.  The dynamic full body workout with kettlebells and the  gentle strength and flexibility gained through yoga seem to me especially ideal  for singers, seeing as both work with the breath.

Malte Roesner demonstrating the "baritone claw" in San Francisco
5. Is it really "All about the bass"?

Is there any question about that?

Well, I guess in opera it often seems as if it were all about the soprano and the tenor, but that is OK.  I love the roles that might be coming my way and I love how the new fach feels  in my body. Maybe it has to do with the fact that while I was singing as a  baritone, the tessitura was  high relative to my passaggio and my range. I had  this whole lower part of my voice that I never got to use. Now I am just  discovering the relaxation and opening needed for the extreme low notes. Most  other voice-types have their money-notes in the top. Only a bass is truly  measured by his low notes.  Especially as a recovering baritone, the top is not an issue for me.

So in this  sense, being a bass really is “all about the bass.”

You can enjoy more pictures of Malte Roesner in our new "Barihunks in Bed 2017" calendar, which is available now. Simply click on the LULU button below.

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Daniel Schmutzhard
Austrian barihunk Daniel Schmutzhard has been creating a sensation as Nathanael in composer Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini's Der Sandmann at Opera Frankfurt, which has additional performances on October 3, 8, 13 and 23. The psychologically troubled character is a difficult vocal feat, accompanied by virtuoso orchestration and powerful choruses. He also has to sing much of the role clad in his scivvies

Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's well known story The Sandman (1815), Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini and the librettist Thomas Jonigk combined essential elements from the story with creepy, romantic motifs for their opera. Nathanael's state of being, a psychotic trip in the homelessness of one's own self, is depicted in ten scenes. To him the sinister seems, in a Freudian sense, a chimera which shines light upon the known and surpressed. Jonigk's figures are our contemporaries: they speak our language, know the feelings of self doubt.

Daniel Schmutzhard
The story of E.T.A. Hoffmann and his conflict between artistic dreams and reality is not new to opera goers, with Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann and Hindemith's Cardillac being the best known. Other adaptations include Busoni's Die Brautwahl, Alfred Thompson's The Girl with the Glass Eyes, Adolphe Adam's La poupée de Nuremberg, Walter Braunfels' Prinzessin Brambilla and Jacques Offenbach's Le roi Carotte.

The cast also includes barihunk Daniel Miroslaw, who appears as Lothar. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.


Our 10th Anniversary "Barihunks in Bed 2017" calendar is now on sale. It's available by clicking the Lulu button below.

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Malte Roesner on the cover of "Barihunks in Bed" (photo by Jack Michaels)
Our 10th Anniversary calendar is now on sale, which features "Barihunks in Bed." It features 26 of opera's sexiest men (25 barihunks and one hunkentenor) from Germany, the United States, France, Belgium, Turkey, Catalonia, the Netherlands, Italy and Israel. 
You can click HERE to order your copy today. 
2017 will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of Barihunks. Our mission has been to attract people to opera and, most importantly, to raise money to support young artists and to commission new music for low voices. We have also advocated positivity in online discussions about singers and this magical art form that we all love.

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Promo photo for Boys of Paradise and barihunk Jack Holton (right)
The opera ensemble workshOPERA in partnership with Tête à Tête will present six performances of composer Vahan Salorian's Boys of Paradise from October 15-21. The contemporary retelling of the phoenix myth, you are invited to join the party for a neurotic, erotic, psychotic, operatic experience. The opera features barihunks Jack Holton and Sam Carl, along with hunkentenor Guy Elliott (@GuyPlus).

Based on personal experience, Boys of Paradise tells the story of a trio of friends - Twink, Cub and Fag Hag, who experience the dizzying heights of fictional club Paradaezia. As Twink is led astray through a maze of drink, drugs and darkrooms, the audience gets an insight into the chem-sex partying endemic that has evolved in London’s gay scene of the past years.

The work is interactive with the audience as the cast is dispersed among the crowd. Tickets are available online.

Sam Carl (left) and promo for Boys of Paradise
Barihunk Jack Holton grew up in Medway, Kent, and is currently in his fourth year of undergraduate study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2015, he originated the role of Vulture in Boys of Paradise, which he reprised in July at the Tête à Tête opera festival. At Guildhall, he is currently performing as Mômolo in Le donne curiose, and earlier this year played Marquis de la Force in a reduced version of Dialogues des Carmélites. Also an experienced choral singer, he was a choral scholar at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Chelmsford Cathedral before starting his formal training,

Sam Carl is the Artistic Director of Music of the Spheres Consort. He studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Glasgow University and is continuing his vocal studies in New York City. He recently performed the role of Schlendrian in The Coffee Opera, three immersive café performances of which combined music by Bach with music by contemporary composer James Oldham. He has sung the roles of Luca in Walton’s The Bear with Melos Sinfonia and Polyphemus in Acis and Galatea with John Butt. This summer, he is going to be performing the role of Ormondo in Rossini’s L’inganno Felice on a tour of Umbria with Raucous Rossini. At the Edinburgh Fringe he will be playing the role of Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

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Barihunk John Moore and Kiera Duffy
Opera Philadelphia premiered Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek's Breaking the Waves, which includes the barihunk duo of John Moore as the main protagonist Jan Nyman and Zachary James as Terry. Mazzoli is a graduate of Opera Philadelphia’s Composer in Residence program. The opera has a "for mature audiences" warning as both leads appear nude.

The opera is based on the Oscar-nominated 1996 film by Lars von Trier. The libretto tells the story of Bess McNeill (sung by Kiera Duffy), a religious young woman with a deep love for her husband Jan, a handsome oil rig worker. When Jan becomes paralyzed in an off-shore accident, her marital vows are put to the test as he encourages her to seek other lovers and return to his bedside to tell him of her sexual activities. He insists that the stories will feel like they are making love together and keep him alive. Bess’s increasing selflessness leads to a finale of divine grace, but at great cost.

There is one remaining performance on October 1st and tickets are available online. The cast also includes the rising tenor sensation David Portillo, Eve Gigliotti, Marcus DeLoach and Patricia Schuman.

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Tobias Greenhalgh
American barihunk Tobias Greenhalgh will appear in Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek's "27" with MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) on October 20 and 21. As a Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Greenhalgh created the roles of Leo Stein and Man Ray in the world premiere of the opera. 

"27" explores the relationship between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, who hosted regular salon evenings at their Paris home at 27 Rue de Fleurus, with such guests as Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray, Henri Matisse and Ernest Hemingway. Commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, "27" received its world premiere in June 2014. 


The production was specially adapted by the composer for MasterVoices as a semi-staged production under the direction of James Robinson. Gordon expanded portions of the opera originally sung by a small male ensemble and re-scored them for the full MasterVoices chorus.The cast also features mezzo Stephanie Blythe as Gertrude Stein, Heidi Stober as Alice B. Toklas, Theo Lebow, Tobias Greenhalgh, and Daniel Brevik.

 Tobias Greenhalgh sings Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Let Beauty Awake"  

"27" explores the relationship between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, who hosted regular salon evenings at their Paris home at 27 Rue de Fleurus, with such guests as Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray, Henri Matisse and Ernest Hemingway. Commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, 27 received its world premiere in June 2014. For the New York Premiere, Ricky Ian Gordon has specially added new sections for the MasterVoices chorus. 

Tickets are available online at NYCityCenter.org, by calling CityTix® at 212-581-1212.

Upcoming engagements for Greenhalgh include Orff's Carmina Burana with the Noord Nederlands Orkest, Tom Joad in Ricky Ian Gordon's Grapes of Wrath with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus at the Franz Lehàr Festival at Bad Ischl, Ned Keene in Peter Grimes and Littore/Tribune in L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Theater an der Wien, Escamillo in Carmen, The Father in Hansel and Gretel at the Wiener Kammeroper, and Morales in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera.

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Joseph Lattanzi
The Arizona Opera will be live streaming today's sold out performance of composer Clint Borzoni's The Copper Queen, which won the company's Arizona Sparks competition for new works in a runaway. The piece was also featured on the front page of the Arizona Republic's arts section last weekend.

The opera's libretto, written by director John de los Santos and based on a true story, revolves around the ghost of a prostitute haunting a historic hotel in Bisbee, Arizona.

The performance will feature barihunk Joseph Lattanzi as Peter Ackerman, who is fresh of a heralded performance as Hawkins Fuller in Gregory Spears’ gay themed opera Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera. This season at Arizona Opera, Lattanzi will also perform the Gamekeeper in Dvorák's Rusalka, Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola.

Clint Borzoni's "Stufen" with barihunk Marco Vassalli:
The opera also features Lacy Sauter as the prostitute Julia Lowell, Alyssa Martin as Addison Moore, barihunk turned hunkentenor Chris Carr as Teddy Billings, Loren Battieste as Sugar Dog and Zachary Owen as Mr Floyd and Daddy Lowell.  You can hear Alyssa Martin sing "Waiting for a Whisper" from the opera on Soundcloud, as well as Sarah Tucker sing "Still Pretty."

The live stream will begin at 3 PM PST/6 PM EST at the company's Facebook page

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Dario Shikhmiri, Rocco Cavalluzzi, Federico Benetti and Paolo Ingrasciotta (l-r)
Our heads almost exploded when we saw the cast list for Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Teatro Amilcare Ponchielli Cremona, as it features a record number of six barihunks and bass-barihunks in one production. Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears are undoubtedly smiling down on this production from heaven. The eye candy cast includes  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.

Zachary Altman and Nicholas Masters
The final four on that list have not even appeared on Barihunks before. There are only two performances of the show, which runs on October 7 and 9. Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

Nicholas Masters sings Bottom's aria from A Midsummer Night's Dream:
The production is a co-production with the Teatro Sociale di Como/Aslico, Fondazione Teatro Grande di Brescia and  the Fondazione Teatro Fraschini di Pavia. Most of the cast will perform at the Teatro Municipale Valli di Reggio Emilia on November 18 and 20. There are also performances on November 4 and 6 in Brescia and in Pavia on October 28 and 30, but no cast lists are available or posted. The websites for Zachary Altman and Nicholas Masters show them performing in all of the productions.

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Rafael Fingerlos as Harlekin (photo by Marco Borggreve)
Austrian barihunk Rafael Fingerlos is touring as Harlekin with the Nederlandse Reisoper in their production of Richard Strauss’Ariadne auf Naxos. The production is directed by Laurence Dale with stunning costumes by Gary McCann and features Soojin Moon as Ariadne, Jennifer France as Zerbinetta, Martin Momrich as Bacchus and Karin Strobos as the Composer.

Performances are remaining on September 20 and 22 in Zwolle, 24th in Arnhem, 27th in Maastricht, 29th in Breda and October 1st in Den Haag, 6 and 8 in Amsterdam. Tickets are available online.

Trailer for Ariadne auf Naxos at the Nederlandse Reisoper:

Fingerlos will become a fest ensemble member at the Vienna State Opera beginning with their 2016/17 season. His first role will be Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia on November 12 opposite the Rosina of Isabel Leonard and Almaviva of Pavel Kolgatin. Performances run through December 20.

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