17 December 2011

The Barihunks Calendar

David Adam Moore and Wes Mason kick off the new year.

The phenomenon of the sexy baritone isn’t new, but it got a burst of energy over the past couple of decades, as singers started hitting the gym more and strutting their stuff on the opera stage — until we’ve come to expect the pecs in the spectacle. Nowadays it’s unthinkable that the leads in Britten’s Billy Budd or Bizet’s Pearl Fishers will keep their shirts on, and rare is the Don Giovanni who doesn’t give us a dose of skin. Factor in that a number of these guys are quite good-looking in the face department, too, and you’ve given husbands across America a new reason to complain when their wives want to go to the opera.

Stage director Francesca Zambello is believed to have coined the term “barihunk” to describe the phenomenon of the shirtless singer — a phenomenon she did much to instigate, often with the baritone Nathan Gunn. Now there’s an entire website devoted to barihunks, and the blogger has collected some of his favorite pictures to create a 2012 calendar, proceeds from which enable him to make donations: the first beneficiary was Portland Opera Studio, and the second is the Seagle Music Colony, run by Fort Worth Opera’s own Darren Keith Woods. I approve wholeheartedly — that’s why I’m spreading the news — even as I admit I can’t quite get into the spirit.

Überbarihunk Gunn in Pearl Fishers
with Hunkentenor William Burden (left).

Yep, even tenors are getting into the act.

It’s not a high-minded or aesthetic opposition; there’s no question of my tut-tutting, “What would Wagner say? This has nothing to do with art!” No, dear reader, the trouble is that I know too many of these guys. And that’s creepy.

Pity me! Across Opera World, thousands of men (and at least a few women) are drooling over David Adam Moore. Whereas I have to look him in the eye — up here — when we go for coffee. Daniel Okulitch stripped in The Fly, and his naked photos flew onto hard drives like lightning or locusts — while I was making small talk with his mom and dad.

It’s gotten so bad that I can’t even ogle Darren Criss without feeling guilty, because he is, as we know, the Wes Mason of pop music.

And it doesn’t help that I own socks that are older than Dan Kempson.

Who just married another young barihunk.

Really, I feel guilty just writing his name.

Okulitch in The Fly.
This photo does absolutely nothing for me.
That would be wrong.
And I do not own a copy of the full-frontal shot.
Trust me.

All of the aforementioned guys are in the Barihunks calendar. And so, lucky devils, you can hang these ’em on your wall, fantasize, write love letters, carve their initials on your flesh, do whatever you please. And I hope that you will. But you must understand that I’ll remain a eunuch when I’m around this harem, a wallflower at this fantasy-orgy, a priest in this choir room.

(Okay, maybe that last metaphor was ill-chosen.)

When he was writing about opera, George Bernard Shaw
did not have this kind of problem. Just saying.


Joy said...

Aren't you glad I spent hours & hours digging thru thousands of photos to find the absolute hunkiest Before Night Falls & Hydrogen Jukebox pix? ;-)

William V. Madison said...

Really, Joy, I am sure that those who ever see the calendar are grateful to you, even as I turn my gaze away.