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ariadne1880
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I am old enough to remember when opera singers were short, fat and ugly (see Richard Tucker or Jan Peerce). Yes, there were exceptions (see Franco Corelli) but not many.

 

Today it is a different story. There seem to be more hunks and gorgeous hot guys with great bodies on the opera stage than there are on the movie screens.

 

One gorgeous tenor, Zachary Stains (no puns here!), recently appeared in an obscure opera about Hercules by Vivaldi wearing nothing more than what he had when he was born. It was a sensation.

 

A list of really hot opera singers would include Nathan Gunn (the original barihunk), Erwin Schrott, Juan Diego Florez, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, William Burden (the Florida Grand Opera is currently advertising its opera as come see "our hunk"), Nmon Ford, Randall Turner, Rod Gilfry, Christopher Maltman, Dmtri Hvorostovsky, and many, many others ...

 

Wish I knew how to attach photos here but haven't figure that out yet.

 

Mark

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The opera Zachary Stains sang nude in is Ercole Su’l Termodonte by Antonio Vivaldi. It was performed at the 2007 Spoleto Festival. Baroque opera is difficult for most modern listeners. Today countertenors sing the roles of the Baroque castrati. Many find it difficult to appreciate males singing in the soprano vocal range. Stains sings the role of Hercules and is a traditional tenor not a countertenor.

I sometimes find the mad rush to authenticity, in the performing arts, amusing. The director had him sing nude, with a wolf skin over his shoulder, because he believed that is how Hercules would have appeared. That may or may not be the case BUT the one thing that is certain is that Hercules would NOT have been circumcised and Stains is – let’s hear it for authenticity.

If you are curious and serious about obtaining a DVD copy of the opera it is available at amazon.com. However, unless you are a true fan of Baroque Opera I sincerely suggest you forget it.

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Actually, it was performed at the 2006, not the 2007, Spoleto Festival. The DVD was released in 2007.

 

Baroque opera is one of the most popular forms of opera today as many of these works are being revived after years of regret. I don't think you'd find many classical music fans who find baroque opera difficult to listen to.

 

The director said that almost all of the statues we have of Hercules show him naked so that is why they thought it would work. Those same statues show him circumcised so I think they got the authenticity thing right. Of course, insisting that they cast an uncircumsized singer to be "authentic" is rather silly especially when they could find an actual tenor with the body of Hercules who could also sing.

 

I recommend the DVD. It's a fine evening of opera.

 

Mr. Stains is also a really nice guy in addition to being a hunk which is always a plus.

 

Mark

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“Ariadne 1880” mentions tenor Juan Diego Flórez… While JDF is not exactly a hunk in my book, at least not in the Nathan Gunn sense, he is certainly a force to be reckoned with on today’s operatic scene. He is a good looking guy, has charisma, and embodies a winning stage presence. So in that sense he is not exactly in the tradition of Jan Peerce or Richard Tucker. Furthermore, and most importantly, he personifies a style of singing that can best be described as being “orgasmic”.

 

I highly recommend his new “Arias for Rubini” album on Decca…

 

Below is my favorite picture of JDF… as Corradino in Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran from the Rossini Opera Festival:

 

http://www.jcarreras.homestead.com/files/florezshabran5.jpg

 

 

And below to help out aridane is baritone Nathan Gunn in Britten’s Billy Bud… Opera’s "Top Gun" Indeed:

 

http://www.parterre.com/uploaded_images/billy_budd-748251.jpg

 

I like the nipple action…so a closer view:

 

http://parterre.com/uploaded_images/billy_closeup-732805.jpg

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I would agree with you that Baroque instrumental music is popular with audiences and not difficult for the listening public, however, I do think many find Baroque Opera difficult. Our ears are simply not attuned to the extended use of falsetto.

Yes many obscure operas from that period are being revived at Spoleto and some academic venues but they do not seem to be making it into the popular repertoire of companies like the New York Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera.

As a former teacher of Advanced Placement Art History I would be most interested in knowing exactly what statues or pottery paintings portray Hercules or any other Greek male as circumcised. Circumcision was definitely NOT practiced by the Ancient Greeks and I can’t think of one intact male nude from that period showing a circumcised male. Now I will readily agree that this point of mine is silly, just as I believe is, the idea of, having the tenor sing the role of Hercules naked. I definitely believe it was done for pure sensationalism and it did cause something of a local and limited sensation at the time.

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I have a great photo -- if I could figure out how to post it here -- of Nathan Gunn in a singlet type bathing suit that is so hot that it is scorching ...

 

No, JDF is too slight to be a "hunk" but he is definitely gorgeous.

 

The reason baroque operas have not made it to the MET or the SF Opera is that those houses are way too big to accomodate such small works with small orchestras. But the music flourishes on CD.

 

And singing countertenor is not the same thing as singing "falsetto." The two are entirely different. Although, for many, both styles are hard to take.

 

Mark

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I've very limited experience with Baroque Opera and so had hoped to see Handels 'Giulio Cesare' recently performed at the Lyric. Sadly I wasn't able to make it.

My understanding is that it worked quite well inspite of the Lyric being much larger than the houses for which it was originally intended.

 

With it's success we will hopefully be seeing more creative stagings of Baroque operas.

 

R

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Guest zipperzone

>Now I will

>readily agree that this point of mine is silly, just as I

>believe is, the idea of, having the tenor sing the role of

>Hercules naked. I definitely believe it was done for pure

>sensationalism and it did cause something of a local and

>limited sensation at the time.

 

I had not been aware of this production and it's nudity. While I think Stains is a hunk and applaud him for his guts to appear naked on stage, I think he must be a dyed in the wool exhibitionist. A loin cloth would have been a more logical choice. Thank God logic did not win out.....

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The last time I looked (a month ago) all of Juan Diego Florez's performances in the Met's "La Fille du Regiment" starting in late April were sold out. Now there are a few scattered seats available.

 

On thing is not in doubt: Florez is the most popular of the opera hunks, even if he's a little too slim to really qualify. Florez had the same book office power in last season's "The Barber of Seville." Has Nathan Gunn ever sold out an entire series of performances? Perhaps in "Billy Budd," but that is it.

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The last time I looked (a month ago) all of Juan Diego Florez's performances in the Met's "La Fille du Regiment" starting in late April were sold out. Now there are a few scattered seats available.

 

On thing is not in doubt: Florez is the most popular of the opera hunks, even if he's a little too slim to really qualify. Florez had the same book office power in last season's "The Barber of Seville." Has Nathan Gunn ever sold out an entire series of performances? Perhaps in "Billy Budd," but that is it.

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I doubt that Gunn even sold out Billy Budd.

 

And the Fille is not just a Florez show; it has the added power of Natalie Dessay who sold out all of her Lucia performances at the MET last fall.

 

There are now a few tickets to Fille because the MET has released the house seats and some subscribers have turned back some tickets.

 

I think Florez is more a "heartthrob" than a "hunk" but it's also true that he's the finest artist among this new breed of hot and gorgeous opera singers.

 

Mark

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I doubt that Gunn even sold out Billy Budd.

 

And the Fille is not just a Florez show; it has the added power of Natalie Dessay who sold out all of her Lucia performances at the MET last fall.

 

There are now a few tickets to Fille because the MET has released the house seats and some subscribers have turned back some tickets.

 

I think Florez is more a "heartthrob" than a "hunk" but it's also true that he's the finest artist among this new breed of hot and gorgeous opera singers.

 

Mark

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One of my greatest experiences in the theatre was experiencing JDF as Almaviva in the MET production of Il barbiere di Siviglia last season… especially his rendition of the often cut aria “Cessa di più resistere” … he definitely is to tenors what Joan Sutherland was to sopranos several decades ago… a force of nature.

 

I certainly hope he is completely recovered from his fish bone incident by the time of his La Fille performances at the MET… I was fortunate to get one of those unwanted tickets.

 

I have not heard Nathan Gunn live, but hearing him as Figaro in a broadcast of Barbiere was not exactly an enriching experience… the voice seemed routine and he had technical difficulties as well. So not a role suited to his talents… perhaps if seen live and if he were wearing only a banana hammock…

 

Regarding posting pictures… images cannot be uploaded… they must come from a website that will allow them to be used… the complete url for the image must be posted in the body of your message where you want it to be seen… to get the url right click on the image, go to properties, the url for the image will be given. In order to send private pictures you must post them on a personal website and transfer them accordingly… that’s the short version… others I am sure will be able to elaborate further.

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One of my greatest experiences in the theatre was experiencing JDF as Almaviva in the MET production of Il barbiere di Siviglia last season… especially his rendition of the often cut aria “Cessa di più resistere” … he definitely is to tenors what Joan Sutherland was to sopranos several decades ago… a force of nature.

 

I certainly hope he is completely recovered from his fish bone incident by the time of his La Fille performances at the MET… I was fortunate to get one of those unwanted tickets.

 

I have not heard Nathan Gunn live, but hearing him as Figaro in a broadcast of Barbiere was not exactly an enriching experience… the voice seemed routine and he had technical difficulties as well. So not a role suited to his talents… perhaps if seen live and if he were wearing only a banana hammock…

 

Regarding posting pictures… images cannot be uploaded… they must come from a website that will allow them to be used… the complete url for the image must be posted in the body of your message where you want it to be seen… to get the url right click on the image, go to properties, the url for the image will be given. In order to send private pictures you must post them on a personal website and transfer them accordingly… that’s the short version… others I am sure will be able to elaborate further.

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As a long time opera lover, I certainly agree that I never remember a time when there were so many hot male opera singers on the international scene. Nathan Gunn certainly has a well sculpted physique, as does Teddy Tahu Rhodes, the New Zealand baritone who is making his Met debut soon in Peter Grimes. (You're unlikely to get a glimpse of his charms in that, though, since there is probably not a costuming reason for him to go shirtless.)

The original poster mentioned another extremely sexy singer, Erwin Schrott, who is known as one of the top Don Giovannis in the world. His topless performance in London had the gay critics slobbering all over themselves. Ditto for his near-shirtless performances in LA.

 

There is some confusion here over Baroque opera and countertenors. The high parts in Italian Baroque opera (but not French) were composed for soprano and contralto castrati. Since those mutilated men no longer exist, countertenors now sometimes take those roles singing in what some might call a falsetto (there is some controversy about this term, but that would be a layman's impression). These same operas often have traditional tenor and bass roles as well, but generally the plum parts were written for the higher voices. Women also often take the roles written for castrati, and I for one, usually prefer the warmer and richer sound of a female voice -- but it's a matter of taste. And of course you give up theatrical verisimilitude with a woman as, say, Julius Caesar.

 

French Baroque opera, btw, did NOT use castrati, as the practice was considered disgusting by the French court. While the Italian princes may have given lip service to deploring castration as well, they had no problem hiring the singers -- especially at the Vatican, which had a castrato in the choir until the early 20th Century!!

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As a long time opera lover, I certainly agree that I never remember a time when there were so many hot male opera singers on the international scene. Nathan Gunn certainly has a well sculpted physique, as does Teddy Tahu Rhodes, the New Zealand baritone who is making his Met debut soon in Peter Grimes. (You're unlikely to get a glimpse of his charms in that, though, since there is probably not a costuming reason for him to go shirtless.)

The original poster mentioned another extremely sexy singer, Erwin Schrott, who is known as one of the top Don Giovannis in the world. His topless performance in London had the gay critics slobbering all over themselves. Ditto for his near-shirtless performances in LA.

 

There is some confusion here over Baroque opera and countertenors. The high parts in Italian Baroque opera (but not French) were composed for soprano and contralto castrati. Since those mutilated men no longer exist, countertenors now sometimes take those roles singing in what some might call a falsetto (there is some controversy about this term, but that would be a layman's impression). These same operas often have traditional tenor and bass roles as well, but generally the plum parts were written for the higher voices. Women also often take the roles written for castrati, and I for one, usually prefer the warmer and richer sound of a female voice -- but it's a matter of taste. And of course you give up theatrical verisimilitude with a woman as, say, Julius Caesar.

 

French Baroque opera, btw, did NOT use castrati, as the practice was considered disgusting by the French court. While the Italian princes may have given lip service to deploring castration as well, they had no problem hiring the singers -- especially at the Vatican, which had a castrato in the choir until the early 20th Century!!

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I saw the LA Giovannis and Schrott never went shirtless or even "nearly" shirtless in that one. Just a couple of top buttons unbuttoned.

 

He's great to look at but the voice is uneventful and a bit of a mess. The recits were unintelligable and inaudible. He seems to want to coast on looks alone.

 

Gunn's voice is nice but it's the total package that has to be seen. Easily the best body of any opera singer and a great boy-next-door face that could easily be seen on the big screen in movies.

 

Rhodes, for the record, is aking his debut in the upcoming MET Grimes in a small role that probably will not do him justice ....

 

Florez is a miracle and, unlike Sutherland, he can act and you can understand the words he sings!

 

Mark

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The first countertenor I saw was James Bowman in London back in the early 70s, and I found the voice irritating to listen to, kind of affected and campy. As the voice type has become more commonplace and accepted, I think the singers have gotten better--David Daniels in particular comes to mind--but I still prefer hearing a good mezzo in those roles.

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"There are now a few tickets to Fille because the MET has released the house seats and some subscribers have turned back some tickets."

 

You are correct. I just checked back on the Met website, and many of the performances are sold out again. There must have been only a few tickets

available in several price categories.

 

Some people forget that Juan Diego Florez and Anna Netrebko, the other Met new female sensation, appeared together as recently as two years

ago in the Met's "Don Pasquale." And Netrebko and Gunn just did "Romeo et Juliette," although Gunn obviously did not play Romeo.

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RE: Florez is a miracle and, unlike Sutherland, he can act and you can understand the words he sings!

 

For her time and place Sutherland was a decent operatic actress... especially when younger... check out some of what has been preserved of her earliest Lucia's and she most definitely acts a fine demented Scottish lass! Unfortunately virtually all of her video releases date from later in her career when she was not in her prime either vocally or visually.

 

Regarding her diction, it was a consequence of her vocal production... she was aiming for an effect that produced her characteristic smooth sound… and she made a deliberate decision to sacrifice clarity for that trademark velvety sound. Accordingly it proved to be a somewhat unfortunate byproduct and Sutherland knew this, and has spoken openly about it. To Sutherland’s credit she always made an attempt to actually sing the words and her interpretations, while never overly dramatic, were always adequately thought out and when combined with the undeniable power of her vocalism she usually succeeded in moving her audience.

 

Of course for some that was not enough… and I can appreciate how some might feel cheated. Furthermore, her vocal sound did not offer the wide range of colors inherent in a voice such as belonged to Maria Callas. I find a similar deficiency with Flórez where when not dazzling his audience with his superhuman Rossinian coloratura talents…his voice can be somewhat monochromatic… but shoot! You can’t have it all and Flórez and Sutherland both succeeded in revolutionizing the operatic scene. Too bad their careers did not overlap… How I would have loved to have heard them together in a complete Semiramide… and while we are at it I would have loved to have heard Callas and Flórez in a complete Armida... Moral of the story… today we have tenors capable of singing the difficult Rossini tenor roles… but no real super human star soprano worthy of their talents…

 

By the way, two other tenors to watch are Lawrence Brownlee and Kenneth Tarver. Together with Florez they could supply the three tenor leads for my fantacy Armida with Callas in the title role!

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