|Sondra Radvanovsky as Tosca|
[Radvanovsky] has been trying to lose weight for Il Trovatore, which will be broadcast in the Met’s Live in HD series on April 30. “No one is putting pressure on me,” she hastened to say, “but I don’t want to look like a big, fat cow on the movie screen! And it’s sad that I’m saying that, but it’s the truth.”Indeed they are.
There is an inevitable tension among singers, she said, who are conscious that a camera will be monitoring their every facial tic. “If you get a bad angle, they’re looking up your nostrils,” she said. “We’re singers and we make funny faces, and this is broadcast around the world. I think a lot of my colleagues have done various things to make themselves look better on camera.”
I'm sure by now, most of you have heard about the blog Barihunks. You know what I'm talking about - the blog that covers ... or rather UNcovers ... baritones that some might consider to be hunk-ish.
Being a bass baritone that is in *no* danger of being posted as one of these hunks, I don't have reason to traverse there unless some sort of news-worthy item points me in that direction ... which actually has happened a few times.
posted the following:
Barihunk - hot or not?Let's be clear about something - anyone who uses the argument, "I've found it difficult to believe some opera performers who, despite having wonderful voices, just don't look the part..." must be spending more time watching opera on DVD or on a movie theater screen than they are watching it live. Because honestly, when you're sitting in a theater - sometimes 25, 50, 75 or more feet away from the stage - is it really possible for your experience to be "soured" by whether or not a lady is a size 4 or a gentleman is hunk-ish? Really? Come. ON!
If you're heading to a night at the opera, you may be pleasantly surprised to see a barihunk or two on stage. And by barihunk, I'm referring to a new breed of male opera performers who are admired for their voices and their bodies, including Daniel Okulitch, the Calgary-born bass-baritone who recently starred in The Fly and Don Giovanni at New York City Opera.
Daniel, and many other buff baritones, are celebrated at barihunks blog. The founder of that site believes that a growing emphasis on stunning male singers is a positive direction for the opera world.
Would you be more interested in going to the opera if it featured a barihunk in a starring role?
Personally, I've found it difficult to believe some opera performers who, despite having wonderful voices, just don't look the part. For me, those unbelievable performances come across as badly as a sour note and they detract from the opera as a whole. So bring on the barihunks, as long as they can flex their vocal cords, too.
Tori Allen, Q producer
Here's a sample image of Daniel Okulitch, who is often featured on the barihunk blog [R.]
I know that some will say, "Well, I can see up-close with my opera glasses." Clearly, if you're going to the opera to catch some baritone in his grape smugglers, you're not there for the pleasure of hearing beautiful singing - you're there for a different pleasurable feeling.
As you've heard here before ... we are at a place in opera's history when it appears that the fundamentals of the opera world are changing. Opera is a big art form which requires big orchestras, big voices, big gestures and big personalities. It has always been centered around the voice and around making a sound big enough to cut over the orchestra and to fill a house without amplification. Indeed, opera now seems to be metamorphosing to fit a small, very confining screen. Let's be honest, even a movie theater screen is a small screen compared to the grandiosity of opera.
Part of the metamorphosis is the focus on singer's looks as opposed to their voices. To that end, opera is becoming like everything else out there. In order to work, you have to be a thin lady or a hunk-ish guy. It's so hollywood.
So, I ask you: When did we decide to mold our art form into looking like everything else that's out there? When did we decide that Hollywood's ideal should be our ideal, too? The most important question of all, however: when will this metamorphosis from operatic-grandiosity to Hollywood-fabulosity begin to take it's toll on our art form? Because you *know*, Chiclets, that sooner or later it will take it's toll.
Indeed, the days numbered for opera singers who sing and act the hell out of a role, but don’t have the Hollywood looks or size. Are we going to turn our backs on the future Monsterrat Caballe, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Jessye Norman, George London or even Luciano Pavarotti because they don't fit the new “mold”?
The author of the CBC post is certainly advocating for that.
Would you be more interested in going to the opera if it featured a barihunk in a starring role?I for one can heartily say - uh, no thank you. Not because I'm prudish. Not because I've got some puritanical ideal of what aspects of opera productions should and shouldn't entail [ie: I'm not afraid of nudity]. But, in fact, I would not go simply because of what this Barihunks thing represents. The hollywood-ification of opera singers.
I've to got say that Barihunks, although contributing to it, is certainly not the problem. They do go out of their way to highlight singers of yesteryear - like today's post celebrating the birthday of legendary baritone Ettore Bastianini. Something tells me that Mr. Bastianini was not parading around the stage naked - more concerned about the quality of his muscle cuts than the quality of his voice - and, it seems the Barihunks author understands that.
As per usual - this is when I have to say that I am not advocating that all opera singers be morbidly obese. I am not advocating that opera singers shouldn't be healthy. What I am saying is that it is time for us to really take a good hard look at where opera is going. I believe that opera is on the path to a place where emphasis is no longer about what makes opera unique or what makes opera grand, but instead a place where emphasis is focused with laser-like precision on people looking like the Hollywood it-crowd. All so people can fool themselves into thinking that opera is becoming more "mainstream" - which, it's not ... nor should it - and, so people like that CBC writer can get all a-flutter about going to see a Barihunk sing in his underoos.
Care to disagree? Leave a comment below.