Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chunks?! You can't handle these Chunks!

Testing- one...two...Unique New York.  Unique New York. The human torch was denied a bank loan. Twenty thousand roaring orcs.  Ok, we're good.

Figured it was time to drop some more Chunks your way so without further ado...

Kimberly Sogioka

Kim Sogioka's "...clear, vivid mezzo-soprano gleams with heartbreaking empathy."  Besides being a badass performer and amazing singer, she is a phenomenal person.  She is that friend who always has the best stories and not in that "my stories are better than yours" way.  She's just done some incredible things!  She's sung an aria on top of Kilimanjaro!!!!  I mean come on!!  That's just badass.  I can't imagine how taxing it would be to sing at the altitude.  I can't sing after walking up a flight of stairs let alone 19,000 feet above sea level.  Upcoming gigs for Ms. Sogioka include Stephano in R&J and Berta in Barber of Seville.

Zachary Nelson 

Baritone Zach Nelson has been described as having "...a creamy baritone voice that has deeper bass-like overtones. He sings with great ease and naturalness and is an able actor."  Mmmmmm.  Creamy. Ice cream....Sorry, I'm back. Aside from dominating the opera stage, Zach is a good man who always has a smile on his face...unless the Raven's are losing, but we won't hold that against him.  Mr. Nelson's booming voice can currently be heard in Lyric Opera of Chicago's Das Rheingold as Donner. 

Robert Pomakov

Bass Rob Pomakov, or "Opera Bob" was hailed by the Washington Post as "...clearly a talent to watch. Embodying the melancholy heft and gloomy conviction of the classic Russian bass voice." His large, intimidating voice on stage is counterbalanced by his true easy going nature off stage.  Often seen wearing a classic bowler of fedora hat, he is just as at home on the Met stage as he is at his own bar in Toronto.  He has his own brew, too.  And if you want a real treat, hit up karaoke with Opera Bob.  You haven't lived till you've heard Proud Mary sung in full opera voice...

"I didn't tell you to buy pizza out of the trunk of that car!"

Othalie Graham

People smarter and more eloquent than I have called Ms. Graham "A svelte, beautiful lady, she moves with confidence and uses her expressive face to mirror the emotions of which she sings..." and "There was no shortage of strength to the voice, piercing through the orchestra, the chorus, and the full phalanx of principals."  Oh, and to top off all that nice stuff, she is ridiculously nice, kind, and giving.  Her bubbling personality is infectious.  You can't help but smile when Othalie is around.  She is currently rehearsing Turandot at Edmonton Opera.

Leo Nucci

Best. Headshot. On. Earth.

This man needs absolutely no introduction, so I won't give him one, minus saying he is one of the all time greats.  I added him to this post to share this video that has been making the rounds on social media.  Mr. Nucci is 74 years old.  Here he is singing a curtain call after a show of Rigoletto.  This man is a Bari-Chunk Legend.  (skip to about 2:00 in the video for actual singing)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wisdom from the Diva

Hello Bari-Chunks Nation!!  And a special shout out to my 3 most loyal readers- my mom, my wife, and ChunkLovin69 (please stop asking me for pictures...)

As always, I apologize for the absence of posts.  Life is time consuming sometimes.  But I now find myself with a few free moments so I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a post from the one and only, Christine Goerke.  For those of you who don't know who Ms Goerke is, "WHAT THE HELL!!! CRAWL OUT FROM WHATEVER ROCK YOUR UNDER AND LISTEN TO THIS WOMAN SING!!!! SWEET GOD ALMIGHTY! GET WITH THE TIMES!!!!"

I dare you to find a cooler opera gif out there

On top of being one of the most sought after, premier Divas, Ms Goerke is kind, generous, giving individual.  She works with young singers quite often, and is supportive of them, as well as all her colleagues.  Badass all around.  She is what a Diva should be.  Ms. Goerke (who for the record, I have never had the pleasure of meeting.  I just stalk her awesomeness via social media) posted this status on Facebook.


I can't tell you how much I love this status.  I want to cover that status in hot fudge and make sweet, sweet love to it.  All night long.  I want to cook it breakfast the morning after and send it flowers just to let it know I'm thinking about it.  

I bought you these puppies...

There are a few points I'd like to highlight.  

1. "What. About. The. Singing."  Um, duh!! It feels weird to me that as opera singers, we need to be reminded of this.  We are opera SINGERS.  Not opera models.  It is not a requirement to have 6 packs (unless it's beer), or biceps that can crush watermelons, and it's definitely not a requirement to have this: 
What do all those muscles do? Does one open cans?

Before I start getting hate mail, I promise I will qualify these statements later.  Just don't get your jocks in a bunch.  

2.  "Do you all find the same kinds of people attractive?"  I'll answer this rhetorical question for everybody- NO.  Not everybody likes the supermodel look.  Everybody has their own type.  Personally, when I see a supermodel do her little turn on the catwalk, yeah the catwalk, on the catwalk yeah, they do their little turn on the catwalk... (Sorry.  I just had a flashback to 1991) I always have the same gut reaction.  I desperately want them to eat a pizza.  I feel bad for them.  I want to send them money like a starving child in Africa.  Then I remember that they probably have enough money to buy Africa and I hate eat a pizza for them.  

I personally look for a woman who has bigger boobs than me, but that's just me.  Now once again, before I start getting even more hate mail, what I just said was a joke.  Kind of.  I look for much more than bra size in women.  I like legs too....KIDDING! And yes, my comment kind of objectified the opposite sex, but we all check people out.  My wife watched every single round of the men's Olympic diving events with this exact face:

        Wife chimes in: "That's also the face I make when I see a cheese plate." Fair. 

 It is human nature so let's all just admit it and move on.

3. "Maybe the person next to you likes stocky bald guys. Or they have a thing for tall, voluptuous ladies (if they're smart... :)"  I agree with her.  On both types.

As performers, how are we to know what our audience finds attractive.  Maybe one audience member has a thing for buff guys with blond hair.  Maybe the person next to them likes a little cushion for the pushin.  Maybe someone two rows away loves short red heads and the person in the back row of the balcony likes big butts and he cannot lie.  We can't please everyone.  We can barely please the director and conductor.

"I said Agitato not extra tacos!!"

As performers, we are there on stage to sing and perform.  Not physically appeal to each and every audience member.  We can't.  So why the hell do we keep trying?  I personally find talent sexy as shit.  Just sayin...

4.  "...but please remember that we are responsible for epic music making, and drama, and someone who doesn't look like ___ (insert poster child here) *may* just take your breath away with their whole package."  Hee. Hee.  Package.  Other than that, I have nothing to add to that perfect statement.
"It's my high C in a box!"

5.  This isn't in the post above but was a comment Ms Goerke left on the post. "I'd like to add- GOD BLESS the singers who look like models and have the goods.  Truly. Taking nothing away from them!!"  Once again, amen.  For those buff and slim singers out there who can maintain a killer bod and still sing like (opera) rock stars, good on you.  But as I've said many, many, many times before, the "goods" (as Ms Goerke called them) are more important than the model looks.  Not the other way around.

Working on yourself, both physically and vocally, is not a bad thing.  Far from it!  Even your "Chunk in Chief" here works out.  I try to lose weight and better myself.  It's a good thing (see, I told you I'd qualify my statement from earlier) and being healthy, able bodied people is absolutely necessary to do our jobs to the best of our ability.  But we as singers shouldn't feel obligated to be something we are not.  I've talked with MANY young singers who feel pressured to be a Barihunk.  They feel that it is how they can succeed in the business and sadly, they think it's the only way.  I can personally attest to this.  When I started out, I felt I HAD to get on that Barihunks site.  I felt it was a prerequisite for being a performer.  And it was always a real hit to my self confidence when I was never pictured on it.  Really hard hit.  It took me a good long while to figure out that THAT wasn't me. (Full disclosure- I am on that site under "Reader Submission.")  This is a problem.  This business is f*cking hard enough without throwing on the added weight (pun intended) of trying to all be supermodels.  It's not fair to us as humans.

So why is the business doing this to us?  Ms. Goerke addressed her comment to the managers.  I don't think her messages should stop with them.  I think casting directors, artistic administrators, colleagues, hell, everyone in the business needs to remember what it is we actually do.  We sing.  We perform.

And young singers out there, I say this to you- "Be the best you you can."  If that means you run marathons and sing bitchin arias, awesome.  If that means you like pizza and beer and can perform the shit out of an opera, fantastic.  If that means you like stealing worn panties from peoples homes, see a doctor cause that shit ain't right.  We are all amazing in our own way.  We should NOT be something we are not.  No one can do YOU better than YOU.  Be your best you. Except Stenson.  Stenson sucks.

*steps off soapbox, prepares for battle*

Monday, April 11, 2016


Howdy Y'all-

Sorry for the long absence, but you know, sometimes life happens.  Stupid needy life...

Anywho, let's jump back into the BC world.  First up, a quick shout out to Tamara Wilson on her recent win of the Richard Tucker Award!  Not that we needed this award to inform us of how amazing Tammy is as a singer and performer.  Congrats!!

Pictured: Official Bad Ass

Now let's get some new members into the BC family.  First up, a woman who needs no introduction-

What can I say about this women that hasn't already been said?  "Christine Goerke is the Wagner-Strauss soprano we have been waiting for, a multi-hued miracle of gale-force power, and pin point control, effortlessly riding over the most clamoring orchestras." Yeah, she's kind of a big deal.  Her voice is a true tour de force.  My wife describes Ms. Goerke as her spirit animal.  You haven't heard of Le Goerke?  Oh, well I'll give you a few moments while you click on her link above and listen to her for awhile.  No, go on, I'll wait...  You back now?  Well, am I right or what???  And on top of the incredible instrument, she is one of the best colleagues you could ever hope to work with.  Kind, generous, funny, with a magical unicorn voice? Yes please. She is currently singing Brunnhilde at Houston Grand Opera.

Sing loud and carry a big stick. A pointy pointy stick.

"His voice has power and beauty throughout its impressive compass, including a ringing upper register to rival a tenor’s..."  That's a pretty good way of describing Will's voice.  Another would be to say that after 15 seconds of hearing him sing, you start to hate him because of how talented he is.  The man can flat out sing!!  Bonus points for being an all around stand up guy. He's also a ambassador for opera.  Chatting up strangers and locals he meets while out to dinner or at a bar and getting them tickets to the show he is currently in - what a guy! Expanding operas audience - that's what Will Liverman is all about. Also, his original YouTube song cycles are the Die schöne Müllerin of the modern day. Ok ok but did Schubert write a tribute lied to Wendy's? Yeah, didn't think so. Seriously, go watch it. Will is currently gearing up for a Le Comte Ory at Seattle Opera.

There is a zero percent chance most of us will ever look this cool. Ever.

Pictured: Ginger Don Draper

NORM (as he's known to his friends, or maybe it's just me who calls him that) is a native of Hickory, North Carolina.  (How frickin cool is it to be from a town called Hickory, by the way?)  Known for his portrayals of characters such as Tom Rakewell, Ferrando, Tamino, Hoffmann etc etc etc, Norman's singing has been described as "riveting" "impassioned" and a "vocal sensation."  Norman's singing is no joke.  It is the real deal.  He is a gentleman in the truest form of the word and one of the best colleagues you will ever get the chance to work with.  NORM is currently working on, what was it... Oh yeah, West Side Story with Cecilia Bartoli.

Tights wearing skills  = +10

"Wonderfully expressive" baritone Joo Won Kang is originally from South Korea.  He burst on to the American operatic scene with well received performances of roles such as Sharpless, Figaro, Marcello, Onegin, Ford... shit, the guy can sing it all.  The first place and audience choice winner of the 2014 McCammon Vocal Competition isn't too shabby either. His warm full voice is a joy to hear and a friendlier man is hard to find.  He is currently singing Figaro in David Gately's epic production of Il barbiere di Siviglia at Fort Worth Opera, alongside other Bari-Chunk favorites such as Andrew Stenson, Tyler Simpson, and Kyle Albertson.

Accessory game is on point

"Dimitri Pittas, a sensitive a Macduff as you’re likely to hear… responds not with a vengeful howl but in tender tones that make the evening shudder with a spasm of sincerity." Spasm of sincerity. Wow, that is descriptive.  Dimitri is known for his portrayals of such iconic tenor roles as Tamino, Nemorino, Alfredo, Edgardo, Rodolpho, Macduff, Don Carlo, The Duke... My fingers are getting tired typing all those roles.  You get the idea.  Guy does it all and does it well.  His voice makes me spasm with "sincerity."  And as is true of all the people above, Dimitri is a fantastic person and colleague.  No one feels out of place working with him and he just makes you feel at ease.  Damn fine man.

Sergeant Mensch McKickass, at your service

There you go.  Welcome to the BC Nation, y'all!!!!!