Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Hard bodies & a hotel stay

Out There

Barihunks calendar men German baritones Marco Vassalli and Malte Roesner take a break. Photo: Courtesy Barihunks
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The popular 2016 Barihunks Charity Calendar is out. Now in its fifth edition, the calendar features 18 hot & hunky singers of opera and musical theater in provocative poses. Our Barihunks contact Jack Michaels reports, "We didn't get our usual Bay Area model, Zachary Gordin, this year. He's promised to be back in it next year – and we're lobbying Hadleigh Adams, as well! Nonetheless, we got 18 amazing men from nine countries.

"Marco Vassalli, who is prominently featured in the calendar, will be making his US debut in San Francisco under the auspices of Musica Marin on Jan. 23 & 25, 2016 [locations to be announced]. Although the entire program has not been finalized, I can tell you that he'll be singing the world premiere of two new works for string quartet and baritone by gay composer Clint Borzoni. One is based on Hermann Hesse's poem Stufen, and the other on Hilde Domin 's Magere Kost. He'll also be performing Samuel Barber's Dover Beach, Opus 3, also scored for string quartet and baritone."

Vassalli is currently performing in Leonard Bernstein 's Candide at the Staatsoper Hannover. A German singer born of Italian roots, he grew up on Lake Constance and began his studies at the Hochschule fur Musik in Cologne, where he studied with the famed soprano Edda Moser. He has established himself as a refined singer of sacred music, having performed Bach 's St. Matthew's Passion, St. John's Passion, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, Haydn's Die Schoepfung, Handel's Messiah, Faure's Requiem, Verdi's Requiem and Durufle's Requiem.

On the stage, Vassalli has performed Damilo in Lehar 's The Merry Widow, Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus, Marcello in Puccini's La boheme, Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Pelleas in Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande, Papageno in Mozart 's The Magic Flute, Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Dr. Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale and von Eschenbach in Wagner's Tannhauser . In 2016, he will sing Roman Cykowski in the Comedien Harmonistas at the Theater Osnambruck before performing Schubert's Winterreise in Braunschweig and Koenigsluter. His recordings include Lehar's Der Graf von Luxemburg, Gounod's La nonne sanglante, Wagner's Parsifal and his solo album of Italian songs, Viaggio D'Amore. He is openly gay, yay!

This year the calendar proceeds will be used to fund the creation of the Foundation for the Advancement of Baritones [F.A.B.] to fund baritone and bass cash prizes at song competitions, commission music for baritones and basses, and be used to fund other projects featuring low male voices. The calendar is available at


Lobby of the Westin Verasa Napa, with Bank cafe and bar in the left background. Photo: Courtesy Westin Verasa Napa

Napa sojourn

Last weekend Out There was invited for a rejuvenating overnight stay at the Westin Verasa Napa. After drinks at the hotel's cafe and bar Bank , genial general manager Don Shindle gave us a tour of the grounds and the adjacent Napa River Bypass, an ingenious piece of civil engineering designed to steer any flooding of the Napa River away from inhabited land. Beautiful wooden floodgates are at the ready, so bring it on, El Nino!

We were treated to dinner at the hotel's Michelin star-winning La Toque restaurant, where Chef Ken Frank offers a menu of contemporary French cuisine. Hang onto your hat when you hear what we had (with accompanying wines): apple and onion tarte tatin with Roquefort cream (with a Pallas late-harvest tokaji); grilled octopus with za'atar, toasted almonds, dates, cauliflower and pickled lime yogurt (Vacqueyras blanc); Suquet de Peix with picada and Pacific coast rockfish (Brunello di Montalcino); prime rib eye with Fiscalini cheddar, pearl tapioca and Rutherford red wine sauce (Caravina cabernet sauvignon); and triple-baked butter crunch cake with apples and vanilla mascarpone sorbet (chenin blanc ice wine).

The next morning our perspicacious plus one Pepi participated in an outdoor yoga session with the Westin's in-house yoga concierge, Kate Bock , on the patio, a pretty nifty perk for all hotel guests. They provide the yoga mats: you bring the stretch. And here's the beauty part of the whole little getaway: the Westin press kit came embedded in a wine cork!


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