Article written by Alexander Rodriguez, host of On the Rocks with Alexander

Forget what you’ve assumed about the opera world. Opera has certainly changed with the times to reflect younger audiences, diversity, and hunks…I mean the gay community. Opera singer Zachary Gordin has been making waves in the music world, and later in the opera world, from an early age. From consummate pianist to thriving opera star, he has won multiple singing awards and has appeared at some of the most renowned opera companies in the country. He also teaches Master Classes and is an activist in getting music programs into the public school system. He currently serves as the General Director for Festival Opera, committed to maintaining and improving a safe space for artists and audiences from intersectionally diverse communities in the Bay Area.

Zachary also became a sensation in the social media world as his designation as a bona fide “barihunk” was validated by a gym selfie in gray sweatpants where Zachary quite clearly displayed his big…personality. Fans are as excited to see his latest gym pics as they are his latest role and the sexual flair he brings to each character. And truth be told, let’s just say the costume designer needs to add a bit more fabric to the lower region.

Zachary stopped by for this Andrew Christian exclusive while he is hard at work at bringing quality and progressive programming to Festival Opera before the year ends. We chat about hunks, the future of opera, backstage shenanigans, and…filling out those Trophy Boy undies.

What does the word “hunk” mean to you?

Apart from the obvious meat factor, I think the word hunk implies being helpful and protective of your community. Maybe that’s just my inner superhero fantasy speaking…

Do you remember your first opera performance, what was going through your head?

One of my early memories is of a concert when I was just being discovered as a kid. I put on my first tux, had been well-prepared, and just felt this overwhelming sense of belonging. It was something I didn’t have much of as a lonely, odd queer kid.

What are the sexiest elements of opera?

Opera is all about the human story, and sex plays a central role in that. Opera characters (and performers) are often pretty extra, and playing that up is easy on stage. Think of Don Giovanni, who literally has a “little black book” listing his THOUSANDS of sexual conquests of all shapes, sizes, ages, and classes. Exposing the ways people are when nobody's looking brings an exhibitionistic element to performing. Going to see an opera is a lot more like watching a movie than going to a church service.

Are there a lot of LGBTQ persons in the opera world?

Absolutely! There is definitely representation in the opera world. In the past there’s been a slant toward presenting as more “conservative,” but the explosion of social media has really helped artists to represent themselves more honestly - or be called out for not doing so!

Are there ever any shenanigans backstage?

Yes, of all kinds. Performing in this genre is like living in a pressure cooker, and people are people… If only there was a reality show about the behind-the-scenes of opera!

What is the future of opera?

I think centering the experiences of artists and audiences is so important as we move forward. Art has to be REAL if it’s going to be impactful. Opera for the sake of opera is just boring to me - it needs to say something meaningful, and serve both the creators and audience participants. Moving away from elitism, and telling diverse and relatable stories is absolutely vital. On top of the amazing voices and orchestras in opera, we’re seeing multimedia productions and special effects incorporating current technology, pushing for gender-expansive casting, and finding ways of keeping the classics fresh while constantly creating and composing new works. It’s an exciting time for opera!

What is your workout routine each week?

It’s basically a gym bro split: Monday arms, Tuesday shoulders, Wednesday legs, Thursday chest, Friday back, Saturday free choice, Sunday legs again. Adding cardio when I have to… That regularity keeps me focused, and I always find ways of mixing it up.

Do you ever get any flack from the opera community for showing your sexier side?

Yes. You can’t do anything without someone having an opinion one way or another. That’s the nature of being seen.

When did you first realize your pics were creating some buzz?

A few years back after my first Barihunks calendar shoot. I did some modeling when I was younger, but those images were the first to get a lot of attention, and I’m sure they helped bring new people to opera.

Do you always wear gray sweatpants to the gym...are you aware of the stir they cause?

No! LOL, I mix it up. The gray sweats are only for holidays.

You came out later in life, what are the pros and cons of coming out later?

Honestly, I don’t think there’s a clear answer there. Coming out requires a lot of navigating no matter what age you do it at, but there must be a huge benefit in coming from a supportive and nurturing family/community that helps with that navigation in a loving way.

What do love and dating look like for you currently?

I just asked my partner to marry me, and after a few years together it's so sweet to continually find new ways of dating, building a home together, and keeping things fun. I’m a huge fan of stability (gurl, THAT was a journey!), and feel so lucky to share my life with someone who is so wonderful inside and out.

Who is your celebrity hall pass?

I honestly can’t come up with an answer to this! The last time I had one was Orlando Bloom as Legolas in Lord of the Rings.

What are the biggest assumptions people make about opera singers?

As an insider, it’s hard to say, but probably the caricature of a lady in a helmet with horns screaming her guts out as being the embodiment of “opera” is the most common. We’re all just people, usually with varied and interesting life paths, who just happen to be able to sing over an orchestra without a mic.

What kind of music do you regularly listen to outside of opera?

The only time I listen to music outside of my work is at the gym - either really driving hip-hop beats or the harpsichord channel on Spotify.

What is your warm-up routine for a performance?

SLEEP, EAT, AND SHOW UP ON TIME. I have a short series of check-ins I use to get grounded and conscious when performance anxiety gets too loud, but I’ve trained for decades on how to breathe and speak with my singing voice, so I don’t need to put a ton of energy into warming up.

How do you unwind after a performance?

A couple of Manhattans and LOTS of laughs with people I love.

Are you a diva?

Yes. No. Maybe. Depends on how you come at me. I try not to take myself too seriously but have been known to read people to absolute dumpster fire filth when completely necessary. I stay sympathetic, but don’t cross that line…

You have to be responsible with your health, voice, and energy. Is it hard to be in an industry where you are probably resting or rehearsing while everyone else is getting wasted at Sunday Funday?

Not at all! I think we all find ways of getting silly and finding a balance between the voice/art and being humans. I have never felt the urge to participate in “going out” frequently - very much a homebody - but that doesn’t mean I live in a bubble. I can keep up with a bottomless mimosa situation when needed!

What do you usually wear under your costume on stage?

My top drawer is full of AC Trophy Boy, but there have been times when I’ve had to wear nothing on stage…

If you were to design a pair of Andrew Christians, what would they look like?

Classic black brief with the Trophy Boy pouch.

You can check Zachary out on IG: @ZGordin