Puccini's Turandot offers many pleasures to the operagoer: lavish spectacle, exotic settings and costumes, lively dance, lush orchestrations, memorable melodies and of course all those earsplitting high notes. And besides that, there's Pu-Tin-Pao, the buff musclegod executioner guy. Oh, baby! More operas ought to have roles for seminude musclemen, I think, which is why I have prepared this list of

18 Overlooked Opportunities
for Beefcake in Opera

1. Le nozze di Figaro: A well-built Figaro might well be stripped to the waist to do the heavy and sweaty work of furnishing his room. Said sweatiness would add an earthy touch to all the Figaro-Susanna sexual tension. And imagine Marcellina's leer when she glimpses Figaro's shiny pecs!

2. Cosi fan tutte: While Dorabella and Fiordiligi are lamenting their sad, lonely separation from their lovers, a humpy barechested gardener wanders by, catching Dorabella's eye for a moment until she is silently admonished with a glance from Fiordiligi. (Actually, I used this idea in a production years ago!)

3. With that brutal heat in Seville, barechested prisoners in Fidelio are reasonable enough.

4. Perhaps in a Peter Sellars production of La Cenerentola, Clorinda and Tisbe might well have Chippendale calendars on the walls of their room. Or Ramiro could have the invitations to the ball delivered by a strip-o-gram!

5. In Lucia, couldn't some of the Lammermoor lads could do the kilt-without-a-shirt look as in Brigadoon?.

6. Among the throng acclaiming Simon Boccanegra as their new doge are some shirtless Genoese sailors. Yummy!

7. Tristan und Isolde: And what about some more raunchy, half-naked sailors to taunt Brangaene?

8. In Gioconda anything goes. Shirtless acrobats at the festa.

9. More acrobats show up in Bartered Bride.

10. Act 1 of Queen of Spades is a mite nippy in Act 1 for seminude acrobats, I admit... But couldn't a particularly kinky Old Countess employ a buff masseur to knead her during the Grety aria and then carry her frail old body to bed? (Rysanek would do it in a minute!)

11. If it's so warm in Act 4 Boheme, why can't a well-build Schaunard take off his shirt? (actually this happens in the Ponnelle production)

12. Samson et Dalila is now a favorite Jose Cura vehicle. As to the photo on the right, well, we can dream, can't we?

13. Werther. Well, I wouldn't go to this opera even if it did feature naked musclemen, so the point is moot. Onward.

14. In Pelleas, suppose the bedridden (and beefy) Golaud in bed received a symbolically guilt-ridden sponge bath from Melisande?

15. L'enfant et les sortileges. Hmm. How about a double bill with Daphis et Chloe?

16. A Sandow-the-Strongman character would not be out of place in the all-American fantasy The Mother of Us All.

17. In the homoerotically-charged Turn of the Screw, why shouldn't Peter Quint appear nude in little Miles' dreams?

18. In Suor Angelica …

… well, okay. I ask you to imagine an Arena di Verona production of the Puccini one-acter, with the final vision done as a tableau vivant in the style of Michaelangelo - we're talking dozens of practically nude guys suspended in midair! (But you'd better hire Diana Soviero to sing it - she's the only soprano around today with the oomph to can handle that much competition!)

parterre box.