Nathan Granner is my favorite kind of tenor. His voice is rich and versatile–nothing short of magical. Listening to him sing, I think, How did he–? What did he just–? Oh, my God! How did he do that? He surprises his listeners and delights them–perpetually–making each phrase his own. His control is extraordinary–sotto voce as his finishes one note, exploding on the next.
On his bio, he’s described as having an “old school timbre”–an excellent description–perfectly fitting. And because of the combination of natural gifts and world-class experiences and training, Nathan can sing anything–opera, of course, but ballads, folk tunes, flamenco. I’ve even heard him sing urban jingles. He has performed nationally and internationally as one-third of the Sony Classical recording trio, The American Tenors.
The CD reached top five in the Classical charts. He has received national acclaim on such programs as PBS, RTE1’s The Late Late Show, CNN, Fox News, E! Hollywood Extra as well as press from The Times of London, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Opera News, Opera Now and more.
I first met Nathan on the Everyday Opera community site–Lori Lewis, founder suggested I interview Nathan. (Thank you, Lori). Welcome to opera-toonity, Nathan. Tell us about some of your favorites (and, in doing so, a little about yourself.) Favorite opera: Rake’s Progress. Stravinski has a way of knocking you over with a three layer approach to art for an artist. First, when you crack the score and dive in, it’s so complicated; dense and arcane I would say… Then once you crack the code (and there is a code) and Get It, you think, “Oh, what a nice fun little quaint story.” Then . . . KASPHHHLAMMO! Igor kicks you in the head with a steel-toed boot and you realize what you are singing about is so densley compacted and complex again, you feel like a child in front of headmaster after you’ve burned matches in the boys room. Like Nick Shadow does in the story, Stravinski defiles your senses and corrupts you into thinking this is light fare. Too bad there ain’t more.I could also listen to Madama Butterfly for three years straight. Nathan Granner sings with Orchestra Iowa in Cedar Rapids, 2009. The outdoor concert drew 3,500.(Crystal LoGiudice/The Gazette)
First opera experience:
Seeing Geraldine McMillan at Kansas State University in Boheme. I mention Geraldine because she taught me to cry that early evening. My friend had died in a tragic accident. I can still see her face now, amazingly enough. I had a huge crush on her and when she died I went into shock. Geraldine’s “Mimi” was so poignant that I just sat in my chair weeping. I never knew opera could have such an affect and be so cathartic… Years later, I got to sing with Geraldine in Treemonisha at Opera Theater Saint Louis. It was such an honor to share the stage with her.
Background: My career has been filled with these blessings. A kid from Iowa who moves to suburban Kansas City . . . my neighborhood pals are mostly service industry folks, and somehow, I make it to these amazing destinations, that I’d never imagined stepping FOOT in, much less actually working there. Kennedy Center, Russia, Stepping on the stage of The Met for National Council Auditions, Floor 35 of Sony Music… Singing in Glendive, Montana. Whaaaat? You don’t know until you get there. Almost dying like, three times during a rock club tour. All shared, though not on the road, with my wife of thirteen years Laurie, whom I met at The UMKC Conservatory of Music.
Years from now I’ll be in my forties looking back at these days and laughing at how hard it was and loving every minute of it. I’m still hungry. I want to do and experience more life and just wow people on the stage.
Word: First and foremost, I’m a singer. I live with this body that is flawed, cranky at times and that can’t see for crap, but the voice is beautiful. Or, it can be beautiful. It can also be cranky and husky after dragging it around in the mud for a time and reflux (GERD). I’m really into the the voice is me. Whatever happens to me, IT is the litmus paper. The more disclipline in my life, the more tightly focused the voice gets. HOWEVER, I insist upon utilizing my voice to the very last capable drop of expression I can muster. This is called “The Blues.”
A little on his hometown: I’m from Kansas City. Jazz and blues are as much a part of me (at least in the attitude) as classical is. So opera is my cup of tea in the classical world; there’s emotion there. Stories of triumph and love and loss. Like a good blues song . . .