Friday, March 5, 2010
Jordan Shanahan: In Opera News & In The Shower
The new issue of Opera News has features on barihunks Simon Keenlyside and Paulo Szot, so we almost missed Jordan Shananan. Luckily, one of our readers reminded us about this young barihunk whose career is taking off in a big way. Fortunately, we also found this video of him taking a shower and singing (what else?) Don Giovanni.
Here is Brian Kallow's feature on Shananan from Opera News:
[Photographed in New York by Dario Acosta, © Dario Acosta 2010]
By Brian Kellow, Opera News
Jordan Shanahan has a natural gift: he instinctively knows how to let the music breathe, and he never pushes himself, musically or dramatically. Yet his warm lyric baritone always has a delicate edge that stays with you. Singing Yeletsky's aria at the 2008 Gerda Lissner competition, he was a model of musical precision, economy and refinement.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Shanahan was trained as a trombonist and began studying voice as a way of improving his breath control. "I don't need as much breath to sing," he says. "What you need is a more focused, sustained, but lesser pressure. It was learning how to roll the dial back a bit." He got work in the chorus of Hawaii Opera Theatre before his teacher, Robert McFarland, secured a scholarship for him at Temple University. "I jumped in head first," recalls Shanahan. "I got to do Silvio in Pagliacci, Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. I decided this was a lot more fun than being in the pit as a trombone player." Eventually, he made his way to Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center. He's racked up a number of major competition wins, including the Lissner, the Licia Albanese–Puccini Foundation and the George London Foundation. After he sang in the semifinals of the National Council Auditions, the Met offered him a spot as second cover for Nathan Gunn in Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. "It was a great opportunity to come into the house with almost no pressure," says Shanahan. "I didn't have a single stage rehearsal. I got to see the process and work with people at the highest level, and it sort of humanized the business for me."
Though he misses the climate and openness of the people in Hawaii, he admits that "growing up there, nothing seemed real. I never got to see any of these people in person. I would listen to the Met on Saturday and watch PBS, but opera singers were like movie stars."
At thirty-two, Shanahan has a repertory that ranges from Posa in Don Carlo to Joe in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking to covering Gerald Finley in Doctor Atomic at the Met. In June 2008, Shanahan married soprano Audrey Luna. Chicago is their home base, but this month he's back at the Met, as Horatio in Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet. "It's by far the biggest thing I have ever done," he says. "Stylistically, I don't know that my personality is a 100-percent fit with the French style. I think I'm much more Verdian than the even keel that the French asks for. Actually, people have never known what to make of my voice. In this age of specialists — 'I'm a Rossini singer,' 'I'm a Mozart singer' — people don't run the gamut as much as they used to. I think there's some value to being a generalist."
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