20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH…Baritone Nathan Gunn

Tue, Dec 14, 2010

20 (Plus) Questions

20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH…Baritone Nathan Gunn

Photo Credit: Mike Sharkey

Nathan Gunn is a man of many talents and passions, as his responses to our “20 Questions” reveal. His compelling stage presence and musical versatility have given him star billing in a plethora of operas around the world, ranging from contemporary and 20th-century works to Mozart’s masterpieces (from December 21 through January 6 he reprises his acclaimed Papageno in the Met’s English-language family version of The Magic Flute). Singing with orchestras and in recital, the Grammy-winning baritone takes on some of the great concert and song repertoire, and also makes frequent excursions into musical theater fare, including, most recently, celebrated semi-staged performances of Camelot with the New York Philharmonic and Showboat at Carnegie Hall, as well as a Sondheim 80th birthday gala (also with the NY Phil) that recently came out on DVD. An avid sportsman and enthusiastic reader, Gunn’s charisma – yes, you saw him in People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” issue in 2008 – is undeniable. He’s also a dedicated family man who stays close to his mid-western roots.

1. A few works of classical music that you adore:

Barber’s Adagio for strings; Debussy’s Claire de Lune; J.S. Bach’s The Passion according to St. John; The finale of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro; Messiaen’s Vingt regards sure l’enfant-Jesus; Scriabin’s Five Preludes, Op. 15.

2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:

I enjoy classical music live more than on recording, but Fritz Wunderlich singing Dichterliebe is surely extraordinary. I would have loved to have heard him live.

3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:

The Bill Evans and Tony Bennett Album; Nat King Cole Christmas Songbook; Ella Fitzgerald’s These are the Blues; Johhny Hartman’s Unforgettable; Elton John: Greatest Hits; Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song; Led Zepplin, Prince, Sting

4. Music that makes you cry – any genre:

My daughter playing Danny Boy on the cello; chorales from Bach’s Passions

5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):

Tom Waits, Frank Ferko, Dolly Parton (she is a prolific song writer), Prince

6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):

I think Mozart symphonies are a little overrated. I’m always waiting for someone to sing.

7. Live music performance (s) you attended – any genre – that you’ll never forget:

Verdi’s Otello with the CSO under Solti with Pavarotti singing the title role

8. A few relatively recent films you love:

Casino Royale; The Sopranos (if you allow for a TV pick); Elizabeth; A Single Man

9. A few films you consider classics:

That Hamilton Woman; 2001 Space Odyssey; Moonstruck; The Godfather 1 and 2; Caddy Shack; Animal House; It’s a Wonderful Life; The Browning Version

10. A book (or two) that is important to you (and why):

Epictetus’s Discourses: the lessons have taught me to think; Pressfield’s The Gates of Fire: it’s an amazing story of self sacrifice, courage and freedom; Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: I love how vivid it is in describing that period of time; Helprin’s Winter’s Tale: BEAUTIFULLY written and amazingly fanciful; Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled: the most terrifying book I’ve ever read (it’s a little close to my life); Hamlet, for obvious reasons; Dumas’s The Count of Montecristo: the greatest revenge story; Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, because it’s an amazingly beautiful love story.

11. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re most proud of:

I proud of the fact that I spend my life doing what I love and can still take care of my family.

12. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re embarrassed by:

The list is long: I spell like a gorilla, I have bowed legs, I understand languages better than I can speak them, I’m terrible at remembering names, I forget dates, etc. etc. etc.

13. Three things you can’t live without:

There are actually five: my children

14. “When I want to get away from it all I…”

Take a hot bath; do some hard manual labor

15. “People are surprised to find out that I…”

…have five children

16. “My favorite cities are…”

…New York, Chicago, London

17. “I have a secret crush on…”

Cote de Pablo

18. “My most obvious guilty pleasure is…”

Scotch and cigars

19. “I’d really love to meet – or to have met…”

Mark Twain, Leonardo DaVinci, Cleopatra

20. “I never understood why…”

…we use the contraction “aren’t I” rather than “amn’t I”

BONUS QUESTION:

21. Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer to that question):

Q: Who is your favorite poet?

A: Christina Rossetti

And here’s a little clip from a past performance of The Magic Flute at the Met, which Nathan will be reprising again this holiday season:

This post was written by:

- who has written 36 posts on Ecstatic Living Room.

Born in New York City in 1962. Graduated from Stanford University in 1984. Worked for record company 1987-2000. Co-founded music promotion company, 21C Media Group, in 2000.

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