September 16, 2010

Nathan Gunn, Sexiest Man Alive?

Nathan Gunn is one of opera’s most sought-after leading men.  And it's no wonder.  Before you even hear the rich, smooth baritone voice, it's impossible to miss his dashing good looks and silver-screen charisma.  Videos and photos from his run as Billy Budd are all the rage on the internet with Gunn's biceps, pecs and abs all shown to full advantage.  So we weren't surprised to learn that People Magazine named him one of the sexiest men alive in 2008.

The 40-year-old's looks are undeniably appealing, but it's the voice and dramatic soul that have won the American opera star an international following.  With appearances at all the great opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Paris Opera, Bayerische Straatsoper, the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Covent Garden and the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, Gunn shot to fame as winner of the Met's International Auditions 15 years ago and has been at the top of the opera ladder ever since.  Recently he's ventured outside the traditional classical repertory with semi-staged concert performances, similar to Symphony Silicon Valley's own Broadway In Concert series, of Camelot shown live on PBS and Showboat at Carnegie Hall.

He is also a star of the classical concert stage with appearances with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony and multiple Grammy-winning recordings with the London Symphony and it's on the concert stage that Gunn first got his start.  "It...taught me how to sing and perform in front of people," he says.  He believes it is far more dramatically challenging to sing a song when "you have to access a character without having to move."  And he owes his operatic success to Schubert, he says, having learned 130 of the composer's songs over some 400 performances while an undergrad at the University of Illinois where both he and his wife now teach.

For our season-opening set of concerts, Gunn will join the orchestra for Mahler's lush but hauntingly intimate autobiographical Songs of the Wayfarer.  Also on tap are the romantic, exuberant Schumann's First Symphony and Beethoven's joyful Seventh Symphony.  Tickets are still available for all three performances September 30-October 3, but are limited on some dates.  More on the concerts

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