Category
  • Up for Air

    Cool things continue to happen. We are in negotiations to record Maria de Buenos Aires with Krzysztof Meisinger and the Sinfonia Varsovia. I was fortunate enough to record with the Sinfonia as one of The American Tenors in 2003. It'll be great to visit that gorgeous hall again. It's a very quick turn-around as I'll be singing Ferrando at UCLA where I'm pursuing my masters in music. You know the drill. Sing, Bow, hop on a plane, repeat. That's the life!

    Hopefully we'll get rave reviews from it. Here's a touch of it live.

    Go us!

     

  • David Bowie Died Today

    I keep krying and laughing at myself today. Would Bowie want tears? Would he want me to just keep slogging on, daring to do and daring others to do the same.

    I'm sitting in the UCLA Library, developing my gauges, trying to relearn the tools to communicate with my musical brethren. Ironically it is the journey of Ziggy Stardust that spun me far away from my so-called proscribed path. The energy and creative force that led me to WeeSmallHours

    I cannot tell you what we shared. I didn't know him, David Bowie. But I felt like my path was split and marred by his intervention and I don't think I ever got back. Forward motion does not allow for us to exactly to return to where we once were. I can circle back, but the mark, if my foot were leading a pen, leaves the dynamic Spirograph design where I once trod. 

    I can't get ahead, nor can I get it back, all I can do it step out on the road and be where I'm at.

    Fuck you, thank you, damn you, bless you Mr. Bowie. 

  • Until Tomorrow

    Oh my god, I cannot tell you how difficult it is to practice the fourth act of Bohème. I keep telling myself to relax. Sometimes I try to think of something funny, but in the end, Mimi dying, here in my studio, in a coaching studio, wherever she is, again and again...


    It's just overwhelming...



    There is nothing, nothing nothing I'd like more than to wake up and find the morning light shining through my broken window panes and hear the birds sing and feel your warm body in my caress.

    I would give anything, anything anything to see your breath fogging just near your face before day comes alive and dance in the dappled rays that travelled a million miles to greet you and kiss your cheek.

    To see you die a thousand deaths is not for my mortal coil to withstand. I only have one heart to break.

    Alas. The creator has gone. His story lines live on, unchanging, banishing her to eternal cold, an endless disease.

    My only joy is that I get to fall in love again tomorrow. The spring love that never runs low is my treasure to keep until of course, tempo rolls your frame into my den again and I must send you to Valhalla, or wherever it is you go until tomorrow. Until tomorrow. Until tomorrow.

    -NG


  • Hillary is Cool With Me

    We can talk about progressive politik, you and I. We can debate health care and why or why not to shut down Planned Parenthood. We can argue about the insipid political or fact finding that went on with Benghazi, but the fact remains that Hillary Clinton has worked long and hard to successfully make The United States of America a better place. She's fought for issues I personally care about. I've seen her place herself in harm's way politically because people just didn't want to get stuff done.

    I can't believe after all this time folks just want to writer her off and say she's not electable. She's a career politician. But in order to be a career politician, just like any career anything, she has to have a point of focus.

    She's not a person that just goes out and decides, "oh, today I'm going to be president." I didn't go out and say that about being an opera singer. It's an incredibly difficult choice to make. There's no magic button that gives you access to The Met, just as there is not for The White House, or The Capital.

    The decisions Hillary has been in the position to make have mattered. No decision is easy. Someone always loses. Because, no matter what anyone says, we have finite resources.

    WHo do you want making decisions for you? A person who can get things done. YES! But this massive ship we sail on, Our Government, is an entity, a dozen countries onto its own self. I want someone who can work together with people radically opposed, and see places of seeing eye to eye. I also want someone who will kick someone's ass if someone jams the rudder.

    I love to have other contenders in the ring. I love having a band of far left liberals, who have amazing viewpoints and who steer the heart of the Democratic party. These folks act as talismans of the ideology. We desperately need that, so that we don't have to lean so far to the right that our Centrist and moderate leaders look like republicans. Regardless, I'd also like to have in office a person with an independent spirit

    I saw a lot to like in Hillary 2012. I voted for Obama. I was sad to have to make the decision, but I did and here I am standing for Hillary.

    The cool thing about it is that knowing her for so long I know that she's going to be great. I've seen her be great. I've seen her take political flack that would level many politicians. She's not unflappable. She's not perfect. Who in their long life hasn't seen someone screw the pooch on occasion and make mistakes? I just know she'd look after her base and also look after our entire country and not half of it.

    I don't agree with many people on politics. Neither does anyone else. My views are my own, though I do share quite a bit more than what people would think. I'm not an issues based voter. I'm more a values based voter, but that leaves me free to feel compassion for other people and look for ways for all of us to find a way to work together. As long as my values (and those I would wish everyone else to have) are not being usurped I'm pretty easy to get along with. 

    Ok, fun times. 

  • Tangus Dei - An Absurd Vision, But a Good One.

    Voices of the Three Magi-Masons:
    Why is it that cherubs, all of who are crying have gone off to drink?
    Voices of the Spaghetti-Kneaders:
    Because that child is not a boy, Jesus! It's a Girl. A girl is born!


    Maria de Buenos Aires... It's not just about the music. In its absurdity, it transforms my thinking into many shards of reflective crystals. Horror, Wonder, Tears... of joy.

    Maria, who had been raped, whose body had been dismembered, the pieces placed in the four corners of an abandoned pool table is fated to wander the earth as a shade, tormented by wisps of memory. Her soul is retrofit with a heart, placed not in her chest but in her womb.

    In the end, Maria, with the entire of the hellish purgatory existence and with the living poor and downtrodden feeling paroxysms of force emanate from her gives birth to another Jesus. Not a boy, but a girl.

    How is Jesus supposed to arrive again? In the same form as we see in the fableistic paintings. The blond doe-eyed myth?

    If the son of God returns, a tale told by billions, but written by a scant few, who is to say when that return is, or in what form.

    No matter, it will come from out of the corner where we never look. Not the corner from which we never see, but never look.

    But why does that need to happen? Why cannot we step into that gray spot and bring help, sustenance and love.

    You know it's hard for a single person to do that. But if there's anything we have learned is that there is strength in numbers. A mob of compassion, rather than that of the hate that is spewed at every second of our short days here.

    Illegals, Liberals, Wingnuts, Bible-Thumpers, Terrorists, Liars you name it. We are all that. WE are the corrupt. Is it any wonder those dark places are dark, and that out of that will come unassailable and unimpeachable innocence?

    But we aren't ready I think, for that to happen. We would just destroy it as a threat, something to fear.

    Who knows how many Jesus' have been here, to be destroyed again and again, by our fear.

    This isn't to call you, you or you out, but if it were, I'd be part of that morass. Part of that pain of lost ideals and indifference, struck by the stark differences of what our society teaches and does.

    Is retirement different? Do we get to return to those ideals and rejoin the loving part of existence?

    If so, I want my life filled with working toward hope.

    I want to travel and see the world and work with Elephants.

    Wow. Maria de Buenos Aires... Astor Piazzolla and Horacio Ferrer. You two wrote an absurd piece of theater, but it just blows my mind reading the translation.

    I'll be performing this at the Bydgoszcz Music Festival Sept. 16 before screaming back to The states for La Bohème at Tulsa Opera

  • The Big Box of Opera: A Branding Manifesto for the New Times

    The Big Box of Opera: A Branding Manifesto for the New Times

    Dear Fellow Board Members,

    It is never a great time to deliver bad news, but as of 2pm the Opera Lyric of Metropolitan Anycity will be shutting its doors and ceasing any current and future performances.

    As you know, over the past forty years we have been steadfast angels of OMLA giving multiple millions of dollars to keep giving our community great performances.

    We continued to spend more money on our creative endeavors. Our shows were more over the top and lavish than ever, we brought in marketing firms who specialized in arts companies, we hired consultants and took their advice, bringing in administrators, widely regarded as top in the field. We shrunk our season from four productions to three and droped our performances to two from five. Every year we tried to focus and hone, And frankly we grew tired of it. 

    What is worse, our children and grandchildren have shown little interest for the work we do, citing it as too hard and nothing their friends want to see. It is hard to take, that our descendants have neither this spark nor the drive to take the reins of what was once a fun, important endeavor in the culture of our community. 

    Yesterday we cast the votes and a significant portion of the board, those present anyway, voted not to capitalize the organization.

    Commencing immediately, all of the assets of the company will be liquidated and any debts owed will be paid from those assets. What is remaining, will be absorbed by the former board.

    So long, and thanks for the fish.

    In loving and crerished memory,

    Your former board colleagues.


    Look familiar? Are you penning this yourself, or secretly want to? Are you one of those... "Artistic Directors" waiting to get the axe by the General Director? Are you a General Director itching for a way to weather the storm?

    You have little time, but you may have the budget of a midcap corporation to make some serious changes.

    Don't believe me? Go talk with you friends who are now skipping rocks on the beach.

    You big box opera companies who are capitalized take a gander at what your for profits have been doing for decades. Diversification. Branding.

    Before you continue thinking I'm some kind of crackpot, focus your thoughts, not on the profit part, but on the way that your company can spread its wings. 

    Coca-Cola brought Diet Coke, not as a thing that replaced Coke, but as a thing which complimented it, for those who liked pop, but not sugar. Cherry, Coke, Sprite, Mr. Pibb and now Odwalla and even just plain 'ol water, Dasani. These are all brands. Companies on their own right, but subsidiaries of Coca-Cola. 

    Visualize this in terms of your artform, not in terms of a giant souless corporation. It works so much beter it you have and utilize your imagination. 

    Your mainstage productions are your Coca-Cola. These are your museum pieces. You Romantic rep and some Mozart hits. You know them as Bohème, Traviata, Nozze, Carmen, etc. Your mainstage works are the lifeblood of the organization for now. Proven works that bring in loyal audiences. Certainly one can program from any genre, that's simply good curation.

    Incidentally, along with the mainstage, you can use your young artists and choristers to sing these works in English Heaven forbid, right? But go with it. The data is there that people want to see opera and understand it. We went whole hog in doing away with opera in native tongue. I was a part of the movement, but the moment it happened I thought, wrong idea. People actually long to watch, say, Don Pasquale in English again, so that they can laugh when the punch line and the goofy face is delivered.

    Same set, same direction, and you know, a following will develop, even if you have a reduced pit, or even piano. It's still a performance, and if you believe in your performers, it'll be a good one.

    This is where it gets fun and your company gets to spread its wings. First, cut the production budget to your main show. Get innovative and scrappy, rather than trying to steer your slow boat. To give you an example, look at what Pacific Oper Projects is doing. Abduction from the Seraglio as a Star Trek episode. Sold out. Sold out. Sold Out. On a fraction of the budget you have. Cut it. THEN.

    Create Your Subsidiaries:

    Baroque Opera

    Contemporary Opera

    New Works

    Concert Major works

    Concept Works

    Create an administration package and production staff for each sub. Locate a space for each company to be and you are now in the business of bringing an exponential amount of music to the community.

    The complaint that your oganization never does a, b, or c type operas is muted right there. In fact, you can put the call out that the organization needs passionate, youthful to help drive these very small companies, including your disenchanted board to bring a new meaning to Gesamstkunsterk.

    Where will you find people to run your subsidiaries? You know them already. They are the ones producing those little shows you never come to (sorry, I'm jaded). They are dying to work with you and even with a tiny budget, they'll still be working with more than what they started with, which is most likely their life savings or their credit cards, which shortly turns into their life savings.

    In my experience in the big world of the entertainment business, spreading the wings and bringing new people in absolutely does not shrink your audience. It grows it. Maybe your first performances bring in 50 people. But just remember this isn't a mainstage show. My example is Classical-Crossover. Whatever you may think of it, as more of the tenor groups were created, the larger the audience for it. Hip-Hop, the same thing. 

    Don't throw tons of money at it. That's what got the opera world in trouble in the first place. This is not about skimping either. Your people have to eat. But they aren't looking to get rich, they are looking to put on a show, with some respect and dignity. 

    There is Mentorship involved here, Development too. Think about the legacy that your community will have, with artists and producers growing and working with veterans on all levels and with the vision of the General Director or whatever the lead pooh-bah is called. Some of those Susidiary companies could indeed grow into their own large endowment and create rival productions to the mainstage works. But rather than creating toxic emnity, the productions stem from the same family. It all goes into and out of the same pot. Competitiveness, sure, but if people can scrap and work some magic, it just makes everyone better. it also adds an incredible amount of stability to the whole endeavor. Whereas where a Lully or obscure Handel opera would be produced with much nervousness as a mainstage production, a great time and stunning production can be made at a fraction of the budget and those that love the period and those that want to experience it as newcomers (as artists and audience) can revel in the work as art and fine tune expenditures. 

    Great/ well recieved productions can go into mainstage and can also travel to other companies.  Set/design rentals, costume rentals, for municipalities that may only have the capital to produce for smaller spaces can be scheduled, adding that much more revenue.

    Live streaming with multiple cameras can be pumped to Medici TV or any number of digital purveyors, increasing awareness of the company and adding dollars through ad and sponsorship revenue.  

    This is the job for a General Director and a centralized board and is the logical step for any endowed company to take. Spread your company's reach and do more good for your community culture. This can be a fun business to work in again and will help stimulate the growth of younger skewing boards. There is purpose here. There is change and a degree of controlled chaos, which breeds excitement with young people. The fact that the subsidiaries start small means that the responsibility of taking a seat on a giant bohemoth, as mainstage board member can be asuaged. Growing pains can sting, but mistakes can be absorbed and learned from. Rather than having "young friends of" guild group be a non-starter role for young board members, they can actually be empowered with helping make a production HAPPEN.

    Don't wait to become a casualty. "Get out there and DO something about it!" Spearhead a monumental change for the betterment of your entire community.


    This is a manifesto. it is short and crude and written in a rather informal tone. This is not a proposal. I am writing directly TO you as your colleague. You all do many things in your lives that make your experiences rich and varied and gives each of you a keen perspective on a myriad of challenges to tackle. My unique thumbprint is from over twenty five years of being a professional in the classical and entertainment business, twenty of those as an opera singer and thirteen of those as a producer. 

    In my early success as an opera singer I had the chance to branch out as a director, as a producer (both in live productions and in recording), as an artistic director (long may they live), as a PR guy, as a promoter and - as a janitor (sometimes the boss has to scrub the john as well).

    I've scheduled passels of independent artists and cajoled callow soloists into fierce performances and I've collaborated with people who hate their own shadow. I've sung under and worked with everything from major labels to ladies who just wanted their grandchildren to know they could sing. I've turned Beatles popular in one forty-five minute performance and have had my dreams taken away an hour after that. I've started companies and become an arts publisher, when we needed one most, and become a pariah for it, only later to become some vaunted leader. I am at once a chairman emeritus and a masters student at UCLA.

    Why?

    Because I don't quit. My aim from when I was in my early days in school has been to survive, to keep swimming. Since 1996 I found a north star and dedicated my life to bringing opera to people and bringing people to opera. Even if my path has seemed incredibly circuitous to some people, I've always had a point and a focus. And on this subject of diversifying your company I am not wrong.

    Diversifying your organization's brand, even if you have to call it by another name is the best thing you've got going for you. Even if you just take a step in that direction. Don't be the next one that gets that letter. 

    I truly wish the best for everyone. I wish it would all work out, but it doesn't always work out. It is time now to change the model. Best of luck!

  • Hanh!

    "ok, cat," I say, "you can jump on my chest, obfuscating the view of my screen, but when you plant your but on my nose and your tail in my eyeball, I'm done with you.

    silence.

    "C'mon, get off my face!"
    not a muscle twitches. I try to push the seemingly innocent usurper off, but he is wily as a weed.

    "Get. Off. My. Face!"
    I finally convince him to unplug my eye and he jumps off.

    "Keep your butt out of my nose, H.G."
    "Hanh!" He replies.

    He literally laughed at me.

    He's lucky he's cute.

  • FB friends, I just have to express to you how really lucky I am. This job... singing... is not something that I would really recommend to anyone. It is truly wrought upon somebody.

    One day you wake up and your life, that you thought was going someplace is halted, shaken and put into a completely different world. I'm sure it's not just a singing thing, it's a talent thing, throughout disciplines. You show an affinity and you get swept up into the world that looks for new, better, fresh, able, whatever... To be continued

    nathan granner
  • Upcoming Goodness

    Hello all of you new Nathan Granner page like clickers! There are a hundred or so of you who have joined on within the past few months.

    Things are going great guns with new operatic duo Gulley/Granner. In fact we are gearing up for an incredibly wild ride through January.

    July I will be appearing in my first fringe festival doing some cool storytelling with some amazing friends of Rudyard Kiplings "Just So Stories." TWe will be making the setting really intimate, in fact, in a tent. The performance will be recorded and made into CD's so for those of you NOT in KC area, you'll be able to enjoy.

    August is joyous. 

    August 4th and 11th I think. We will be singing two Sundays at Church of the Resurrection in Overland Park, KS. Songs from the Gulley/Granner HYMN album we released recently.

    August 12, 13, 14, 15 we are doing Chestnut songs at The Chestnut Fine Arts Center. The three original shows are sold out so we opened up two matinees.

    August 19 is "A Romantic Affare The24" the Gulley/Granner Multi-Course Performance.
    It's Opera Night, where Ben and I chart our journey as opera singers from our early days as students singing Baroque Opera to today where we take on incredibly challenging repertoire from the bel canto period and modern repertoire. There will be a number of hits you will recognize as well as some pieces you will get to hear live, maybe for the first time.

    We have a number of seating options available from bar seating and lots of wine to VIP up close, where you really get to see us sweat... while you are enjoying 5 courses of incredible Chef Martin Heuser Cuisine AND Visual Projections, that will make you feel you are in a different world.

    Then off Minneappolis/St. Paul.

    September Ben and I showcase in Austin, TX and Philadelphia then split up.

    Where I will be heading to Amarillo to sing in Donizetti's Lucia Del Lamermoor through Oct6.

    I think that is enough for the moment, I'll fill you in as we go along with pictures thoughts and things.

    Thanks again for being a part of this. Love Nathan