Magazine article Opera Canada

On Stage Nathan Berg

Magazine article Opera Canada

On Stage Nathan Berg

Article excerpt

Since his debut singing Messiah in Paris in December 1992, Nathan Berg has become a busy singer on the international scene. His richly expressive bass-baritone, together with impeccable musicianship and a strong stage presence, have made him a favorite of audiences and critics alike. Until recently, the European-trained Berg had sung little on this side of the Atlantic, and consequently didn't have quite the media profile that fellow baritones Russell Braun or Gerald Finley do. That is about to change: Berg is now front and centre on the concert and opera stages in the U.S. and Canada, while maintaining a significant presence in Europe. He was chosen to sing at the opening of the acoustically renovated Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto last fall, and, last St. Patrick's Day, he made an auspicious New York solo-recital debut in a program of Mussorgsky, Mahier, Ibert and Vaughan Williams, with a heart-tugging Danny Boy as encore. Those present commented on his gorgeous timbre, warm stage presence and interpretive dep th.

Born in Saskatchewan, Berg grew up in Camrose, Alta., the son of a Lutheran pastor. He began his voice studies in his late teens in Camrose, then moved on to study in London, Ont. In 1988, while he was there, he saw his first live opera. "Some friends and I drove through the night to the Met to see Die Walkure, with Jessye Norman and James Morris," he recalls. "It was amazing to see the sets, the grandeur of them."

Berg made the leap from Canada to Europe thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts. "I got two grants and an award from them. Without those, I wouldn't have been able to study in Europe." He landed first in Versailles, France, to study with the renowned Vera Rosza, and then followed her to London, England, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Early successes included the Gold Medal at the Guildhall, and prizes in the Royal Overseas League, Peter Pears, Kathleen Ferrier and Walther Gruner lieder competitions.

While a student, Berg moonlighted in a Paris performance of Messiah, then landed a part in Rameau's Hyppolyte et Aricie with William Christie's Les Arts Florissants. It was such a success that he was invited back on many occasions, and has made several recordings with them, including Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Handel's Theodora and Rameau's Zoroastre, the latter two due for release this year. "I never thought of myself as an early-music specialist," he says," but it worked well with my voice."

Soon he was singing in prestigious venues and working with such conductors as Kurt Masur, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Charles Dutoit, Clauclio Abbado, Helmut Billing and Michael Tilson-Thomas. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.