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On stage Nathan Berg.

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 Russell Braun (born 19 July 1965) is a Canadian operatic lyric baritone.

Much sought-after as a soloist and for opera roles, Russell Braun performs regularly at the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, l'Opéra de Paris, the San Diego Opera,
 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 Roy Thomson Hall is a concert hall located at 60 Simcoe Street in Toronto, Canada. It is the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.  in Toronto last fall, and, last St. Patrick's St. Patrick's or Saint Patrick's may refer to:
  • Saint Patrick's Day, named after the saint
  • St. Patrick's Purgatory, an ancient pilgrimage in Lough Derg, County Donegal, Ireland
 Day, he made an auspicious New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 solo-recital debut in a program of Mussorgsky, Mahier, Ibert and Vaughan Williams Vaughan Williams, Ralph 1872-1958.

British composer who was influenced by folk tunes and Tudor music. His works include nine symphonies, the ballet Job (1930), and the opera The Pilgrim's Progress (1951).

Noun 1.
, with a heart-tugging Danny Boy as encore. Those present commented on his gorgeous timbre timbre

Quality of sound that distinguishes one instrument, voice, or other sound source from another. Timbre largely results from a characteristic combination of overtones produced by different instruments.
, 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 Les Arts Florissants can refer to two different, but related things:
  • Les Arts florissants (opera), the name of a vocal piece by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.
  • Les Arts Florissants (ensemble), the name of a musical group, directed by William Christie, named for the above
. 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 Dido and Aeneas

with the gods demanding his departure, she commits suicide. [Rom. Lit.: Aeneid; Fr. Opera: Berlioz, The Trojans, Westerman, 174–176]

See : Love, Tragic
, 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. The repertoire ranged from Bach and Handel to Mahler and Othmar Schoeck. Berg is also a seasoned pro on the opera stage. His roles include Puccini's Colline and Schaunard, Monteverdi's Mercurio, Handel's Argante and Mozart's Figaro (more or less a signature role), Guglieimo, Leporello and Masetto, the last two in the Peter Brook production of Don Giovanni. Most recently, he took on the title role in Bluebeard's Castle for the first time, in concert with the Montreal Symphony.

Berg is in his vocal prime. With maturity, his smooth-as-silk bass-baritone has gained in volume and strength, with a stronger core suitable for heavier repertoire. He is particularly enthusiastic about his first Bluebeard Bluebeard, nickname of the chevalier Raoul in a story by Charles Perrault. In the story Bluebeard's seventh wife, Fatima, yielding to curiosity, opens a locked door and discovers the slain bodies of her predecessors. : "I am finding a more solid approach to my singing, and Bluebeard is very much in my voice, with nothing out of place." He has also been working on other roles in the privacy of his studio, but is reluctant to reveal them. However, he does admit to wanting to take on Don Giovanni soon, since, after a steady diet of Leporellos and Masettos, he feels he is now ready for the role.

But the recital stage remains his first love. The singers he admires most, Elly Ameling and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, were lieder specialists. "Fischer-Dieskau is one of my heroes. I went to his last concert at the Guildhall, where he did Die Schone Mullerin. I could tell he had less options to choose from when deciding on the colors for a note, but it was still quite spectacular." For Berg, to communicate in lieder is more than making beautiful sounds. "I feel I have succeeded if I know the audience hasn't been listening to the sound of my voice--if they just heard the ideas and the feelings."



Don Giovanni (Masetto)

Opera Bastille Bastille (băstēl`) [O.Fr.,=fortress], fortress and state prison in Paris, located, until its demolition (started in 1789), near the site of the present Place de la Bastille. It was begun c.  

June-July 2003


Rinaldo (Arg ante)

Munich Opera

July 2003


Les Indes Galantes Les Indes galantes is an opéra-ballet consisting of a prologue and four entrées (acts) by Jean-Philippe Rameau with libretto by Louis Fuzelier. Performance history
The première, including only the first three entrés

Palais Garnier

Aug.-Sept. 2003


Samson (Manoa)

Netherlands Opera

Oct. 2003



National Arts Centre Coordinates:

The National Arts Centre (NAC) (in French: Le Centre national des arts (CNA

Orchestra, Ottawa

March 2004


La Boheme (Schaunard)


Apr.-May 2004


9th Symphony

Toronto Symphony Orchestra The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is a Canadian orchestra. 400,000 people attend its live performances each year and it is often broadcast over CBC Radio 2. It was founded in 1922 and plays in Roy Thomson Hall. It previously played in Massey Hall from 1923 to 1982.  

June 2004
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Title Annotation:Biography; a profile of the Canadian bass-baritone opera singer; includes scheduled appearances to 2004
Author:So, Joseph
Publication:Opera Canada
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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Next Article:Debut Yannick Nezet-Seguin.

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