9 World Premieres That Starred Baritone Nathan Gunn

By David Salazar

Nathan Gunn is one of America’s great modern-day baritones. Born on Nov. 26, 1970, he has had a wide-ranging career that has seen him appear in a wide range of repertoire, from classics by Mozart and Rossini, to romantic works from the French masters, to a number of modern operas.

The latter operas are the ones in which he has had arguably his greatest impact, the baritone not only championing 20th century opera, but even joining in the birthing of many new works.  In fact, throughout his prestigious career, he has participated in nine world premieres. Moreover, he has appeared in lead roles in all of those operas. Here is a look at those incredible achievements.


The opera by Daron Hagen had its world premiere at the Seattle Opera back on May 8, 2010. Gunn appeared as Paul, an aeronautical engineer and the husband of the title character in the work.

An American Tragedy

Gunn famously appeared at the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s opera, which was first staged on Dec. 2, 2005 at the Metropolitan Opera of all places. The baritone sang alongside Patricia Racette, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, and Jennifer Larmore, among others.

Brief Encounter

Based on the famed David Lean cinematic masterwork, this opera by André Previn had its world premiere on May 1, 2009. Gunn starred as Alec Harvey opposite Elizabeth Futral in the tragic romance. A recording exists from that famous premiere.

Cold Mountain

Jennifer Higdon’s opera premiered on August 1, 2015 and Gunn headlined a cast that also featured Isabel Leonard, Emily Fons, and Jay Hunter Morris, among many others. The opera would get a Grammy nomination.

Great Scott

The Jake Heggie opera would get a rather famous world premiere in 2015 with a cast that included Joyce DiDonato, Ailyn Pérez, and Anthony Roth-Costanzo, and Frederica Von Stade. Gunn played the ex-boyfriend of the lead character Arden Scott.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

Mark Adamo’s opera showcased the baritone as Jesus Christ alongside Sasha Cooke, William Burden, and Maria Kanyova. The opera had its world premiere in 2009.

Man on the Moon

Another of Gunn’s experiments was the television opera composed by Jonathan Dove. At 50 minutes long, the opera premiered on Dec. 26, 2006 with a cast that included Gunn, Racette, and Gregg Sulkin.

Love and Other Demons

Playing the role of Father Cayetano Delaura, Gunn was tasked with being a priest that falls in love with the lead character. The opera had its world premiere on August 10, 2008 and also starred Robert Brubaker, Allison Bello, and Felicity Palmer, among others.

A Harlot’s Progress

With Diana Damrau in the lead role and a cast that also boasted Tara Erraught, Christopher Gillett, Nicolas Testé, and Marie McLaughlin, this opera by Iain Bell world premiered on Oct. 13, 2013. Gunn appeared as James Dalton, a highwayman.


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