“Nathan Gunn commands an operatic baritone whose mighty heft and richness ­confer an outsize authority on everything he touches. When he dips into popular music, he suggests a vocal Babe Ruth aiming for the fences, all the while maintaining a hero’s confident stance.”

The New York Times

“…vocally splendid. Gunn’s baritone is an object lesson in beautiful technique, vowels perfectly placed, the color balanced between bright and dark, consistently rich from top to bottom.”

Boston Globe

“these felicitously matched ­collaborators took us on a ­passage through love found and lost that, drenched with melody though it was, ­managed to touch firm base with just about every human ­emotion, from heady elation to wanton despair, that such a common-denominator story is likely to stir up.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“He projected the nostalgic and impish texts in three Ives songs to make sure the quirky allure came gleaming through.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“I dare anyone not to fall in love — either with the ­person next to them or the ­performer on stage — during the first 20 minutes of An Evening With Nathan Gunn…”


Through his performing career and life-long study of singing, Nathan Gunn has encountered an abundance of expressions of excellence and creativity in the performing arts. He feels it is a privilege to share these experiences with audiences, artists, and communities in order to encourage thoughtful, healthy, and expressive artistry.

His interest in music began in South Bend, Indiana where he grew up. He sang in his school musicals and his church choir, but it wasn’t until his junior year of high school after being introduced to Mozart’s opera, Die Zauberflöte, that he thought of devoting his life to it. Consumed by a desire to learn more, Nathan went the University of Illinois to study music and was mentored by pianist John Wustman and master teacher William Miller.

As a performer, Nathan is respected as an artist, a musician, and as a singing actor. He has performed on the greatest stages in the world, and television, radio, video recording, and live simulcasts.  Nathan’s famous portrayal of Papageno (The Magic Flute) was brought to the world stage in the first ever live HD broadcast performed at the Metropolitan Opera. In addition to Papageno, Nathan has reinterpreted classic roles such as Billy Budd, Figaro, and Don Giovanni, garnering many awards, including a Grammy award for his portrayal of Billy Budd and the coveted Beverly Sills award. He has also been widely acclaimed for his work in musical theater.  His performances of Billy Bigelow, Lancelot (both for Live at Lincoln Center) and most recently Max von Mayerling at the John F. Kennedy Center’s Broadway Center Stage have been widely acclaimed as well and have led to collaborations with such Broadway stars as Mandy Patinkin, Stephanie J. Block, Kelli O’Hara, and Audra McDonald.

Nathan believes that music is a living art form and has performed dozens of new songs, operas, and other forms of sung theater in a multitude of venues. Of his latest project In our daughter’s eyes–a one man show in which he was the co-creator with composer DuYun and librettist Michael McQuilken–Broadway World said, “Gunn’s the real thing, the quintessential performer who lets himself be subsumed by the composer and librettist and his own elements to the painting coming to life in front of us: a kind of “Sunday in the Park with Gunn”. His newest project which will be premiered in September of this year (2023) is by composer Paola Prestini and librettist Royce Vavrek and is titled “The Old Man and the Sea”, based on Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece of the same name.  He frequently collaborates with Hershey Felder Presents, most recently playing the role of Francesco Naclerio in Il Quarto Uomo at the 3000-year-old amphitheater in Fiesole, Italy.

Nathan and his wife, Julie, have been married for 31 years and have been partners in music for even more. They are often seen in recital and cabaret settings where they enjoy creating programs unique to the special event. This past year, “Nathan Gunn: The Art of Opera” was on display at The Peoria Riverfront Museum. This was a curation of famous prints and posters designed to promote the premieres of new operatic and musical theater productions. The display was brought to life through musical performances designed to highlight the pieces. Through their production company, Shot in the Dark, they are creating and producing a new musical by composer Peter Hilliard and librettist Matthew Boresi.  Currently, it’s being workshopped with the help of Lyric Theatre @ Illinois and will be premiered in its 2024-25 season.

Nathan is a professor and Swanlund Chair at the University of Illinois.  He teaches the art of singing to a full studio of students from freshman year through doctoral degree. He is co-director of Lyric Theatre @ Illinois (a comprehensive program embracing a broad continuum of opera and musical theatre while supporting the development of new works, and centered on his values of flexibility, creativity, and wellness.) He is also one of the program’s stage directors; next season, he will be directing a new opera by Ilya Demutsky entitled “Black Square,” in its academic world premier. He and Julie developed and founded the first ever Bachelor of Musical Arts in Lyric Theatre curriculum in the nation. It is part of the School of Music at the University of Illinois and housed in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to life as a performer and educator, Nathan is an avid promoter and advocate of the arts.  He and Julie care very much about the younger generation and support programs that help them develop their artistic potential.

Nathan and Julie raised their five children in Champaign, Illinois, where they have lived since 1989.

MARCH 2024