Reveling in Challenge: Brian Mulligan Takes on the World (Again)

Since his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2003, baritone Brian Mulligan has enthralled and delighted audiences on some of the world’s greatest opera stages. This season sees this tireless performer ready once again to challenge himself to reach new heights.

The relentless performer has set himself a punishing schedule. By the end of 2015, he will have starred in the San Francisco Opera’s productions of Sweeney Todd, Lucia di Lammermoor, and the double bill of Getty’s Usher House and Debussy’s La Chute de la Maison Usher.

Mulligan will follow this in 2016 with appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in Simon Boccanegra, followed by Minnesota Opera’s world premiere of The Shining, In June he appears at Opehaus Zurich in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, before finishing the season with a performance in The Crucible at The Glimmerglass Festival.

This would be a daunting enough schedule for anyone. When you consider that no less than six of these parts will be debut roles for Mulligan, you begin to realize just why he is so highly regarded and sought-after. Never one to shy away from tackling even the most demanding roles, whether it’s his performances in Oper Frankfurt’s award-winning production of Weinberg’s harrowingly beautiful The Passanger or his current role in Sweeny Todd, he is always on the look-out for roles that will stretch his already formidable talents to their utmost.

The physical demands of operatic performance are often under-appreciated. Mulligan credits his love of sports as being a great preparation for his career. Equally inspiring was the intellectual challenge of learning languages and the history of opera. Coupling the two sides, physical and mental, Mulligan brings a depth of commitment to every performance.

That commitment can be seen in his approach to the title role in Adams’ Nixon in China. He spent over a year doing research, attempting to understand what he terms the Shakespearean nature of Nixon’s character. Not content to accept others’ judgements, he studied Nixon’s writings and interviews, and even visited China personally to get a first-hand feel for what Nixon was doing. That is commitment indeed.

The future is bright for this rising star. The future is equally bright for opera lovers. It will be a fascinating and provocative musical journey that this master-in-training takes us on over the coming years and decades.

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