CSU Voices and Views

Setting the Stage

By Nathan Stark
CSU Long Beach Alumnus

CSU Long Beach alumnus Nathan Stark has performed on operatic, concert and recital stages throughout the U.S., Europe and China. Praised by the Washington Post as having a voice of "unearthly power," the bass vocalist recently joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

One of the most entertaining aspects of my career is watching the different types of reactions I get from people when I tell them that I’m an opera singer. It’s a unique profession, one with great risks, uncertainties, and dauntless hours of studying music scores and foreign languages—but it’s also one with great fulfillment, constant learning, adventure and high art.

People seem even more fascinated when I explain to them that I make my living singing opera.

It’s more than just a hobby for me or something I do on the side—it’s how I make a living, how I pay my bills and how I support myself. Is it challenging? Absolutely. But I’m drawn to the stage. I draw to music like a doctor is drawn to curing patients or a lawyer drawn to pleading a case in court. It’s what I do best.

So when I decided to study music in college, I found myself attracted to CSU Long Beach. I knew the vocal, choral and opera studies faculty there were outstanding. I was offered a scholarship to the School of Music so it was a win-win.

During my time at CSULB, I performed leading roles in all the main stage opera productions and several solos in concert with the university orchestra and combined choirs. I was also introduced to a mentor who had an incredible impact on me and my desire to become an opera singer.

Ms. Shigemi Matsumoto, a former world-class operatic soprano and prestigious voice teacher, became my vocal instructor throughout my time there—laying out a solid foundation for my singing technique. She continuously offered advice and encouraged me in moments when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be. Matsumoto became both my dear friend and mentor for several years.

My studies at CSULB also took me throughout California and the world—acquiring incredible performance experience while promoting the university’s music department: In an effort to share Western music with the Chinese, I performed in a series of spirituals written by African-American composer, Moses Hogan, on the Great Wall of China; I performed as a guest soloist for President George W. Bush; I traveled to New York City with the University Choir to sing in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall.

Today, I enjoy a career as a professional opera singer. Having just recently finished a production of Billy Budd at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and having engagements already booked throughout the United States until 2014, I am confident I made the right decision to study at CSULB.

My accomplishments are their accomplishments!

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The many faces of Nathan Stark: Opera isn’t just music and theater. A combination of several other art forms—including elaborate costume and makeup design—help turn song into story.

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