Nathan Berg sings "Nachklang Op30/7" by Othmar Schoeck; text by Goethe. Stephen Ralls, piano. From YouTube.
He grew up in Camrose, Alberta where he began to study voice while still in his teens with Breck McHan. He pursued his musical education at the University of Alberta's Augustana Campus, and studied at the University of Western Ontario for one year with Alvin Reimer. He was first exposed to live opera in 1988 when he saw Die Walkure on a trip to the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
With a Sylvia Gelber Foundation Award from the Canada Council for the Arts (1992), Berg studied in France with the Maitrise nationale de Versailles established by Michel Gervais; and then in England at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. There, a major influence was his voice teacher the renowned Vera Rozsa, and Berg won the school's Gold Medal for Singers (1993). Other honours were the Royal Overseas League Music Competition, the Kathleen Ferrier Award (second place 1992), the Walther Grüner International Lieder Competition, and the Peter Pears Award (1993).
He made his professional debut in Handel's Messiah in Paris (1992), which led to collaborations in early music with Les Arts Florissants.
Opera and Solo Appearances
Berg has appeared in Mozart operas, among them: Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro (Nice, the Netherlands Opera); Masetto in Don Giovanni under Claudio Abbado and Daniel Harding (Brussels, Tokyo, Milan); Guglielmo in Così fan tutte (Welsh National Opera); and Leporello in Don Giovanni (English National Opera). Other major roles have included Bluebeard in Bluebeard's Castle (Bartok) which he first performed in concert version with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) in 2003; Mephistopheles in Berlioz' Damnation of Faust, the same role in Gounod's Faust, and the Dutchman in The Flying Dutchman.
In 2012 he played Huascar in a new production of Rameau's opera-ballet Les Indes Galantes at the Théâtre du Capital in Toulouse under Christophe Rousset, a role he also portrayed on DVD (Opus Arte Media, 2005).
Berg has worked with prominent conductors Kurt Masur, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Charles Dutoit, Helmut Billing Michael Tilson-Thomas, Sir Neville Mariner among them, and appeared as a soloist with major US and European orchestras in such venues as Wigmore Hall (London), Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall (NY). He has performed with the BBC Symphony, l'Orchestre de Paris, the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and others.
In Canada, Berg has appeared with most major orchestras and opera companies: the OSM, Toronto Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, the Edmonton and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies. His recording of the Mozart Requiem (Dorian) with Les Violons de Roy under Bernard Labadie won a 2002 Juno award in the category classical album vocal or choral performance. Berg has appeared with the Vancouver Opera. For his role as Leporello in Don Giovanni with the Calgary Opera, he won the Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical (2010). In 2011, he sang Scarpia in Tosca with the Edmonton Opera under the Canadian stage director Robert Herriot. Other notable performances that year included Beethoven's Symphony No 9 with Yannick Nézet Seguin at the Lanaudière Festival, the Missa Solemnis (Edmonton), and Mahler's Kindertotenlieder (Seattle).
Recitals and Recordings
As a Lieder singer Berg has collaborated with pianists Michael McMahon, Roger Admiral, Roger Vignoles and the British accompanist Julius Drake with whom he released his debut solo CD in works by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. (ATMA Classics, 2008)
Berg has recorded extensively, for Coro, Harmonica Mundi, Dorian, Hyperion, Telarc, ATMA Classics, Opus Arte, and others.
Author Susan Spier
Cummings, David. International Who's Who in Music. 2000 Routledge
Wohlberg, Tara. "ENO debut next stop for Alberta singer," Opus: Canada's Essential Classical Music Source, vol 24, Spring 2001
So, Joseph. "Onstage: Nathan Berg," Opera Canada, vol 44, Summer 2003
Links to Other Sites
The website for acclaimed bass-baritone Nathan Berg. Click on "Recordings" for DVD excerpts and many audio clips from recordings, stage perfomances, and rehearsals. His biography and reviews offer highlights of his multifaceted musical career.
View a listing of previous winners of the prestigious Gold Medal music prize presented annually by the Guildhall School in London, England.
Listen to brief audio clips from the debut solo recording of Nathan Berg singing lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Strauss and Brahms. Accompanied by British pianist Julius Drake. From the ATMA website.
Vera Rózsa obituary
An obituary for distinguished singing teacher Vera Rózsa from The Gaurdian website.