Ryan McKinny Has Spent Years Getting Ready for Tristan and Isolde

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 15 April 2013 | 8:48:00 pm

How does a person get from Pasadena City College to Julliard to become a Houston Grand Opera Studio Artist, go on to the Met in New York City as Lieutenant Ratcliffe in Billy Budd and then return to Houston to sing in one of the toughest operas in history?

For bass-baritone Ryan McKinny who had never even thought about becoming an opera singer, it was because a professor in that California city college told him he should seriously think about making it a career. And because once McKinny was introduced to opera, he fell in love with the art form.

He ended up transferring to Julliard, was a studio artist with HGO, lived in Germany and now after several roles around the country, he's back in Houston to sing the part of Kurwenal in Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. He's been studying the part for years.

It's an effort that has sometimes defeated other good singers. When Wagner wrote this opera (it usually clocks in at around five hours), based on a well-known legend of the time, others thought it couldn't actually be staged because of its length and difficulty of the roles. And legend has it, it killed the first tenor who sang the Tristan role.
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