Sudden death of New York opera boss

Sudden death of New York opera boss


norman lebrecht

August 11, 2020

Singers are lamenting the sudden death of the stage director and baritone Nathan Hull, who headed Amore Opera from 2009 and often sang in its productions. He was reportedly listed for heart surgery. Before founding the company he was a computer science professor at New York University.

Iris Karlin writes: So many friends around me are hurting the terrible loss of Amore Opera’s father and founder, Nathan Hull. I wish I could help ease your pain and comfort you. The best I can do is offer my Amore Opera family an online meeting , A “wake” if you wish, to console each other with wonderful memories of this wonderful man.
Since there are thousands of souls he had touched, we will have to limit each gathering (not because of social distancing, as it will be online, but in order to offer everyone the opportunity to talk and share). So we will have several “wakes” this week, starting tomorrow, on our regular rehearsals hours (7:30-10pm) and later tonight I’ll send a sign up sheet for people to sign in advance for the zoom call.

Can I ask your help coming up with a great Nathan style or G&S style title to replace the words “zoom wake” ?

Jonathan Dauermann: I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the name Nathan Hull, but I’ve been trying to figure out all day how to talk about him. Nathan Hull was the founder, leader, and creative lifeforce of Amore Opera, one of a vanishingly small number of independent opera companies in New York City, especially those that use full sets, costumes and orchestra. Nathan staged many opera productions over the course of his career, giving performance opportunities and career boosts to many, many singers. He undoubtedly was planning to stage many more in the years to come.

Nathan died yesterday, very suddenly. If you click on his name, you’ll start to see the outpourings of grief that countless singers, musicians and artists have been posting since this news broke. If it looks like the whole NYC opera scene is mourning his passing, it’s because Nathan Hull was one of the BIGGEST supporters of that scene, a man who made the impossible possible.

Running an opera company is one of the most insanely difficult and seemingly pointless things you can try to do. It will never make money, it will never be easy, it will never be something that makes you famous. Nathan Hull poured his heart and soul into his opera company. He truly, TRULY loved opera, music, theatre, and creating opportunities for everyone else to join in the party and make something beautiful with him. Moreover, he was a kind, warm-hearted, quick-witted presence; he was just a wonderful man, and he made opera and the music he loved possible for many, many people.

For opera singers trying to advance their careers, true performance opportunities are VERY hard to come by. Nathan Hull gave many, many people chances to perform, to do what they loved because it’s what he loved and he was dedicated to sharing it with as many people as he could. I was very lucky to be included in a couple of Amore productions; Nathan helped me move forwards towards my dreams, he created opportunities where none had existed, and he always treated me with kindness, respect and joy. The world needs more Nathan Hulls in it.

To call him a “pillar of the community” feels trite and inadequate. I can’t think of anyone else I met in my opera career who worked harder than Nathan to lift up and support so many other people. The NYC opera community, though I haven’t been a part of it for years now, is a tight circle, a surprisingly small house. Losing Nathan makes me feel like the whole roof has been torn off.

I hope anyone reading this will look into his name, learn a little about his life, and celebrate his memory. I’m grieving for his family and close friends, people who worked with him for decades and love him dearly. He made my life richer and better, just as he did for most all of my colleagues. I will always remember him and be grateful for having gotten to cross his path.

Rest in peace, Nathan. Thank you for everything.

Daniel Kravetz: I first met Nathan Hull in 1980. He was already a member of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of New York, of which I am now President, and he had just moved to New York City, where his first major assignment was as stage director of PRINCESS IDA at the Village Light Opera Group, using a brilliantly conceived setting of the show in outer space. He directed other VLOG shows, and on two occasions, VLOG’s annual fall G&S show was SCROOGE & GILBERT & SULLIVAN, Nathan’s own adaptation of Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Nathan’s frequent activity in Amato Opera for many years was well known, and when that company announced its imminent closure, my first reaction was to email Nathan, urging him to step in and keep the Company alive with as much of Amato’s people and property as could be salvaged. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with this idea, and the result was Amore Opera, Nathan’s crowning achievement, which I hope will continue as his legacy. Nathan and I found ourselves sitting together at the Blue Hill Troupe’s MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD last November, chatting about our various activities. Not long after that, I decided that what New York needed was a performance of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE on February 29, 2020, in honor of Frederic’s 41st birthday, produced and conducted by Yours Truly. I was able to throw together a cast of principals, a chorus and an orchestra and rent the Riverside Theater for the occasion, and was delighted that Nathan was able to join us in the role of the Sergeant of Police. He was also in the chorus of pirates in Act I and helped out with the semi-staging of the show. Here is the video of the last performance of a Gilbert & Sullivan Opera in New York City, and the last public performance by the wonderful Nathan Hull:


  • Jose Alejandro Guzman says:

    Nathan was one of the most intelligent, generous, knowledgeable, but more important, kindest man I have ever met. I remember the first time I met him, at his office where he taught. We went to lunch and discussed our mutual love of G+S. He barely knew me and he immediately gave me as a souvenir a rare G+S card from England that is very valuable. I was stunned and as I got to know him better, not surprised by his actions. He knew how to treat people and yet command great respect. I grew to admire his abilities and talent. There are so few of the good guys like him out there who do things for others with a selflessness that is rare. We will all miss him and send our love and condolences to Connie.

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    Nathan was one of these ultra-high-energy people you meet from time to time who manage to do as much as five normal people.

    He was professor of computer science at NYU, and, for Amore Opera he was the top-guy: the main fundraiser, and producer, and artistic director. He was always stage-directing several operas, usually including productions which had choruses of children which are very demanding and difficult to supervise. He also was a opera-scholar who researched, and put on, very obscure operas, such as POLIUTO by Donizetti which had not been done with full staging in USA for almost a century when we did it, and, DAS LABYRINTH which is a sequel to THE MAGIC FLUTE with a libretto by Schickenaeder and music by another composer, and, and, Myerbeer’s DINORAH, and many operas you would never have heard of. And on top of all that, he often sang buffo-baritone roles in his own productions: Dr. Falke, Don Alfonso, and Papageno.

    In fact, we used to joke that he worked too hard and we predicted that he was gonna just drop dead one day. We just didn’t expect it to be so soon.

    Here’s a sample which really shows his personality:

  • Herr Doktor says:

    I never met Nathan Hull nor knew the first thing about him before this posting, and I feel a real sense of loss. People like him whose love of music and art, and who give themselves tirelessly to it, are very special to me. It’s easy to do that when you’re well paid and comfortable, or perhaps on the road to that. When it will never make you wealthy or financially comfortable, and will only “take” from you, that’s an entirely different story.

    I’ve long thought the whole story of Amato Opera and now Amore Opera is a story that needs to be told and better understood, whether through a book or even a movie.

    Rest in peace, Nathan. Thank you for all you brought to the world.

  • Ben Spierman says:

    A beautiful, warm, loving, kind man. A terrific, dedicated artist, and the best friend a person could have.

  • Jay Gould says:

    The sense of loss I felt when I got the news early Monday morning that Nathan was gone will take a long time to recover from. I knew of Nathan before I met him; he wrote a complimentary review of my acting coach, the late Ed Kovens (Amato folks will remember his wife Jill Edwards as a long-time member), and later on of a book Ed and I had collaborated on, THE METHOD MANUAL (I was the editor).
    I first actually met Nathan when he and I were up for the same part (neither of us got it), then as colleagues at Amato for two shows.
    I was ecstatic to get the call to play Baron Zeta in MERRY WIDOW in March 2010, had a blast doing it…and never stopped working for the company, as its videographer and frequent bass/baritone. My last appearance was the company’s final show in its home at Riverside Theatre, as Sam in BALLO IN MASCHERA.
    I will never forget the kind words and kind things Nathan did for me and for others that I was aware of. I have to echo what my colleagues above (so far Iris, Daniel and Alex) have said, not a word is exaggerated.
    Daniel – I was honored to be there to make that video recording of PIRATES; my engagement made certain not to miss what would prove to be Nathan’s final public performance.
    Rest in peace, Nathan. I’ll never forget you.

  • Julia Bond says:

    He was not supposed to get a surgey. Unfortunately that is false information.

  • Sharon says:

    I used to attend the Amore Opera performances. Apart from Pirates of Penzance one shot performance that one of the bloggers had mention I do not believe that Amore has put on a full Opera performance in over a year although I believe that they did some concerts.

    I assume that they ran into financial difficulties. It’s a shame because there is so little community opera left in New York City. Guys like Nathan Hull, whom I never met although I saw him in and at a lot of performances, do important work, and I’m sure that in his case it was largely volunteer.

  • Shuping Lu says:

    I’m a parent of two children who were in Amore Opera children chorus. Nathan poured so much time and energy to fostering the future generation’s appreciation of classic opera. Beyond that, he was a very loving person to everyone around him. He was like sunshine.