I, James Hanrahan, was born in NYC on 23 December 1935. I lived in Manhattan until 1947, and then my family moved to Queens. I went to St.
Bartholomew's grammar school, after I graduated attended St. Ann's high school for one year. I left there and attended Forest Hills High
School. I was a member of the All City High School Chorus for three years.
I met and sang with Teddy Lambrinos, Enzo Cittarelli, John Guarniri and many other singers who went on to sing professionally. After
leaving school, I received a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music; I left after two years to pursue a career on Broadway.
I sang in several Broadway musicals, among them: Brigadoon, Man Of La Mancha, Most happy fella and several other off-Broadway
I also sang in night clubs and did many private country clubs around the tri-state area. While performing at a country club
in New Jersey, I met several singers from the Metropolitan Opera Company, including Gabor Carelli
and William Walker, also the vocal coach Virginia Gerhard. They convinced me that I should be singing opera, in fact, they told me to
learn Wagnerian tenor roles, and I had a heldentenor voice.
While I was singing, I also worked on the New York City waterfront as a longshoreman! I had to take a job there because there were
too many lapses between singing engagements and I had gotten married and needed a more reliable income. I worked on the docks for
almost 15 years and also sang when I got the chance.
I took a leave of absence, to make an audition tour to Germany, I and my wife lived in Munich for six months while I sang for the
agents in Germany and Austria. I wasn't successful getting an engagement, so I returned to New York.
I was going to resume work as a longshoreman but the ILA said that I hadn't acknowledged the leave of absence! I instituted a law
suit against the union, things got ugly. I had to wait for months for things to happen; when they did, it wasn't in my favor, I lost
the case, the union was too strong and I still think they bought off the lawyer!
I had a dispute with the then president of the union, Teddy Gleason, it wasn't very nice! I later returned to my longshoreman's job
and studied the Wagnerian tenor roles with conductor Otto Lehman.
I was offered a scholarship to the AIMS program in Graz, Austria. The William Mathis Sullivan Org. paid for my trip and I won the
William Cowan Prize, which paid for the course. While there, I met Eugene Conley and became friends
with him. The only reason the Sullivan Foundation agreed to pay the tuition and the air fare was, George London was going to give a
master class at the AIMS program and I was to participate in that class.
Unfortunately, Mr. London had a stroke in Munich and was unable to conduct the class. I did learn a few more roles and some German
phrases that I would need for my audition tour.
I returned to the U.S. after the course was over. I returned to my vocal studies with my teacher, Richard Schwende. I worked very hard
and had a complete understanding of the vocal technique that he'd taught me. I understood how to connect the breath with the voice, how
to control the muscles that one needs to, in order to control the breath. That takes quite a long time to understand the importance of
that challenge. I learned several more roles, mostly Wagnerian repertoire but I also sang in a few musicals, I sang the role of Joey in
the musical "The most happy fella" and Curly in "Oklahoma".
I still love Broadway music, it's where I got my start. I auditioned to sing in the chorus at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth and was
accepted, I can honestly say, "I was probably the only New York longshoreman to ever sing there!"
After the festival was over, I returned to Staatstheater Kassel, I remained there until I auditioned for Staatsteater Darmstadt. I
wasn't a particularly good musician, so I didn't get really good roles to sing. I had an exceptionally good voice and I was fairly good
on stage but I had a difficult time memorizing music, that limited my success and eventually ended my opera career.
After leaving Darmstadt, I auditioned for several other opera companies but I was unsuccessful. I actually entered into a volunteer
program with the Red Cross; I learned to be a dental assistant, that led to a job at the 97th General US Army Hospital in Frankfurt, I
worked there for about two years.
I had been applying for other jobs, while working there; at last, one came through! I was hired as a Theater Director for the 5 Pfennig
Playhouse in Hanau, Germany. I produced and directed musicals, dramas and comedies for the US Department of Defense. I was very
successful; I was the first theater to present, "Ain't misbehavin", "Leader of the pack" and "Nunsense". I also helped start many young
artists on their way in theater. I won several theater awards, while I was there. In 1991, my wife and I decided it was time to return
to America. We moved into my family's home, we cared for my mother, until her death.
I sang concerts, I was the soloist for several local orchestras, I was in several musicals, and I sang the role of John Jacob Astor in
the Gateway production of "Titanic". I was the featured soloist for the "Long Island Sound Symphony", for their summer season. At 75, I
still concertized around the New York area.
I am also active in conservative politics and have been since the Barry Goldwater
days, back in the 1960s.