James Hanrahan

Picture of James Hanrahan in Fanciulla del West with Danise Jensen
Fanciulla del West with Danise Jensen

Picture of James Hanrahan in Fanciulla del West with Danise Jensen
Fanciulla del West with Danise Jensen

Picture of James Hanrahan
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 shows.

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.

James Hanrahan sings Fedora: Amor ti vieta
In RA format

James Hanrahan sings Das Land des Lächelns: Dein ist mein ganzes Herz
In RA format

James Hanrahan sings Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Morgenlich leuchtend
In RA format

James Hanrahan sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond
In RA format

James Hanrahan sings Turandot: Nessun dorma
In RA format
I would like to thank James Hanrahan for the recordings, pictures and biographical notes.

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