Verdi Chorus Spring Concert is “Star-Crossed!”

Could there be anything more thrillingly romantic than an on-stage marriage proposal?

Life and romance intersects with art. Local operatic lovebirds – Jamie and Nathan Granner – are set to reunite where it all started with Verdi Chorus, performances on April 27-28, 2024.

Jamie and Nathan Granner will be the guest soloists at the upcoming Verdi Chorus Spring Concert “Star-Crossed!” happening later this April at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica.  This concert also marks the final event of the Verdi Chorus 40th Anniversary season. More information can be found here.

Back in 2017, Nathan Granner used the duet in Lucia di Lammermoor—in which the two star-crossed lovers pledge their commitment—to propose to Jamie onstage at the conclusion of the Sunday matinee.

ArtsBeatLA asked the lovebirds to share their story in advance of the concert.

Do you remember your first impressions of each other in the early days of meeting / working with one another?

Jamie: I remember there being a real buzz about having a new tenor in town. It was a bonus that Nathan was attending grad school at UCLA, also my Alma Mater, and studying with my former teacher, Juliana Gondek. The wonderful collaborative pianist and dear friend of ours, Victoria Kirsch also played a role in our love story by casting us together in a duet from Romeo et Juliette for the Festival of Opera and Art in Palm Desert, which we will sing on the concert. When we first met at rehearsal, I was just so excited to finally get to sing my dream role with such a great tenor, I pulled out all the stops and I think I made quite an impression on Nathan. He then asked me to sing it with him on his Master’s recital, then we started getting cast together more, and the rest is history!

Nathan: my first impression was that Jamie had an amazing performer’s attitude and was super confident, which made me feel intrigued and excited to perform with her. I really enjoyed Jamie’s singing and acting ability and it was easy to be a fan from the get go. 

Nathan, what was the planning required to pull off such a romantic gesture? Did you have any particular assistance?

Nathan: I thought it would be a really cool idea to have the proposal be the excerpt from Lucia which we were singing on the concert, where in the opera, Edgardo proposes to Lucia. So I called up Anne Marie and asked if it would be feasible and appropriate- to which she enthusiastically replied YES! At the end of the day, the entire Verdi Chorus was in on it, and so it always feels like a homecoming when we get to sing with Verdi Chorus. 

Jamie, was the proposal a complete surprise?  How did you react at the time?  What celebrations followed?

It was definitely a surprise, but I knew something was afoot since all our family had made a point to be there! At the end of a weekend of Verdi Chorus concerts, something magical happens, where all your adrenaline from this high level of performing peaks and you feel ecstatic—to be proposed to right at that moment turned me into super woman I think (or at least “super soprano”), because as soon as the chorus prepared to sing a celebratory refrain of the Italian Street Song, I just busted out another high C and kept singing! It was the best proposal ever. Bravo Nathan. We will never forget it and have the memory forever. 

How did the audience react to the surprise proposal onstage?

Jamie: Much like for me, I think the audience felt a wave of shock and surprise and also that little bit of confusion at first. But then everyone settled in and they were with us the entire time! It was great to share that moment with so many friends, colleagues, family and the amazing VC audience.  

How have each of you enjoyed married life since?  How do each of you balance your lives, your work and your careers? 

Nathan: What I enjoy about singing professionally is that, when I’m not away on a gig, even when I’m practicing or working on a project, we have an opportunity to spend quality time together. Being away is definitely hard and it is a sacrifice I make in order to get to sing the most challenging music in the world. But it’s always the BEST when we get to do a gig together, like at The Verdi Chorus. 

Jamie: Being in a loving and supportive relationship like the one we have is truly life changing. I feel completely empowered to move in whatever direction is right for me at the moment, and we always prioritize the health of our marriage above all. But there’s nothing better than getting to sing together, and in some of our favorite repertoire, like on this upcoming concert. 

What are each of you specifically looking forward to with this forthcoming concert and the Verdi Chorus 40thAnniversary season?

Jamie: It’s been a while since I’ve presented Juliette, which is one of my favorite roles, that I have been singing since early in my career. It’s fun to experience the different ideas that come about as I am practicing the music of this tried and true character. I find I am discovering new ways to sing her, and the influence of my maturity, both vocally and dramatically is an exciting element to add interest to my interpretation in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. 

Nathan: I look forward to introducing the beautiful aria “Torna la Pace” from Mozart’s Opera Seria, Idomeneo to Verdi Chorus audiences. It is one of the featured tracks on my upcoming Pentatone Album of 14 classical Epoch arias, which will be released on August 16. And of course it’s always a treat to reprise some duets that are personally very special to Jamie and me. 

Do you have any suggestions for anyone planning a romantic declaration?!

Nathan: Imagine the most fun that you could have together, and plan your proposal around that. THINK BIG!

From the press release:

Over 50 singers gather from every walk of life to become the Verdi Chorus.  This wide swath of singers from 20 to 87 have one thing in common: the desire to delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera.  They are joined by up-and-coming opera singers, and college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, as all of them become one under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class for all.

The upcoming program will feature selections from two Mozart operas – Idomeneo and Don Giovanni, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, and Lehar’s The Merry Widow.

The Verdi Chorus Spring 2024 Concert STAR-CROSSED!

Venue:    First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, 1220 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

Performance Schedule:   Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 pm; Sunday, April 28, 2024 at 4:00 pm

Tickets:   Tickets are now on sale – for more information visit their official site here.

About The Verdi Chorus:

The Verdi Chorus first started performing in 1983 at the old Verdi Ristorante di Musica in Santa Monica under the direction of soprano and former Pasadena City College opera program director Anne Marie Ketchum De La Vega, our Artistic Director.The Verdi Chorus presents two concert weekends (performances on Saturday and Sunday) each year as well as other collaborative events, and brings the beauty of grand opera choruses to community audiences. It offers performance opportunities to both aspiring and established singers.

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


Follow us

Follow ArtsBeat LA on social media for the latest arts news.