Music with Minnesotans: Allan Naplan

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
March 16, 2011
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St. Paul, Minn. — Just listening to Allan Naplan speak, you know he was once a professional singer. His deep baritone is dulcet and filled with overtones, wonderfully pleasing to the ear. And the content of what he says will make you fall in love with opera right away.

Allan is the new President and General Director of the Minnesota Opera. He succeeds Kevin Smith who served the company for three decades.

And that's a lot of responsibility for a man of 38, though Mr. Naplan has certainly paid his dues as a very successful director of the Madison Opera as well as success in what he calls his "side-career" as a choral composer.

He's included one of his works on his playlist -"An American Anthem." It was written for the Texas Choral Association and later became the inaugural wake-up call for NASA astronauts on the ultimately doomed Space Shuttle Challenger. The work is glorious and uplifting and echoes the spontaneous singing that occurred on the streets after 9/11. It's no wonder the surviving families requested his piece as a tribute to their loved ones.

Also on the list - no surprise here - are a couple of arias. The exquisite finale from Monteverdi's "The Coronation of Poppea" sung by two intertwining soprano voices. A trio from an opera Allan helped mid-wife in Houston, Daniel Catan's "Florencia en el Amazonas" that takes its cue from the final trio in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. And a tenor aria from one of Puccini's one-act operas Il Trittico.

As well, Allan gives a nod to a long-time friend, the composer Eric Whitacre with whom he worked when he was singing professionally. The two would just hang out at the piano and try different chord clusters and see how they might resolve. Of course, many of these experiments live on Whitacre's prize-winning compositions today.

Sit back and bask in the glorious music!

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Allan Naplan's playlist:

Claudio Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea: Pur ti miro - Dana Hanchard/Sylvia McNair

Daniel Catan, Florencia en el Amazonas - Houston Grand Opera

Eric Whitacre, Seal Lullaby - Eric Whitacre Singers

Giacomo Puccini, Il Tabarro: Hai ben ragione - Jose Cura

Allan Naplan, An American Anthem - Tulsa Philharmonic and Chorus

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Check out more from Music with Minnesotans:

Linda Z. Andrews, Ann Bancroft, Charles Baxter, Philip Brunelle, Mayor Chris Coleman, Michael Pearce Donley, Joe Dowling, Dr. Victoria Elmer, Nancy Gibson, William Gurstelle, Karen Hansen, Steve Heitzeg, Stuart Loughridge, Stephen Paulus, Consie Powell, Lois Quam, Mayor RT Rybak, Nick Schneider, General Larry Shellito, The Reverend Spenser Simrell, Ann Swenson, Dale Warland, and Matt Wehling.

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Next week Gwen Freed shares her playlist. She's the Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Gustavus Adolphus College. A former oboist, she fell in love with music - and her Minnesota Orchestra violist husband - when they were both teenagers at music camp.

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