Lakeland alum sings to stardom
Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Suffolk native Ryan Speedo Green didn’t even know how to read music when he was in the eighth grade. For his audition to the Governor’s School for the Arts, he simply mimicked what he heard on a CD.
“I had little to no musical experience,” he admitted recently.
But now, the up-and-coming bass-baritone sensation, who grew up on Second Avenue and graduated from Lakeland High School in 2004, has the musical experience many folks twice his age wish they had.
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The opera star is in his third year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera and last week won the prestigious George London Foundation competition at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.
He credits his talent to his work at the Governor’s School.
“I attribute my discovery for the love of opera to the Governor’s School for the Arts,” he said. “It taught me how to sing in a foreign language and perform on stage. I was able to nurture the talent I didn’t know I had.”
Green said Alan Fischer, chair of the school’s vocal music department, and the late Robert Brown, his first voice teacher, particularly influenced him.
It was in his junior or senior year of high school that he knew he wanted to major in music. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford and earned a Master of Music degree from Florida State University.
Even in his short career, Green’s accomplishments could be the envy of aspiring singers everywhere. He made his debut at the Met in the 2012-2013 season, singing the Mandarin in “Turandot” and the Second Knight in “Parsifal.” He also has made debuts with Utah Opera, singing Don Basilio in “The Barber of Seville,” and has roles in “Madama Butterfly” and “Tosca.” Last year, he performed at Carnegie Hall singing “The Messiah” with the St. Cecilia Choir and Orchestra.
In the 2014-2015 season, he is set to become a full company member of the Vienna State Opera.
Knowing it would be his last year in New York, Green said he wanted to do a competition.
“I wanted to make sure to utilize the fact I live here in New York,” he said. “The George London is a very prestigious competition. If I was going to do a competition, I wanted to make sure it was one of the best. It was a good experience to be singing in competition with some of the best singers that are out there.”
Green said he still gets the chance to return to Suffolk occasionally and see his friends, although his mother moved to Virginia Beach a couple of years ago.
“One thing I never forget is that I’m from Virginia,” he said. “Anytime someone tastes the food I’ve cooked, they know I’m from the South.”