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Sittin' on Top of the World: Hartt Alum Shines on the Opera Stage

Posted 08/21/2014
Posted by Meagan Fazio

Ryan Speedo Green '08 outside the Metropolitan Opera

His voice soars into the rarefied stratosphere of international opera. Singing on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera and others has become “normal” for bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green ’08 just a few years after graduating from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School.

Green was recruited from the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Va., by Joanna Levy, an associate professor in Hartt’s Vocal Performance Department and chair of the department at that time. Green was her student while he was at Hartt, and she remembers an early conversation with him about his unusual name.

“When he was a student, we noticed that while we were calling him ‘Ryan,’ the other students were calling him ‘Speedo,’” recalls Levy. “When he told me he planned to perform under the name Ryan Speedo Green, I wasn’t sure that the opera world was ready for that. I suggested to him that Ryan Green was a wonderful name.

Ryan Speedo Green '08

“He said, ‘No. My name is Ryan Speedo Green.’ Here he was, talking to his college professor, and he already knew he was going to make it on his own terms.
<br< “And of course, he was totally correct,” she adds with a smile.

Green received a full, four-year scholarship at Hartt in 2004. Here he was nurtured by the entire vocal faculty in everything from developing his voice to developing good study habits. He then went on to earn a Master of Music in Performance from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.

Now approaching 30, Green has an impressive stage presence, standing 6’5” and weighing around 300 lbs. He is now in his final year of the three-year Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera, which he won in 2011.

And the awards keep pouring in.

Also in 2011, Green was one of five winners in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The competition, which began early in January of that year with some 1,200 entrants performing at venues around the country, has been likened to the American Idol of opera. Writer Daniel Bergner documented the competition with a focus on Green for The New York Times Magazine’s May 22, 2011, issue in an article called “Sing for Your Life.”

This past April, Green received a 2014 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts grant that will provide $50,000 a year for two years to support the development of his voice. Opera singers spend years training their voices, learning to sing in foreign languages, developing a stage presence, acting, and more. Levy likens the training in terms of length, expense, and rigor to that of a neurosurgeon. These are just two of a number of awards he has received.