Matthan Ring Black is a baritone who is quickly garnering a reputation as a dramatically engaging performer. John Von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune has called him a “smooth, robust baritone with excellent diction”, as well as saying he “shows admirable vocal promise.” Called “simply magnificent” by the Chicago Classical Review, they go on to say that “with every word crystal clear, Matthan wields his muscular baritone with extraordinary finesse and artistry,“ as well as calling his performance “wholly credible from start to finish.” The Chicago Stage Standard said his portrayal of Tarquinius was “the most captivating performance of the night.” They said he acted “unrestricted, feeling as though he held nothing back.” And New City Stage has called his voice “bright” and “flexible.”
Matthan is passionate about continuing the tradition of modern music performance in the United States. Matthan performed in Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony for its’ second performance in Chicago as well as in the Chicago premieres of Mohammed Fairouz’s Sumeida’s Song, Daron Hagen’s Amelia, and the world premiere of Gregory Spears’ Jason and the Argonauts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited. In December, Matthan will be collaborating with Ross Crean for the international recording of his new opera, The Great God Pan, under the Naxos label. In addition to opera, Matthan is passionate about the preservation of modern art song in English through non-traditional performances of songs by composers such as John Adams, Ernst Bacon, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten and Lee Hoiby.
Matthan is also a founding member of Chicago Fringe Opera, a company dedicated to empowering local talent to engage with their community through performing vocal music in English. Chicago Fringe Opera, currently in their 4th season, produces opera in non-traditional settings to help bridge the gap between performers upholding the centuries-old traditions of classical music and an ever changing and intelligent modern audience.
Matthan holds a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from Wichita State University where he was awarded the Samuel Ramey and George Gibson Fellowships in Opera and a Professional Diploma in Opera Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Matthan spent two years in Chicago Opera Theater’s Young Artist Program and was an Apprentice Artist with Opera Southwest where he participated in the New World premiere of Franco Faccio’s lost opera, Amleto.
In addition to his musical work, Matthan is the host of an arts podcast called Doing the Work with Matthan Black. Doing the Work features weekly interviews with emerging artists and craftspeople that highlight the behind-the-scenes joys and struggles of leading a creative life in today’s social and economic climate. Episodes can be found at www.doingtheworkpod.com or on Itunes and Soundcloud.