Operatic baritone Brian Mulligan’s talent was noticed by the opera world early. While still studying at Julliard, he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The Lady without a Shadow). That was in 2003, and since then he’s gone on to a number of notable roles.
One of his most applauded roles was that of Nixon in John Adams’ Nixon in China, performed in San Francisco in 2012. San Francisco Classical Voice (sfcv.org.) described the opera as “strongly cast and beautifully played” and said that Mulligan sang with “lyric beauty.” It was also noted he “looked and moved spookily like the late President.” Mulligan has often appeared in San Francisco, and has played Marcello in La Boheme and Valentin in Faust there.
In September of 2015, also in San Francisco, Mulligan starred in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, as the murderous barber who returns to London from prison to seek revenge for wrongful conviction. KQED Arts (kqed.org) says that Mulligan “explores the full emotional despair and madness of the title role dramatically.” “His voice has a wonderful richness,” reviewer Charlise Tiee writes, “that inspires sympathy but can also crackle with anger and craziness.” It’s an absorbing role for Mulligan, with lyrics such as these describing London: “There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit / and the vermin of the world inhabit it.”
Mulligan has performed throughout the United States at the New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Los Angeles Opera, among many others; and also sung internationally at Oper Frankfurt, Opernhaus Zurich, and with the English National Opera and the Canadian Opera Company.
In a 2012 interview on Operawarhorses.com, Mulligan said he got his start in opera by appearing in high school musicals, where a teacher recognized he was really gifted. “My high school teacher Gloria Richardson encouraged me to get some serious vocal training,” he said. “Becoming a real opera singer seemed like an impossible challenge, and I’m a terrible sucker for a challenge.”
Mulligan was born in Endicott, New York, and studied at both Yale and Julliard. His voice teacher at Julliard was W. Stephen Smith, who he still works with. Mulligan holds dual Irish and American citizenship, and has been named one of Irish American Magazine’s top Irish Americans.