James Hanrahan was born in NYC on 12-23-35. He lived in Manhattan until 1947, and then his family moved to Queens. He went to St.
Bartholomew's grammar school, after he graduated attended St. Ann's high school for 1 year. He left there and attended Forest Hills High
School. He was a member of the All City High School Chorus for three years.
He met and sang with Teddy Lambrinos, Enzo Cittarelli, John Guarniri and many other singers who went on to sing professionally. After
leaving school, he received a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music; he left after 2 years to pursue a career on Broadway.
He sang in several Broadway musicals, among them: Brigadoon, Man Of La Mancha, Most happy fella and several other off-Broadway
He also sang in night clubs and did many private country clubs around the tri-state area. While performing at a country club
in New Jersey, he met several singers from the Metropolitan Opera Company, including Gabor Carelli
and William Walker, also the vocal coach Virginia Gerhard. They convinced him that he should be singing opera, in fact, they told him to
learn Wagnerian tenor roles, and he had a heldentenor voice.
While he was singing, he also worked on the New York City waterfront as a longshoreman! He had to take a job there because there were
too many lapses between singing engagements and he had gotten married and needed a more reliable income. He worked on the docks for
almost 15 years and also sang when he got the chance.
He took a leave of absence, to make an audition tour to Germany, he and his wife lived in Munich for 6 months while he sang for the
agents in Germany and Austria. He wasn't successful getting an engagement, so he returned to New York.
He was going to resume work as a longshoreman but the ILA said that he hadn't acknowledged the leave of absence! He instituted a law
suit against the union, things got ugly. He had to wait for months for things to happen; when they did, it wasn't in his favor, he lost
the case, the union was too strong and I still think they bought off the lawyer!
He had a dispute with the then president of the union, Teddy Gleason, it wasn't very nice! He later returned to his longshoreman's job
and studied the Wagnerian tenor rolls with conductor Otto Lehman.
He was offered a scholarship to the AIMS program in Graz, Austria. The William Mathis Sullivan Org. paid for his trip and he won the
William Cowan Prize, which paid for the course. While there, he met Eugene Conley and became friends
with him. The only reason the Sullivan Foundation agreed to pay the tuition and the air fare was, George London was going to give a
master class at the AIMS program and I was to participate in that class.
Unfortunately, Mr. London had a stroke in Munich and was unable to conduct the class. I did learn a few more roles and some German
phrases that I would need for my audition tour.
I returned to the U.S. after the course was over. I returned to my vocal studies with my teacher, Richard Schwende. I worked very hard
and had a complete understanding of the vocal technique that he'd taught me. I understood how to connect the breath with the voice, how
to control the muscles that one needs to, in order to control the breath. That takes quite a long time to understand the importance of
that challenge. I learned several more roles, mostly, Wagnerian repertoire but I also sang in a few musicals, I sang the role of Joey in
the musical "The most happy fella" and Curly in "Oklahoma".
I still love Broadway music, it's where I got my start. I auditioned to sing in the chorus at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth and was
accepted, I can honestly say, "I was probably the only New York longshoreman to ever sing there!"
After the festival was over, I returned to Staatstheater Kassel, I remained there until I auditioned for Staatsteater Darmstadt. I
wasn't a particularly good musician, so I didn't get really good roles to sing. I had an exceptionally good voice and I was fairly good
on stage but I had a difficult time memorizing music, that limited my success and eventually ended my opera career.
After leaving Darmstadt, I auditioned for several other opera companies but I was unsuccessful. I actually entered into a volunteer
program with the Red Cross; I learned to be a dental assistant, that led to a job at the 97th General US Army Hospital in Frankfurt, I
worked there for about 2 years.
I had been applying for other jobs, while working there; at last, one came through! I was hired as a Theater Director for the 5 Pfennig
Playhouse in Hanau, Germany. I produced and directed musicals, dramas and comedies for the US Department of Defense. I was very
successful; I was the first theater to present, "Ain't misbehavin', "Leader of the pack" and "Nunsense". I also helped start many young
artists on their way in theater. I won several theater awards, while I was there. In 1991, my wife and I decided it was time to return
to America. We moved into my family's home, we cared for my mother, until her death.
I sang concerts, I was the soloist for several local orchestras, I was in several musicals, and I sang the role of John Jacob Astor in
the Gateway production of "Titanic". I was the featured soloist for the "Long Island Sound Symphony", for their summer season. At 75, I
still concertized around the New York area.
I am also active in conservative politics and have been since the Barry Goldwater
days, back in the 1960s.