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Stage Double

Opera hunk Ryan McKinny takes on double duty with two HGO shows.

Handsome “bari-hunk” Ryan McKinny takes the stage in two HGO productions this month.

Houston Grand Opera’s two big shows this month—Bizet’s four-act Carmen and Wagner’s Das Rheingold—have several things in common. Both are tragedies, and both explore the theme of greed. And both star barrel-chested, Houston-based baritone Ryan McKinny.

The L.A. native, who grew up listening to music played by his classical guitar-playing parents, didn’t originally set out to be the powerhouse opera singer he is today. “I was always interested in music, but never really knew what I wanted to do,” says McKinny, now 33. After an aimless first couple of years in community college, he took the advice of a teacher to try his hand—or voice—at singing in choir. It was a perfect match. “I just dove into it from there.”

He auditioned for a spot at Juilliard and, to his surprise, got in. McKinny went on to perform in Paris, Berlin and London—and to study in Houston from 2005-2009 as part of the HGO Studio. He settled back in H-Town in 2012 with his wife and two children, noting the city’s appreciation for the arts as the basis for his family’s transition. “No one really thinks of Texas as an artsy place, but Houston is so supportive of the arts.”