“A Day In The Life” with opera singer, Jonah Spungin

“Let’s go for a walk”, Jonah Spungin said. “It’ll be fun”, he said. “There definitely won’t be bears in this Austrian forest”, he said.

I’ve known Jonah Spungin for a long time. He’s my best friend, and when I sat down to write this profile I was overwhelmed by memories. Biking to the beach late at night, chatting endlessly on the bus to and from school, each of us so passionate about the things we wanted to do, the places we wanted to go… Getting lost in the aforementioned Austrian forest, and no there were no bears, but there was a very angry wild boar, let me tell you. And then, of course, music. The first time I heard Jonah sing was when we were 14 and were both auditioning for a solo in our high school Christmas concert. In retrospect somewhat cruelly, the solo was called “Oh how I wish I could sing like an angel”.
The answer to all and any questions related to that solo is: We didn’t.

But here I am, writing this profile 13 years later after that solo, and I am so unbelievably proud. Jonah Spungin, my friend of over a decade, is now an accomplished opera singer, performing at the highest levels. In 2017 he began as an Emerging Artist Program with the Calgary Opera and in 2018, made his main-stage debut as Paris in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Subsequently, he performed roles including Marullo (Rigoletto), King Melchior (Amahl and the Night Visitors), and Mike Groom (Everest). Since 2020, Jonah has been singing as a member of the COC Ensemble Studio.

Jonah Spungin is a showstopper: when you hear him sing, you forget there’s anything else going on stage. He’s that good. Those “angels” from when we were 14 are now wishing they could sing like him. I mean this sincerely and completely: if you get the chance to see one of his shows, don’t miss it. I have been moved and inspired by Jonah’s singing more often than I can remember, and every time I leave I find myself wishing the concert had gone on a bit longer. Jonah has the rare gift that when he sings, music lives. You get swept up in the tragedy of Elijah, you’ll laugh until you cry if you see him perform Gilbert & Sullivan. You feel like the characters have jumped out of their score and are talking to you personally. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Check him out on Youtube, check him out at the Canadian Opera Company. But check him out.

I can’t wait for you to meet my friend.

-Written by Andrew Lieflander, best friend, and a constant inspiration in both art and life

Jonah Spungin
Aydl (my car) and I had a grand adventure driving to SF and back, and we took a morning to watch the sunrise over the Utah Salt Flats and go for a little spin. Honestly, compared to Ontario roads in the winter, there is a very moderate amount of salt in the Flats.
Jonah Spungin
Me, the crew, and the fleet (well, some of it). Over almost a decade as a tripper, I worked with some seriously cool folks. Pictured here are some of the people that made that job so dang special. (Left to right-ish: Zoe, Jarbess, Berman, Tamar, myself, Shira, Ellie, and Adina)
Summer 2019 I put over 15 000km on my car – the majority of them driving to San Francisco and back to visit Simone. She spent the better part of a week showing me around the city and we even managed to cram in a couple of stunning hikes. Those pictures are very sweaty though, so here we are overlooking SF on a very sunny afternoon.
“Tell me a joke.”
“I just got a degree in opera.”
Everybody’s gotta have a number 1 fan, and for me, that is unquestionably Mum (sorry Andrew). But fan doesn’t nearly cut it for a person who has been at times manager, coach, inspiration, therapist, teacher, accountant, nutritionist, communications director, cheerleader, videographer, photographer, and at all times, Mum. While managing to get by as a singer always seemed like a question mark to me, it never did to her. She’s been steadfast and confident even as I’ve fretted and fussed over whether I could really do this. There’s no punchline here, I literally and figuratively would not be here without her. And she makes wicked challah to boot.
If you didn’t take a selfie, did you even ride 100km? Will, Nat, Nick, and myself (from left to right) biked all the way to and partway up Mont Saint-Hilaire just to find out. I was subsequently inspired to invest in more lycra..
When I’m not road tripping, backpacking, bikepacking, or hanging in an ice bath with my friends, I do actually find time to get up and sing! And getting to share the stage with incredible people, phenomenal singers, and wonderful friends was precisely what wrapped me up in opera in the first place. Performing alongside Gina in Opera McGill’s Die Fledermaus was one of such magical moments – the kind that continue to inspire me and fuel my artistry every day.
Sleet, hail, and a snowstorm couldn’t turn us back on our hike through the Tonquin Valley in Jasper. Can’t quite say the same for many other groups, as by the time we reached Amethyst lake and the Ramparts, we had the place almost entirely to ourselves. Worth it. A frigid and sloshy introduction to backpacking for Chels, as this was her first trip! Oh, did I mention it was the middle of August?
Jonah Spungin
When you’re part of a beer-centric comedic barbershop quartet, it’s important to take some time to unwind. And how better to unwind than a spa day with the bois themselves? The Beerbershop Couchtet (from left to right: myself, Zach, Nick, and Zainen)
Jonah Spungin
Andrew and I can say with vague certainty we did not encounter any bears, and with great certainty, we did get chased out of a forest by a boar. Two weeks, 1100km, and several reinforced Canadian stereotypes later, we arrived safely back in Regensburg very hungry, and fortunately still friends.

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What ‘hood are you in?

I live in Riverdale. It’s a lovely area, and it’s hard to decide if the ample park space or the accessible souvlaki was more instrumental in carrying me through this pandemic.

What do you do?

I’m a singer, so arguably I mostly drink coffee and shop for turtlenecks. I’m in my second year with the Ensemble at the Canadian Opera Company and am absolutely revelling in making music with other people again. I also dabble in social media content creation and singer-songwriter-ing. The guitar was my first musical love, so I try to keep that up when time in the opera world allows.

What are you currently working on?

We just finished recording our first opera of the season – Gianni Schicchi – with the COC, and I’m honestly still reeling from the excitement of being in a show again! And trying to grow my beard back. With a good couple of months before my next mainstage assignment – Madama Butterfly, also with the COC – I’m going to spend some time focusing on growing as a singer and an artist. It’s rare to have access to great teachers and coaches AND the time to take advantage of working with them, so I’m going to make the most of it!

Where can we find your work?

You can stream Gianni Schicchi through the Canadian Opera Company’s website! Many of our productions and concerts this year will be streamed, so watch that space as well for those. I also have a single out on Spotify. I have a YouTube channel (Canadianspunge), and my handle on all socials is @canadianspunge!