“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
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!