|"Mr. Gunn's blend of physicality and innocence is reflected in his singing, by turns robust and tender. His dark-hued voice, though not enormous, has presence and carries well. His musicianship is flawless. Do not expect him to take on Rigoletto or the Count di Luna. He is one of a new generation of American singers who bring well-schooled musical skills, intelligence, fitness and an excitement about acting to opera. Billy Budd is an ideal role for him," wrote Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times in a review of a November 17, 2001, performance of Britten's Billy Budd at the Chicago Lyric Opera.
The Chicago Tribune wrote: "Much depends on a baritone's looking, as well as sounding, the part of Billy, and Gunn was absolutely credible on both counts. Boyishly good-looking, eager and athletic, he exuded bare-chested bravery and sang the role superbly. There could be no more affecting account of Billy's farewell monologue than what Gunn delivered."
Wynne Delacoma of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "Singing the title role for the first time and making his Lyric debut, American baritone Nathan Gunn is an ideal Billy Budd. Comments about Billy's handsomeness run through the opera, and Gunn, with his trim physique and a quick smile requires no stretch of the audience's imagination. His baritone's youthful clarity makes Billy's enthusiasms infectious. But in his final ballad, accompanied by the orchestra's comforting, hymnlike chords and pensive woodwinds, Gunn shades Britten's simple song into a moving farewell to young life."