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Mezzo J’Nai Bridges rising fast in opera world

January 21 at 11:27 AM

NEW YORK — J’Nai Bridges was once simply 24 and nonetheless in class when she sang her first “Carmen” as a tender artist on the Glimmerglass Competition in 2011.

“I used to be, oh, method too younger,” she remembers with amusing. “It felt just right again then, however it simply suits like a glove now.”

Bridges might be attempting on that glove once more, headlining a manufacturing of Bizet’s masterpiece on the San Francisco Opera in June. It’s her largest step thus far in a profession that has taken the African-American mezzo-soprano to main properties in the USA and Europe — that can result in her Metropolitan Opera debut subsequent season as Nefertiti in Philip Glass’ ”Akhnaten.”

Younger as she was once in that Glimmerglass efficiency, she inspired Francesca Zambello, who had simply grow to be director of the summer season competition in Cooperstown, New York.

“Her making a song was once already memorable, as had been her animal level instincts,” Zambello mentioned in an e-mail. “I take note I used to be interested in looking at her all the time, and one may just see she was once a tender singer with huge attainable.”

Zambello might be directing her in San Francisco, and Bridges, simply turning 32, thinks she now has the “lifestyles revel in and vocal adulthood” to do justice to the position of the free-spirited gypsy who refuses to cringe even on the prospect of dying.

“The tunes are so widespread, however it’s in truth rather tough to sing,” Bridges mentioned in an interview closing month in her New York condominium. “The tessitura (prevailing vocal vary) sits rather low and middle-y. … And to sing over an orchestra for your decrease sign in, it simply doesn’t mission as a lot, so that you in point of fact need to have that grounding and adulthood for your voice.”

Stated Bridges: “She takes good thing about other folks evidently, however she’s a robust girl who says what she needs and will get what she needs.”

“She’s additionally extraordinarily fearless,” Bridges mentioned. “She brings on her personal dying and she or he is aware of it. I will’t rather relate to that but … however I had a fearlessness about me at a tender age. I got here all of the method around the nation when I used to be 18, having by no means performed that. This profession, it’s now not simple every now and then, and it takes slightly of that very same power that I believe Carmen has.”

Bridges were learning voice whilst rising up in Washington state but in addition was once a celebrity capturing guard on her highschool basketball crew. Had it now not been for a falling out together with her trainer, she may smartly have pursued sports activities somewhat than making a song.

As a substitute, she left house to wait the Ny Faculty of Tune in New York, endured her research on the Curtis Institute of Tune in Philadelphia after which did a three-year residency on the Ryan Opera Heart, the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s artist construction program, completing in 2015.

“As a performer, J’Nai in point of fact has the whole lot,” mentioned soprano Renee Fleming, who were given to understand Bridges as adviser to the Ryan Heart. “She is thrilling onstage, a compelling actress, with an attractive presence. However maximum essential of all, J’Nai’s voice has a fantastic, unique timbre. … I don’t see any limits to how a long way she may just cross.”

In the past, a lot of Bridges’ roles were in recent opera, beginning together with her skilled debut in 2015 within the Lyric Opera’s “Bel Canto,” an adaptation of the Ann Patchett novel with track by way of Jimmy Lopez. She’s additionally been featured in two Philip Glass operas and sang within the San Francisco Opera’s global premiere of John Adams’ ”Ladies of the Golden West,” a task she’s repeating in Amsterdam this season.

She jokes that she began getting provides for contemporary opera “when other folks came upon that I may just rely. … Those other time signatures that adjust each measure, it doesn’t faze me. I in truth just like the problem.”

In December, Bridges gave a recital at Carnegie Corridor’s Weill Recital Corridor, and after finishing her program with a gaggle of spirituals and an encore of the Habanera from “Carmen,” she did one thing extraordinary: Addressing her target audience without delay, she related the message of spirituals to the desire for social alternate.

“I debated announcing anything else,” she recalled. “However as American citizens, we’ve long past thru so much. … I believe we’re in a in point of fact attempting time. As an artist, as a singer, now not handiest do I’ve this reward and calling, however I believe like an envoy for alternate thru my reward.

“And I believe that method as a result of being an African-American opera singer, it’s now not one thing you notice each day,” she added, “… and so I do know so much about our historical past, that it’s taken numerous trials and tribulations for me even so that you could sing at Carnegie Corridor.

“I sing spirituals in virtually each live performance that I do,” she mentioned. “There’s a battle and a forgiveness and a power and a love in those songs that individuals are lacking,” she mentioned. “And so they be able to make anyone stroll out desirous about one thing, perhaps assume out of doors of your self.”

Copyright 2019 The Related Press. All rights reserved. This subject matter might not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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