American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “rich, dark, exciting sound” (Opera News) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after talents of her generation.
Two time Grammy® Award-winning American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “plush-voiced mezzo-soprano” (The New York Times), and “calmly commanding stage presence” (The New Yorker) has been heralded as “a rising star” (Los Angeles Times), gracing the world’s top opera and concert stages.
The 2023-24 season spotlights Ms. Bridges in the world premiere of Intelligence by Jake Heggie, where she takes on the role of Lucinda at the Houston Grand Opera. Bridges will make her subscription debut with the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra, performing Julia Perry’s Stabat Mater and Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette, respectively. She will be returning to the Metropolitan Opera in John Adams’ El Niño conducted by Marin Alsop, as well as taking one of her signature roles of Carmen to the Hamburg State Opera. Bridges’ recital engagements for the season begin with a performance alongside Latonia Moore at the San Diego Opera, continuing with Modlin Center of the Arts and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with more to be announced throughout the season.
Ms. Bridges’ 2022-23 season highlights included Bridges as Carmen with debut engagements at the Arena di Verona, Canadian Opera Company, and a return to Dutch National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. As a native of Tacoma, WA, She made her Seattle Opera debut in a concert performance of Samson et Delilah as Delilah in January 2023. Additional concert engagements included Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with the Detroit Symphony in November, and a world premiere by Carlos Simon in April 2023 with the National Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Bridges’ recital engagements for the season included a world premiere by Jimmy Lopez at 92NY, as well as performances at Washington University, Thomasville Center for the Arts, The Cliburn, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, San Francisco Performances, and the Mondavi Center.
In the midst of the worldwide pandemic, she emerged as a leading figure in classical music’s shift toward conversations of inclusion and racial justice in the performing arts. In 2022 she was announced as one of the Kennedy Center’s NEXT50 cultural leaders, and appeared with The National Philharmonic in the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on the Neck that same year. Bridges led a highly successful panel on race and inequality in opera with the Los Angeles Opera that drew international acclaim for being a “conversation of striking scope and candor” (The New York Times). In early 2021, Ms. Bridges was featured in the Converse shoe brand’s All Stars Campaign for its Breaking Down Barriers collection. Bridges also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel for two episodes of the digital SOUND/STAGE series, and as part of the Global Citizen movement’s Global Goal campaign, a program which also included Coldplay, Shakira, Usher and more. Bridges returned to the LA Phil and Dudamel in June 2022 for a performance of Lieberson’s Neruda Songs as part of the Power to the People! festival.
The pandemic also forced the cancellation of Ms. Bridges’ numerous debuts during the 2020-21 season including the title role of Carmen at The Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Bridges 2019-20 season included her highly acclaimed debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Nefertiti in a sold-out run of Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten, as well as a house and role debut with Washington National Opera as Dalila in Samson et Dalila.
Other recent highlights include the 2022 Grammy® Award-winning Metropolitan Opera production of Akhnaten and 2021 Grammy® Award-winning recording of Richard Danielpour’s oratorio The Passion of Yeshua with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, performing at the National Library of Congress to honor legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg as she received the 2022 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Woman of Leadership Award, her sold-out Carnegie Hall Recital debut, her role debut of Kasturbai in Satyagraha at LA Opera, and her debuts at Dutch National Opera and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Ms. Bridges also created the role of Josefa Segovia in the world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West at San Francisco Opera, and performed in the world premiere of Bel Canto at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, an opera by Jimmy Lopez based on the novel by Ann Patchett.
Bridges is a recipient of the prestigious 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award, a 2016 Richard Tucker Career Grant, first prize winner at the 2016 Francisco Viñas International Competition, first prize winner at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Competition, a recipient of the 2013 Sullivan Foundation Award, a 2012 Marian Anderson award winner, the recipient of the 2011 Sara Tucker Study Grant, the recipient of the 2009 Richard F. Gold Grant from The Shoshana Foundation, and the winner of the 2008 Leontyne Price Foundation Competition. J’Nai completed a three-year residency with the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, represented the United States at the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
A native of Tacoma, Washington, she earned her Master of Music degree from Curtis Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Manhattan School of Music.
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