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.
This season, J’Nai returns to San Francisco Opera as Josefa Segovia in the world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West directed by Peter Sellars, in addition to performing the role of Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino with Opera Zürich. She is also featured with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl and in works by Mozart at Walt Disney Hall; in Gershwin selections with the New York Philharmonic at the Bravo! Vail Festival led by Bramwell Tovey; and in Bernstein centennial celebrations with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
Recent opera performance highlights include debuts at San Francisco Opera and Bavarian State Opera as Bersi in Andrea Chénier; at Los Angeles Opera as Nefertiti in Akhnaten; and at Vancouver Opera as Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; and performances as Carmen in the world premiere of Bel Canto, an opera by Jimmy Lopez, based on the novel by Ann Patchett at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role in The Rape of Lucretiaat Wolf Trap Opera; Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at San Diego Opera and Wolf Trap Opera; the title role in Carmen at the Finger Lakes Opera; and Adalgisa in Norma at Knoxville Opera.
Highlights as a soloist include performances of the mezzo-soprano solo in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the L.A. Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, at the Farewell to Christoph Eschenbach concert with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, and with The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Ravel’s Shéhérezade with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, with whom she also was featured in Gershwin works in the orchestra’s inaugural week at the Elbphilharmonie, as well as chamber works with the NDR Symphony cellists; the mezzo-soprano solo in Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Louisville Orchestra, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and Lexington Philharmonic; Ravel’s Chansons Medécasses with Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; chamber works with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Art Institute of Chicago; as well as soloist engagements with the Opera Orchestra of New York, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Apollo Chorus of Chicago, the Oregon Symphony, and the New Jersey Symphonic Orchestra. J’Nai was also a featured soloist in the Marilyn Horne Song Celebration at Carnegie Hall, at the Festival de Torroella de Montgrí, and the GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends tribute concert at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
In 2015, J’Nai completed a three-year residency with the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, which included performances as Inez in Il trovatore, Vlasta in Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, and Flora in La traviata. That same year, she represented the United States at the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. She is a recipient of a 2016 Richard Tucker Career Grant, first prize winner at the 2016 Francisco Vinjas 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 as the singer with a promising operatic career, and the winner of the 2008 Leontyne Price Foundation Competition. J’Nai was previously a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York.
A native of Lakewood, Washington, she earned her Master of Music degree from Curtis Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music.