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February 2014
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Web Exclusive: The Flowering of an Opera Career

mezzo-soprano J'nai Bridges

mezzo-soprano J'nai Bridges

Hear the Ryan Opera Center broadcast on Monday, 6:00 PM

If you pay attention, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center can allow for a rewarding experience. One can say, “I remember when…” about some of the top names in the business, including Susanna Phillips, Matthew Polenzani, and Nicole Cabell. Now J’nai Bridges, a mezzo and current Ryan member is singing Chicago Symphony subscription concerts—this is a big break for a singer in a training program.

Members of the Ryan Opera Center do a lot of behind-the-scenes training, as well as performances throughout the community (many of which are free): Rush Hour concerts, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, etc. For Lyric’s main stage, Ryan singers cover many of the starring roles (meaning they’re ready to go on-stage at a moment’s notice). As it happened the 2013-2014 season afforded a number of medium-sized parts which could be given to Ryan singers. Still, it’s rare for a singer to headline with a major orchestra at this stage in a career.

According to Ryan Opera Center director Dan Novak, “After hearing her on a few occasions, the CSO has had ongoing conversations with J’nai about possible engagements. For this concert in particular, both the schedule and repertoire worked out, and we were all thrilled that it came together.”

J'nai Bridges mingling after a taping in WFMT's studios

J’nai Bridges mingling after a taping at WFMT’s studios

Shortly after she arrived in Chicago, J’nai Bridges sang a scene from Carmen before 10,000+ people at Millennium Park, after which John von Rhein called her “promising.”

That promise is now being fulfilled. The Washington state native has been a strong presence on WFMT’s broadcast series with the Ryan Opera Center. Listen to this bone-chilling portrayal of Lady MacBeth by Joseph Horowitz; Craig Terry, piano:

Hear the next broadcast recital of the Ryan Opera Center on Monday, March 3, at 6:00 PM. J’nai Bridges sings Ravel and Stravinsky with the CSO through Saturday, March 1.



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