Release date: 7/29/2021
Launch Event: In Conversation with Jamie Barton and Béla Fleck LIVE: Thursday, July 29, 4 pm PT
San Francisco Opera’s new short-form song and storytelling video portrait series, In Song, continues with the premiere of In Song: Jamie Barton. Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton revisits her roots and the music she was steeped in growing up in the foothills of northwest Georgia. Presented in partnership with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the new episode features Barton with banjo virtuoso and 15-time Grammy winner Béla Fleck in performances of Purcell’s “Music for a While” and the traditional ballad “Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow.” In Song: Jamie Barton is released today and available free of charge at sfopera.com/insong, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
To celebrate the release, Jamie Barton and Béla Fleck join In Song director and executive producer Elena Park for a conversation streamed live today at 4 pm Pacific on Facebook. Click HERE for free registration to the live event on Zoom. A recording will be available on demand for free on YouTube beginning tomorrow.
Renowned opera singer Jamie Barton takes viewers on a musical and personal journey from “Music City” Nashville, Tennessee with Béla Fleck to the rolling green foothills of Johns Mountain, Georgia. Barton explores her background coming up in “The Pocket,” a remote valley without wi-fi, where she was surrounded by gospel and bluegrass and where her father taught her to sing harmony in the back pew of their church.
Jamie Barton is increasingly recognized for how she uses her powerful instrument offstage—lifting up women, queer people and other marginalized communities. Barton made her San Francisco Opera debut as Adalgisa in Bellini’s Norma in 2014. She returned in 2018 for the Company’s production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) as Fricka, the Second Norn and Waltraute and made her role debut as Sara in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux (2018). Most recently, Barton captivated audiences as Ježibaba in Dvořák’s Rusalka (2019) and this fall she headlines Live and In Concert: The Homecoming on September 10 with soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen, both under the baton of San Francisco Opera’s new music director, Eun Sun Kim.
Barton’s 2007 win at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions launched a major international career that includes leading roles at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera, Madrid’s Teatro Real, Royal Opera, Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera. In recognition of her iconic performance at the Last Night of the Proms, Barton was named 2020 Personality of the Year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards. Her solo albums include All Who Wander and Unexpected Shadows, recorded with composer Jake Heggie.
Multi-Grammy winner Béla Fleck—the world’s premier banjo virtuoso and a celebrated musical adventurer—has both dug deep into his instrument’s complex global history and unlocked the breadth of its possibilities. Born in New York City and named for the classical giants Bartók, Webern and Janáček, Béla Anton Leos Fleck’s subsequent move to Kentucky and immersion into the sound’s heartland led to a spot in the acclaimed progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival. The Flecktones, the project that immediately followed New Grass Revival, recently celebrated 30 years of melding acoustic with electronic and bluegrass with jazz and funk. Fleck has made duo albums and tours with jazz legend Chick Corea and life partner Abigail Washburn, the Brooklyn Rider String Quartet, three classical banjo concertos and collaborations with Zakir Hussain, Rakesh Churasia and bassist Edgar Meyer. The award-winning 2009 documentary Throw Down Your Heart followed Fleck as he explored the African origins of the banjo. Those travels inform what he brought home to his new album, My Bluegrass Heart, the third chapter in a decades-spanning trilogy, which started with 1988’s Drive and continued with The Bluegrass Sessions.
San Francisco Opera’s In Song is a series of intimate video portraits featuring remarkable artists who draw us into their distinctive spheres through stories and song—from classical to bluegrass, spirituals and Samoan songs. Launched in March 2021, each episode invites us into the singer’s world to see how they express themselves through deep connections to song. In Song: J’Nai Bridges and In Song: Pene Pati are available on demand at sfopera.com/insong and YouTube. Upcoming episodes will feature tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz and soprano Amina Edris.
In Song, along with San Francisco Opera’s other new digital content initiatives including the podcast North Stage Doorand Atrium Sessions, is made possible, in part, through generous gifts to the Creative Edge Fund, founded by Carol and Dixon Doll.
*For the complete press release please view the attached PDF.