SFOpera - J’Nai Bridges Brings the Sizzle in Carmen Debut

J’Nai Bridges Brings the Sizzle in Carmen Debut

J’Nai Bridges was at a crossroads. As a high-schooler, she juggled her passions as best as she could, but now university was beckoning, and she had a choice to make: Should she pursue her passion for basketball or her love of singing?

That conflict came to a head one fateful night, she told Buzzfeed News. She was team captain for her high school basketball team, and they had advanced to the final round of a tournament—on the same day she had rehearsals for her first opera.

By some miracle, she managed to attend both events on time, but when she arrived at the tournament game, her coach barred her from playing. He questioned her commitment to the sport, she says.

Now, Bridges looks back at that moment as a turning point. Her decision to throw herself whole-heartedly into singing proved to be a wise one: Bridges has been conquering some of the most prestigious stages in opera ever since.

The mezzo-soprano recently made her debut at Carnegie Hall, and she’s on the eve of making her Metropolitan Opera debut in its premiere of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten.

But Bridges is no stranger to our stage. In 2017, she originated the role of Josefa Segovia in the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West, right here at San Francisco Opera.

And this summer, she’s returning to turn up the heat on a classic opera, in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen. It will be a role debut for the accomplished singer, who first encountered Bizet’s fiery heroine as a young opera student at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2011.

“I was, oh, way too young,” she recalls of that first performance, in an interview with the Associated Press. “It felt good back then, but it just fits like a glove now.”

You won’t want to miss her sing and stomp in this summer’s production of Carmen, directed by the legendary Francesca Zambello. Tickets are selling fast!

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