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Operapolitan's Singer of the Month: October- Jenni Bank, Mezzo-soprano

October 5, 2017

Jenni Bank, Mezzo-soprano

www.JenniBank.com

 

A luscious, dramatic voice combined with exceptional artistry and comedic capabilities...sounds perfect to us! This October, Operapolitan brings to you the remarkable South African Mezzo-soprano, Jenni Bank.
She is sharing her phenomenal voice all over the world from The Wolf Trap Opera of the United States to 

the stages of Oslo, Norway and Seoul, South Korea. Take a few minutes out of your day to acquaint yourself with Jenni Bank, her beautiful voice, and what makes her tick! Happy October!

 

Jenni Bank, mezzo-soprano: Easily Assimilated from Candide

 

Getting to know Jenni...

What do you do for fun?

I like exploring new cities. We get to travel so much in this career and I try to take advantage of all of those opportunities. I find little local coffee shops, museums, parks, and live music all over the world!

 

What is your favorite food?

Potatoes. They are delicious mashed, as chips, as fries, roasted...yum!

 

What is your favorite holiday?

I really enjoy the Jewish holiday of Passover. In my house growing up there was always lots of singing and delicious food. It’s also a big part of that holiday to welcome people into your home who have no where to go and I love the idea of inclusion and hospitality.

 

Will you be dressing up for Halloween this year?

Probably not. I’m not huge on Halloween. I get to dress up in wonderful costumes all the time and the amazing costume designers and makers I have the privilege of working with are WAY better at their job than I could ever be. Also, I don’t like scary stuff!

 

Favorite TV Series?

The West Wing. I’m kind of obsessed and listening to The West Wing Weekly podcast right now.

 

Favorite Movie

Probably  “The Lion King”

 

What's your karaoke jam?

either Respect by Aretha Franklin or I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston

 

What is your dream vacation?

Thailand

 

If your life were a movie, what would the title be and who would play the role of you?

It would be called Coffee & Music. People have compared me to Kathy Najimy in the past, so I’ll go with her!

 

Favorite Composer?

Verdi and Sondheim

 

Favorite Aria?

O don fatale from Don Carlo

 

Favorite Opera?

Don Carlo

 

Favorite Opera Singer?

Shirley Verrett

 

If you could sing a role outside of your fach, what would it be?

I’d love to sing Sweeney or Scarpia. Also, anything in Boheme. The only time I get a little sad about being a mezzo is knowing I won’t get to perform in that opera. (The rest of the time being a mezzo is awesome!)

 

What is the greatest advice you’ve ever received?

To try to be more prepared than anyone else.

 

What has been your favorite moment on stage thus far?

I think performing my dream roles of Azucena and Mrs Lovett are matched for me. They are so different, but both such incredibly complicated, demanding roles and characters.

 

What are three things you cannot be without when traveling to a gig?

Coffee (I travel with an aeropress), wifi, and books to read (getting a Kindle saved me a lot of room in my checked luggage!)

 

Do you have any pre-performance traditions or superstitions?

Not really. I try to stay pretty relaxed during the day. I warm up slowly and, of course, get enough coffee. I love writing note cards to the cast and team on the day of openings and getting time to reflect on the rehearsal process a bit.

 

Operapolitan is so thankful for Jenni taking the time to share with us!

We can't wait to see what the future holds for this amazing artist!

 

To learn more about Jenni Bank, visit the artist's website: www.JenniBank.com

 Jenni Bank, Mezzo-soprano

 

Jenni Bank, Mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-soprano Jenni Bank was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and grew up in Binghamton, New York. Ms. Bank performed the role of The Duchess in The American Premier of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for which Opera News called her performance “a standout”, proclaiming she possessed a “luscious, dramatic voice and plenty of stage humor” and made her European Debut singing Chin's Scenes From Alice in Wonderland with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. She performed this work again with the Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester in Bergen and Oslo, Norway and The Seoul Philharmonic at Lottie Concert Hall in South Korea.  She reprised the role of The Duchess with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall and at the Barbican Centre in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Bank was thrilled to return to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to sing the role of Firdhaus Noman in the World Premier adaptation of Salmon Rushdie's novel Shalimar the Clown composed by Jack Perla with a libretto by Rajiv Joseph and can soon be heard on the upcoming release of the cast recording.

 

As a standout in both seria and buffa roles, Ms. Bank’s voice has been praised as “lush” by The Wall Street Journal and The Baltimore Sun has described her voice as a “deep, dark, penetrating tone…that can extract Verdian richness.” Following her studies in voice and opera at The Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University, Ms. Bank participated in prestigious Young Artist programs at Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Opera New Jersey. She was a member of the world-renowned Filene Young Artist Program at Wolf Trap Opera where she performed the roles of Marcellina in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Samira in Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles at The Barns at Wolf Trap. Ms. Bank returned to Seattle Opera for their 2017 season to make her MainStage debut performing Third Lady in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Last season also included her debut with Knoxville Opera as Ruth in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, a return to the Young Victorian Theatre Company of Baltimore as Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, Emilia in Rossini's Otello with the Bard Summer Music Festival, and a Third Lady cover with The Chicago Lyric Opera. This season Ms. Bank will debut with Hawaii Opera Theatre as the Marquise in Daughter of the Regiment, sing La Zia Principessa in Puccini's Suor Angelica in Columbus, will return to The Florentine Opera to perform Third Lady in the Magic Flute and Baltimore Concert Opera for Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.

 

Ms. Bank’s recent performances include Mary in Die Fliegende Holländer and Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with Florentine Opera Company, the Old Lady in Candide and Mrs. Peachum in Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera with Amarillo Opera, and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof with Ash Lawn Opera. Ms. Bank has performed Azucena in Verdi’s Il Trovatore with Opera in the Heights in Houston for which she was praised for her performance by the Houston Chronicle saying, “Bank is her own force of nature and achingly conveyed her obsessed gypsy heart through masterful command of her stupendous voice. Thrilling to behold, it's like hearing the waves of the sea”. She returned to the company to sing The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel to further rave reviews.

 

Ms. Bank’s performance repertoire includes Dame Quickly in Falstaff, Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos, Frugola in Il Tabarro, La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Martha in Faust, Giulietta and La voix de la mere in Les Contess d’Hoffmann, Miss Todd in The Old Maid and the Thief, Petra in A Little Night Music, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Ruth in Pirates of Penzance, Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, Fairy Queen in Iolanthe, Katisha in The Mikado, Filipyevna in Eugene Onegin, Argento’s orchestrated Casa Guidi song cycle, and mezzo solos in the Verdi Requiem, Mozart Requiem, Bruckner Te Deum, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

 

Additionally, Ms. Bank has been featured on public television and public radio as an up-and-coming artist and has sung a recital in her birth country of South Africa. Ms. Bank recently returned to her hometown of Binghamton, New York to sing the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. She is a winner of the prestigious Sullivan Foundation Award and received a continuing career grant from the foundation. She has been recognized by numerous vocal organizations and competitions, including the finals of the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Competition, first place in The Harold Haugh vocal competition, second place in the Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year Competition, a semi-finalist in the Competizione dell’Opera in Germany, and was semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.
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