Jenni Bank, mezzo-soprano
Praised for her “lush” voice by The Wall Street Journal, mezzo-soprano Jenni Bank has a “deep, dark, penetrating tone…that can extract Verdian richness” (The Baltimore Sun). Ms. Bank was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and grew up in Binghamton, New York. Following early studies in voice, she attended The Peabody Conservatory and participated in prestigious Young Artist programs at Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera New Jersey, and the world-renowned Filene Young Artist Program at Wolf Trap Opera. Ms. Bank recently returned to Seattle Opera to make her main-stage debut performing Third Lady in Mozart's Die Zauberflöteand covering the role at Chicago Lyric Opera. Last season she sang La Zia Principessa in Puccini's Suor Angelicain Columbus, returned to both The Florentine Opera to perform Third Lady in The Magic Fluteand Baltimore Concert Opera as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, performed her third Katisha in The Mikado, and debuted with Hawaii Opera Theatre as the Marquise in La fille du regiment. Ms. Bank will be returning next season to both Florentine Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre to sing Marcellina in their productions of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. D.C. metro arts has called her “a revelation…very funny…unfailingly dignified…[and] astonishingly sexy.” Ms. Bank was thrilled to make her Carnegie Hall debut this past season with Mid-America Productions.
Known for her prowess in contemporary opera, Ms. Bank made her Lincoln Center and New York City Opera debut performing Mrs. Twist in the American Premier of Brokeback Mountain at Jazz at Lincoln Center, for which the New York Classical Review praised her “earthy mezzo and soulful singing.” She gave “the comic performance of a lifetime” (Ion Arts) as Samira in Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versaillesand is the leading interpreter of the role of The Duchess in Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland. “Jenni Bank was a standout as the Duchess, showing a luscious, dramatic voice and plenty of stage humor.” (Opera News) She has performed the role in the American Premier at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and with The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, The Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester in Bergen and at the Oslo Opera House in Norway, The Seoul Philharmonic at Lotte Concert Hall in South Korea, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall, and at the Barbican Centre in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Bank also created the role of Firdhaus Noman in the World Premiere adaptation of Salmon Rushdie's novel Shalimar the Clown, composed by Jack Perla with a libretto by Rajiv Joseph, at Opera Theatre Saint Louis and she is featured on the recently released Original Cast Recording. She will be making her Opera Delaware debut singing Mrs. Patrick de Rocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.
Ms. Bank’s recent performances include Emilia in Rossini's Otello with the Bard Summer Music Festival, Mary in Die Fliegende Holländerand Marcellina in Le nozze di Figarowith Florentine Opera Company, The Old Lady in Candideand Mrs. Peachum in Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Operawith Amarillo Opera, Ruth in Pirates of Penzancewith Knoxville Opera, and Golde in Fiddler on the Roofwith Ash Lawn Opera. Lauded as “a singer of true Verdian force” (The Baltimore Sun), Ms. Bank was recently the mezzo soloist in Verdi’s Requiemwith Bach in Baltimore and The Morgan State University Choir. Of her performance as Azucena in Il Trovatore, The Houston Chronicle proclaimed “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...Bank is...a superlative Verdi interpreter.” Other repertoire includes Dame Quickly in Falstaff, The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos, Frugola in Il Tabarro, 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, Fairy Queen in Iolanthe, Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, Filipyevna in Eugene Onegin, Argento’s orchestrated Casa Guidisong cycle, the Mozart Requiem, Bruckner Te Deum, Szymanowski Stabat Mater, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Schubert’s Mass in C, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
Ms. Bank recently returned to both her hometown to sing the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Toddwith Tri-Cities Opera and to her country of birth to sing a recital in Cape Town. She is a winner of the prestigious Sullivan Foundation Award, winner of The Harold Haugh Competition, and was semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.