Jill Gardner

Jill Gardner

American soprano Jill Gardner sits among today’s leading operatic heroines. Gardner is consistently hailed for her portrayals of the leading ladies of the verismo repertoire and Puccini heroines alike. Considered one of the great interpreters of the title role of Tosca, she recently performed the role with several different opera houses, including Opera Carolina, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Arizona Opera, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Toledo Opera, Piedmont Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera in her role début. Opera News calls Ms. Gardner’s interpretation of Tosca “fresh and focused” and states “in Gardner’s hands, her Act II aria, ‘Vissi d’arte,’ was not merely a famous showstopper but an opportunity to reveal layers of Tosca’s character…” 2020 engagements were to include performing the title role of Tosca with Eugene Opera, and Tabarro/Gianni Schicchi with Maryland Lyric Opera.

Calendar

Event Date
Apr 22
to
Apr 24
Cavalleria Rusticana/Gianni Schicchi
Santuzza/La Ciesca
Opera Tampa
Tampa, Florida

Artist Bio

American soprano Jill Gardner sits among today’s leading operatic heroines. Gardner is consistently hailed for her portrayals of the leading ladies of the verismo repertoire and Puccini heroines alike. Considered one of the great interpreters of the title role of Tosca, she recently performed the role with several different opera houses, including Opera Carolina, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Arizona Opera, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Toledo Opera, Piedmont Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera in her role début. Opera News calls Ms. Gardner’s interpretation of Tosca “fresh and focused” and states “in Gardner’s hands, her Act II aria, ‘Vissi d’arte,’ was not merely a famous showstopper but an opportunity to reveal layers of Tosca’s character…”

Recent engagements include Georgetta/Santuzza in Tabbaro/Cavalleria Rusticana with Maryland Lyric Opera, the title role of Tosca with Tri-Cities Opera, Anna Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene with Virginia Opera, Minnie in La fanciulla del West with Maryland Lyric Opera, and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly with Greensboro Opera. She also performed as a soloist in Greensboro Opera’s gala and Binghamton Philharmonic’s “Wagner’s Ring Cycle in One Night” concert, Minnie in La fanciulla del West with Virginia Opera, the Marquise of Berkenfield in La fille du Regiment with Hawaii Opera Theatre, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with Opera Tampa. 2020 engagements were to include performing the title role of Tosca with Eugene Opera, and Tabarro/Gianni Schicchi with Maryland Lyric Opera.

Ms. Gardner has quite a history as a leading lady in opera’s most infamous repertoire. Some highlights from these include the title roles of Manon Lescaut with Opera Grand Rapids, which she also covered with Washington National Opera; Madama Butterfly in her role début with Arizona Opera and at Piedmont Opera; Suor Angelica with Opera Carolina; Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with Michigan Opera Theatre and Chautauqua Opera; Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Eugene Opera; Mimì in La bohème with Boston Lyric Opera; Marguerite in Faust with Madison Opera; Minnie in La fanciulla del West with Opera Coeur d’Alene, in her role début; and Nedda in Pagliacci with Michigan Opera Theatre, Mill City Opera, and her début with Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other highlights from recent seasons include portrayals of Leonora in Il trovatore with Piedmont Opera; Liù in Turandot with Arizona Opera; Mildred in Happy Birthday Wanda June with Indianapolis Opera; and multiple engagements with Hawaii Opera Theatre including Helmwige in Die Walküre, her house début as Countess Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, and the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams’s famous play of the same name.

No stranger to concert and theatre stages, Ms. Gardner performed Beethoven’s Mass in C Major with the Wichita Symphony; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the Syracuse Symphony; Verdi’s Requiem in Dallas; a Puccini concert with the Washington Chorus; Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s operatic tragedy Dialogues des carmélites with Portland Symphony and Winston Salem Symphony; gala concerts with Opera Carolina and Greensboro Opera; a holiday concert with the Binghamton Philharmonic; Anchorage Opera’s “55th Anniversary Opera Extravaganza” concert; a concert with Charlotte Symphony; and appearances as Margaret Johnson in the first opera house production of The Light in the Piazza with Piedmont Opera.

Ms. Gardner was a member of the Young American Artist Program at Glimmerglass Opera, where she created the role of Madame Loiseau in the world-première of Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good, which was recorded on the Naxos Label. Also at the Glimmerglass Opera, Ms. Gardner added two new roles to her repertoire: Elle in Poulenc’s La voix humaine and the title role of Jenůfa.

She has been the recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant of the Shoshana Foundation-NYC, a Special Opportunity Award from the New York Foundation of the Arts, and an Emerging Artist Grant from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Division of the North Carolina Arts Council. She holds a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Centenary College of Louisiana.

Updated 4.27.21

Video

Lady MacBeth’s Act I aria, “Vieni! T’affretta” from Verdi’s Macbeth

“Il tuo sangue” from Tosca

Lady Macbeth’s Act IV Gran Scena del Sonnambulismo, “Una macchia è qui tuttora” from Verdi’s Macbeth 

Press

"...one of the aces in this production...” – Winston-Salem Journal

La Fanciulla del West – “Midway through the first act, Minnie, played by Jill Gardner, is the pistol-packing saloon owner who makes a dramatic entrance, taking command of an all-out barroom brawl, skillfully choreographed by Erik Gaden. Gardner takes command of the production as well, and never lets go. Her singing has great emotional range, impressive clarity and flawless dynamic control. Her acting, however, is what stands out the most. In a nuanced performance, Gardner evokes both hesitancy and assuredness, vulnerability and strength, as well as worldly innocence, maternal protectiveness and fierce resolve. In addition to the music of Puccini, she is one of the aces in this production.”

“…she alone is a reason to see this production…” – Paul Kuritz Theater and Film Blog

Street Scene – “But Street Scene rests on the performance of four big voices. Number one is Mrs. Maurrant. Virginia Opera is blessed by the return of Jill Gardner to essay this very difficult role. She won the day last season as Minnie in The Girl of the Golden West. This time she has a more difficult challenge: to make an adulterous wife sympathetic. And she does. “Somehow I Never Could Believe” is a bear of an aria, but Ms. Gardner creates such a strong bond with her audience that it allows her to lead them along to wherever she chooses. She alone is a reason to see this production.”

"...undertook the title role as if it were newly written..." – Opera News

Tosca – “Soprano Jill Gardner, whose voice was fresh and focused, undertook the title role as if it were newly written. There was little of the conventional grand diva in her approach, and her character was all the more human for it. In Gardner’s hands, her Act II aria, “Vissi d’arte,” was not merely a famous showstopper but an opportunity to reveal layers of Tosca’s character…their grand showdown in Act II made one suspect they could revive the original source play, Victorien Sardou’s La Tosca, and make a success of it.”

“...among the singers, the pride of place goes to Jill Gardner..." – Charlotte Observer

Suor Angelica/Il tabarro – "Among the singers, the pride of place goes to Jill Gardner. She was an impressive Tosca in Opera Carolina’s production in 2012, but here she has surpassed herself. There doesn’t seem to be anything standing between her and Puccini’s heroines – her identification with both parts seemed complete. Her voice also has become fresher, almost seamless, as if to float an extended high note is as natural as daylight. Furthermore, she moves like an actress, not an opera singer.”

"...gave a commanding performance that was breathtakingly eerie throughout..." – Sybaritic Singer

Macbeth – “Jill Gardner as Lady Macbeth gave a commanding performance that was breathtakingly eerie throughout. Her performance was so convincing that it inspires one to loathe her character for corrupting Macbeth in such evil and manipulative ways. Gardner demonstrated incredible vocal control even when lying down prone on the stage. Her portrayal of Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness was equally as terrifying as her manipulation of Macbeth. Her performance was such a pleasure to watch and Opera Tampa’s audience would heartily welcome her back for future performances.”