Michael McCarthy talks us through a brief introduction to Passion's singers, and what he feels they'll bring to the challenges this work throws at them!
Jenni has only recently taken on the role of HER in Passion and we’re in awe of her commitment to new work, and her willingness to take on learning this hugely demanding piece in such a short space of time. With a background in dance, Jenni’s physicality on stage is remarkable. Even so, Passion’s movement is a different ball game to the dance steps usually found in opera – making it especially exciting and challenging for all of us! But, while movement is a critical part of this production, we also need a singer who can actually sing the role – this is probably the most extreme and demanding role in any opera I know. It demands a singer with exquisite control of colour and intensity across an exceptional range. It was specifically written for one special soprano, Barbara Hannigan, who has created her own identity as singer and performer, and now also as a conductor and mentor across the globe. Jenni brings her own unique qualities to the rehearsal room and the stage, and we couldn’t wish for a more exciting performer for Passion.
Nominated for The Outstanding Achievement in an Operatic Role for the 2017 WhatsOnStage Opera Poll, for a 2016 Schaunard Award by Place de l’Opera, for The Times Breakthrough Award in Opera at the 2016 South Bank Sky Arts Awards, Winner of the Song Prize at the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Awards and of a 2014 Leonard Ingrams Award from Garsington Opera, Jennifer France graduated from the Opera Course at the Royal Academy of Music and was an Emerging Artist at Scottish Opera where she sang Dalinda in Ariodante and Despina in Così fan tutte. She has returned to Scottish Opera as The Controller in Flight, Giulia in La Scala di Seta, and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos.
With a growing reputation in contemporary music, she appeared in the première of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (also at the Dutch National Opera) and as Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamlet for Glyndebourne On Tour. Her engagements elsewhere have included Marzelline in Fidelio for Garsington Opera at Wormsley and at the Winterthur Festival, First Niece in Peter Grimes, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, and Esmeralda in The Bartered Bride for Opera North, First Niece in Peter Grimes at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden, The Controller in Flight, Adele in Die Fledermaus and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos for Opera Holland Park, Florinda in Rodrigo for La Nuova Musica in Florence, the title role in Semele at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for Garsington Opera at Wormsley, Le Feu / Le Rossignol L’enfant et les sortilèges with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, La Comtesse Adele in Le Comte Ory at the 2017 Dorset Opera Festival and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos for the Nederlandse Reisopera.
Concert engagements have included Marzelline in Fidelio and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Flavio in Il Vologeso with Classical Opera, Bruckner’s Te Deum with the Oxford Philomusica, Dixit Dominus at the 2017 International Handel Festival in Karlsruhe, Handel’s Messiah with the Huddersfield Choral Society and the Nederlandse Reisopera, A Concert for the Eve of St Cecilia’s Day with the London Handel Orchestra, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the 2016 Three Choirs Festival, Mozart’s Requiem with the London Mozart Players, Lieder and Other Arts Songs (Music by Fauré and Schumann) on tour with the Israel Camerata, Viennese Concerts with Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Viennese Whirl with the Orchestra of Opera North. She made her BBC Proms debut in 2017.
Her current engagements include the German premiere of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence at Hamburg State Opera The Princess in Philip Glass’s Orphée for English National Opera, creating Ice in Stuart MacRae’s Anthropocene for Scottish Opera, Princess Elsbeth in Fantasio for Garsington Opera at Wormsley, Brett Dean’s And Once I Played Ophelia with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Mozart’s Women with the London Mozart Players, and Viennese Concerts with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Hallé.
Winner of the Loveday Song Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, her recordings include Debussy Songs – Vol. 3 with Malcolm Martineau on Hyperion CD and Elgar’s Une Voix dans le désert with the Hallé conducted by Sir Mark Elder on Hallé CD.