Noted for her “effortlessly produced, rich voice,” American Soprano Jill Gardner is swiftly establishing herself among today’s leading operatic heroines.
Recognized as a “lyrico spinto, Puccini girl through and through,” Ms. Gardner has sung over 50 performances of her signature role of Tosca in recent seasons with such notable American companies as Opera Carolina, Arizona Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Hawai’i Opera Theater, Toledo Opera, Lyric Opera of Baltimore, Piedmont Opera and in a new production with Mill City Summer Opera. 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…” In the 2017–2018 season, Ms. Gardner makes anticipated company debuts with Virginia Opera as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West and with Opera Tampa as Lady MacBeth in Verdi’s Macbeth. For the upcoming 2018–2019 season, performances for Ms. Gardner currently include a return to Virginia Opera in her role debut as Anna Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, her debut with Greensboro Opera in the title role of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and a return to the concert stage in Wagner’s Ring Cycle in One Night with the Binghamton Philharmonic.
Ms. Gardner has received critical acclaim for her many portrayals of the leading ladies of the verismo repertoire as well as contemporary heroines. This past season, the Southern soprano made her debut in the iconic role of Blanche Dubois in André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire for Hawai’i Opera Theater as well as creating the role of Mildred in the highly-anticipated world premiere production of Richard Auldon Clark’s and Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday Wanda June for Indianapolis Opera. In previous seasons, Ms. Gardner performed Manon Lescaut with Opera Grand Rapids; Madama Butterfly with Arizona Opera, Tri-Cities Opera and Piedmont Opera; Georgetta/Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica with Opera Carolina; Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth with Michigan Opera Theater and Chautauqua Opera; Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Eugene Opera; Mimì in La Bohème with Boston Lyric Opera; Musetta in La Bohème with Florida Grand 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 Theater, Mill City Summer Opera and in 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, Helmwige in Die Walküre with Hawai‘i Opera Theater and joining the roster of Washington National Opera for their production of Manon Lescaut.
Equally at home in the operetta and musical theater traditions, Ms. Gardner gave the first inaugural opera house performances of the role of Margaret Johnson in Adam Guettel’s Light in the Piazza with Piedmont Opera and enjoyed success in Lehar’s The Merry Widow (Syracuse Opera) as well as Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (Hawai‘i Opera Theater). On the concert stage, she has performed with such ensembles as the Washington Chorus in a Puccini Concert; the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in a Verdi/Mascagni/Wagner Concert; the role of Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s operatic tragedy Dialogues des Carmélites with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Winston-Salem Symphony; Gala Concerts for Opera Carolina, Greensboro Opera and Anchorage Opera; Verdi’s Requiem in Dallas; 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 as well as the Brahms Requiem and Holiday Pops Concerts with the Binghamton Philharmonic.
An alumna of the Young Artist Programs of Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Tri-Cities Opera in upstate New York, Ms. Gardner created the role of Madame Loiseau in the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good, which was recorded live in the Alice Busch Opera House of the Glimmerglass Festival for the Naxos Label. She has been a Southeast Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as well as a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Centenary College of Louisiana.
Ms. Gardner currently resides in Kernersville, NC with her husband, bass-baritone Jake Gardner.