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 at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 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 reprised the role of The Duchess in 2015 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall and at the Barbican Centre in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Bank will soon be reprising the piece in Seoul, South Korea with The Seoul Philharmonic. Ms. Bank was thrilled to return to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2016 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.
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. In the summer of 2015 Ms. Bank 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 will return to Seattle Opera for their 2017 season to make her MainStage debut performing Third Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. This season also includes 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, and a Third Lady (cover) with The Chicago Lyric Opera. Next season includes a debut with Hawaii Opera Theatre and return to The Florentine Opera to perform Third Lady in the Magic Flute.
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 and recently returned to the company to sing The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel to rave reviews. The Houston Chronicle praised her “lusty singing” and Susan Boyd, a Houstonia Magazine blogger, praised her performance saying “Perhaps most memorable was Jenni Bank, the hunch-backed villain Knusperhexe who flew in on a broom in the third act and made this opera her own. She might have been baked into gingerbread cookies, but her voice is what I’m still marveling over. With a complex mezzo-soprano timbre, flush with color but technically exact, it was a surprise that Bank could also cackle and crackle her evil spells “Hocus pocus!”
A standout in both seria and buffa roles and comfortable in concert and oratorio work, 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 home town of Binghamton, New York to sing the role of Mrs. lovett in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.
Ms. Bank is a winner of the prestigious Sullivan Foundation Award and receives 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.
Ms. Bank previously performed with the Florentine Opera Company in the role of Mary in The Flying Dutchman (2014) and Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro (2013).