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Jader Conducts Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony

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Jader Conducts Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony

Friday, November 11—Sunday, November 13, 2022

Friday, November 11—Sunday, November 13, 2022
Orchestra Hall
2 hours

With an enormous orchestra, deep bells, offstage brass and percussion, vocal soloists, and a large chorus, Mahler fashions a sound world all his own, exploring themes of afterlife and the resurrection of the dead. Soprano Janai Brugger and mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges join the tremendous musical forces required to perform this symphony — all under the baton of Jader Bignamini.


Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”


Jader Bignamini


Jader Bignamini was introduced as the 18th music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in January 2020, commencing with the 2020-2021 season. He kicked off his tenure as DSO Music Director with the launch of DSO Digital Concerts in September 2020, conducting works by Copland, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and Saint-Georges. His infectious passion and artistic excellence set the tone for the season ahead, creating extraordinary music and establishing a close relationship with the orchestra. A jazz aficionado, he has immersed himself in Detroit’s rich jazz culture and the influences of American music.

In December, Bignamini returned to Detroit to lead a triumphant performance of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, Strauss’s Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” He returned again in May 2021 to conduct four programs including performances with violinist Midori and pianist Orli Shaham.

A native of Crema, Italy, Bignamini studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory and began his career as a musician (clarinet) with Orchestra Sinfonica La Verdi in Milan, later serving as the group’s resident conductor. Captivated by the operatic arias of legends like Mahler and Tchaikovsky, Jader explored their complexity and power, puzzling out the role that each instrument played in creating a larger-than-life sound. When he conducted his first professional concert at the age of 28, it didn’t feel like a departure, but an arrival.

In the years since, Bignamini has conducted some of the world’s most acclaimed orchestras and opera companies in venues across the globe including working with Riccardo Chailly on concerts of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 2013 and his concert debut at La Scala in 2015 for the opening season of La Verdi Orchestra. Recent highlights include debuts with the Houston, Dallas, and Minnesota symphonies; Osaka Philharmonic and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo; with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Dutch National Opera (Madama Butterfly); Bayerische Staatsoper (La Traviata); I Puritani in Montpellier for the Festival of Radio France; Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola; return engagements with Oper Frankfurt (La forza del destino) and Santa Fe Opera (La Bohème); Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi; Traviata, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot at Arena of Verona; Il Trovatoreand Aida at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera; Madama Butterfly, I Puritani, and Manon Lescaut at Teatro Massimo in Palermo; Simon Boccanegra and La Forza del Destino at the Verdi Festival in Parma; Ciro in Babilonia at Rossini Opera Festival and La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, and Elisir d’amore at La Fenice in Venice.

When Bignamini leads an orchestra in symphonic repertoire, he conducts without a score, preferring to make direct eye contact with the musicians. He conducts from the heart, forging a profound connection with his musicians that shines through both onstage and off. He both embodies and exudes the excellence and enthusiasm that has long distinguished the DSO’s artistry.

Janai Brugger

American soprano Janai Brugger’s recent engagements include Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflote for performances at Palm Beach Opera’s first Outdoor Opera Festival. She made her US television debut with a Laura Karpman composition for the soundtrack of HBO’s renowned Lovecraft Country, and more recently appeared as Michaela in Carmen at the Cincinnati Opera. In the Netherlands she appeared at Dutch National Opera in their acclaimed Missa in tempore Belli (Haydn) conducted by Lorenzo Viotti and directed by Barbora Horáková, and she returned to the Metropolitan Opera of New York for further performances of Clara in Porgy and Bess. 

Future engagements in 2022 include Mahler’s Second Symphony with CBSO under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; Zerlina in Don Giovanni in concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood Festival under Andris Nelsons; Servillia in La Clemenza di Tito at Ravinia Festival under the baton of James Conlon, Kaddish also at Ravinia Festival with Marin Alsop, and rounding out the 2021-2022 season, Hayden’s The Creation at Grant Park Music Festival with Carlos Kalmar. 

In a recent season, Brugger appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Clara in their celebrated new production of Porgy and Bess in which she’d previously appeared at Dutch National Opera. At Lyric Opera of Chicago, she sang the role of Ilia in Idomeneo and at Cincinnati Opera she appeared as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. In her artistic home at Los Angeles Opera, she sang the role of Servilia in La Clemenza di Titoa role she previously sang at Dutch National Opera. Brugger travelled to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for her Covent Garden debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and she revived the role of Liù in Turandot at Lyric Opera of Chicago.  

In 2012, Brugger won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions which led to her Metropolitan Opera debut as Liu in Turandot; other Met appearances include Jemmy in a new production of Guillaume Tell, Michaela in Carmen, Helena in The Enchanted IslandPamina and Marzelline (c) in Fidelio. Additionally in 2012, the artist won all three First Prizes at Operalia—the Opera Prize, the Song Prize, and the Audience Prize. 

Brugger’s symphonic engagements include Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Elgar’s The Kingdom with American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Mass in C with Louis Langree at Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Haydn’s Theresienmesse at Grant Park Music Festival, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; in her hometown of Chicago she starred in Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman’s multimedia setting of Langston Hughes’s epic 1961 poem, Ask your Mama, with Chicago Sinfonietta. She made her Salzburg Festival debut in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with musicAeterna conducted by Teodor Currentzis and journeyed to St Petersburg to record it with him. Early in her career she sang High Priestess in Aida with Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.  

Other roles in the artist’s repertoire include Juliette in Roméo et JulietteNorina in Don PasqualeNanetta in FalstaffMusetta in La Boheme and Glauce in Medea. She appeared as Pamina in Barrie Kosky’s celebrated cinematic production of Die Zauberflote at Los Angeles Opera. A native of Chicago, the artist obtained a master’s degree from the University of Michigan where she studied with the late Shirley Verrett. She received her bachelor’s degree from DePaul University, participated in The Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, and went on to become a young artist at Los Angeles Opera for two seasons. 

J’Nai Bridges


American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “plush-voiced mezzo-soprano” (The New York Times), and “calmly commanding stage presence” (The New Yorker) has been heralded as “a rising star” (Los Angeles Times), gracing the world’s top opera and concert stages.

Ms. Bridges’ 2021 - 2022 season is highlighted by her participation in numerous world premiere engagements, and as a guest artist at The Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Season. The first Kennedy Center performance is with the all Black and Latinx Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, followed by Written in Stone, a Washington National Opera program of new music including the world premiere of a piece written for her by Carlos Simon. Ms. Bridges’ time in Washington D.C. continues as a soloist with The National Philharmonic in the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on the Neck, and Mozart’s Requiem. She continues her collaboration with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, giving a recital as part of their Power to the People! festival. She also appears with Amarillo Symphony as a guest artist in a world premiere piece by Chris Rogerson entitled Sacred Earth, sing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for Houston Symphony’s season finale performance, and will give a solo recital at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ. Operatic engagements include the title role in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera, and Jocasta in Oedipus Rex with the San Francisco Symphony.

In the midst of the worldwide pandemic, she emerged as a leading figure in classical music’s shift toward conversations of inclusion and racial justice in the performing arts. Bridges led a highly successful panel on race and inequality in opera with the Los Angeles Opera that drew international acclaim for being a “conversation of striking scope and candor” (The New York Times). In early 2021, Ms. Bridges was featured in the Converse shoe brand’s All Stars Campaign for its Breaking Down Barriers collection. Bridges also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel for two episodes of the digital SOUND/STAGE series, and as part of the Global Citizen movement’s Global Goal campaign, a program which also included Coldplay, Shakira, Usher and more. The pandemic also forced the cancellation of Ms. Bridges' numerous debuts during the 2020-2021 season including the title role of Carmen at The Metropolitan Opera and Canadian Opera Company. Bridges’ 2019 - 2020 season included her highly acclaimed debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Nefertiti in a sold-out run of Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten, as well as a house and role debut with Washington National Opera as Dalila in Samson et Dalila.

Other recent highlights include the 2021 Grammy AwardTM-winning recording of Richard Danielpour’s oratorio The Passion of Yeshua with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, her sold-out Carnegie Hall Recital debut, her role debut of Kasturbai in Satyagraha at LA Opera, and her debuts at Dutch National Opera and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Ms. Bridges also created the role of Josefa Segovia in the world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West at San Francisco Opera and performed in the world premiere of Bel Canto at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, an opera by Jimmy Lopez based on the novel by Ann Patchett.

Bridges is a recipient of the prestigious 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award, a 2016 Richard Tucker Career Grant, first prize winner at the 2016 Francisco Viñas International Competition, first prize winner at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Competition, a recipient of the 2013 Sullivan Foundation Award, a 2012 Marian Anderson award winner, the recipient of the 2011 Sara Tucker Study Grant, the recipient of the 2009 Richard F. Gold Grant from The Shoshana Foundation, and the winner of the 2008 Leontyne Price Foundation Competition. J’Nai completed a three-year residency with the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, represented the United States at the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York.

A native of Tacoma, Washington, she earned her Master of Music degree from Curtis Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

Opera MODO & Audivi


Opera MODO is a new and exciting opera company in Detroit, Michigan, dedicated to creating opportunities for young and emerging artists. Founded in 2011 in Princeton, New Jersey, Opera MODO brings opera to the people through intriguing and modern productions of classical to contemporary operas.

Collaborating with local performers and businesses in Detroit, Opera MODO offers an intimate experience to engage audiences through storytelling, musical integrity and innovative process. We support the future of opera by giving young, non-managed, professional singers an opportunity to gain experience. We present opera in an intimate setting allowing the audience to engage with the performers. We specialize in setting standard repertoire in new and imaginative settings, bringing new life to our favorite stories. Our team strives to balance inspiration from the composer through collaborative storytelling to enhance the experience for the audience and performers. Opera MODO is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Audivi is a professional vocal ensemble based in Detroit, Michigan. Founded in 2013, Audivi sings music of all eras, with a special emphasis on new and early music, and has premiered works by many composers. Its members have sung and recorded with a panoply of Grammy-winning vocal ensembles, and Audivi has performed around the country.

Audivi has given the Detroit metro area premieres of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers and a historically-informed version of Bach's Mass in B minor. Audivi has performed at regional ACDA and AGO conventions and serves as a professional chorus for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, including recent performances of Puccini's Turandot, Vivaldi's Gloria, and Handel’s Messiah.

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Between 2 Stands Podcast

The Voice as an Instrument with Mezzo-Soprano J'Nai Bridges

Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 4 – Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Janai Brugger (excerpt)

Bridges hit every note perfectly, radiating a tremendous energy. ”


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