Sharpless – Madame Butterfly
Boasting a career which includes performances with major opera companies and orchestras throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, bass-baritone Jake Gardner remains one of the opera world’s most sought-after singing actors. Reviews continue to garner praise for his “splendid voice and commanding presence” (Syracuse Post-Standard). After recent performances of Michele and Gianni Schicchi in Puccini’s Il Trittico, the Honolulu Advertiser noted, ”Words fail with baritone Jake Gardner, who did not play his roles so much as became them – wonderful voice, wonderful actor.”
In the upcoming 2012-2013 season, Mr. Gardner will debut with Washington National Opera as Geronte di Ravoir in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, returns to Virginia Opera as Frank in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and sings two of his signature roles with Opera Omaha (Giorgio Germont/La Traviata) and New Orleans Opera (Sharpless/Madama Butterfly).
In the 2011-2012 season, Mr. Gardner sang Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at the Arizona Opera, The Mayor in John Mustos’ The Inspector at Boston Lyric Opera, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man and the Judge in Lost in the Stars at Glimmerglass Opera and the Musiklehrer (cover) in Ariadne auf Naxos at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The bass-baritone also returned to his home company, Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, NY, to direct Puccini’s Madama Butterfly as well as sing the role of Sharpless.
For the 2010-2011 season, Mr. Gardner returned to New York City Opera to portray Doc in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, Hawaii Opera Theater to sing Germont in La Traviata and Opera Grand Rapids in his role debut of Geronte de Ravoir in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. In the summer of 2011, the bass-baritone returned to Glimmerglass Opera to portray Buffalo Bill Cody in Annie Get Your Gun alongside Deborah Voight and to sing the role of Ronaldo Cabral in John Musto’s one-act opera Later The Same Evening. On the concert stage, Mr. Gardner sang Verdi’s Requiem with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra under the baton of new music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni and Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
Noted North American engagements from the past few seasons include Betto in Gianni Schicchi and Hortensius in La Fille du Régiment with San Francisco Opera, Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos and Scarpia in a concert version of Tosca with Boston Lyric Opera, de Brétigny in Manon for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for Florida Grand Opera, Baron Zehta in The Merry Widow with Los Angeles Opera, Jupiter in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld at Glimmerglass Opera, Horace Tabor in Central City Opera’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, Sharpless in Renata Scotto’s production of Madama Butterfly with Palm Beach Opera, and multiple appearances with Hawaii Opera Theatre, including Wotan in Die Walküre, Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Fredrik in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Michele and Gianni Schicchi in Il Trittico and Scarpia in Tosca. Mr. Gardner also sang Sharpless with Opera Cleveland and New York City Opera and toured in Japan as Gideon with New York City Opera’s production of Little Women.
Internationally, Mr. Gardner’s career spans most of Europe having begun as the principal baritone at Oper Köln in Germany where he appeared in a vast number of operas including the title roles in Don Giovanni and Gianni Schicchi, Lescaut in Manon Lescaut, Germont in La Traviata, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, to name a few. While in Cologne he appeared in Shostakovich’s The Nose in a new production directed by Harry Kupfer. He has sung Don Alfonso in Cosí Fan Tutte with Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and performed in a new production of the same opera directed by Trevor Nunn at the Glyndebourne Festival under the baton of Simon Rattle. Other international opera credits include appearances with the Wexford Festival, Budapest Festival, Théâtre du Châtelet, Komische Oper Berlin, and with opera companies in Bonn, Dresden, Vienna, and the Netherlands.
Additional noted engagements throughout North America include Jules Goddard in the premiere of Bolcom’s A Wedding at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with San Francisco Opera; Count in Le Nozze di Figaro and Publio in La Clemenza di Tito at New York City Opera; Ashby in La Fanciulla del West, Marquis de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites and Jupiter in Offenbach’s Orpehus In The Underworld with Glimmerglass Opera; Albert in the premiere of Hans-Jurgen von Bose’s Die Lieden des jungen Werther with Santa Fe Opera; Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos with Opera Colorado; and Slim in Of Mice and Men with both Vancouver Opera and Cleveland Opera. Mr. Gardner also appeared with the San Diego Opera in gala performances of Die Fledermaus with Dame Joan Sutherland. His Lincoln Center debut was in a nationally televised ‘Live from Lincoln Center’ concert with Dame Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, and Luciano Pavarotti. He appeared twice in the same season at Carnegie Hall in concert performances of Massenet’s Le Cid with Placido Domingo and Grace Bumbry which was recorded live by CBS/SONY.
Mr. Gardner also enjoys a successful career of concert performances, including Mahler’s Das klagende Lied with the New York Philharmonic under James Conlon and Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. He also sang the role of Wotan in Jonathan Dove’s arrangement of Das Rheingold directed by Christopher Alden with the EOS Orchestra. He appeared with the Mostly Mozart Festival to sing Mozart’s Thamos, King of Egypt and later returned for performances of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. He appeared as soloist in the Proms to perform an evening of music by Kurt Weill and his contemporaries and gave a much-acclaimed Lincoln Center performance of Handel’s Saul, which he later repeated at the San Antonio Festival. He most recently performed Verdi’s Requiem with both Bel Canto Chorus and Highland Park United Methodist Church, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and Messiah with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.
In addition to the CBS/SONY recording of his ‘Live at Lincoln Center’ concert, Mr. Gardner can be heard on a recording by BMG of Thea Musgrave’s Mary, Queen of Scots, which he also performed at the San Francisco Opera, Scottish Opera, Edinburgh Festival, Stuttgart Opera, and Virginia Opera. Another Musgrave work, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, which was broadcast over BBC and subsequently aired throughout the United States on National Public Radio, was released commercially in April 2011 by NMC Recordings, Ltd. He may also be seen in the original 1983 released film version of Peter Brook’s La Tragedie de Carmen and on the CD entitled Afrika Songs composed by Wilhelm Gross with the Matrix Ensemble conducted by Robert Ziegler.