Jill Bowen-Gardner, Class of 1990
Noted for her “effortlessly produced, rich voice” (Opera News), American soprano Jill Gardner is swiftly establishing herself among today’s leading operatic heroines. This “powerhouse soprano” (Syracuse New Times) continues to garner national praise for her “sparkling personality” (Coral Gables Gazette), her “lustrous, golden soprano and riveting stage presence” (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) and for “her commitment, passion and ability to convey vocally the slightest nuance of emotion, making for gripping theater” (Opera News). Equally praised for her acting as well as her singing, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser recently observed of her performances of Tosca,
“…the pace picks up when soprano Jill Gardner sweeps in. Gardner is dynamite, in voice and acting, and her performance in this very demanding role is worth the price of a ticket all by itself.”
This season, Ms. Gardner will perform her signature role of Tosca in her debut with Lyric Opera Baltimore and in her return to Mill City Summer Opera in Minneapolis, MN. She will also make her role debut in Puccini’s Il Trittico as Georgetta and Suor Angelica with Opera Carolina. On the concert stage, she sings Gala Concerts for Opera Carolina and Greensboro Opera as well as a Holiday Pops Concert with the Binghamton Philharmonic.
For the 2012-2013 season, Ms. Gardner sang the title role of Tosca in her debut with Opera Carolina as well as Arizona Opera and Hawai‘i Opera Theater. She joined the roster of the Washington National Opera, covering the title role of Manon Lescaut in the spring and made her debut with the Charlotte Symphony in a POP-UP Opera Concert celebrating the music of Verdi, Wagner and Mascagni.
During the 2011-2012 season the soprano returned to Arizona Opera and Tri-Cities Opera in the title role of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and reprised the role of Nedda in I Pagliacci in her debut with Michigan Opera Theater as well as for the inaugural season of Mill City Summer Opera in Minneapolis, MN. On the concert stage, she marked her debut with the Wichita Symphony in Beethoven’s Mass in C Major.
In the 2010-2011 season, Ms. Gardner made her celebrated return to Boston Lyric Opera in the title role of Tosca as well as making her company debuts with Arizona Opera in the role of Liù in Turandot, Opera Grand Rapids in her role debut of Manon in Manon Lescaut and Eugene Opera as Musetta in La Bohème. This season also marked Ms. Gardner’s role debut of Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore with Piedmont Opera.
Over the past few seasons, the young soprano marked her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut performing Nedda in I Pagliacci and covering Mimi in La Bohème, her Florida Grand Opera debut as Musetta in La Bohème, her Boston Lyric Opera debut as Mimi in La Bohème, her Madison Opera debut as Marguerite in Faust, as well as performing Countess Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music in her debut with Hawai‘i Opera Theater where she returned in the following season as Helmwige in Die Walküre.
In concert, she made her Kennedy Center Debut with the Washington Chorus, under the baton of Julian Wachner, in a concert called The Essential Puccini, performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Vaughan William’s Serenade to Music with the Syracuse Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem with the Binghamton Philharmonic and Verdi’s Requiem with the Tower Arts Series of Dallas’ Highland Park United Methodist Church under the baton of Craig Jessop.
Additional engagements from recent seasons include a return to the Glimmerglass Opera as Eurydice in a new production of Orpheus in the Underworld, Margaret Johnson in the first opera house performances in The Light in the Piazza with Piedmont Opera, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow with the Syracuse Opera, the title role in Susannah with New York Opera Projects, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Mimi in La Bohème as well as the title role in Puccini’s Tosca with the Mercury Opera Rochester, and multiple performances with the Tri-Cities Opera including Violetta in La Traviata and Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro. Ms. Gardner also performed the role of Madama Erlecca in Cimarosa’s Li Sposi per Accidenti at Studio Lirico in Cortona, Italy.
A native of Winston-Salem NC, Ms. Gardner received a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Centenary College of Louisiana. She is also a graduate of the Glimmerglass Opera Young American Artists Program and the Resident Artists Training Program of Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, NY. She has been a Southeast Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant of the Shoshana Foundation—NYC, a Special Opportunity Award from the New York Foundation of the Arts and an Emerging Artist Grant from the WInston-Salem/Forsyth County Division of the North Carolina Arts Council.
Ms. Gardner currently resides in Kernersville, NC with her husband, bass-baritone Jake Gardner.