Loyal San Diego Opera patrons have already experienced the vocal chemistry of soprano Latonia Moore and mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges in performance. In the company’s highly successful production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in April, 2016, Latonia Moore sang the title role to J’Nai Bridges Suzuki.All the more reason to bring these two divas back to San Diego to perform a concert together, accompanied by the San Diego Symphony under the baton of Bruce Stasyna, at the Balboa Theatre on Wednesday, October 25.
Since San Diego Opera’s Madama Butterfly, the career of each Grammy Award winning singer has soared. At New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Moore has sung the title role of Verdi’s Aïda, Serena in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and she has just finished singing Sister Rose is the Met’s acclaimed production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. It is no surprise that Moore has sung Aïda—her debut role with San Diego Opera in 2013— around the globe, from England’s Covent Garden and English National Opera to Switzerland’s Opernhaus Zürich, to Argentina’s Teatro Colón, to Opera Australia, to the New National Theatre Tokyo and Chicago’s Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony.When Bridges is not singing her signature Carmen role for the likes of Italy’s Arena di Verona, the Canadian Opera Company, Dutch National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, she is appearing in a host of contemporary operas such as Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on the Neck, Jimmy Lopez’s Bel Canto, John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West, and Philip Glass’s Akhnaten.
The divas had not, however, presented a concert together before they accepted San Diego Opera’s invitation to open its 2023-2024 season.
“J’Nai and I became friends after our San Diego Butterfly together, and we managed to stay in touch,” Moore explained in a recent interview. “Last year we were both in Verona, where we discussed this project for San Diego, and I was excited because it gave us the opportunity to choose our repertory.”
Although the divas were reluctant to disclose their complete upcoming program for San Diego Opera, they shared their enthusiasm for performing Verdi’s stormy second act confrontation scene between Amneris and Aïda. “I am most excited to perform the Aïda-Amneris duet because Amneris has been a dream role of mine,” said Bridges, “and it is such an incredible opportunity to sing it with one of the leading Aïda’s of our time.”
Moore admitted that she has sung that Verdi duet too many times in recent season, “but I do love to sing it with young singers, and I can’t wait to sing this duet with J’Nai because her voice has such a velvety quality.”
Because Moore is making her debut as Margherita in Boïto’s Mefiistofele next month at Italy’s Teatro Lyric di Cagliari, she will include an aria from that opera on the program, as well as a Mozart aria. “No one expects me to sing Mozart!” she quipped.
To please the traditional opera aficiandos, Bridges will sing the iconic mezzo aria from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix.”
Once these opera singers had decided on their repertory, the both agreed that the next great challenge was selecting their wardrobe.
“I promise there will be gown changes in the concert,” Bridges said.
San Diego Opera will present Latonia Moore and J’Nai Bridges in Concert at the Balboa Theatre on Wednesday, October 25, at 7:30 p.m.