Opera Singer J’Nai Bridges Aims To Bridge The Culture Gap With The Italian Musical Style
She’s set to make her stage debut at one of the most famous opera houses on the planet, but J’Nai Bridges’ foray into music almost didn’t happen.
The Tacoma, Wa. native was originally on track to pursue athletics and was captain of her high school basketball team. But after her coach sat her out of a big game as punishment for arriving late from opera rehearsal, she had a change of heart.
“It was his ego and trying to teach me a lesson,” Bridges recalled. “I was livid, the fans were upset…That was the last day of my competitive basketball playing.”
The basketball world’s loss became a big gain for music lovers and Bridges now travels around the world to perform and inspire with her operatic voice. Next month, Bridges will reprise her role as the powerful Egyptian queen Nefertiti in Phillip Glass’ “Akhnaten,” in a month-long run at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
In the staged drama, Bridges’ Nefertiti and her husband Akhnaten found a new religion – worshipping the Sun God – but their efforts to get the public on board could threaten their reign.
Bridges, who speaks several languages, is a classically trained pianist and a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, said she is relishing her new role at the Met.
“I just feel ready,” Bridges said. “This is something that has been instilled in me since I can remember…At the end of the day, I want to deliver and I want to make my family proud and my ancestors proud.”
The chanteuse said she also hopes that her opera career will expose more people to the musical genre.
“Opera is an amazing art form that has been kind of kept away from the masses,” she said. “I’m working very hard at changing that. Opera is for everybody.”
She added: “You can like Milly rocking and all that stuff – I love it – and come to the opera too.”