Ravinia 2022, Issue 3

Specific GRAVITY Janai Brugger models the role of presence in floating higher By Mark ThoMas keTTerson MANY CHICAGO MUSIC LOVERS will remember their first encounter with Janai Brugger. This writ- er’s was in 2006 when the young soprano, an area native, made her professional debut at Chicago Opera Theater as a member of the young artist program. She sang the tiny role of the First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. When Brugger stepped forward to deliver her few phrases, there was a palpable energy in the house. Her sound was extraordinary; round and supple, with an ethereal quality that instantly com- manded the space. It was one of those rare moments when an emerging artist leaves the listener thinking “That’s the one. That singer is going places”. Today Brugger enjoys a burgeoning career, per- forming with leading opera houses and orchestras all over the world. She has sung in every major company in America, from Chicago to Los Angeles, San Fran- cisco, and New York, where she is a regular presence at the Metropolitan Opera. She won great acclaim at London’s Covent Garden as Paminia in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. International audiences now recognize what Chicagoans have long known—that Janai Brug- ger possesses one of the most beautiful lyric soprano voices of her generation. Despite her success, an interview with Brugger re- veals a disarming lack of pretension. She is so warmly accessible you feel you could be chatting with one of the moms at a ballet recital. “I get shy,” she admits. “I don’t always see myself the way others see me, so I’m just in shock, sometimes.” RAVINIA MAGAZINE • JULY 18 – JULY 31, 2022 12