Hailed as having a "juicy" and "colorful" tone as well as a "flair for comic mugging," mezzo-soprano Jennifer Blades has been active in the Baltimore area for over a decade as a classical singer, performer in opera and cabaret, and as a director. Last season, Baltimore audiences had the opportunity to see Ms. Blades in several different venues including Opera Vivente, An die Musik, the Cabaret at Germano's, Young Victorian Theatre, the Theatre Project, with the Harford Choral Society, and with the Bach Concert Series.
Opera credits include Mrs. Herring (Albert Herring), Public Opinion (Orpheus in the Underworld), Arminda (Mozart's La finta giardiniera), the Mother (Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Bianca (Britten's The Rape of Lucretia), the Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas), and Narciso (Handel's Agrippina) for Opera Vivente; Second Nursemaid (Kurt Weill's Street Scene) for Wolf Trap Opera; and Dinah (Trouble in Tahiti), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) and Valencienne (The Merry Widow) as a guest artist for Opera AACC. Ms. Blades has also performed Ruth in Pirates of Penzance, Tessa in The Gondoliers and Mad Margaret in Ruddigore with the Young Victorian Theatre. She spent the summer of 2003 as a member of the Young Artist Ensemble at Bel Canto at Caramoor under the direction of Maestro Will Crutchfield. Ms. Blades has performed the role of Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti for Baltimore's Artscape with Opera Vivente and this year performed in the quartet of I Hear America Singing for Artscape with Opera Vivente as well.
An avid cabaret singer, Ms. Blades has performed four solo shows at An die Musik and the Cabaret at Germano's in Baltimore: Desire, Despair, Deceit and Delight: A Holiday Cabaret (December 2005), A Promised Kiss: Songs of Spring (April 2006) with pianist Jerome Tan, My Funny Valentine (February 2008), a cabaret tale of looking for and finding love, with pianist Eileen Cornett, and most recently, Life, Love & Laughter, based on Kurt Weill's Americana, with pianist James Harp (February 2009). In the summer of 2007, Ms. Blades had the opportunity to study with and perform alongside some of cabaret's greatest musicians, Andrea Marcovicci, Shelly Markham, Karen Mason, Christopher Denny, Barry Kleinbort, and Norma Curley at the Art of Cabaret Professional Workshop in Colorado. She has also performed in the club Don't Tell Mama.
At home on stage whether singing or acting, Ms. Blades was featured in the Pantolites' first production of the British-style pantomime tradition, Puss in Boots, as the Good Fairy Proverbia, as well as its revival the following year. Of her performance, The Baltimore Sun stated, "Much of the magic in this show is spread by the Good Fairy narrator, Proverbia, who is embodied with storybook charm by Jennifer Blades." The online publication Broadway World wrote that Ms. Blades "play[ed] her role with all of the requisite charm and goody-ness, but with a sly wink to being a modern woman."
Ms. Blades has been a featured soloist with the Handel Choir of Baltimore, the Harford Choral Society, the Bach Concert Series, Anne Arundel Community College's Chorus and Orchestra, and Howard Community College's Chorus and Orchestra. Credits include Mozart's Grand Mass in C, the Bach Magnificat, Handel's Messiah, Vivaldi's Gloria, the Duruflé Requiem, the Kodály Missa Brevis, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Handel's Hospital Foundling Anthem, and several Bach Cantatas. Ms. Blades received a Masters of Music and Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory where she is a faculty member and stage director with the Opera Department. She teaches Cabaret Styles and Acting for Opera, and directs the Outreach Program's touring productions of Papageno, Hansel & Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. For the 2007 season, she directed Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges and as well as three of the Opera Etudes program, Epiphanies in April 2008. Past Opera Etudes productions include three of the Faces of Myth in 2001 and three of the Facets of Freedom in 2006. Other directing credits include Orpheus in the Underworld for Opera AACC. In September 2009, Ms. Blades will direct The Telephone and The Medium for Opera AACC followed in October by Papageno for Peabody Opera Outreach, and Conrad Susa's Transformations for Peabody Chamber Opera in February 2010.
Additional upcoming engagements include performances in November of the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors for Opera AACC, a holiday cabaret show, soloist with the Bach Concert Series in April 2010, Second Lady in The Magic Flute with Opera Vivente in May 2010, and the Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas for Opera AACC in June 2010. Ms. Blades is also artist-manager of the Mt. Vernon Voices, a holiday caroling quartet. For ten seasons, she sang with the Baltimore Opera both as a member of the legendary Baltimore Opera Chorus and its Education Program and is deeply saddened by the loss of this venerable institution. In addition to being on the faculty at the Peabody Conservatory, Ms. Blades enjoys being on the voice faculty at Anne Arundel Community College.