Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Blades has a versatile career that includes performing, directing, and teaching. An avid cabaret singer, Blades has been hailed as “always engaging” with a “juicy” and “colorful” tone. She has performed several original shows throughout the United States, at clubs such as Don’t Tell Mama in NYC, Davenport’s in Chicago, and Germano’s in Baltimore. Most recently, Blades directed productions of Cabaret for Goucher College, Alice, an Operatic Adventure for Music Off Main, and Daddy Long Legs for Live Arts Maryland. This fall she will direct The Telephone and Guys and Dolls, and will perform Julia Child (a tenth time) in Lee Hoiby’s monologue opera Bon Appétit fall for Live Arts Maryland.
As a stage director for Peabody Conservatory’s Opera Department from 1998-2016, Blades directed more than 25 productions including the US premiere of Anna Sokolovic’s Svadba – Wedding, a six-women, unaccompanied, Serbian language opera, as well as productions of Così fan tutte, Cendrillon, A Postcard from Morocco, Trouble in Tahiti, Transformations, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Amy Beth Kirsten’s Ophelia Forever, and L’enfant et les sortilèges. Repeatedly, her directing has been praised as “fluid,” “confident,” and “focused.”
As a singer her opera credits include Julia Child (Bon Appétit), Second Lady, (The Magic Flute), Mrs. Herring (Albert Herring), Public Opinion (Orpheus in the Underworld), Arminda (La finta giardiniera), the Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Bianca (The Rape of Lucretia), the Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas), Dinah (Trouble in Tahiti), and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) for various companies in the Washington-Baltimore area. Blades has also performed Ruth in Pirates of Penzance, The Duchess in The Gondoliers, and Mad Margaret in Ruddigore with the Young Victorian Theatre.
Blades has been a featured soloist with the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, Frederick Symphony Orchestra, Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, Handel Choir of Baltimore, the Harford Choral Society, the Bach Concert Series, and the Goucher College Choirs and Orchestra. Oratorio credits include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Grand Mass in C and Requiem, the Bach Magnificat, Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, the Duruflé Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Hospital Foundling Anthem, several Bach Cantatas, and the premiere of Daniel McDavitt’s Songs of Middle Earth.
From 2015-2022, Blades was faculty at Goucher College where she directed the Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop and taught voice. Previously, she taught voice at Anne Arundel Community College, and has taught acting/improv for summer opera camps including Little Patuxent Opera Institute, Lyric Opera Baltimore’s Opera Camp, Maryland Opera Camp, and Opera Vivente’s Camp OV. She maintains a thriving voice studio in her home teaching both teens and adults and is Director of Music at St. Mark’s Church in Catonsville. Blades received a Master of Music and Graduate Diploma in Voice from Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the College of the Holy Cross.
Blades is the proud recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Solo Performance in Non-Classical Music, and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Solo Performance in Classical Music for her portrayal of Julia Child in Hoiby’s monologue opera, Bon Appétit.
Photo by Edward S. Davis