Jessica Pratt (born 20 June 1979) is an English-born Australian operatic soprano. Born in Bristol, she has lived in Australia since 1991 and is the daughter of a tenor. She began by studying the trumpet for ten years before concentrating her studies on singing.
In 2003 she won the Australian Singing Competition, which brought her to Europe, and she was subsequently invited by Gianluigi Gelmetti to continue her studies at the Rome Opera, and while in Rome, she also studied under Renata Scotto at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, finally moving to Milan in 2006 to complete her studies with Lella Cuberli. Since that time she has begun to make a career for herself in many of the world's great opera houses.
During the early years of her career, in typical fashion, she sang in many smaller venues, examples being her Lucia in several Italian European houses, including those in Pavia and Cremona (October 2007), Zurich in late 2008, Florence in early 2009, and again in Geneva in March 2010. Other roles taken up during these years included Desdemona in July 2008, Gilda in Como one year later along with others in Rome in July/August 2010. Her Amina in La sonnambula appeared in Como, St. Gallen, Pavia, and Cremona in October/November 2010, followed by a run of Elviras in I puritani in four smaller Italian houses in October 2010/11.
Pratt has also performed in international opera theatres and festivals including La Scala where she first sang in Donizetti's Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali in 2011. Performances elsewhere have included those at the Teatro San Carlo (Lucia in 2011), the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Teatro La Fenice (with a Lucia in May/June 2011 and some performances as Elvira in May 2012), as well as the Vienna State Opera and Opernhaus Zürich. Other European venues include the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, (as the Queen of the Night) in February 2011 under Colin Davis.
Performances in 2014 included Lucia at La Scala (February) followed by the same role in Amsterdam, a Violetta (La traviata) in Melbourne in May, and a Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) at La Fenice (October). 2015 brought a return to the role of Lucia for the Festival Internacional de Opera Alejandro Granda in Lima, Peru., and at the opera houses of Rome and Florence, her role debut as Semiramide in Marseille and later in Washington DC, her debut at the Arena di Verona as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia and her role debut as Amenaide in Tancredi in Lausanne, among others.
The 2016 performances included her debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona as Desdemona in Rossini's Otello, her debut at the ABAO Bilbao in La sonnambula, followed by performances of her highly acclaimed Lucia di Lammermoor held for Teatro Regio di Torino and Victorian Opera in Melbourne. The year also marked the addition of two new Donizetti operas to her repertoire with Linda di Chamounix performed for Teatro dell'Opera di Roma and Rosmonda d'Inghilterra first premiered in Florence with Maggio Musicale in concert form and then fully staged for the new Donizetti Festival in Bergamo. Finally she completed the year performing the role of the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute for her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on Christmas and New Year's Eve.
2017 was opened with Verdi's Rigoletto for Opera de Oviedo in Spain where she will also be performing during the year in Las Palmas (debuting La fille du régiment), Valencia (Tancredi), Bilbao (Don Pasquale), Barcelona (debuting L'elisir d'amore) and a tour in Finland for the Savonlinna Opera Festival with Madrid's Teatro Real (I puritani).
Scheduled staged performances include Verdi's La traviata conducted by Roberto Abbado in Shanghai performed in February, La sonnambula in Melbourne with Victorian Opera, I puritani in Budapest and Le comte Ory in Dortmund. Other performances worth mentioning include a special concert with extracts from The Magic Flute to be held at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
2018 will mark her return to the New York Metropolitan with the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor and a special concert performance of Lucia di Lammermoor, conducted by Roberto Abbado on 12 September for the 40 year commemoration of the death of Maria Callas, to open the season for Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.
In addition to appearances in operas by Rossini such as her 2010 performances as Desdemona in the composer's Otello at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival, Pratt has been featured in significant premieres of two of the composer's rarer works. These include the title role in Armida in its United Kingdom premiere in 2010 and, two years later, the United States premiere of Ciro in Babilonia.
Armida was given by the Garsington Opera Festival in 2010, where critic Andrew Clark noted: "what sets the performance alight is Jessica Pratt's Armida. This young English soprano has a ringing top, good looks, stage temperament and enough vocal agility to make sense of Rossini's love-struck heroine."
Another critic, Robert Farr, reviewing the same production, notes:
As Armida, hers was the most amazing vocal performance of the evening. The role is one of the several manifestly vocally difficult and demanding ones that Rossini wrote for his mistress, and later wife, Isabella Colbran, one of the most renowned divas of the day. Not only are its vocal demands considerable, but also it is a very big sing too concluding with the final display aria demanded by all singers in Rossini's time to finish off the performance ... [L]ike the rest of the audience, I appreciated the fact that she sang it with musicality, clarity of diction and purity and beauty of tone, all allied to the smooth vocal extension and flexibility evident throughout her whole performance.
Then, in 2012, Pratt sang the role of Amira in Ciro in Babilonia at the Caramoor Belcanto Festival which resulted in The New York Times critic, Anthony Tommasini, noting that "the soprano Jessica Pratt was also outstanding as Amira, singing with gleaming sound, free and easy high notes, agile coloratura runs and lyrical grace." This production went on to be presented by the same cast at the following month's Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro where it was recorded.
Prior to this, in 2011 at the same Rossini Festival, Pratt had performed the title role in the second staged production of Adelaide di Borgogna since 1825. In another Rossini role, March 2013 was given over to Matilde in Guillaume Tell at Opera Festival Alejandro Granda in Lima, Peru.
|Bellini, V.||I Capuleti e i Montecchi||Giulietta|
|Donizetti, G.||Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali||Daria|
|Linda di Chamounix||Linda|
|Lucia di Lammermoor||Lucia|
|Gounod, C.||Roméo et Juliette||Juliette|
|Halévy, F.||La Juive||Eudoxie|
|Händel, G. F.||Giulio Cesare||Cleopatra|
|Mozart, W. A.||Die Zauberflöte||Königin der Nacht|
|Don Giovanni||Donna Anna|
|Il re pastore||Aminta|
|Puccini, G.||La bohème||Musetta|
|Rossini, G.||Adelaide di Borgogna||Adelaide|
|Aureliano in Palmira||Zenobia|
|Ciro in Babilonia||Amira|
|Demetrio e Polibio||Lisinga|
|Il barbiere di Siviglia||Rosina|
|Il signor Bruschino||Sofia|
|Offenbach, J.||Tales of Hoffmann||The Four Heroines (Stella, Olimpia, Antonia and Giulietta)|
|Vaccai, N.||La sposa di Messina||Donna Isabella|
|Verdi, G.||Giovanna d'Arco||Giovanna|
|La traviata||Violetta Valéry|