Janice Baird is one of today’s leading dramatic sopranos. It is above all with her powerful portrayals of the great Wagner and Strauss heroines that the attractive American has been brought to the eager attention of the international opera scene. An extremely gifted and intelligent singing actress, Miss Baird’s combination of vocal prowess and sensitive as well as expressive acting makes her one of the most powerful and intensely expressive performers on the operatic stage today.
She made her sensational United States debut as the title role of Tristan und Isolde in 2008 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York under the baton of James Levine, a role which she also celebrated great triumphs at the Hamburg State Opera, in Rome, Toulouse and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. She gave her highly praised role debuts as the Dyer’s Wife (Färberin) in Strauss’ Die Frau Ohne Schatten (in Toulouse autumn 2006) and as Marie in Wozzeck in Rome (October 2007).
Critically acclaimed as a charismatic singer and actor, Janice Baird enjoyed great successes as Brünnhilde in Opera House Zürich, Stockholm, the Opéra de Marseille, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Teatro de la Maestranza Sevilla, at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, in Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Toulon, Théâtre du Capitôle Toulouse; Teatro Bellini Catania and at the Stuttgart State Opera. She sang Brünnhilde in Loriot’s Ring in one evening at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and in Ring Cycles in Birmingham and Ireland, and has received numerous nominations for singer of the year from the prestigious opera magazine Opernwelt for her interpretations of Brünnhilde. Among her favorite roles Janice Baird counts Elektra, which she sang in Bilbao, at the Semperoper Dresden, Essen, Nantes, Rome, Palermo, Sevilla, Strasbourg, Toulouse, and the Opera House Zurich. She made her debut as Salome at the Vienna State Opera and had remarkable successes with this role at the Berlin State Opera, the Hanover State Opera, the Opera Leipzig, at the New National Theatre in Tokyo, at the Teatro Carlo Felice Genua, in Palermo and in June 2007 enjoyed a huge success as Salome at the Salle Pleyel in Paris.
Equally at home in the Italian dramatic soprano repertoire Janice Baird’s most recently successes have been as Turandot in Rome, Athens, Berlin and Seville; Minne in La Fanciulla del West in Rome and Sevilla Lady Macbeth at the Staatsoper Berlin and in Mexico. Other roles of her widely spread repertoire are the title roles of Ariadne auf Naxos, Tosca, Fidelio as well as Ortrud, Senta, Venus, Violanta, Abigaille in Nabucco, and Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera.
Janice Baird was born on Manhattan’s Upper West Side just steps away from Lincoln Center in a musically influenced family. Her mother was a singer and her father a voice teacher. She studied music, flute, singing and also acting at HB Actors Studio in New York City. Miss Baird’s first engagements were in Germany where she carefully developed her rich mezzo soprano moving then to soprano repertoire with great success. Through master classes with Birgit Nilsson and intensive private study with Astrid Varnay with whom she studied all the major Wagner and Strauss roles, she then added the highly dramatic repertoire with which she was able to lay the foundation for her international career. This took off quickly, and today Janice Baird is a regular guest of most major opera companies around the world, including the State Opera of Berlin, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bilbao, Birmingham, Buenos Aires, Catania, the Semperoper Dresden, Essen, Geneva, Genoa, Hamburg State Opera, Leipzig Opera, Marseille, Metropolitan Opera of New York, Nantes, Palermo, Paris, Rome, Salzburg Festival, Santiago de Chile, Seattle, Seville, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Toulouse, Trieste, Venice, Verona, at the Vienna State Opera, and in Zurich, to name a few.
Miss Baird has worked with conductors such as Marc Albrecht, Christoph von Dohnany, Daniele Gatti, Michael Gielen, Bernhard Haitink, Armin Jordan, Philippe Jordan, James Levine, Fabio Luisi, Franz Welser-Möst, Kent Nagano, Donald Runnicles, Peter Schneider, Michael Schonwandt, Jeffrey Tate, Sebastian Weigle and Simone Young – in productions of directors such as Robert Carsen, Claus Guth, Nicolas Joel, Peter Konwitschny, Martin Kusej, Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Giancarlo del Monaco, David Pountney and Bob Wilson.
Concert performances have brought the soprano to the Glocke in Bremen, to the Tonhalle Düsseldorf, to the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, to Verona, and to Catania among other venues. Her concert repertoire includes Ah! Perfido and Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven, Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder, Les Nuits d’Été and La Mort de Cléopâtre by Berlioz, Britten’s War Requiem, Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and Symphony No. 2, Ravel’s Schéhérazade, Wozzeck Bruchstücke and Verdi’s Requiem as well as Wesendonck-Lieder, Vier letzte Lieder and Lyrische Sinfonie by Zemlinsky.
Janice Baird’s current and most recent appearances include Elektra at the Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and in concerts with Maestro Kent Nagano and Maestro Donald Runnicles; Turandot at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Seville and in Athens; Salome at Maggio Musicale Florence, Isolde in Düsseldorf and at Opera House Zürich under Bernhard Haitink, Brünnhilde in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and she was the Brünnhilde in the Ring Cycle for Seattle Opera. Janice Baird sang the Dyer’s Wife in a new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten in Zurich conducted by Franz Welser-Möst and directed by David Poutney.
During the current season Janice Baird will sing Ortud in Lohengrin in Opéra Toulon, Elektra in Montpellier and in spring of 2013.she will be the Brünnhilde in the complete Ring Cycle at the Opéra National de Paris under the baton of Phillip Jordan.
As an American who was raised and studied both in Europe and America, Ms. Baird speaks German, English, Italian, French and Spanish and currently lives in Berlin, Germany and in Andalucia, Spain.