Most opera singers start training seriously when they’re still in pigtails and kneesocks. But one rising star in the classical singing world got a late start because she was headed for a career as a professional basketball player.

When J’Nai Bridges’ pro sports ambitions suddenly fell apart following a disagreement with her team’s coach, the high school senior started focusing intently on developing her voice.

Now, at the age of 29, the American mezzo-soprano is performing major roles for some of the world’s most renowned companies including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Los Angeles Opera, and the Bavarian State Opera.

This season, she’s making her San Francisco Opera debut at the War Memorial Opera House as Bersi in Andrea Chenier — and shooting hoops in her spare time.

You can still catch Bridges at SF Opera this Friday, Sep. 30. But don’t worry if you miss her this time around; she’ll be back again next year.

To find out more about SF Opera’s production of  Andrea Chenier, click here.


J’Nai Bridges Bounces from the Basketball Court to the Opera House 29 September,2016Claudia Escobar


Claudia Escobar

Tropical latin visual story teller extraordinaire! bread maker apprentice.


Chloe Veltman

Chloe Veltman covers arts and culture for KQED. Prior to joining the organization, she launched and led the arts bureau at Colorado Public Radio, was the Bay Area’s culture columnist for the New York Times, and was also the founder, host and executive producer of VoiceBox, a national award-winning weekly podcast/radio show and live events series all about the human voice. Chloe is the recipient of numerous prizes, grants and fellowships including both the John S Knight Journalism Fellowship and Humanities Center Fellowship at Stanford University, the Sundance Arts Writing Fellowship and a Library of Congress Research Fellowship. She is the author of the book “On Acting” and a guest lecturer at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She holds a BA in english literature from King’s College, Cambridge, and a Masters in Dramaturgy from the Central School of Speech and Drama/Harvard Institute for Advanced Theater Training.

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