Mezzo-soprano Jessica Blau is a multi-faceted performer working to break boundaries and create dynamic changes in the classical music world. Her agility, precision, and easy upper extension deftly navigate the demands of Handel, Rossini, and Mozart, while her strong dance background and penchant for comedy lend themselves to colorful and sensuous character depictions with the innate physicality well-suited for trouser roles and the French Grand Opera.
In addition to the traditional, Jessica is a great lover of modern opera and experimental works. During the 2019-2020 season she portrays the title role in Hector Armienta’s La Llorona with Opera Cultura, a harrowing tale based on the folk legend, and the delightfully devilish Second Witch in LOLA’s (Local Opera Local Artists) production of Dido and Aeneas in Austin, TX. In an effort to create more intersectional performances, she is producing, artistic directing, and performing in Sojourns on the Silk Road: from the Orient to the Occident, an intimate concert featuring internationally-acclaimed flamenco dancer Fanny Ara that explores the imagined colonial perceptions of the “Orient” contrasted with more authentic expressions of Spanish identity through French and Spanish art song, folk music, and instrumental works. Additionally, she performs in The Women Have Something to Say with Intersection Arts, a collaboration between twelve women of diverse backgrounds writing and performing personal monologues and song texts, set to music by composer Madeline Styskal and directed by Nicole Kenley-Miller, navigating themes of the voice through the lens of each individual’s womanhood.
Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College in Art History with a concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies. During her first semester at Bard she was introduced to flamenco dance, which quickly became an obsession that altered the course of her life. She completed two study-abroad Spanish-language programs: one at the Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca in Oaxaca, Mexico and a Spanish Honors Certificate at La Facultad de Comunicación in Seville, Spain. She studied flamenco daily while living in Seville at the Academia de Flamenco Manuel Betanzos in Triana and would later go on to study and perform professionally in Texas with Pilar Andujar, the Spirit of Flamenco, and Flamencura. Her time spent living abroad in combination with her academic studies contributed to a deep love of Iberian and Latinx cultures that later informed her musical journey as a singer.
A passionate advocate for Spanish and Latinx music, Jessica founded Soniquete Iberoamericanx in an effort to spotlight the artists and works that are often under-represented in the classical music world and to collaborate with other artistic disciplines, particularly dance and the visual arts, to create intersectional productions that are reflective of the thriving Spanish-language and Latinx communities across America.
Jessica completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Texas State University followed by a Performance Certificate at the University of Houston Moores School of Music, also in Vocal Performance, under the guidance of Melanie Sonnenberg and Buck Ross. In addition to her formal education, she participated in a number of young artist programs, such as Spotlight on Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, Chicago Summer Opera, Castleton Festival, and Florentine Opera.
Professionally, Jessica has most recently performed with Portland Opera To Go, Opera in the Heights, Opera Cultura, Pocket Opera, and Florentine Opera in roles such as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, the title role in Pinocchio, Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Orestes in La belle Hélène, and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Other favorite roles she has performed include Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, the title role in Carmen, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Nancy in Albert Herring, Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, and Meg in Little Women.
On the concert stage, Jessica has performed as the mezzo soloist in Bernstein’s oratorio Songfest with the Texas State University Orchestra and she made her international debut singing the romanza "Al pensar en el dueño de mis amores" and "Una voce poco fa" at the Palacio del Gobierno de Sonora as a featured soloist in the 2017 Festival International del Pitic in Hermosillo, Mexico.