September 14, 2020

A personal note from Jamie Barton about “Unexpected Shadows”

One of the great joys of singing is collaboration — working with great colleagues on exciting projects that matter and make a difference. And though the meat of my career is singing big roles in operas by Verdi, Donizetti, Wagner and others, there’s a special place in my heart for the intimacy and immediacy of recital work.

Unlike opera, there are no characters up there onstage — just me and a pianist. Together, we can explore a range of work, vibrations, and perspectives from all kinds of composers; a range that isn’t always possible on the opera stage. I am a die-hard feminist, so work by and about women is very important to me. In recital, we can explore poetry and music by and about women, and I can work with living composers.

Jake and I met and became friends in 2008 when I was in the Houston Grand Opera studio. The opportunity to collaborate appeared in 2015 with a joint commission from Carnegie Hall and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Jake is also a die-hard feminist and suggested poetry by his late friend Laura Morefield. That cycle, The Work At Hand, was transformative for all of us involved and we knew we had to record it. I’ve also sung Jake’s cycle Of Gods and Cats a number of times, and earlier in 2019 sang the role of Sister Helen in his opera Dead Man Walking. When the possibility to make the Unexpected Shadows recording presented itself this year, we decided to bring together voices of the powerful women represented in many of Jake’s songs and operas.

Recording sessions at Skywalker were a total joy. We had the rare luxury of TIME! Time to explore the many nuances of the poetry and music and find what felt authentic and true to us. It was a memorable, fun, and deeply meaningful collaboration — and I’m very excited to share it on this recording.

– Jamie Barton