Biography

 

Born in Lisbon, Portugal on July 13th 1945.

Studied in Lisbon with Jorge Croner de Vasconcellos (singing and composition), Helena Lamas Pimentel and Maria Cristina Pimentel (piano), Gertrud Mersivosky (organ); and in London and Paris with Winifred Radford, Pierre Bernac, and Hans Keller.

Before arriving in London from her native Portugal to continue her studies on a Gulbenkian Scholarship, the British soprano Jennifer Smith had already sung extensively in Europe and made records for Erato, Philips, DG Archiv and HMV. She has performed under the batons of many of the world's leading conductors, including Pierre Boulez, Inbal, Rozhdestvensky,David Willcocks, Simon Rattle, Raymond Leppard, Richard Hickox, Gustav Leonhardt, William Christie, Trevor Pinnock, John Eliot Gardiner, Charles Mackerras, Marc Minkowski, Andrew Parrott, Philippe Herreweghe, Michel Corboz, Harry Christophers, Christophe Rousset and Rudolf Kempe.

Jennifer's voice may be heard on over fifty recordings, spanning many centuries of music, from the earliest medieval period to 20th-century works (Geoffrey Burgon's Requiem and Revelations; Falla's El Retablo de Maese Pedro;
Igor Stravinsky's Pulcinella, Gabriel Fauré, and Olivier Greif). Her main output, however, has been in the Baroque field, especially in the French repertoire of the 17thand 18th centuries, including Marin Marais' Alcyone, Mondonville's Titon et l'Aurore and Lully's Phaeton with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, but also many recordings of Handel, with John Eliot Gardiner.
 
Her operatic roles include The Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute), The C
ountess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Aminta in Il Re Pastore, Euridice in Gluck's Orpheo, Female Chorus in Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, Cybèle in Lully's Atys (at the Opéra Comique, Paris and New York), as well as Diane in Offenbach's Orphée aux Enfers. She also sang Alphise in Rameau's Les Boréades, Diana and Phaedra in Hippolyte et Aricie (Aix-en-Provence and Proms), Iole in George Frideric Handel's Hercules in Göttingen under John Eliot Gardiner and Drusilla in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea under Gustav Leonhardt, this being also the first opera directed by Jean-Marie Villégier. Other directors she worked with include: David William, Nicholas Hytner, David Freeman, Jean-Louis Martinoty, Pier-Luigi Pizzi, Alain Germain, Patrice Caurier & Moshe Leiser, Marshall Pynkowski, François Rochaix and Richard Eyre.

Her concert and oratorio repertoire is extensive, covering works from Bach, G.F. Handel, Purcell and Mozart, to Berlioz, Janacek, Francis Poulenc and B. Britten. Her performances of Berlioz' Les Nuits d'Été with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Philharmonia Orchestra received critical acclaim. She travelled all over the world, singing in Japan, Singapore, China, North America (a tour with the Songmakers’ Almanach), Mexico (recitals, and concerts with the Amaryllis Consort), and South America (Bolivia with the Segreis de Lisboa, and Brazil for concerts and masterclasses). She sang for H.M. the Queen and Prince Philip on the occasion of their state visit to Portugal in 1985, and accompanied H.E. Jorge Sampaio, President of Portugal, on his state visit to the Ukraine in 1998 as his musical ambassador.

As a recitalist Jennifer Smith worked with Christopher Ross, Lawrence Skrobacs, Graham Johnson, Geoffrey Parsons, John Fraser, Michel Kiener, Roger Vignoles and András Schiff. She figures prominently in "The complete Songs" by Gabriel Fauré, with Graham Johnson (Hyperion).

Jennifer Smith's television appearances have included Scarlatti's Salve Regina with the late George Malcolm; G.F. Handel's Judas Maccabaeus with Roger Norrington; Purcell's Come, ye sons of Art for the BBC, and Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria in the series'Christmas in Rome' with the English Consort, shown on BBC television at Christmas 1993. She was also a featured soloist in the film about Henry Purcell “England, my England”, directed by Tony Palmer.

She sang the title role in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride in the English Bach Festival's production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and at the Herodas Atticus Theatre, Athens. Subsequently she sang Theone in Lully's Phaeton for the re-opening of Lyon Opera. Other opera performances included Music in David Freeman's production of Monteverdi's Orfeo for English National Opera, the world tour of Lully's Atys with Les Arts Florissants, a tour to Japan of G.F. Handel's Ottone with The King's Consort, the Théatre de Caen's production of La Fée Urgele on tour in France, and Monteverdi's Orfeo for the Opéra d'Avignon, and Screech Owl in Janacek’s “Cunning Little Vixen” at ROH, Covent Garden. In 1995 Jennifer gave two performances (arias from G.F. Handel's Messiah and B. Britten's Les Illuminations) with the St. Petersburg Camerata in St Petersburg's Philharmonic Hall and in the Hermitage Theatre.

Other work includes: Handel “Xerxes” with Nicholas McGegan, performances and recording, La Folie in Rameau's Platée with Harry Christophers in Lisbon, appearances in the Macau Festival, and the title role in Artaserse by Terradellas at the GREC in Barcelona.

She was Professor of French Mélodie at the Royal College of Music, London, from 1995 to 2011, also piloting a Workshop/Course in Gregorian Chant there from 2007 to 2010, from which sprang the “Listening Gallery” recordings of Chant manuscripts in the Medieval Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 Jennifer now lives in West  France.