From Banjos to Bizet: Jamie Barton Commands the Stage

Atlanta Magazine
March 2016

by Candice Dyer

Credit: John Fulton for Atlanta Magazine

Credit: John Fulton for Atlanta Magazine

A dutiful hometown girl, Jamie Barton sang “Tender Shepherd” from Peter Pan in a benefit for the city’s venerable DeSoto Theatre. The song holds sentimental, full-circle meaning for Barton, who had trilled it decades earlier in a first-grade talent show—the first time she ever performed onstage for the public. Barton, 34, has been singing for increasingly cosmopolitan and exacting audiences ever since, and the local Glee aspirants who turned out for this show cheered her wildly because her meteoric example gives them hope. They knew that Barton’s next gig would take her back to the celebrated Metropolitan Opera in New York, where her mezzo-soprano has established her as a must-see regular.

“Every time Jamie is onstage, we have learned to wait for several minutes before we come on because the ovations for her always last so long,” says Timothy Breese Miller, a chorus member at the Met, where Barton most recently played the role of Jane Seymour in Anna Bolena. “It’s extraordinary that she has come so far, so fast. This kind of acclaim and following is usually reserved for older, more seasoned artists.”

Barton may have earned this status precisely because she sounds so richly experienced, so old-school, with a coloratura that is pure Technicolor, in arias that evoke some sort of empyrean birdsong in a three-octave range. The New Yorker has lauded her “once-in-a-generation talent,” and other reviews have joined the chorus of praise.

Read the full feature in the March issue of Atlanta Magazine!