Janai Brugger


"Soprano Janai Brugger, a crowd favorite, is clearly someone to watch."

Greg Moomjy, Opera Today

"There was more vocal personality to Brugger, who supplied an intriguing poignancy to the often superficially treated Musetta."

Mark Swed, LA Times

"Soprano Janai Brugger, in her debut, was a standout, communicating warmth and velvety tone and beautiful expression."

Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com

"Janai Brugger, whose supple and luminous soprano delivered one gloriously floated high note after another."

Los Angeles News

"Janai Brugger sang another selection from La del manojo de rosas with sterling silver tones. Hers is a truly beautiful soprano."

Maria Nockin, Opera Today

"As Liu, Janai Brugger brought the house to its feet. She has a warm, clear brandywine tone with a tight vibrato that makes her voice shimmer — an absolute delight to hear, and her singing tugs at our heartstrings."

Ruth o. Bingham, Honolulu Pulse

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American soprano, Janai Brugger, a 2012 winner of Operalia and of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, begins the 2018-19 Season with her return to Grant Park Music Festival in performances of Haydn’s Theresienmesse. She sings Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with The Philadelphia Orchestra at Saratoga Performing Arts Center under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin before travelling to Austria to make her Salzburg Festival debut in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with MusicAeterna conducted by Teodor Currentzis. At Lyric Opera of Chicago the artist sings the role of Ilia Idomeneo before travelling to Dutch National Opera for Clara Porgy and Bess in the Metropolitan Opera co-production, a role she sings later in the season at Cincinnati Opera alongside performances as Susanna Le nozze di Figaro. Back in her artistic home at Los Angeles Opera, the artist appears in the role of Servilia La Clemenza di Tito.

Last season, the artist returned to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for revival performances of Pamina Die Zauberflöte. She revived the role of Liù Turandot at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and at Palm Beach Opera she added the role of Susanna to her repertoire, finishing the season at Dutch National Opera as Servillia.

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Porgy and Bess, Dutch National Opera

January 2019

Donovan Singletary and Janai Brugger were an engaging Jake and Clara, her soprano clear as a bell in the lullaby “Summertime”

Opera Today, Jenny Camilleri, 18 January 2019

Idomeneo, Lyric Opera Chicago

November 2018

Janai Brugger possesses a rich, attractive soprano and, overall, proved an admirable Ilia. She displayed intimate warmth and sensitive feeling in “Padre, germani, addio!”… Brugger’s best moment came with her radiant, beautifully floated “Zeffiretti lusinghieri” to open Act 3.”

Lawrence A Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, 19 October 2018

Soprano Janai Brugger, returning after a lovely debut last year as Lìu in Turandot, sang the role with a gracious, easy sound ideal for this heroine. Never self-indulgent but always expressive and nuanced, Brugger's "Zeffiretti lusinghieri" was one of my favorite moments of the night.

Hannah de Priest, Schmopera, 20 October 2018

Soprano Janai Brugger, a Chicago native, presents her role of Ilia in a sincere and touching manner with softness in her motions and brilliance in her voice. This award-winning singer finds the best way to demonstrate all the vocal beauty and warmth of Ilia's long and touching arias, such as in "Padre, germani, addio!" (Father, brothers, farewell!) in Act 1, "Se il padre perdei" (Though I have lost my father) in Act 2, and "Zeffiretti lusinghieri" (Flattering breezes) in Act 3. Her beautiful voice and excellent technique enhance the attractiveness of her character, Ilia.

Natalia Dagenhart, Chicago Daily Herald, 24 October 2018

Possessed of great purity of timbre and impeccable phrasing, Brugger floated the breeze-borne cadences of ‘Zeffiretti lusinghieri” like a dream.

Opera Magazine, John von Rhein​, February 2019

La clemenza di Tito, Dutch National Opera

May 2018

Janai Brugger’s bright and flexible soprano made a delightful Servilia.

Bachtrack, Nicolas Nguyen, 9 May 2018

Janai Brugger as Sevilla whose voice and sound was highly nuanced in its vulnerability and strong on other occasions.

The Opera Critic, Craig A.P. Hamilton, May 2018

Le Nozze di Figaro, Palm Beach Opera

March 2018

Janai Brugger was a multi-shaded Susanna, displaying a sensitive approach to her passages. She seemed to be totally immersed in the story…and became the driving force of the evening.

Palm Beach Daily News, Marcio Bezerra, 25 March 2018

The servants and lovers Figaro and Susanna are the pivotal players and Marko Mimica and Janai Brugger are dream casting. These two gifted young singers combine exceptional vocal accomplishment with the kind of comedic timing that keeps the action moving at a high clip, drawing laughter without mugging or exaggeration…

Saucy and feisty, Brugger was a dream Susanna with the sweet voice to caress Mozart’s arias. “Deh vieni non tardar” was cool and exquisitely spun. Brugger’s delightful petite presence, clipped phrasing and light touch enlivened her aria as she dressed the page Cherubino in women’s clothing. Her deft comedic interplay with the Marcellina of Elizabeth Bishop offered some of the evening’s funniest moments and she stood up to the amorous Count Almaviva with grit and smarts. This Susanna could take care of herself and was a woman to be reckoned with.

South Florida Classical Review, Laurence Budmen, 24 March 2018

Turandot, Lyric Opera of Chicago

January 2018

Lyric (Opera of Chicago) launched its second round of “Turandot” performances Wednesday night, adding a newcomer to the roster, soprano Janai Brugger, who is taking over the role of the slave girl, Liu, for the four remaining outings of “Turandot” at the Lyric Opera House.

A sensitive singer can achieve a poignant effect with Liu that is inversely proportional to the actual amount of singing Puccini allotted to the character on stage. Brugger did so on this occasion.

The Chicago native is no stranger to the part, having sung Liu at the Metropolitan Opera; nor is she unknown to Chicago audiences, who have heard her in opera at Ravinia and in concert at Grant Park. She sang with meltingly lovely sound, creating a believable portrait of Liu — touching in her doomed love for the unknown prince Calaf, yet fearless in her resolve to save him.

Which is to say that Brugger deployed her warm, substantial voice with great dramatic presence...The exquisite high pianissimo she floated at the end of “Signore, ascolta” made that aria one of the vocal highlights of the show.

Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein, 11 January 2018

Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, LA Philharmonic

October 2017

With Janai Brugger, standing in the orchestra and not far from the harp in the center, heaven was in the air. And Mirga, its monarch.

LA Times, Mark Swed, 20 October 2017

Orfeo ed Euridice, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

May 2017

Sopranos Janai Brugger and Susanna Phillips were both captivating in their companion roles as Amore and Euridice.

Artsalt, Mark Gresham, May 2017

In their solo roles, countertenor David Daniels and sopranos Janai Brugger and Susanna Phillips were exquisitely sublime.

My AJC, Jon Ross, May 2017

The Magic Flute, Metropolitan Opera

December 2016

Janai Brugger show[s] a lovely, amber tone and quick vibrato in her tearful aria “Ach, ich fühl’s,” (here rendered as “O, my heart”), when she fears Tamino has forsaken her.

New York Classical Review, 21 December

Guillaume Tell, Metropolitan Opera

October 2016

Also delightful was soprano Janai Brugger in the role of Tell’s son Jemmy, sounding sweet and lyrical…

NY Observer, James Jordan, 19 October

The radiant young soprano Janai Brugger was wonderful as Jemmy, Tell’s brave and obedient son…No extra tinkering was involved to make Ms. Brugger look boyish; she just sang beautifully and really seemed to become the character.

New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, 19 October

Rossini’s opera calls for an enormous supporting cast, which the Met was able to fill with superb singers all the way down. Among several standouts was Janai Brugger, whose crystalline brightness gave Jemmy a lovely, youthful vigour.

New York Classical Review, Eric C. Simpson, 19 October

Janai Brugger brought a bright innocence to Jemmy.

Wall Street Journal, Heidi Waleson, 19 October

Soprano Janai Brugger, with a crystalline voice, sounded both sweet and vigorous as Jemmy, Tell’s son.

Bachtrack, Edward Sava-Segal, 23 October

Janai Brugger as the ... plucky younger Tell, Jemmy.

Vulture, Justin Davidson, 26 October

Janai Brugger, singing Jemmy, was beaming in the part...

Classics Today, Robert Levine, 7 November

Mozart Mass in C minor, Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago

August 2016

Soprano Janai Brugger negotiated the florid lines of "Laudamus te" with agility and expressive feeling…

Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein, 6 August

Soprano Janai Brugger brought vocal radiance and star power to her moments in the sun, handling the tortuous coloratura of the Laudamus te with flexibility and security.

Chicago Classical Review, Lawrence A. Johnson, 6 August

Carmen, Lyric Opera of Kansas City

April 2016

…soprano Janai Brugger, who played an appealing Micaëla. Though a modest contrast to Carmen, the character is savvy, not unaware of the ways of the world, and Brugger balanced her sweet demeanor with searing passion and pure, untarnished vocals.

Libby Hanssen, The Kansas City Star, 24 April

Janai Brugger’s sweet (never naïve) Micaela was rendered with believable charm— demure yet forceful… Brugger’s tour-de-force was the Act 3 “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante,” where her crystal tone made for an ideal contrast to Švēde.

Sarah Tyrrell, KCMetropolis, April 25, 2016

Palm Beach Opera, Don Pasquale

February 2016

Janai Brugger was marvellous as Norina, her voice radiant. Her acting was brilliant as she first seduced the gullible Don and then threw off her convent garb, transforming into a shrew who takes over control of his household. Later, she effectively portrayed Norina’s sympathy and remorse after she slaps Pasquale, leading him to declare despairingly, “Ah! È finita” (It’s all over). Her love-duet with Ernesto in the final Act was touchingly rendered.

David M Rice, Classical Source, 20 February 2016

The two lovers were exceptional vocally and theatrically. With a voice both sweet and sly, Janai Brugger lit up the stage as Norina. In Fenion Lamb’s production, she is surrounded by commedia dell’ arte characters, who return at the end to celebrate the union of the happy couple. Brugger was playful with her cohorts, dancing around the set while spinning spot-on coloratura phrases. She turned convincing shrew after taking over Pasquale’s house, slapping him and ordering a new staff and furniture to update his dilapidated pad. Brugger’s soubrette voice and demeanor were an utter delight.

Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical Review, 20 February 2016

The lovers Norina and Ernesto have the most technically demanding parts. Soprano Janai Brugger nailed every note in the coloratura of her intricate opening aria, going on to create a fascinating, many-sided character who showed temper and temperament but also tenderness and feeling.

Robert Croan, Palm Beach Daily News, 20 February 2016

New York Philharmonic, ‘In Their Footsteps: Great African-American singers and their legacy’

October 2015

Janai Brugger sang “Ave Maria” and “My God Is So High” with a creamy light soprano.

Zachary Woolfe, NY Times, 15 October 2015

Janai Brugger displayed a lovely lyric soprano and nuanced musicianship in the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria.” She also offered wonderful work in Hall Johnson’s arrangement of “My God Is So High.”

David Shengold, Classical Voice America, 16 October 2015

Carmen, Washington National Opera

September 2015

…Janai Brugger, a sweet-voiced and slightly spunky Micaela…

Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, 20 September 2015

…the soaring notes belong to Janai Brugger (Micaëla), José’s poor abandoned fiancée.

Jessica Vaughn, DC Metro Theatre Arts, 20 September 2015

Janai Brugger, her Micaela making for another welcome DC debut,(...) made a strong case for her generous, silvery soprano.

Alex Baker, Parterre Box, 21 September 2015

Janai Brugger was a quite glorious Micaëla: white-gloved, of course, and with sensible shoes, but a voice not at all that of the girl-next-door.

Bachtrack, Hilary Stroh, 21 September 2015

Brugger’s lovely soprano voice is shown to even greater advantage in the mountain scene when she makes a second pilgrimage to save her love Jose and sings, “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante."

DC Theatre Scene, Susan Galbraith, 22 September 2015

The other standout here is Janai Brugger in the role of Micaela, Don José’s quickly discarded fiancée who is also symbolic of the life and commitments he leaves behind. Brugger has the tough job of epitomizing virtuous and unassuming womanhood, which she manages with understated grace, but her star turn comes with the hauntingly sad aria “Je dis que rien ne m’epouvante” in which she mourns the loss of her future with Don José. Brugger sings with intensely appealing dimension and precision, the emotion arriving with subtle and devastating stealth.

Metroweekly, Kate Wingfield, 24 September 2015

Die Zauberflöte, The Royal Opera House

February/March 2015

Pamina turns out to be the real hero. Making her Royal Opera debut, Janai Brugger made a strong impression in the role, her creamy soprano well inflected in the aria “Ach ich fühls”, her very fast vibrato adding to her sense of vulnerability. She brought a sense of pathos and calm dignity.

Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack

He deserves a fine Pamina and gets one in the beautiful, melting singing of Janai Brugger...

Richard Fairman, The Financial Times

This was the first time I had heard his Pamina, Jania Brugger, but I very much hope that it will not be the last. Her performance balanced dignity and beauty of tone in properly Mozartian manner, her second-act aria an object lesson in pathos without exaggeration.

Mark Berry, Seen and Heard international

It helped that he was matched by Janai Brugger’s beautifully performed Pamina, which managed to embrace the role both as archetype and character. This American soprano seems to have it all – a warm, subtle presence, a gleaming, mobile voice full of colour and nuance, packed with emotion in a show-stopping ‘Ich fühl’s’, and a natural connection with the music. Together with Spence, they became the point of the opera.

Peter Reed, Classical Source

… there's a warmth and vulnerability to Chicago-born Janai Brugger's timbre that makes her the ideal Pamina in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Indeed, I can't recall a soprano in this slightly silly part who has been quite so genuinely touching.

Mark Valencia, What’s on Stage

soprano Janai Brugger, a newcomer to the Royal Opera whose performance, both vocal and physical, is more than promising; she offers a Pamina of unflawed tonal clarity and subtle colouring, beautifully shaded in detail, and like Spence she looks the part as well as proving a fluent actor.

George Hall, The Guardian

Amongst the ‘discoveries’ of the evening in vocal terms, the most promising was Janai Brugger, making her house debut as a lustrous Pamina; singing with directness and sweetness of tone yet with an edge to her phrasing, she resembled the unforgettable Ileana Cotrubas in this role.

Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH

New York Festival of Song Recital

November 2014

Both singers were technically superb, and their personal qualities were ideal for the program; Brugger’s velvety voice possesses a mezzo color that carries the intimacy these songs needed, speaking directly to the listener.

George Grella, New York Classical Review

John Brancy and Janai Brugger both possess exceptionally beautiful, flexible voices but also, more importantly, an artistic maturity beyond their tender years.

Geoffrey Wieting, Classical Scene

...The stirring, impassioned and even beguiling singing by the baritone John Brancy and the soprano Janai Brugger, who each combined poise and ardor in the service of songs that explored where our feelings intersect with our psyche.

Bob Hughes, Classical TV

...talented young singer Janai Brugger, displaying a full, dusky lyric soprano...Brugger sang, with an engagingly light and seductive touch

Bruce-Michael Gelbert, QonStage

Carmen, Opera Colorado

(May 2014)

Soprano Janai Brugger, as José's jilted fiancée, the pure and guileless Micaela, had the audience enraptured with the astonishing purity and beauty of her voice.

Kelly Dean Hansen, The Daily Camera

I also thoroughly enjoyed the passionate performance and vocals of Janai Brugger as Michaela.

Michael Mulhern, Broadway World

The Enchanted Island, The Metropolitan Opera

February 2014

Standouts among the quartet of refugee lovers from A Midsummer Night’s Dream were […] the warm, mezzo-sounding soprano Janai Brugger

Eric Myers, New York Classical Review

Die Zauberflöte, LA Opera

November 2013

Janai Brugger is a perfect Pamina. Her arias are as clear as a mountain stream.

Jim Farber, Press-Telegram

Janai Brugger is a rapturous Pamina ready for prime time.

Mark Swed, LA Times

Janai Brugger let loose a shimmering soprano. When she sings of her loss of love’s happiness in her Act Two aria, she caresses each line with tenderness, and the effect is exquisitely heartbreaking.

Jane Rosenberg, Seen and Heard International

The rising soprano Janai Brugger, tone creamy and phrasing elegant, found feeling within the constraints of the production’s stylization, her hair in an Expressionist-era Louise Brooks bob and her body flinching eloquently under the burden of Pamina’s suffering.

Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times

...every exquisite second of singing by rising L.A. Opera star Janai Brugger -- her solo inside a cartoon snowglobe was the heartrending high point of the evening.

Tim Appelo, The Hollywood repporter

As Pamina in Los Angeles Opera’s silent-film-inspired production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” last month, the elegant, creamy-toned soprano Janai Brugger, 30, embraced the production’s constraints — all movements had to be synchronized with stage-filling animations — without compromising the tender force of her personality. It was a performance... that was the apotheosis of the 30-something, with both the freshness of youth and the depth of age.

Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times

Zarzuela Gala, LA Opera

June 2013

Janai Brugger, whose supple and luminous soprano delivered one gloriously floated high note after another.

Los Angeles News

Former Domingo Thornton Program member, Met Auditions, and Operalia winner Janai Brugger sang another selection from La del manojo de rosas, “No corte más que una rosa” (Don’t cut more than one rose) with sterling silver tones. Hers is a truly beautiful soprano. She looked vivacious in her bright red silk gown when she rendered another solo, the rousing “De España vengo” (I come from Spain) from Pablo Luna’s El niño judio. (The Jewish boy) An expressive artist from whom we can expect a major career, she sang duets with both Domingo and Guerrero.

Maria Nockin, Opera Today

Mozart Requiem, Cincinnati May Festival

May 2013

The soloists were well-matched and provided some exceptional solos. One of the most memorable moments was their “Benedictus,” which unfolded with pastoral beauty. Soprano Janai Brugger, in her debut, was a standout, communicating warmth and velvety tone and beautiful expression.

Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com

Operalia Competition, Beijing

June 2012

The winners of the 20th edition of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia – The World Opera Competition have been announced. Held in Beijing from June 4-10, the competition awarded First Prize for a female singer to American soprano Janai Brugger, who is currently enrolled in LA Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program. Brugger also received the Pepita Embil Domingo Zarzuela Prize and the Audience Prize.


La Boheme, Los Angeles Opera

May 2016

Soprano Janai Brugger portrayed Musetta as a vamping, campy near parody of Carmen in Act II when it came time for “Musetta’s Waltz,” while managing to preserve the character’s dignity and compassion in Act IV.

LA Times, Richard S Ginell, 15 May

I had not seen the last revival of this production in 2012 when Janai Brugger first sang Musetta but my thanks to whomever engaged her again. Flaunting one of the most luscious and seductive voices it has ever been my pleasure to hear, Ms. Brugger tore up the stage at the Cafè Momus in Act II with a performance that should easily assure her gainful employment for the rest of her career. In “Quando m’en vo” she made easy work of the composer’s many markings, never letting the phrases lose their musical shape. Her stage business with the waiters was so hilarious and over the top for a moment I feared we were going to get a Hello, Dolly! kickline.

Parterre box, Patrick Mack, 17 May

Brugger as Musetta was a volcano of sexuality. The direction and choreography allows for some over-the-top, audacious behavior and Brugger went the distance, revealing to Los Angeles audiences a singer of many gifts: from comic, compassionate, and willful as Musetta to demure and stoic as Pamina in LAO’s The Magic Flute of 2013.

Seen and Heard International, Jane Rosenberg, 16 May

The tempestuous object of his affection, Musetta, was sung by soprano Janai Brugger. Brugger has a good deal of fun being the belle of bohemian Paris as she warbles “Musetta’s Waltz.” Then, as the story deepens and her love affair with Marcello frays, Brugger captured the more mature side of her character

LA Daily News, Jim Farber, 17 May

Met Opera competition, New York

March 2012

Only one singer inspired me to look forward to a full performance. Janai Brugger sang two lyric soprano standards with poise and style, quiet intensity and superb phrasing... Her physical performance was reserved in both "Depuis le jour," from Charpentier’s "Louise," and "Ach, ich fühl’s," from Mozart’s "Zauberflöte." The emotion was in her sound, which projected, with silvery ease, first relaxed but focused bliss in "Depuis le jour" and then haunting melancholy in the Mozart. She met the challenge of the Charpentier, which is to be simultaneously languid and light. Her top notes were clear and secure; she descended from the high A near the end of "Depuis le jour" with lucid beauty.

Zachary Woolfe, New York Times

Soprano Janai Brugger, a crowd favorite, is clearly someone to watch. In both her arias, the famous "Depuis le jour," from Louise, and Die Zauberflote’s "Ach, ich fuhl’s," demonstrated warm tone and command of legato and ornamentation.

Greg Moomjy, Opera Today

Janai Brugger’s Opera Repertoire


Fidelio (Marzelline)


Carmen (Michaela)


The Turn of the Screw (Governess)


Il Postino (Neruda)


L’Elisir d’Amore (Adina)
Don Pasquale (Norina)


Porgy & Bess (Clara)


Romeo et Juliette (Juliette)


Zemire et Azor (title)


The Enchanted Island (Helena)


Die Zauberflöte (Pamina)
Le nozze di Figaro (Suzanna)
Idomeneo (Ilia)
La clemenza di Tito (Servilia)


La Bohème (Musetta)
Turandot (Liu)


Rigoletto (The Page)
Falstaff (Nanetta)
Aida (High Priestess)


Eugene Onegin (Tatiana)

Concert repertoire








Fourth Symphony




C Minor Mass

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