Mezzo-Soprano Jamie Barton of Rome, Georgia, is in the midst of an astonishing life.

 A local export of world wonder and joy. 

"I didn't know this life could exist when I was growing up!! I was a late bloomer with classical music, I just knew I loved music, and I wanted to do something in that realm for my career.”

Hailed by the New York Times as the “leader of a new generation of opera stars,” and christened “opera’s nose-studded rock star,” Barton has blown off the stodgy opera dust of a few centuries. 

Ms. Barton is a mezzo singer - meaning middle in Italian - and is the middle range for a female singer. Their voices are often described as being dark, round and full of color.

Mezzo’s historically receive less attention than sopranos or tenors, but Barton is the exception. A super nova. 

So many honors and extraordinary career moments, including a 2022 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album (“Unexpected Shadows.” )


Jamie Barton, Jake Heggie and Matt Haimovitz - "The Work At Hand (The Slow Seconds)"

From the (U.K.) Guardian: “An album of rich, raw immediacy...Barton, versatile and big-hearted, catching any shred of wit or sorrow, responds to the music’s every need, each syllable crystal clear.”

Barton is currently preparing in Atlanta for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Amneris in Aida, scheduled March 9-April 7. 

“ Last season, I was on the road for 273 days, with 213 of those being in Europe. And I figured out pretty quickly that that's not a balance that works for me. Ideally, I'd say that my split works best at 80% US, and 20% Europe/world.”

Growing up in northwest Georgia, Barton didn’t need her passport. Rome was in Floyd County, not Italy.

There was lots of listening to classic rock and bluegrass in her parents' living room; where the floor was unsteady and the record player skipped. 

She liked "Phantom of the Opera," Mariah Carey and Chopin on Georgia Public Broadcasting. 

Barton began on stage, playing “Peter Pan” inside Armuchee Elementary.

She graduated from Armuchee High School, then attended Shorter College (affiliated w/ Indiana University Jacobs School of Music). 

In 2013, Barton won the prizes at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. The Cardiff victory opened up a world of opera and performing opportunities. 

The awards would soon stack up. 

In 2020 she was named “Personality of the Year” at the BBC Music Magazine Awards. 

Writing for his music blog, The Rest Is Noise, music critic Alex Ross stated: “She is a fresh wonder of the opera world, possessing a voice of preternatural beauty and power.

Jamie also uses her fame and platform toward social issues for women, body shaming, and LGBTQ rights. 

Days ago she answered more of my questions from her Atlanta living room. 

(JH) Do you enjoy this life as much as when you began?

(JB) I enjoy it in different ways, and the challenges are also greater. It's hard to be a homebody who lives most of her life on the road. 

(JH) Any crazy occurrences that forced you to “soldier on?”

(JB) The first thing that comes to mind is that time I caught a stomach virus before a performance in Germany and had no understudy, or "cover,"  as we say in opera. Nothing says "soldiering on" like vomiting in a bucket on stage left before walking out for your Act 2 aria!

(JH) As an opera singer do you look at Maria Callas like Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron? A giant life by which all opera performers are judged. Am I wrong?

(JB) Not really. Not these days. Callas was certainly a titan, but her life was so singular and so long ago that I tend not to connect strongly with her life. I just try to be my own authentic artist. 

(JH) Is this a happy life for you?

(JB) Mostly - although I really do miss being at home while I'm gone; and that's a LOT of the time!

(JH) What if it didn’t happen for you? Did you have a Plan B?

(JB) I didn't back in college, but the pandemic showed me that if I happened to lose this career, I'd be very happy to open up a cat cafe. 

(JH) Any working plans in Atlanta?

(JB) At this point, I don't have any planned gigs on the calendar. But I'm always crossing fingers for more Atlanta to be on the books! 

(JH) Still grounded by family and friends?

(JB) Absolutely. I couldn’t do this without them!

(JH) Food you long for from the south?

(JB) I'm always a sucker for fried pork chops with gravy and mashed potatoes. I miss my Nana making that for me!


Jamie Barton - "BBC Cardiff Singer Of The Year 2013 (Concert 1)"