A recent graduate of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, tenor Jesse Donner has already distinguished himself on the operatic and concert stage with his “vibrant” (Chicago Classical Review) and “fresh and juicy” (Chicago Tribune) voice. Upcoming engagements include a return to Union Avenue Opera in his role debut as Rodolfo (LA BOHEME), a return to the Evansville Symphony as the Tenor Soloist in Handel’s MESSIAH, a role and company debut as Danilo (THE MERRY WIDOW) with St. Petersburg Opera, a return to Dupage Opera as Danilo (THE MERRY WIDOW), and his concert debut with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra.
In previous seasons, Mr. Donner joined the Louisville Orchestra as the soloist in Mozart’s REQUIEM and Handel’s MESSIAH, Toledo Opera for their Fall Gala Concert and returned to the Chicago Philharmonic to solo on their Concert for Peace as part of their Polish Festival. He also made debuts with Union Avenue Opera as Ismaele (NABUCCO) and Dupage Opera as Eisenstein (DIE FLEDERMAUS), and sang Emporer Alteum (TURANDOT) with Cedar Rapids Opera.
Mr. Donner was a resident artist at Lyric Opera of Chicago from 2014-2017, where he was commended for his “polished” and “heroic” tenor (Chicago Classical Review). In 2016-2017, he sang Froh (DAS RHEINGOLD), First Armored Man (DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE), and Flavio (NORMA) on the mainstage, while covering Normanno (LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR), Helenus (LES TROYENS), and Lensky (EUGENE ONEGIN). With the Ryan Opera Center, Donner’s concert appearances included an excerpt from TROILUS AND CRESSIDA with the Civic Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis, and a concert performance of Lennie Small (OF MICE AND MEN) with the Grant Park Orchestra, where he “came into his own with his touching portrait of the simple-minded Lennie” (Chicago Tribune).
In the 2015-2016 season, he sang Abdallo (NABUCCO) and Der Kellner (DER ROSENKAVALIER) and covered several leading roles, including General Alfredo in the world premiere of BEL CANTO, Ismaele (NABUCCO) and Drum Major (WOZZECK). To close the season, he shared a recital with renowned soprano Christine Brewer as part of Harris Theater’s Beyond the Aria series and received critical acclaim for his Rising Stars in Concert performance of the Prince’s aria from Dvořák’s RUSALKA.
Mr. Donner debuted Diener (CAPRICCIO) and Walther (TANNHÄUSER) in the 2014-2015 season, and covered Walter (THE PASSENGER). For his performance in Tannhäuser, Opera News noted that “Donner fielded a notable Walther, who could be heard pealing above the ensembles.” On the concert stage, he debuted with Chicago’s Civic Orchestra in Poulenc’s LES MAMELLES DE TIRÉSIAS and returned later in their season as tenor soloist in Mozart’s GREAT MASS IN C MINOR. Mr. Donner also appeared with the Adrian Symphony as tenor soloist in Beethoven’s NINTH SYMPHONY.
Mr. Donner won the 2015 Luminarts Fellowship and the Bel Canto grand prize, received the 2014 George Shirley Award for Opera Performance, a special encouragement award from the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions, and first place in the 2012 Michigan Friends of Opera Competition. A native of Des Moines, IA, Mr. Donner completed graduate and post-graduate studies at the University of Michigan and received a Bachelor of Music degree from Iowa State University.
Ismaele in NABUCCO
Jesse Donner brings a strong and pure tenor and a noble bearing to the role of Ismaele. - Broadwayworld.com
True heldentenors are hard to find; UAO has a fine one in Jesse Donner’s Ismaele. He’s a tall and commanding figure, with a ringing voice. - St.Louis Dispatch
Walther in TANNHÄUSER
Jesse Donner fielded a notable Walther, who could be heard pealing above the ensembles. - Opera News
Flavio in NORMA
Jesse Donner a worthy Flavio - Chicago Classical Review
Rodolfo - La Boheme
Union Avenue Opera
July 26 &27, Aug 2 & 3, 2019
Danilo - The Merry Widow
St. Petersburg Opera
Oct 18,20,22, 2019
The Metropolitan Opera Guild
Three Tenors Concert
New Jersey Festival Orchestra
Dec 8, 2019
Tenor Soloist- Handel's Messiah
Dec 20-21, 2019
Danilo - The Merry Widow
January 24-26, 2020
Tenor Soloist - Misa Tango
April 18-19, 2020
Prince (Cover) - Rusalka, Messagero - AIDA