Going from being a young ambassador at Towslee Elementary School to performing on the stage of The Metropolitan Opera seems like a long shot. But that’s exactly what happened to Jennifer Rowley.
Jennifer grew up in Brunswick, attending school here until her junior year of high school, when her family moved to Vermillion. She has stayed in touch with many of her local classmates and with Nancy Purcell, who was secretary at Towslee when she attended.
“At Towslee, she was a school ambassador and active in almost all of our activities,” Purcell remembered. “Honestly, I had no idea she could sing. I’m not sure anyone did. I just remember her smile and sweetness every time I saw her. Her mom was an active member of the PTO and very involved. Everybody loved the family.”
Purcell attended a Rowley performance in Berea last year.
“I was blown away. She is just as nice as she is talented and beautiful. I can’t say I’m surprised that she is so successful. Even in elementary school, you can tell what kids have that drive. Jennifer was one of those kids — I just didn’t know it would be opera. She is amazing,” Purcell said.
This month, Rowley is singing the role of Leonora in Verdi’s “Il Travatore.”Rowley holds a Master of Music degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music.
At The Metropolitan Opera, she has previously starred in the roles of Musetta (Puccini’s “La Boheme”), her role debut as Roxane (Alfano’s “Cyrano de Bergerac”), and the title role of Puccini’s “Tosca.” She has previously performed the role of Leonora in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” at Opera de Lille, Theatre de Caen in France, and the Grand Theatre de Luxembourg.
Her performances at The Metropolitan Opera in the role this month and next mark her first time singing the role in the United States. She will sing Leonora again this September at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy.
She will also return to The Metropolitan Opera in several roles in future seasons.
Past awards include the 2012 Richard Tucker Career Grant, one of the top prizes in the 2013 Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Competition; and the 2011 Opera Index Vocal Competition, winner of the 2011 William Mattheus Sullivan Musical Foundation awards, a first prize-winner of the 2011 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, a grant winner of the 2011 Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition, and the winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Michigan District.
Rowley not only was busy with her career in 2017, but was married in May.