Mezzo Soprano Jessica Walker is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Stage roles include Gloria in Weill's One Touch of Venus (Opera North), The Little Arab in Martinu's Julietta (Opera North at the Ravenna Festival), Gigi in School for Lovers (Glyndebourne and Finnish National Opera), Peep Bo in The Mikado ( Nationale Reis Opera, Holland), Ninfa in Monteverdi's Orfeo (Opera North), Tamiri in Mozart's Il Re Pastore (Musiektheater Transparant), Messenger and Proserpina in Orfeo (The Opera Group), and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro (Stanley Hall).
In 2010-11 she toured The Girl I left Behind Me, a solo piece devised by her and director Neil Bartlett, and commissioned by Opera North projects, to great critical acclaim. Performances included a week's residency at the Barbican Pit, the Purcell Room, Howard Assembly Rooms, Sage Gateshead, Brighton Theatre Royal, Aldeburgh Festival, Coutts Arts Festival, the Frome Festival, Buxton Festival, Lowry Salford Quays and Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The piece was recently published as a play script by Oberon Press.
As a performer/ deviser, Jessica recently completed a major collaboration - OPENCOV - between Opera North, Leeds University, Bregenz Festival and the Shanghai Theatre Academy, exploring links and differences between Chinese and Western operatic traditions, and culminating in workshop performances in Shanghai, Bregenz and Leeds.
Concert engagements have included recitals at the Howard Assembly Rooms, Opera North - Recession Songs and Songs from the Left Bank - with accompanist Jim Holmes, Ligeti's Aventures - Nouvelles Aventures and the world premiere of Joanna Lee's song cycle, Elephant Woman, both with Psappha. She toured Mercy and Grand: the Tom Waits Project with Opera North throughout the UK and in Milan, a CD of which has been released on the Gavin Bryars label, GB. A CD from a previous concert tour of hers - A Quiet Girl: songs of love and other disasters - is available on the Avid label.
Other recent projects have included Nerone in The Coronation of Poppea at the Kings Head, in a new version translated and directed by Mark Ravenhill, with jazz arrangments by Alex Silverman, a revival of Mercy and Grand at St George's Hall, Bristol and the Spitalfields Winter Festival, and the title role of Ziggy in A Fetus in America, by Luke Styles and Peter Cant at the Tete a Tete festival, ROH2's Exposure and the Soho Theatre. The Girl I Left Behind Me continues to tour into 2013, including a three week run at the Brits off Broadway Festival in New York.
Her new solo show, Pat Kirkwood is Angry, co-produced by Opera North, in association with Royal Exchange Theatre had performances at the Manchester Royal Exchange and the Howard Assembly Rooms in October 2012, and tours into 2013 with performances at the St James Theatre, London, the Grassington Festival and at the Richard Burton Theatre, Cardiff.
In Spring 2013 Jessica makes her debut at the Chatelet, Paris, as the nurse and Harriet in Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George. In May 2013 Her cabaret opera - An Eye for an Eye - written with David Knotts, premieres at the Bath and St Magnus music festivals, at which she also performs an evening of Brel, Brassens and Barbara songs with Alasdair Nicolson.
In 2009 Jessica began her PhD studies at Leeds University, with the support of a bursary from the School of PCI. Her practice-led research is looking at 'The Singer as Creator and Co-collaborator: a performer-led model for new music theatre works.' She has given papers at two International Song, Stage and Screen conferences; in Winchester in 2010 - 'Can opera director and performer ever be equals in the creative process?', and in Kansas City in 2011 - 'The opera singer as creator and co-collaborator.' In March 2012 she gave a workshop presentation at the Reflective Conservatoire Conference at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and in April she gave papers at the Leeds University conference, The Theory, Practice and Business of Opera Today, and at the Psi Performance and Philosophy working group conference. Her article, 'The Girl I Left Behind Me: the disjunction between vocal and visual performance in male impersonation', appears in the Intellect journal, Studies in Musical Theatre, Vol 6:1.