Mezzo-soprano Jill Grove returns to the DMMO stage this season in the role of The Old Lady in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. Audiences will remember Grove from last season as Ježibaba in DMMO’s new production of Rusalka.
In our first artist Q&A of the season, Grove answers questions about her beginnings in opera, her big plans for her upcoming season, and her love of drama!
Grove in costume backstage
How did you discover opera, and when did you know it is something you wanted to make a career out of?
I found opera in college, mostly through peer pressure – all my friends were doing it! I was very shy as a kid, awkward and a bit of an outsider. It’s like I knew that if I showed my true personality, I wouldn’t fit in. But when I found the stage and my voice, I found my place! I knew I not only wanted it for a career, but I needed it for my sanity.
What other careers have you considered pursuing outside of singing?
In my dreams I would own a huge property and save all the animals. Over the years I have grown to be fascinated with people as well, so if I wasn’t a performer I would be of service somehow.
What is your favorite role you’ve ever sung?
I have a couple, but the most rewarding was Die Amme in Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten. Also Klytemnestra in Elektra and Jezibaba in Rusalka. I love stories and drama!
What role would you like to perform someday, and if you could sing any role (regardless of fach), what would you most like to sing?
Octavian, hands down. I just love that music and who wouldn’t want to be in an all-female love triangle!
What are you most excited about this season?
I am very excited for Candide, of course! Also I will be covering Dolora Zajick as Kabanichka in Káťa Kabanová later next season.
Favorite part about your role/this opera?
I am a ham, I feed off attention and laughter. But I also have great respect for my colleagues and love being part of a team. My favorite shows are big ensemble productions.
What can audiences expect from your performance in Candide?
Aside from comedy, I am hoping to bring a true three-dimensional character to the audience. I want the audience to care about her and not just laugh at her.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Hmm, I have been on stage for more than 25 years, I truly doubt I have many secrets left. But probably that I am a recovering alcoholic and have been sober for 13.5 years.
What advice do you have for aspiring opera singers?
We all have a spark and it’s our job to find it, cultivate it, let it grow, and share it with the world. It won’t look like anyone else’s, but the journey is what we all have in common. Stand in your truth, but also be open to change.
Jill Grove with her partner Dianna (left) and son Gryffen (right)
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Family: My partner, Dianna, and my 11 yr old son, Gryffen
Education/Training: New England Conservatory, HGO Studio, Texas Tech University
Favorite Composer: Strauss
Favorite Opera: Der Rosenkavalier
Favorite Book: The Harry Potter series… it’s so creative!
Favorite Food: Tex Mex
Favorite Beverage: Diet Coke