The curtain goes up on Carmen Wednesday night, the first of the San Francisco Opera‘s trio of a summer season. In the title role will be J’Nai Bridges, making her third appearance with SFO. It’s a demanding part, but she’s been preparing for it since her student days, and even before.

There’s more information about the performances at the San Francisco Opera website.

Bridges made the decision to follow her musical dreams after having a parallel interest and talent in playing basketball during high school, which she says she’s been reminded of, playing Carmen. “By the end of the opera I feel like I’ve just played a basketball game, and I know what that feels like… I like to actually call this role the Beyoncé of opera, because I’m just doing everything. I’m singing, I’m dancing, I’m falling. It’s really an athletic role.” It’s also a dream role, and one that generally takes time to build up to. “It’s been something that I’ve been working on probably for ten years, actually. Because it’s not a role that you can just get out of bed and sing. It takes some… some living with. And actually, just some life experience,” Bridges says. “Certainly the fourth act is probably vocally the most demanding, so I’ve been working on that for a long time, but I also started looking at that later. The Habanera was the first thing that I looked at. I learned it for parties and auditions, It’s just so fun. It’s actually not as easy as it sounds, but I’ve gone through a lot of different journeys with that aria, and now it… It just feels so organic.” This is the third role she’s had with SF Opera – she sang in Andrea Chénier in 2016, and John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West in 2017; this Carmen is her role debut on a big stage. “I’m so happy to be debuting the role here in San Francisco, where I do feel like this house is kind of my home.”