Texas-based artist JEN STEPHENSON enjoys a multifaceted career as stage director, producer, soprano, educator, and arts administrator.
As a stage director and producer, Stephenson has worked with the Baylor Opera Theatre, Chicago Summer Opera, Opera Seme, Lawrence Opera Theatre, Music On Site, Harrower Summer Opera, Druid City Opera, The University of Alabama Opera Theatre, and Tabor College Opera, which she founded in 2015. Recent directing credits include productions of The Tender Land, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, La finta giardiniera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Hansel and Gretel. Praised for her thoughtful characterization and impeccable comedic timing, she is currently chair of the awarding committee of the National Opera Association's JoElyn Wakefield Wright Stage Director Internship, of which she was the recipient of in 2015.
No stranger to the stage, Stephenson has performed extensively throughout North America and Europe in a wide range of opera roles, as a vocal soloist, and as a member of several professional choral ensembles. As a featured soloist, favorite concert and oratorio appearances have been with L’Orchestre et les Chanteurs de Saint Eustache of Paris, France; Nei Stëmmen of Luxembourg, Luxembourg; The Classical Music Festival of Eisenstadt, Austria; the Prentice Chorale of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Lawrence Opera Theatre of Lawrence, Kansas; and the Westfield Festival Chorus of Westfield, Massachusetts. Additionally, she has sung professionally with Alabama’s Highland Consort, the Richard Zielinski Singers, and New England’s Novi Cantori. Stephenson has sung leading roles with Opéra du Perigord, Utah Lyric Opera, and New Century Opera. Favorite operatic performances include the roles of Elvira (Don Giovanni), Magda (The Consul), Gertrune (The Twilight of the Gods), Mother (Hansel and Gretel), Frasquita (Carmen), and Manuelita (La Périchole), among others.
Equally comfortable as a conductor, Stephenson has served as chorus-master for the Wichita Grand Opera, The University of Alabama Opera Theatre, and the University of South Florida Opera Workshop, and has conducted operas and musicals for The Actors Charitable Theatre (AL), Arts in Motion (FL), and The University of Alabama Opera Theatre. Formerly, she served as Music Director and Organist at Saint Matthias Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa, AL, and as Director of the Celebration Choir at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, KS.
An avid scholar, Stephenson frequently presents clinics, masterclasses, and lectures throughout the United States. She has presented her peer-reviewed research nationally at both the Classical Singer Convention (2014) and the National Opera Association’s annual convention (2017 - 2022), and has been solicited for publication by the Opera Journal for her research on Menotti’s The Consul and Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero. Recently, she has presented masterclasses at Emporia State University, Hesston College, University of the Ozarks, The University of Alabama, Tabor College, and Barton Community College, among others. Competitions and festivals for which Stephenson has adjudicated include the NATS State and Regional Auditions, KSHSAA regional and state solo and large ensemble competition divisions, Classical Singer online and semi-final divisions, the NOA Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition preliminary round, as well as various independent league and invitational competitions. In 2017, Stephenson’s DMA dissertation, “Luigi Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero and Gian-Carlo Menotti’s The Consul: A Comparative Study,” was named the winner of the prestigious National Opera Association’s biennial Dissertation Competition.
Dr. Stephenson holds degrees from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Westfield State University, University of South Florida, and The University of Alabama. Currently, she serves as Director of Opera Theatre and Assistant Clinical Professor of Opera at Baylor University. Stephenson’s primary voice teachers include Mary Brown Bonacci, Kyoung Cho, and Paul Houghtaling.