Judith Barnes has been recognized as a singer “vocally and dramatically present in every moment” (Parterre), a stage director of “matchless and unending imagination” (ConcertoNet), and a pioneering producer, called “consistently innovative” by TimeOut NY. Noted as a “soprano-impresario” by The New Yorker, she is the founder and artistic director of Vertical Player Repertory (VPR), an indie opera company in Brooklyn, New York that “has developed a following for intense performances of unusual works” (The New York Times). VPR is known for staging opera in unexpected urban venues, which have included the deck of the 1940’s oil tanker The Mary Whalen, the untamed docks of the working port at the Red Hook Marine Terminal, and a 19th century factory courtyard on the banks of the Gowanus Canal.
Judith’s “lustrous and commanding” voice (Shelter Island Reporter) has served an eclectic assortment of both mezzo and soprano roles from the 17th to the 21st centuries including Darius Milhaud’s rarely performed Médée “…a truly tragic anti-heroine…she cuts right to the quick of the emotional center of the entire opera” (The Brooklyn Papers). She worked closely with composer William Bolcom on VPR’s production of A View from the Bridge in which she sang the role of Bea. She has premiered leading roles in many new operas, including Jiří Kadeřábek’s Kafka’s Women and Eric Salzman’s Big Jim and the Small Time Investors with the Center for Contemporary Opera, and two operas by Yoav Gal: The Dwarf, premiered at VPR, and Mosheh, premiered at Merkin Hall, developed at HERE Arts Center, and recorded and released on the HEREarts label.
Judith’s opera stage direction has been praised as “wonderfully smart and simple” by Seen and Heard International, “frankly glorious” by ConcertoNet, and “full of witty touches to warm a classicist’s heart” by Parterre. She has staged opera and theater for the PEN World Voices Festival, the Extremely Hungary Festival, The Invisible Symposium, Opera of the Hamptons, Manhattan School of Music, La Guardia High School, Citywide Youth Opera and elsewhere, in addition to directing many productions for Vertical Player Repertory since 1998. She has been awarded many grants for performing, producing and directing opera. Judith is multilingual and a published translator, fluent in Italian, French, Spanish and Hungarian and proficient in German. Other languages in which she has performed include Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and Czech.
Born in London and raised in Rome and New York City, Judith studied voice at Indiana University with Virginia Zeani, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni and Klara Barlow, and currently studies with David Jones in New York.