Mary Jane Knight, mezzo-soprano, is noted for her warm, rich tone, versatile style, soulful connection, and magnetic stage presence. She makes her home on the operatic stage, the musical theater stage, oratorio and concert stage, and in worship settings as a mezzo-soprano.
A dynamic and engaging performer, Mary Jane Knight has sung for Opera Memphis in multiple productions and outreach events, include singing the role of Zulma in The Italian Girl in Algiers. Recently, she work-shopped the role of Mother/Medical examiner for Opera Memphis’s commissioned opera Pretty Little Room by Robert Patterson. She has appeared on stage for various other companies including Theatre Memphis, Opera Omaha, Des Moines Metro Opera and appeared in Revival Theatre’s production of Sunday in the Park with George in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and in the same musical as a guest artist for the University of Iowa Theatre Department. She appeared as the leading lady Marguerite St. Just in Scarlett Pimpernel with City Circle Acting Company and performed the role of Kate in Pirates of Penzance for Quad Cities Opera. She enjoyed playing the role of Eve in Children of Eden at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church and was featured in Riverside Theatre’s Sonnets for an Old Century and Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. She did double duty vocal directing and playing the role of Mary/Opera Singer in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 this spring with Riverside in their new home on the Ped Mall in downtown Iowa City and the production received rave reviews. She had a magical time acting, singing and playing the piano in the lead role in Theatre Cedar Rapid’s Brucemore production of Once at the end of this summer.
As a concert soloist, she has sung with Rhodes Mastersingers and the Memphis Symphony in Bach’s B Minor Mass, and a regional premier of Jennifer Higdon’s Ruminations featured on a PBS special “Articulate”. She was privileged to sing in a dynamic live film score showing of Joan of Arc with the composer George Sarah. A few other major works include Bach’s Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Handel’s Messiah, and a performance of Haydn’s Harmonie Messe at Carnegie Hall.
She is an accomplished keyboardist, coaching and accompanying singers primarily as well as playing for instrumentalists, ensembles and shows. Church music and music education is also an integral part of her career, having been noted as an educator who possesses the agility and ability to teach anything. She has taught the very young to the very old in various settings for over twenty years including private voice and piano, early childhood music, children’s and adult church music ensembles, musicals and workshops, secondary vocal music, and as an adjunct musical theatre voice professor at the University of Memphis and at Kirkwood Community College. She maintains a private voice studio Knightingale Voice in her historic home in Downtown Iowa City. She is a versatile and highly skilled pianist and organist, coaching, music directing, and accompanying musicians, playing for church services, and accompanying herself while singing.
She received her Bachelor of Music in K-12 music education from Simpson College in Indianola, IA where she also performed in numerous opera productions and assistant directed two operas. She was awarded best female musician of her class and graduated summa cum laude. Her Master of Music degree in vocal performance was then completed at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Mrs. Knight has become in a sense a “renaissance woman of music”, at home as a singer, actor, teacher, pianist, organist, and conductor. Having lived in Omaha, Dallas, and Memphis for ten years, she now makes her home in Iowa City with her two children and her husband Adam Knight.