photograph by Jerry Wolford & Scott Muthersbaugh

Jill Gardner was in seventh grade when she wrote in a school assignment, “I believe that opera will become a very important passion in my life.” She had just seen her first opera, The Marriage of Figaro, at Piedmont Opera in Winston-Salem. Looking back now, those words seem prophetic. Jill and her husband, Jake, are both renowned professional opera singers — Jake is a bass baritone; Jill is a lyric spinto. They met at Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, New York — the same company that captured Jake’s attention at 18 years old — and later moved to Kernersville, not far from Jill’s hometown and Piedmont Opera, where they have since performed several times. These days, they travel all over the country, performing in everything from Tosca to La Traviata to A Streetcar Named Desire. “We are really each other’s severest critics,” Jake says. “But also,” Jill adds, “our most abiding support.” 

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Katie King is the assistant editor at Our State.