Jon Jackson - Magnormos Contributing ArtistJon Jackson

Magnormos credits: 'DEAR WORLD (JERRY HERMAN TRIPTYCH)'.

Jon Jackson is a multi-skilled performer with exceptional and diverse talents as an opera singer, cabaret artist and comic raconteur. For ten years Jon was the lead singer and front man for the internationally acclaimed ensemble GREAT BIG OPERA COMPANY. As an actor he has an uncanny ability to mimic specific accents, and a multitude of voice types. As an operatic counter-tenor and concert artist he exhibits equal versatility.

Born in the country town of Warwick Queensland, Jon studied voice and piano with Colleen Bloomfield, a one-time pupil of Nellie Melba. He got his first taste for performing while playing Young Waldo in the Warwick Little Theatre's production of UNDER MILKWOOD then confirmed his passion for the stage, joining the Darling Downs Youth Theatre, a regional off-shoot of The Queensland Theatre Company at 16. However, a practical streak saw him graduate from The Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education with a degree in theatre production and stage management.

Moving to Melbourne to work backstage at the Melbourne Theatre Company and later at the legendary Last Laugh, offered him the chance to observe leading actors and comedians up close. A performance at a Last Laugh staff show brought Jon's talents to the attention of producer John Pinder, who quickly cast him in their next production. Jon and fellow cast member, pianist Irene (Tomi) Kalinski became friends, and after the season finished, began performing regularly at Jazz After Dark in the Victorian Arts Centre.

Inspired by his success, Jon formed the Great Big Opera Company with accompanist Allan Walker in 1984 and created shows including A DESERT CHANSON WITH TANGOS for the Next Wave Festival, then Fringe Festival successes ABSOLUTELY WEILL, BASICALLY BRECHT and A DANGEROUS HOUR. In 1988 they teamed up with Greg Riddell a music technology wiz who gave the group it's 'wall of sound' to set against Jon's enormous vocal range. Their repertoire crossed every genre from 1960's girl group pop, to opera, country and rock n' roll. With 2 keyboards and a computer, they could play anything from a piano, a jazz trio, a rock band or a symphony orchestra. Audiences were amazed at the sound that came from just three performers, and were often skeptical that Jon could really be singing all those notes. Even today, there are those who simply can't believe he's really singing it all. Soon they were spotted by an agent, and were performing long standing residencies at Melbourne's Prince Patrick Hotel, and Inflation Night Club, as well as festivals, functions, parties and events Australia wide. In between projects, Jon also studied at the Victorian College of the Arts Opera Studio.

In 1990, Jon and the group toured to Adelaide Fringe Festival, London and the Edinburgh Festival with Melbourne comic Rachel Berger to rave reviews and a sell-out season of STAND UP AT THE OPERA. People loved the chemistry, and this was the beginning of their international success.

During the '90's, Great Big Opera Co. toured Australia and the world with shows like SANTA BABIES at Mietta's in Melbourne, TAKING IT UP THE OCTAVE and A GREAT BIG SOAP OPERA at The Universal Theatre Melbourne, and Sydney's famous Tilbury Hotel. They also performed regularly at The Victorian Arts Centre, state festivals, The Singapore Festival, The Wellington and Auckland Festivals in New Zealand, concerts in Jakarta Indonesia, hotel residencies for Park Royal Hotels in Bali, and even concerts with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra in Russia.

In 1998 Great Big Opera Company had its' last hurrah, with a sell-out concert series at Raffle's in Singapore. After that, Jon began a solo career, with one-man shows at Caper's Cabaret in Melbourne such as MOONLIGHTING and DON'T ASK ME NOT TO SING then continuing with playing roles for Opera Australia and Chamber Made Opera, and even writing a libretto for Melbourne's Oz Opera for a series of new works. Jon continues to perform cabaret shows in and around Melbourne, and is a respected and accomplished corporate performer and speaker. In 2011, Jon has already performed as a soloist in a series of concert appearances with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He has recently developed a new cabaret show, which premieres in The Melbourne Cabaret Festival this year