Soprano Michelle Johnson Makes Her Much-Anticipated Title Role Debut in Manon Lescaut


Read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns’ “Last-Minute Manon
on soprano Michelle Johnson’s remarkable upcoming debut!

The world of opera is filled with exhilarating moments when the stars shine, and this month, the Opera Company of Philadelphia is gearing up for what promises to be an unforgettable debut on the Academy of Music stage.  Dazzling soprano Michelle Johnson, whose career trajectory has taken off since becoming the 2011 Grand Prize Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, makes her Opera Company of Philadelphia debut in the title role of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut from April 20th through 29th

In her winning performance last year at the Metropolitan Opera, Johnson won praise from The New York Times, where it was reported, “There was a clear audience favorite… who brought gleaming sound to the meltingly lyrical aria… Ms. Johnson seems to have the vocal goods as well as star power.”

As Alice Ford in Falstaff with the Academy of Vocal Arts
As Donna Anna in AVA's Don Giovanni

The title role in Manon Lescaut marks a role debut for the accomplished soprano and Texas native, who also takes on the formidable title role of Aida later this summer at New York’s Glimmerglass Opera in a new production from director Francesca Zambello. An Academy of Vocal Arts fourth‐year resident artist, David Patrick Stearns of The Philadelphia Inquirer raved in 2011, “Though plenty of fine artists have come out of Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts, few command the stage as completely as Johnson ‐ not just with her voice but with an aura….”

Though her father, a Baptist minister, was musical, Johnson shared with The Inquirer last year that opera was not the order of business around her house until she encountered a PBS broadcast of Madama Butterfly at age 8.  She told The Inquirer, "The costumes, the passion, the emotion . . . I was bawling. In my family, we went to the symphony, we did musicals, but not opera. It was so grand. I'd never seen anything like that before. I have two older brothers, they're athletes . . . and I was singing around the house in an operatic tone. My parents decided, 'Let's do some research and see what we can come up with for this odd child who found this thing on her own.' "

As Alice Ford in Falstaff with the Academy of Vocal Arts

That family encouragement eventually led her to New England Conservatory and Boston University’s opera program. Johnson has since enjoyed engagements with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and at Marilyn Horne’s Music Academy of the West, and she has received a growing list of prestigious vocal awards . Around the Philadelphia region, audiences have been fortunate to hear Johnson in a host of roles with AVA, including Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, the Countess in Capriccio, and the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

We are delighted to welcome Michelle Johnson to Opera Company of Philadelphia!

If you have not had the pleasure of hearing Michelle Johnson perform, CLICK HERE to hear her stunning performance at the Academy of Vocal Arts’ 2011 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition. 

And CLICK HERE to read a profile from The Philadelphia Inquirer that was completed on the heels of her Metropolitan Opera win last spring.

Manon Lescaut runs April 20, 22m, 25, 27 & 29m, 2012 at the Academy of Music. Maestro Corrado Rovaris conducts this sumptuous production by John Pascoe, with Michael Cavanagh directing. Also starring are tenor Thiago Arancam as Des Grieux, baritone Troy Cook as Lescaut, and baritone Daniel Mobbs as Geronte.