Press Room


Soprano Michelle Johnson Replaces Ermonela Jaho in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, April 20-29 at the Academy of Music

For Immediate Release:  March 21, 2012                                                         

Contact:  Tracy C. Galligher

Philadelphia, PA:  Soprano Michelle Johnson, 2011 Grand Prize Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, will replace soprano Ermonela Jaho in the title role of the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s April 20 – 29, 2012 production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.   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.”  

The title role in Manon Lescaut will mark a role debut for the accomplished soprano and Texas native, who also debuts in the 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, thePhiladelphia 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….”

 Johnson has enjoyed engagements with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and at Marilyn Horne’s Music Academy of the West, and her growing list of prestigious awards includes the top prize and grant from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation and a Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Vocal Competition 2011 Grant.  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.

Ms. Jaho, who has been forced to withdraw for medical reasons, shared the following statement:

“The Opera Company of Philadelphia holds a special place for me, having performed Puccini roles at the Academy of Music since the start of my career, and I have long been looking forward to making my role debut in Manon Lescaut for the appreciative audiences there.   I am deeply saddened not to be coming there this spring, but I am not well and have to take a month off.  I will be fine, but I must take care of my health right now.  I hope that in the future I will be invited back to share more special performances, and I send my warmest wishes to my friends at the Opera Company, to my colleagues on stage, and to the wonderful audiences who have always been so supportive of my work. ”

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.  To learn more or purchase tickets, visit or call 215-893-1018.