Jennifer Johnston

Introduction

The dramatic mezzo-soprano was named by both BBC Music Magazine and the Observer as "a rising star", and the Financial Times as the "Face to Watch in Opera". A former BBC New Generation Artist, she is a graduate of Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music, and is the recipient of numerous awards. She has appeared in opera at the Salzburg Festival, Bayerische Staatsoper, Festival d'Aix en Provence, Opera de Lille, Beijing Festival, Baltic Sea Festival, Scottish Opera and Opera North. Her roles include Fricka, Waltraute, Second Norn, Wellgunde, Lady de Hautdesert, Jocasta, Hedwige, Lucretia, Dido, Hänsel, Mrs Noye, Third Lady, Mrs Herring, Mrs Sedley, Giovanna Seymour and Agrippina. 

Jennifer's engagements in the 2014-5 Season include her debut at Teatro alla Scala, where she will create the role of Gaia in the world premiere of Battistelli's CO2 directed by Robert Carsen, Wellgunde (Das Rheingold/Götterdämmerung) and Second Norn in Wagner's Ring Cycle under Kirill Petrenko and Hedwige in Rossini's Guillaume Tell under Dan Ettinger at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Margret in Berg's Wozzeck with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the ORR under Sir John Eliot Gardiner at the BBC Proms, Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Elgar's Sea Pictures and Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Mendellsohn's Elijah with the Bach Choir at the Royal Festival Hall. 

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News & Features

Repertoire

OPERA 

BARTOK
Judith (Bluebeard's Castle)

BELLINI
Adalgisa (Norma)

BERLIOZ
Didon/Cassandre (Les Troyens),
Marguerite (La Damnation de Faust)
[UNDER PREPARATION]

BIRTWISTLE
Lady de Hautdesert (Gawain and the Green Knight)

BRITTEN
Mrs Herring (Albert Herring), 
Lucretia (The Rape of Lucretia)

DVORAK
Jezibaba (Rusalka)

HANDEL
Title Role (Agrippina)

HUMPERDINCK
Witch / Mother (Hansel und Gretel)

JANACEK
Kostelnicka (Jenufa) [UNDER PREPARATION]
Kabanicha (Katya Kabanova)
[UNDER PREPARATION]

KORNGOLD
Brigitta (Die Tote Stadt) [UNDER PREPARATION]

MASSENET
Herodiade (Title Role) [UNDER PREPARATION]

NICOLAI
Meg Page (Merry Wives of Windsor)

POULENC
Mother Marie of the Incarnation (Dialogues des carmélites ) [UNDER PREPARATION]

PUCCINI
Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), 
La Principessa (Suor Angelica)

PURCELL
Dido/Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas)

ROSSINI
Hedwige (William Tell)

SAINT-SAENS
Dalila (Samson et Dalila)

STRAUSS
Herodias (Salome) [UNDER PREPARATION]

STRAVINSKY
Jocasta (Oedipus Rex), 
Baba the Turk (The Rake's Progress)

WAGNER
Fricka (Das Rheingold, Die Walkure), 
Wellgunde (Das Rheingold, Gotterdammerung), 
Waltraute (Die Walkure, Gotterdammerung), 
Second Norn (Gotterdammerung), 
Brangaene (Tristan und Isolde), 
Magdalena (Die Meistersinger)

VERDI
Mistress Quickly (Falstaff) [UNDER PREPARATION]


CONCERT

Bach
St Matthew Passion, St John Passion,
B Minor Mass, Christmas Oratorio

Berg
Seven Early Songs

Beethoven
Symphony No 9, Missa Solemnis

Berlioz
L'Enfance du Christ, Le Mort de Cleopatre, Les Nuits d'ete

Brahms
Alto Rhapsody

Britten
Phaedra, Spring Symphony, 
A Charm of Lullabies

Durufle
Requiem

Dvorak
Stabat Mater, Requiem

Elgar
The Dream of Gerontius, Sea Pictures, The Kingdom, The Apostles, 
Coronation Ode

Handel
Messiah

Haydn
Arianna a Naxos, Nelson Mass, Paukenmesse

Mahler
Symphonies 2, 3 and 8, 
Das Lied von der Erde, 
Ruckert Lieder

Mendelssohn
Elijah

Mozart
Requiem, Solemn Vespers, 
Coronation Mass

Respighi
Il Tramonto

Rossini
Petite Messe Sollenelle, Stabat Mater

Schoenberg
Pierrot Lunaire

Stravinsky
Pulcinella, Oedipus Rex

Vaughan Williams
Four Last Songs

Verdi
Messa di Requiem

Wagner
Wesendonck Lieder

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Audio

Schedule

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth

Mathias
Dance Overture
Elgar
Sea Pictures, Op 37
Stanford
Irish Rhapsody No. 1 in D minor, Op 78
Mendelssohn
Symphony No. 3 in A minor 'Scottish', Op 56
BBC National Orchestra of Wales 

Francesco Angelico Conductor
Jennifer Johnston Soprano

Prichard-Jones Hall, Pontio, Bangor

Mathias
Dance Overture
Elgar
Sea Pictures, Op 37
Stanford
Irish Rhapsody No. 1 in D minor, Op 78
Mendelssohn
Symphony No. 3 in A minor 'Scottish', Op 56

BBC National Orchestra of Wales 
Francesco Angelico Conductor
Jennifer Johnston Soprano

Bayerische Staatsoper , Munich

Guillaume Tell
Musikalische Leitung Dan Ettinger
Inszenierung Antú Romero Nunes


Guillaume Tell Michael Volle
Arnold Melcthal Yosep Kang
Walter Furst Goran Jurić 
Jemmy Evgeniya Sotnikova
Gesler Günther Groissböck
Rodolphe Kevin Conners
Ruodi Enea Scala
Leuthold Christian Rieger
Mathilde Krassimira Stoyanova
Hedwige Jennifer Johnston

Bayerische Staatsoper , Munich

Guillaume Tell
Musikalische Leitung Dan Ettinger
Inszenierung Antú Romero Nunes


Guillaume Tell Michael Volle
Arnold Melcthal Yosep Kang
Walter Furst Goran Jurić 
Jemmy Evgeniya Sotnikova
Gesler Günther Groissböck
Rodolphe Kevin Conners
Ruodi Enea Scala
Leuthold Christian Rieger
Mathilde Krassimira Stoyanova
Hedwige Jennifer Johnston

Bayerische Staatsoper , Munich

Guillaume Tell
Musikalische Leitung Dan Ettinger
Inszenierung Antú Romero Nunes


Guillaume Tell Michael Volle
Arnold Melcthal Yosep Kang
Walter Furst Goran Jurić 
Jemmy Evgeniya Sotnikova
Gesler Günther Groissböck
Rodolphe Kevin Conners
Ruodi Enea Scala
Leuthold Christian Rieger
Mathilde Krassimira Stoyanova
Hedwige Jennifer Johnston

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Press

Michael Tippett

A Child of Our Time

Barbican Centre, London

"The singing was magnificent, with four soloists of great sophistication and gravitas, Erica Eloff, Jennifer Johnston, Andrew Staples and Ashley Riches, but how shaming that Tippett’s laments of poverty and oppression still burn so brightly." The Times

Berg

Wozzeck

City Halls, Glasgow

"Rumour has it that Runnicles was delighted to secure his replacement Wozzeck – together with Marie he led a stellar cast that also included Tom Randle, Michael Pflumm, and Jennifer Johnston. " Christopher Lambton for the Arts Desk

Beethoven

Missa Solemnis

Royal Albert Hall

"four excellent soloists (Lucy Crowe, Jennifer Johnston, Michael Spyres, Matthew Rose) also tackled Beethoven’s stupendous demands with spine-tingling assurance." Richard Morrison for the Times
"the rich tones of mezzo Jennifer Johnston impressed" David Fay for Bachtrack
"It certainly helped that the soloists – Lucy Crowe, Jennifer Johnston, Michael Spyres, and Matthew Rose – constituted a dream team" Michael Church for the Independant
"He is as unfair to the chorus as he is generous to the soloists, giving them his most passionately creative vocal writing, wonderfully realised by soprano Lucy Crowe, mezzo Jennifer Johnston, tenor Michael Spyres and bass Matthew Rose. Throughout, the band amazed in all its raw-edged immediacy" Stephen Pritchard for The Guardian

Three Choirs Festival

Mahler – Symphony No 2 in C minor, ‘Resurection’

Worcester Cathedral

"The two soloists were seated in the front row of the choir meaning that Jennifer Johnston had to project ‘Urlicht’ right over the orchestra and down the nave. This proved no problem at all and her voice carried clearly and truly even when she was singing particularly softly. Miss Johnston sang from memory and delivered the music with sensitivity and expression, her tone lustrous and the words clear. This was a very fine performance." John Quinn for Seen and Heard International
"The fourth movement – “Urlicht” (Primeval Light) – signalled a change of mood, Jennifer Johnston instantly transforming the intense drama to a subdued melancholy with the most hauntingly beautiful voice. Johnston’s performance was refined and graceful, employing a controlled use of vibrato that wasn’t at all overpowering. Her beautiful tone was equally matched by the oboe that echoed her controlled expression." Holly Harrison for Bachtrack.com

Rossini

Guillaume Tell

Bayerische Staatsoper

"Auch alle kleineren Partien sind festspielwürdig besetzt: Allen voran die Hedwige, Gattin Tells mit Mezzosopran Jennifer Johnston."  Die Deutsche Buehne
"Eine Wucht: Jennifer Johnston"
Monika Beer for InFranken.de
"en Jennifer Johnston greep haar korte optreden als Guillaume Tells vrouw Hedwige aan om een blijvende indruk achter te laten."
Mordechai Aranowicz for Opera Magazine Nl
"– die schönstimmige Jennifer Johnston – "
Werner Häußner for Der Neue Merker
"Jennifer Johnston gefällt als Hedwige mit warmem Mezzo " Thomas Molke for Omm.de

Harrison Birtwistle

Gawain

Barbican

"Laura Aikin (Morgan Le Fay), and Jennifer Johnston (Lady de Hautdesert) were impressively undaunted by the difficult score"  Kimon Daltas for the Arts Desk
"Laura Aikin was a superb Morgan Le Fay, beguiling and effortlessly lyrical, matched by the shadowy voluptuousness of Jennifer Johnston as Lady de Hautdesert." Nick Breckenfield for Classicalsource
"From Jennifer Johnston’s enigmatic, elegant Lady de Hautdesert...the women were outstanding." Anna Picard for The Times

Bach

St Matthew's Passion

Hong Kong Philharmonic

"Alto aria Erbarme Dich ("have mercy") was the highlight of the night for me. Jennifer Johnston, alto, sang eloquently..." South China Morning Post

Stravinsky

Oedipus Rex

LSO Live label

"Jennifer Johnston's lush-toned Jocasta and the men of Gardiner's Monteverdians excel" Hugh Canning for the Sunday Times
"Dank der eindringlichen Figurenzeichnung der Mezzosopranistin Jennifer Johnston als Jocaste und des Tenors Stuart Skelton als Oedipus geht die rhythmisch prägnante, dissonanzenreiche Musik auch diesmal unter die Haut des gebannten Hörers: nicht nur dort, wo sie rituell anmutet." Volkmar Fischer for BR Klassik
“Johnston's superb interpretation lifts the whole performance up a couple of notches...But John Eliot Gardiner's conducting somehow misses the work's elusive power.” BBC Music Magazine-June 2014
"English mezzo Jennifer Johnston shows the same virtuosity. In Jocasta's plea to the argumentative menfolk, she emerges from lavish sweeps of harp and piano to work through a brilliant catalogue, with winks at composers from Verdi to Offenbach." NZ Herald
"Johnston takes Jocasta's elaborate coloratura full tilt, bringing her aria off with great aplomb, but also responds gently to her unexpected marking tranquillo at 'Ne probentur'." John Warrack for Gramophone
"Among the excellent soloists are the tenor Stuart Skelton as Oedipus and the mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston as Jocasta."

Anthony Tommasini for The New York Times

Ludwig Thuille:

Songs

Champs Hill

"Impeccably sung, with great warmth of tone, by Jennifer Johnston" Tim Ashley for The Guardian

Vaughan Williams

Four Last Songs

Royal Albert Hall

"Jennifer Johnston, the mezzo soloist in Anthony Payne’s delicate Vaughan Williams orchestration, also sang from the heart – but had taken the trouble to learn the words, projecting them with a quiet radiance that commanded attention. With a noble timbre reminiscent of Janet Baker, she found an unexpected kinship between these modest songs and Elgar’s Sea Pictures." The Financial Times
"Between all these sorrowful songs, some autumnal ones. Anthony Payne has newly orchestrated Four Last Songs by Vaughan Williams, beautifully evoking RVW’s own mellow colours. The songs, to poems by Vaughan Williams’s wife Ursula, aren’t vintage, but appealing enough as delivered by the plangent young mezzo Jennifer Johnston." The Times
"Jennifer Johnston, another fine New Generation Artist, let the songs soar with a radiance associated with another set of Four Last Songs. Her voice combines ecstatic range with an affecting contralto weight, and her stage presence, like Ruby Hughes’s, was compelling." Classical Source
"Between the two symphonies, Jennifer Johnston gave a powerful reading of Vaughan Williams’s Four Last Songs." London Evening Standard
"The mezzo Jennifer Johnston sang them with an authentic sense of potent wonder that was even more striking when revisited on the iPlayer afterwards." The Guardian
"I do hope that this arrangement is recorded in the future with Jennifer Johnston at the forefront: she sang the set both beautifully and with refinement." Bachtrack

Beethoven

Prom 38: Ninth Symphony

Royal Albert Hall

"and a fine solo quartet (Ailish Tynan, Jennifer Johnston, Toby Spence and Gerald Finley). The result was thrilling."

Hugo Shirley for The Telegraph
"The massed choirs more than matched the world-class quartet of soloists"


Nick Kimberley for the Evening Standard
"The soloists, ranked behind the orchestra, were excellent, with Jennifer Johnston and Ailish Tynan in fine voice, and Gerald Finley and Toby Spence both clear and light-toned but still able to penetrate. "

Guy Dammann for the Guardian

Birtwistle

Gawain

Salzburger Festspiele

"Jennifer Johnston beeindruckte als Lady de Hautdesert." OÖN Nachrichten
"no praise for the cast can be too high. Christopher Maltman is a powerfully questing Gawain, and John Tomlinson's Green Knight is hardly less vivid than when he created the role. Laura Aikin's Morgan Le Fay, Jennifer Johnston's Lady de Hautdesert, Andrew Watts's Bishop Baldwin and Jeffrey Lloyd-Robert's wheelchair-bound Arthur are all outstanding." John Allison for the Telegraph
"Erstklassig auch die Sänger, an der Spitze Christopher Maltman (Gawain), Laura Aikin, John Tomlinson, Jennifer Johnston, ..." Ursula Strohal for Tiroler Tageszeitung
"Jennifer Johnston als Lady Hautedesert beeindruckte ebenso wie das Sängerensemble um König Arthur" Gerald Heidegger for ORF
"The brilliant cast, convened at short notice when Gawain replaced an unfinished opera by György Kurtág, was led by Christopher Maltman in the title role, with John Tomlinson reprising the part of the mythical Green Knight. Both baritone and bass, each on peak form, are masters in the art of acting as well as singing. In the event this was more of a godsend than usual. The same was true for Lady de Hautdesert, sung with vivid lyricism by the rising-star British mezzo Jennifer Johnston." Fiona Maddocks for The Guardian
"Ihm sekundieren die Mezzosopranistin Jennifer Johnston als kundryhafte Verführerin Lady de Hautdesert" Christian Wildhagen for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Auf der Sängerseite besonders hervorzuheben: Christopher Maltman als Gawain, Laura Aikin als Morgan und Jennifer Johnston als Lady de Hautdesert." Robert Jungwirth for BR Klassik
"Lady Hautdesert, eine Art Kundry (Jennifer Johnston)" Elisabeth Schwind for Osnabrücker Zeitung
"mit klarem, schlichten Mezzo: Jennifer Johnston" Badische Zeitung
"Absolut ebenbürtig ist ihr in Letzterem Jennifer Johnston als dunkel lodernde Lady de Hautdesert, deren Verführungsversuche beim standhaften Gawain dennoch nicht fruchten." OVB Online
"Laura Aikin and Jennifer Johnston were excellent Morgan le Fay and Lady Hautdesert. The eroticism of the former’s performance grew as she and Johnston’s character grew apart, indeed transformed themselves from commentators into participants." Mark Berry for Seen and Heard International
"This is the best line-up of the Salzburg Festival so far [...] Jennifer Johnston, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts and Andrew Watts are luxury choices for the parts of Lady de Hautdesert, King Arthur and Bishop Baldwin; vocally, the evening leaves nothing to be desired." Shirley Apthorp for Financial Times
"Gawain emerges as a modern Parsifal, the Green Knight (John Tomlinson, as potent as ever in the role he created 22 years ago) his Gurnemanz, and Morgan Le Fay (the dazzling Laura Aikin) and Lady de Hautdesert (the lush-voiced Jennifer Johnston) seem more than ever like Birtwistle's schizophrenic Kundry, literally split into two characters" Hugh Canning for The Sunday Times
"Lady de Hautdesert wird von Jennifer Johnston mit gefühlvollem Mezzo gesungen"
Friedeon Rosén for Der Neue Merker

Stravinsky

Oedipus Rex

Barbican Centre, LSO, Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Mezzo Jennifer Johnston was a powerful, graceful Jocasta with gorgeous tone and marvelous diction. Paul Kilbey for Bachtrack
...and Jennifer Johnston (Jocasta) made superb, larger-than-life protagonists Michael Church for The Independent
At its best the result was electrifying, though of the  soloists only Jennifer Johnston as Jocasta sounded convincing. Barry Millington for London Evening Standard
Jennifer Johnston was a formidable Jocasta, venomously spitting out her dismissal of the oracles while Gardiner thrillingly energised the cascading wind instruments beneath her Andrew Clements for The Guardian
Jennifer Johnston was a formidable Jocasta Hilary Finch for The Times

Beethoven

Missa Solemnis

ORR/Sir John Eliot Gardiner

"Some of the most moving solo singing came from Jennifer Johnston, whose mezzo glows with unforced feeling and whose pure style fits well into the period-instrument world." New York Times
"Mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston has a uniquely rich, low voice that was warm and pliant" Bachtrack
"Johnston's mezzo contributed both warmth and sombre darkness to the ensemble" The Times

Bach

St. Matthew Passion

Dallas Symphony Orchestra / Jaap Van Zweden

"Alto Jennifer Johnston's serene majestic sound and fine taste were in evidence all evening" Bachtrack
"The standout soloist was alto Jennifer Johnston, with a hot-coals tone and elegantly expressive manner" Dallas Morning News

Mahler

Second Symphony

OSESP / Alondra de la Parra

"The English contralto Jennifer Johnston gave an excellent vocal performance of the song 'Urlicht', unforgettable and beautiful from an interpretive point of view" Movimento
"Jennifer Johnston was flawless and demonstrated admirable vocal power"  Estadao

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Recordings

You promised me everything

Vocal & choral works by Cheryl Frances Hoad

One Life Stand (for mezzo soprano and piano)
There is no Rose
Don’t (for soprano,piccolo and bass clarinet)
Psalm 1 (for choir and organ)
You promised me everything last night (for soprano, piano 4 hands and cello)
Nunc Dimitis
Beowolf (for mezzo soprano and piano)

Piano: Joseph Middleton andAlisdair Hogarth
Champs Hill Records

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123
Recorded live at the Barbican Hall, London, October 2012

Lucy Crowe (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo), James Gilchrist (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass)

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & Monteverdi Choir, Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Presto Classical

Britten Songs - Vol.2

Malcolm Martineau accompanies Allan Clayton, Jennifer Johnston, Nicky Spence, Benjamin Hulett, Benedict Nelson, Elizabeth Atherton and Robin Tritschler
Onyx records

La Betulia liberata

Music by WA Mozart

Jeremy Ovenden, Marijana Mijanovic, Julia Kleiter, Franz-Josef Selig, Irena Bespalovaite & Jennifer Johnston

Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor & Münchener Kammerorchester, Christoph Poppen

Deutsche Grammophon

Everyman

Music by Sir Henry Walford Davies

Elena Ferrari, Jennifer Johnston, Andrew Staples, Pauls Putnins

London Oriana Choir; Kensington Symphony Orchestra
David Drummond (conductor)

Dutton Digital