Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Birthday: Mary Jane Johnson

Mary Jane Johnson was born March 22, 1950, in Pampa, Texas. She graduated Pampa High School in 1968 and went on to take voice lessons with Rachel Carmen Johnson at Amarillo College. She eventually graduated from Texas Tech University in 1972 with a B.A. in Music Education. Her first big musical break came in 1986 as the first prize winner of the "Pavarotti Competition" which led to her role as Musetta in La Bohème with the Opera Company of Philadelphia. The Rodolfo for those performances was Luciano
Pavarotti and the opera was telecast on PBS. The Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico is one of the most important companies in the soprano's career. It was here that she sang in J. Strauss's Die Fledermaus (Rosalinde - 1982), R. Strauss's Die liebe der Danae (Xanthe - 1982), Britten's Turn of the Screw (Miss Jessel - 1983), Korngold's Violanta (Violanta - 1984), Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (Countess Almaviva - 1985), Puccini's La Fanciulla del West (Minnie - 1991 & 1995), Puccini's Tosca (Tosca - 1995), R. Strauss's Salome (Salome - 1995), R. Strauss's Elektra (Elektra - 2000) and Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Berta - 2005). She made her Metropolitan Opera debut singing Minnie in La Fanciulla del West on April 4, 1992. Her only other onstage performance with the company was as Emilia Marty in Janáček's Věc Makropulos on January 27, 1996. Other major roles in her repertoire that she performed include Verdi's
Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk (Katarina Ismailova), Verdi's Falstaff (Alice Ford), Wagner’s Die Walküre (Brünnhilde), Beethoven's Fidelio (Leonore), Verdi's Un Ballo on Maschera (Amelia), Verdi's Otello (Desdemona) Wagner's Der Fliegender Holländer (Senta) and R. Strauss's Die Frau Ohne Schatten (Empress). She also took on the title roles in R. Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos and Puccini's Turandot. She has sung in some of the world's most prestigious opera houses including Teatro alla Scala, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Bologna's Teatro Communale, Dallas Opera, Deutsche Opera am Rhein, New Israeli Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Welsh National Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Australian Opera Company, Arizona Opera, Municipal Theatre of São Paulo, Washington Opera, Prague State
Opera, Atlanta Opera, Teatro Colón, Municipal Theatre of Santiago and De Nederlandse Opera. She also sang extensively with Canadian opera companies in such cities as Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Career highlights include working with Maestro Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony on a concert version of Fidelio that went on to be performed at Carnegie Hall in New York. She also sang the role of Freia in Das Rheingold with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Sir Georg Solti. Other distinguished orchestral appearances include concerts in Naples with the RAI Orchestra, in California with the San Francisco Symphony and in Torre del Lago at the Puccini Festival. In addition to her early appearance on PBS, she was also part of the nationally televised Pavarotti Plus Gala, Live from Lincoln Center and the CBS Sunday Morning with Charles
Kuralt. Since 2000, Mary Jane Johnson has been an Artist Professor at Amarillo College. From 2001-05, she was a staff vocal coach at The Santa Fe Opera. She was also Artistic Director of the Taos Opera Institute, along with Linda Poetschke, from June 2008-11. She currently resides in Amarillo, Texas, with her husband David, whom she met while attending Texas Tech University, and their two children Taylor and Greer. Recently Mary Jane launched her one-woman show Diva Does Broadway and released the CD “Scenes & Arias.” [Source, Source, Source, Source]

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