March 17, 2011
NEC Alumna Michelle Johnson One of Five Winners of Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
Wins $15,000, Career Boost in North America’s Most Prestigious Vocal Competition
Michelle Johnson ’05, a soprano from Pearland, Texas who received her undergraduate voice training at NEC, was one of five winners of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, March 13. She won a cash prize of $15,000 and the opportunity to launch a major career in what is considered the most prestigious vocal competition in North America. The winners were selected from eight finalists who performed arias with the Met Orchestra, conducted by Patrick Summers on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House.
Johnson's performance was highlighted in Anthony Tommasini's coverage of the competition in The New York Times: "There was a clear audience favorite, also a winner: Michelle Johnson...who brought gleaming sound to the meltingly lyrical aria Io son l’umile ancella from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, then sang a clean-lined and lyrically arching account of Dove sono from Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro. Though there were some breathy notes in her midrange, Ms. Johnson seems to have the vocal goods as well as star power."
Johnson, 28, who studied with Helen Hodam and William Cotten at the Conservatory (photo below of Michelle in her NEC days), appeared as Miss Jessel in NEC’s production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. She went on to receive her opera training certificate from the Boston University Opera Institute. She is currently a candidate for her Artist Diploma at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, where she has sung the title role of Suor Angelica, the Countess in Capriccio (in video clip), and Alice Ford in Falstaff. She has also sung Monisha in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha with Opera Providence, a Naked Virgin in Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron in concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with Boston’s L’Orchestra da Camera. Upcoming is Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Academy of Vocal Arts, a role she prepared with James Levine while a student at the Tanglewood Music Center. (Video clip courtesy mbjsoprano at YouTube.)
Nearly 1,500 singers between the ages of 20 and 30 years old participated in this year’s Met auditions, which are held annually in 41 districts and 14 regions throughout the United States and Canada and are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Johnson had won the New England Regional auditions before going on to the national finals in New York. As important as the cash prizes is the finalists’ chance to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on the historic opera house stage before an audience that includes opera company executives, artist managers, music critics, and other opinion-makers of the music world.
Past winners of the Met Auditions include many of today’s leading operatic artists such as Stephanie Blythe, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Ben Heppner, Hei-Kyung Hong, Samuel Ramey, and Deborah Voigt. During a typical opera season, more than one hundred alumni of the Auditions are on the Met roster.
The Grand Finals Concert was recorded for broadcast at a later date on public radio stations across the United States. Check local listings for air times.
For further information on the Auditions, check the Met website
For more information on NEC’s Voice and Opera programs, click here.
ABOUT NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY
Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.
The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.
NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall. These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.
NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.
Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115