A naturally gifted singer known for her commanding stage presence and profound artistry, Jennifer Johnson Cano has garnered critical acclaim for committed performances of both new and standard repertoire. In response to her performance as Virginia Woolf in The Hours with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera News praised her “impressive tone and dead-on pitch throughout a wide range, and a fierce command of words,” calling her “a matchless interpreter of contemporary opera.” The New York Times noted her “mellow sobriety — and, in Woolf’s darkest moments, stricken intensity.” As Offred in Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale she was lauded by the Times as “towering…restless, powerful, profound, she is as formidable as this astonishingly demanding role deserves." With more than 100 performances on the stage at The Metropolitan Opera, her most recent roles have included Nicklausse, Emilia, Hansel and Meg Page.
Cano undertakes a balance of orchestral, opera and chamber music performances each season. She appears with major orchestras and conductors, and has collaborated on numerous projects with the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel in both the US and Europe. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic in both New York and Vail, as well as the Pittsburgh Symphony and Manfred Honeck.
Highlights of Ms. Cano's 2021-22 season included performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin in a world premiere of Kevin Puts's The Hours, a debut with the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti and a return to the San Francisco Symphony for Beethoven's Ninth. She starred in the New York premiere of A Song By Mahler, a new chamber opera by Marc Neikrug at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She made operatic debuts in Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites (Mother Marie) with the Houston Grand Opera, the world premiere of Gregory Spears' Castor and Patience (Celeste) with the Cincinnati Opera and Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle (Judith) with the Roanoke Opera.
This season she performs at the Metropolitan Opera in Falstaff (Meg Page) and makes her company debut with the Atlanta Opera in Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira); she also appears with the New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony and Atlanta Symphony. Jennifer returns to the Chamber Music Society of New York, where she performs Mahler's Rückert-Lieder; and to the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in an All-Bach Program with the Gamut Bach Ensemble.
Previous operatic appearances have included Donna Elvira, Carmen and Offred with the Boston Lyric Opera; the role of the Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen with the Cleveland Orchestra and Welser-Möst; the Mother the Dragonfly, and the Squirrel in L'enfant et les sortilèges with the San Francisco Symphony; performances of El Niño with John Adams and the London Symphony Orchestra; Carmen with the New Orleans Opera and the title role in Orphée with the Des Moines Metro Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
A native of St. Louis, she earned degrees from Rice University and from Webster University, where she was honored as a distinguished alumna and commencement speaker in May 2017. Her debut recital recording with pianist Christopher Cano, “Unaffected: Live from the Savannah Voice Festival,” was recorded live and unedited. Recent recordings include a live performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony as well as Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She also recorded Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble.
Ms. Cano joined the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera after winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and made her Met debut during the 2009-10 season. Among her honors are Winner of the Young Concert Artist International Auditions, a Sara Tucker Study Grant, a Richard Tucker Career Grant and a George London Award.
“Her voice is radiant and intense, rich in the lower part of her range, bright and precise at the top, with astonishing evenness throughout. For such a commanding singer she also cuts a remarkably approachable persona on stage, and has an uncanny ability to discern and embody the character of each song.”
— Boston Globe
“Dramatic intelligence and imagination suffused every note of Ms. Johnson Cano’s performance. Endowed with an attention-grabbing dark mezzo, its depths bracing like strong coffee, she seems to thrive in the role of a storyteller.”
— The New York Times
SEPTEMBER 2022–AT THE REQUEST OF THE ARTIST, PLEASE DO NOT ALTER WITHOUT APPROVAL