Cleveland Orchestra wraps classical season in challenging, satisfying manner
There could not have been a better choice for soloist than Jennifer Johnson Cano, whose dark and lustrous mezzo-soprano and emotive power held the audience spellbound. Her extensive operatic experience allowed her to bring conviction to the text's range of emotion, from flashing anger to prayerful supplication.
Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom with Parameswaran & Cano
...the show mostly belonged to mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano. By turns stern and mournful according to the demands of the sacred text, Cano held the crowd in the palm of her hand as the orchestra faded behind her in a moment of descending pitch and volume. Her flawless final taper to silence seemed an inimitable moment of artistry, until Parameswaran conjured a conclusion of startling clarity from the orchestra.
Nicholas StevensCleveland Classical
JJC and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
The program began with Manuel de Falla’s Psyché, a sensual, nebulous song for voice, flute, violin, viola, cello, and harp. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano embodied the alluring mystery of de Falla’s work, her voice shimmering and pulsing with a languorous, almost nonchalant desire. Together, Cano and the instrumentalists created a seamless ensemble of texture and timbre.
The themes of desire and mystery continued through Ravel’s exquisite Shéhérazade. Cano captivated with her malleable musicality, bending her sizable mezzo-soprano to meet the subtle and delicate demands of Ravel’s vocal writing. Her “Asie” was full of melancholy, restless excitement of the spirit, and frustrated resignation. In “La Flûte enchantée,” Cano’s poetic sensuality was balanced by the marvelous and ecstatic playing of flutist Tara Helen O’Connor. “L’Indifférent,” the third and final song, brought Cano and pianist Alessio Bax together in an enigmatic and delicate performance, which ended, appropriately, with more questions than answers.
Steven Jude TietjenOpera News
BLO's 'Handmaid's Tale' -- Sublime Dystopia
This is Offred’s tale and opera, and Jennifer Johnson Cano delivers memorably. Rarely leaving the stage, she has mastered an emotionally fraught libretto as well as a musically challenging score. Cano brings a beautiful, shimmering pianissimo to her more introspective moments and and an impressive vocal stamina to the role’s more bombastic heights. Throughout, she skillfully conveys Offred’s grief, distrust, and reluctant persistence.
Katrina Holden-Buckleythe arts fuse
'The Handmaid's Tale' Is a Brutal Triumph as Opera
Find joy in the towering account of Offred offered here by the mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano. Restless, powerful, profound, she is as formidable as this astonishingly demanding role deserves.
David AllenNew York Times
Installation 'Handmaid's Tale' a Dramatic, Chilling Staging
I cannot imagine that preparing for a role such as Offred is particularly easy by any stretch of the imagination: in this production, the only time she ever left the stage was to facilitate a quick change after Commander Fred takes her to an illicit sex party, and she spends a good chunk of this time absolutely singing her face off. It is a role that easily rivals roles like Elektra and Brünnhilde in terms of the demands on the singer’s voice, but it also adds the challenge of having to embody a character who spends the entire work dealing with trauma while also living under patriarchal oppression, a characterization demand which would no doubt wear at the nerves of even the most steel-hearted woman.
And here, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano absolutely delivered. Her vocal stamina was something to be marvelled at considered that her voice never lost the beauty of its tone across the opera’s three-hour runtime, but more than this she dove straight into Offred as a character and physically embodied her with a brave vulnerability that cannot be underestimated. The rest of the cast amply delivered in their characterizations, but this was Offred’s story, and Jennifer Johnson Cano never let you forget this fact.
Boston Lyric Opera's powerful 'Handmaid's Tale' lands close to home
Through much of the opera, what we are observing — and marveling at — is the tour de force performance of mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano in the central part of Offred, seemingly a role she was born to inhabit. Offred is onstage for almost all of the opera’s roughly 150 minutes, singing for much of that time. In interactions with her oppressors, Offred’s vocal range is confined, and Cano adds poignant weight to each note when engaging with them. When the character is alone and free to escape into memory, the singer soars into a luminous, complex high range, letting her voice stretch toward freedom. This is her tale to tell, and she tells the hell out of it.
Zoë MadonnaThe Boston Globe
A memorable performance of a Janáček rarity from Polenzani at Zankel Hall
“Cano was excellent, letting the music flow with a pure sound and just the slightest inflection, sounding like a woman who knows the power of her beauty and wields it with honesty and love.”
New York Classical Review
Halloween Comes Early with Kallor's 'Frankenstein' and Poe
Dressed in what looked like hospital scrubs, Cano's coolly homicidal story--climaxing with the beating heart of a dismembered man (hidden beneath the floorboards) driving her over the edge--had the audience in the palm of her hand. With her fierce emotions echoing the scintillating, urgent score, she took every opportunity to bring the role to life (and death).
Richard SasanowBroadway World
Gregg Kallor's Gothic Thrillers in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery
Cano’s singing was volcanic: molten sound poured out of her. She was fearless in plumbing the depths of the Narrator’s psyche both vocally and dramatically. There were no props for her to rely on and only one lighting change, when a red wash coincided with the imagined beating of the victim’s heart that tormented her. It was just Cano and the music. She’s a voice, talent and temperament to be reckoned with.
Seen and Heard International
A Perfectly Macabre Halloween Month Extravaganza at Green-Wood Cemetery
Cano then pulled out all the stops in The Tell-Tale Heart. It was a dynamic tour de force that ultimately demanded every bit of available firepower and range-stretching technique. In between those extremes, she delivered furtive puzzlement, and grisly determination, and finally a knockout portrait of sheer madness. Whether modulating her soul-infused vibrato or belting with a crypt-shaking power, she put on a clinic in just about every emotion that could be evinced from this creepy character.
Alan YoungNew York Music Daily
ORFEO & EURIDICE at OTSL Dazzles
"Jennifer Johnson Cano seizes one of the most challenging arias in all of opera and she flies to glory with it. In an astonishing coloratura display she warbles like a skylark. She sprinkles showers of notes with laser-like precision. It's a brilliant tour-de-force."
"Jennifer Johnson Cano, a home town girl, totally owns this role, this show. She's almost always on-stage singing her heart out. She makes this a truly . . .GLORIOUS PRODUCTION."
Steve CallahanBroadway World
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents a musically outstanding 'Orfeo and Euridice'
"The opera is largely carried by its Orfeo, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, who brings a big, rich voice that’s flawlessly produced in both lyrical and fiendishly challenging coloratura passages. Dramatically, she was fully engaged, whether in mourning Euridice (she does a lot of that), charming the furies, or, finally, rejoicing. OTSL built its production around the St. Louis native, and it paid off."
Sarah Bryan MillerSt. Louis Post-Dispatch
Johnson Cano Stellar in Probing Gluck’s Mythical Vision of Love
"Johnson Cano delivers a vocally elegant Orfeo, deftly navigating her lines with appropriate color and showing no signs of strain. Clear-sounding and purposeful, she received ovation after ovation and none bigger than after her heartfelt “J’ai perdu mon Eurydice” sung in English like every OTSL production over the loss of her lover."
Santosh VenkataramanOpera Wire
A Master-Class in Poetic Nuance from Seemingly Modest Songs
"And it became clear from the rest of a program that ranged linguistically from those songs’ Occitan texts, by way of German and Spanish, to the English set by Barber, Bernstein, and the 58-year-old London-born Jonathan Dove, that her care for clarity and expressiveness of diction is unremitting, and extends to an unusually precise yet delicate way with final “r”s."
"While all these qualities revealed the widely differing musical characters of the cleverly chosen repertoire she was singing, her husband, Christopher Cano, was no whit less impressive in his command of the keyboard, responding to his scores with frequently dazzling strength of tone and lucidity of texture. Altogether the recital was something of a master-class in the realization of poetic nuance. As absorbing as the other composers’ texts were, Dove’s Tennyson poems, especially ‘O Swallow, Swallow’, instantly lifted the quality of the literary discourse to a strikingly higher level."
Bernard JacobsonSeen and Heard International
ASO excels with Kurth, Bernstein and Beethoven
"Toward the end of the operatic third movement, mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano cried, filled with rage and emotion, “Depart ye! Unclean.” In full voice, Cano uttered this judgment, then stopped, shaking with fury. In this momentary pause, she let the anger wash away; returning in the next phrase, with soft sweetness, she asked for forgiveness. In that short passage, Cano elegantly interpreted the mastery at the heart of Bernstein’s earliest symphony."
Jon RossThe Atlanta Journal Constitution
Soloists of the Metropolitan Opera (Philadelphia Chamber Music Society)
"Cano never appears to rest on the laurels of her richly expressive voice. She is an artist committed to the text as much as the music, as evidenced by the crystal-clear diction employed across the program’s broad language spectrum."
"The program closed with “D’amour l’ardente flamme” (Love’s ardent flame), Marguerite’s aria from Berlioz’s opera (oratorio, really) La Damnation de Faust. The Met has a beautiful production of this opera by Robert LePage that it hasn’t revived in nearly a decade; should they decide to bring it out of storage any time soon, they need look no further for an able Marguerite."
Stoyanova and de León deliver gripping vocalism in Met’s “Aida
The manic intensity of Jennifer Johnson Cano’s taut mezzo was captivating in her brief but memorable offstage turn as the priestess, singing the entrancing prayer to Ptah.
Eric C. SimpsonNew York Classical Review
Cleveland Orchestra & Seraphic Fire Raise The Bar Uniting With Bach And Bruckner
The Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano with her indulgence of divine voice in Canata No.34 was a piece to be cherished. Her presence was hugely welcomed by the audience.
Kumar RahulThe Classical Arts
Cleveland Orchestra, Seraphic Fire ascend the heights with Bach and Bruckner
The central aria “Wohl euch, ihr auserwählten Seelen” was superbly sung by Jennifer Johnson Cano. Cano’s lovely mezzo timbre, affinity for Baroque style and emotional projection of the text were a real luxury.