Orphée emerges at Des Moines Metro Opera

In a cast of Des Moines Metro Opera debuts, Jennifer Johnson Cano was a standout (and, one hopes, a repeat performer).

As the grief-stricken husband Orphée, Cano sang with heartrending emotion while never sacrificing her rose gold vocal tone. In the opening scene, Orphée pawed at the grave of his beloved Eurydice, muddying his radiantly all-white suit. Cano also dug into each vocal line showing warmth from the top of the range to the bottom of her chest voice. Cano’s delivery of “Ah! puisse ma douleur finir avec ma vie!” while covered in falling rose petals after the famous “J'ai perdu mon Eurydice” aria was the most arresting performing of the evening.

Megan Ihnen, The Des Moines Register
Jennifer Johnson Cano at the Morgan

"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, greatly enhanced by her symbiotic interaction with her husband and accompanist, Christopher Cano.

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times
Cleveland Orchestra's 'Messiah' emerges as holiday program not to miss

“Jennifer Johnson Cano was truly stellar. She, in fact, was the complete package, a voice agile and forceful, spacious and laden with emotion. Whether proclaiming "good tidings to Zion" or distilling the anguish of Christ's rejection, she was a poignant medium.”

Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
Fine singing lifts BLO’s feminist retooling of “Don Giovanni”

No longer a mere scold and nuisance—as Don Giovanni, and some other productions, see her—Elvira took on new dimensions Friday night as Johnson Cano took full advantage of the musical resources Mozart provided, tailoring her clear, versatile voice from the spitting fury of her first rage aria “Ah! chi mi dice mai” to the excited ambivalence of “Ah, taci, ingiusto core” and the resigned forgiveness of “Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata.” Elvira is the only character in this drama who evolves noticeably during the action, and Johnson Cano, in an auspicious debut with this company, made sure the evolution was noticed. 

David Wright, Boston Classical Review
Jennifer Johnson Cano and Christopher Cano at Tertulia Chamber Music

"The Canteloube songs perhaps found Cano most in her expressive element: she is a mesmerizing actress, fully committed to her text. For the Canteloube selections, she herself translated the Auvergne dialect into English for the program notes, an accomplishment that only strengthened her connection to the songs’ characters: she knows what she is singing, why she’s singing it and to whom she is singing. As a result, she allows emotion to propel her voice into glorious moments. In “La Delaïssádo,” the shepherdess’s lover does not come to meet her, and she is devastated, as were Cano’s listeners."

"Barber’s Three Songs, Op. 10, music set to the poetry of James Joyce, found Cano’s piano and forte moments both equally warm and voluptuous. Her English diction was crisp and clear, so much so that the words printed in the program were superfluous. The Barber selections were also a demonstration of her technique and control. Her exquisite vibrato is neither too quick nor fluttery. The top of her range has no pinch or stridency, and yet she is able to deploy the depths of her range for rich, dark low notes, which allowed her to convey passion to the point of torture in “Rain Has Fallen.” It also helps that she has enormously expressive eyes and a voice that, somehow, never overwhelmed the space, despite her instrument’s size. In “I Hear an Army,” she packed the room with the feeling of a trudging soldier by means of specifically calculated rhythmic patterns and stresses."

Maria Mazzaro, Opera News
Alsop, BSO deliver riveting program of Bernstein and Beethoven

"The finale benefited from the riveting contributions of soloist Jennifer Johnson Cano. Her deep, velvety mezzo and impassioned phrasing gave Jeremiah's warnings such startling immediacy that I wouldn't have been surprised to see people in the hall ducking under their seats."

Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
'Bernstein and Beethoven' with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore

"Ms. Cano...has both a delightful singing instrument and acting chops to spare. That’s no small thing standing alone with only music to guide you. But the alternation of her smile with fist-pounding anger at the variety of Jeremiah’s declarations in Lamentations left nothing to the imagination – even, again, in the original Hebrew rather than English translation."

David Rohde, DC Metro Theater Arts
Hearing a voice on the rise

"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."

"Jennifer Johnson Cano brought to her singing a natural sense of drama and wit that never became trite. Similar flashes of nonchalance were strewn through de Falla’s “Seven Popular Spanish Songs,” along with a smoldering sense of anger in the final “Polo.” But the deepest impression was left by “Asturiana,” a melancholy song whose subject is sorrow itself. Here Cano seemed to cast aside vocal shadings and reveal something steely and pure. The effect was devastating."

David Weiniger, The Boston Globe
Minimalist approach spotlights performers in VOICE Fest's "Carmen"

"Your computer screen has nothing on sitting mere feet from Jennifer Johnson Cano as she relishes every note of the vocal score in the title role of “Carmen,” delivering the lines flawlessly as they resonate in your heart and then disappear forever."

Joshua Peacock, DO Savannah
La Calisto - Cincinnati Opera

"Jennifer Johnson Cano, also in her Cincinnati Opera debut, made a strong impression as Diana. Her voice is pure and steady, a rather dark mezzo with a good deal of flexibility. She handled the comedy and serious moments of her role with equal aplomb."

Joe Law, Opera News
Cincinnati Opera's La Calisto

"Mezzo Jennifer Johnson Cano was a formidable Diana, singing with authority and melting emotion."

Anne Arenstein, City Beat
Noseda, orchestra and fine cast make a heroic case for Met's "Chenier"

"Cano is particularly vivacious and sexy"

George Grella, New York Classical Review
Falstaff: A Massive Achievement Worthy of Its Larger-Than-Life Title Character
"Of the four women in the work, Meg is often the most overlooked. Jennifer Johnson Cano made sure that she was not overlooked on Friday night as she delivered a rather nuanced performance as Meg. She frolicked about as the women schemed in Act 3 and during the final wedding, earning furious laughter from the spectators. Her mezzo-soprano's elegance radiated throughout the theater during her select moments to shine."
David Salazar, Latinos Post
A fine ensemble cast boosts the Met's delightful fifties-era "Falstaff"
"Jennifer Johnson Cano’s mezzo gave balance to ensemble moments and she clearly had great fun with her role; she made one regret that Verdi did not give Meg Page enough solo passages."
Eric Myers, New York Classical Review
Jennifer Johnson Cano makes Carnegie Hall debut

"In a program of French, German, English and Russian, they (Mr. and Mrs. Cano) delighted, wowed, and stunned us with great theatricality and profound musicianship by pulling out all the stops, and sparing no vocal trick."

"In her Russian set, she gave us chills in her dramatic interpretation of Georgy Sviridov’s “The Virgin in the City.” As the chords churned and the text delve deeper into the story, Ms. Cano’s performance became darker and more thrilling. She kept one on the edge of ones seat as the piece drew to its climax. The music and her poetry in the text just broke your heart."

"At the end of the day, all any of this is about connecting. Taking simple dots on lines and communicating from a single person, or persons, to a group of people sitting in the dark. Simple in concept yet marvelously gratifying when executed properly. Mr and Ms. Cano not only communicated, but they touched our souls with their music."

"This is how recitals should be sung: gripping, communicative, and spellbinding."

Jake Johansen,
Three World Premières with a Side of Bartók
"Could Harbison have asked for a more compelling vocal interpreter than the young mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano? She warmly communicated the emotional impact of every phrase, employing with evident ease a vibrant, bright mezzo voice that commanded the modest confines of Sherwood Auditorium. With all of her operatic horsepower, however, she did not allow a single word of Glück’s concise text to slip by unnoticed."
Ken Herman, San Diego Story
A Master Singer Transmits Her Artistry
"The mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano demonstrated emotionally concentrated musicianship in three songs by Liszt, with fervent piano accompaniment by her husband, Christopher Cano. Her voice seems to come out of a happy nexus of heart, soul and brain that lends an authoritative weight to every note."
Corinna da Fonesca-Wollheim, New York Times
Mozart's Mass in C Minor
"Her fresh, fruity tone was a pleasure to hear; so was her effervescent phrasing. She rather gilded the lily with her “joyful” deportment in the Laudamus Te movement: the smile in her voice so completely expressed the sentiment that no special gestural emphasis was needed."

Fred Cohn, Opera News
Virginia's Woolf's Words, a Singer's Voice
"Character — individuality, a taste for risk — is the attribute some find lacking in young American singers, but Ms. Johnson Cano has it: an honesty and assurance so impressive that you want to call it bravery."

"Emotion suffused every moment of her eloquent, impassioned New York debut recital. She met with elegance and confidence all the challenges of a varied program... Hers is better than a good voice; it's an interesting one."
Zachary Woolfe, New York Times
Mezzo Soprano's Jennifer Johnson Cano's talent has depth
"Those who missed Monday's recital by the young mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater lost a rare opportunity to hear a fine talent with a promising future right at her doorstep."

"Her sweeping gestures, expansive dynamic range and myriad tonal colors reflected Woolf’s most intimate confessions, giving them an immediacy directly felt throughout the theater."

"With the first notes of Porpora's ultra-baroque homage to Jove, it was obvious that Cano has a voluminous voice with remarkable agility in her higher range and a molten contralto quality lower down, gliding between these registers with seeming ease."
Cecelia Porter, Washington Post
Two terrific singers keep COT's song cycles focused on the music
"Jennifer Johnson Cano brought a sincerity and emotional depth to these beautiful songs that made the texts' occasional excesses seem completely irrelevant."
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review
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