Recitals, Opera & Chamber Music
Bach, Fauré, Wagner, de Falla, Bellini, Mahler, Jonathan Dove, Marc Neikrug, Gregory Spears and more
Portland, OR - Durham, NC - Pittsburgh, PA - New York, NY - Washington DC - Philadelphia, PA - Santa Fe, NM
This winter and spring, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano -- an adventurous and acclaimed singer in opera, in recital, in chamber music and as a vocalist with orchestras -- embarks on a characteristically varied assortment of performances that feature a huge range of repertoire.
Upcoming concerts include recitals with pianist Christopher Cano, featuring beloved 19th-century repertoire alongside Jonathan Dove’s contemporary song cycle based on poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay; a week-long residency at Duke University, which will include a recital, a chamber music performance and master classes; a chamber music project with pianist Simone Dinnerstein at Miller Theater in New York; chamber music in Brooklyn; Wagner’s Ring cycle with the Dallas Symphony; Marc Neikrug’s chamber opera A Song by Mahler, which she premiered in 2021; and a debut with the National Symphony in Washington as Emilia in Otello. Coming up this summer, she makes her debut with Santa Fe Opera in another world premiere role in a new opera by Gregory Spears and Tracy K. Smith, The Righteous.
Opera News called Jennifer Johnson Cano “a matchless interpreter of contemporary opera.” Sharing the stage in Philadelphia with Renée Fleming and Kelli O'Hara, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, “Cano’s portrayal of Woolf was 100% there: Every word was clear both in content and intention, and her mezzo-soprano tone was deeply alluring.” As Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale with Boston Lyric Opera, The Boston Globe marveled at her “tour-de-force performance.” As Orfeo in Orfeo and Euridice in St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch notes that—in the role that essentially carries the opera—she brought “a big, rich voice that’s flawlessly produced in both lyrical and fiendishly challenging coloratura passages.”
Winter / Spring 2024 Concert Calendar
Mon Feb 5 at 7:30 pm / Portland, OR / Friends of Chamber Music
Wed Feb 7 at 7:00 pm / McMinnville, OR / Linfield University Lively Arts Concert Series
RECITALS with Christopher Cano, Piano
In their first tour of recitals since the COVID shutdown, this husband-and-wife team present an evening of life-affirming music that traverses many languages: Italian, German, French, English and the wordless “vocalise.” For this program, Cano prepared repertoire she has not done before, including work by 19th-century Romantic composers Bellini, Grieg, and Duparc; Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise; Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder; and the 21st-century song cycle Nights Not Spent Alone, by leading English composer Jonathan Dove, whose text comes from poems by early-20th-century American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Link to Portland Event
Link to McMinnville Event
Sun Feb 11 at 4:00 pm / Durham, NC / Duke University School of Music / RECITAL
Sat Feb 17 at 8:00 pm / Durham, NC / Duke University / CHAMBER MUSIC with the Ciompi Quartet
Ms. Cano begins her week-long residency at Duke University on Sunday (Feb 11) with a recital with pianist Christopher Cano featuring songs by Bellini, Grieg, Duparc, Rachmaninoff and Jonathan Dove. The week concludes on Saturday (Feb 17) when Ms. Cano joins Duke’s resident ensemble, the Ciompi Quartet, for Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson. In between, Ms. Cano offers master classes and workshops on campus and in the community to inspire curiosity and encourage young musicians to discover their own, individual paths through their musical careers, while sharing her skills, experience and perspective.
Link to Feb 11 Event
Link to Feb 17 Event
Fri March 1 at 8:00 pm
Sun March 3 at 2:30 pm
Pittsburgh, PA / The Pittsburgh Symphony / Pablo Heras-Casado, Conductor
DE FALLA: The Three-Cornered Hat (Complete Ballet)
Jennifer Johnson Cano joins the Pittsburgh Symphony for a performance of Manuel de Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, a ballet that embodies the bright sounds of Spain mixed with the drama of love triangles. The vocal part consists of two songs woven into the orchestral score. "This is a beautiful, colorful work, full of life and I’m excited to be reunited with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Maestro Pablo Heras-Casado. We first worked together when I sang Mercedes at The Met in 2014."
Link to Event
Fri Mar 8 at 8 pm / Brooklyn, NY / Brooklyn Chamber Music Society
RAVEL: Chansons madécasses (Madagascar songs)
ROREM: Selected songs
Ms. Cano joins flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, cellist Angela Park and pianist Molly Morkoski for this fascinating vocal work by Ravel. "The great challenge of this work is finding a myriad of colors to communicate the sensuality, warning of danger and languor of the three movements," says Ms. Cano. She also sings a selection of beloved Ned Rorem songs, which she says "pair nicely" with Rorem's Trio for flute, cello and piano, which is one of the instrumental works on the program.
Bach: Flute sonata in B minor, BWV 1030
Janáček: Pohádka (Fairy Tale) for cello and piano
Ravel: Chansons madécasses for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello and piano
Rorem: Trio for flute, cello and piano
Rorem: Selected songs
Haydn: Trio for flute, cello, and piano in G major, Hob. XV:15
Link to Event
Thu Mar 28 at 8:00 pm / New York, NY / Miller Theater
Bach Collection with Pianist Simone Dinnerstein
J.S. BACH Cantata in D major Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust, BWV 170 (1726)
Ms. Cano joins the pianist Simone Dinnerstein -- called "strikingly original" by the Washington Post, and widely known for her distinctive interpretations of Bach -- for Bach's breathtaking sacred cantata Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust (Delightful repose, cherished pleasure of the soul). "I always relish the opportunity to sing Bach," says Ms. Cano, "and this cantata has been on my wish list for many years. I find the music to be profound and the messaging of searching for peace, comforting. Being invited to collaborate with Simone is such an honor and I’m greatly looking forward to working together for the first time." They are joined by oboist Peggy Pearson and violinist Rebecca Fisher in this series at Miller Theater.
Link to Event
Sun April 21 at 4:00 pm / Washington DC / The Apollo Orchestra
David Chan, Conductor
WAGNER: Wesendonck Lieder
Jennifer Johnson Cano joins The Apollo Orchestra for Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, five songs for voice and piano based on five poems by Mathilde Wesendonck, who was Wagner's mistress and, according to his account, his one true love. The Wesendonck Lieder have been a dream project of Ms. Cano's for many years, and when she was invited to perform them with The Apollo orchestra, she jumped at the opportunity. "They are stunningly beautiful," she says, "and there is always something special when singing words written by women. Also, to know that Mathilde Wesendonck and Richard Wagner had an intimate connection makes this piece feel all the more insightful and a beautiful expression of love."
Link to Event
Thu, May 2 at 6:00 pm
Sun, May 5 at 2:00 pm
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
WAGNER Ring Cycle: Die Walküre / Fabio Luisi, Music Director & Conductor
Jennifer Johnson Cano makes her debut with the Dallas Symphony, joining a cast of internationally renowned singers in the Symphony’s opera-in-concert version of Die Walküre.
Link to Event
Wed May 15 at 7:30 pm / Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
A Song by Mahler by Marc Neikrug
Pre-Concert Talk and Post-Concert Panel on Music & Alzheimer's
Jennifer Johnson Cano reprises the role she created in Marc Neikrug’s A Song by Mahler. The opera centers on the agonizing reality of two characters: a classical singer who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and her pianist husband. The title comes from Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder (“If You Love for the Sake of Beauty”), the art song that had been the singer’s signature encore. The lieder depict an aspirational love not dependent on beauty, which speaks directly to the emotional core of the opera's story.
Opera News wrote of the New York Premiere in 2021, “Jennifer Johnson Cano gave a powerful portrayal of the (unnamed) singer. What was most striking was her ability to alter the character of her voice to depict the various shades of her character's descent into illness. Her tone was warm and strong early on, and in moments of seeming, hoped-for recovery. As Alzheimer's grew in influence, her voice became thinner and paler, yet remained heartbreakingly alive.” She is joined by baritone Ryan Bradford, who plays her husband; clarinetist David Shifrin and the FLUX Quartet perform the score.
Link to Event | Composer's Note
Fri Jun 7 at 8:00 pm
Sun, Jun 9 at 3:00 pm
Washington, DC / National Symphony Orchestra – Debut
Gianandrea Noseda, Conductor
VERDI Otello / Role: Emilia
In Ms. Cano’s debut with the National Symphony, she plays her signature role of Emilia, with Mr. Noseda conducting, in this concert version of Otello.
Link to Event
Coming this summer...
Jul 13 – Aug 13, 2024
Santa Fe, NM / Santa Fe Opera – Debut
World Premiere: The Righteous by Gregory Spears & Tracy K. Smith
In the summer of 2022, Ms. Cano appeared in the world premiere of Gregory Spears’ and Tracy K. Smith’s Castor and Patience at the Cincinnati Opera. The New York Times reported that Cano, “Singing with mellow power…brought humanity and nuance to Castor’s wife, Celeste, who starts the opera pressuring him to sell [his family’s land] but ends up in as much agonized ambivalence as anyone.” In The Righteous, Cano inhabits the character of Michele, the wife of David, whose struggle to reconcile spiritual faith, power and ambition is at the center of the opera’s narrative.
Link to Event