top of page

IN THE PRESS

REVIEWS

MAHLER'S THIRD SYMPHONY

Klaus Mäkelä / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

The ovations seemed never ending...not only in the middle movements did her rely on the excellent sound of his orchestra and the famous soloists. Jennifer Johnston intoned Nietzsche's 'O Mensch' eloquently with her warm-timbred mezzo-soprano."

Kurier

VERDI'S REQUIEM

Vasily Petrenko / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

"Two of the four soloists impressed: Jennifer Johnston, who recently stepped in bravely at the last moment to salvage a Duke Bluebeard's Castle at English National Opera, was always a delight to the ear with her commanding, rich tone and very clear diction."

Backtrack

MAHLER'S EIGHTH SYMPHONY

Semyon Bychkov / NDR Elbphilharmonieorchester

"Jennifer Johnston found rich layers of colouring for her Maria Aegyptiaca."

Bachtrack

 

BARTOK - BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE

Lidiya Yankovskaya / English National Opera

"Much of it sounds formidable. Johnston, in a long-overdue ENO debut, makes an outstanding Judith, carefully matching vocal inflection to Lord's physical gestures, her tone caressingly beautiful in moments of affection, manipulative or otherwise, but turning from honey to steel in a flash as her demands for Bluebeard's keys become terrifyingly insistent."

The Guardian 

"Jennifer Johnston saves the day in fiery Bartók...At late notice, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston stepped in, making her overdue company debut with singing of fierce intelligence and magnificent beauty. Standing static, to one side of the stage, she nonetheless conjured immense, chilling drama, never overwhelmed by the orchestra...torn as we were between watching the compelling Johnston and the equally magnetic Crispin Lord (an ENO staff director), sensuously and seductively walking the role of Judith."

The Observer

"She deserved every rousing cheer she received. Not a beat missed, not a Hungarian word out of place. And she delivered a riveting musical performance - one of extraordinary power, beauty, subtlety and intelligence."

Opera Magazine

"Jennifer Johnston jumped in, a singer of startling force (with a pinging top C)."

The Times

"But full marks for bold ingenuity in the face adversity: in the absence of the billed Judith, the role was split between Jennifer Johnston, heroically singing the role on stage while willowy assistant director Crispin Lord acted the part, giving a sinister twist to her relationship with Bluebeard."

The Telegraph

"That Johnston was able to sing Judith with such conviction and energy with so little notice is a testament to her artistry. A range of emotions - fear, naivety, force and passion - were all thrillingly evoked, a sense of narrative constantly present in the voice, which thrilled at the top...Quite a way to make a house debut!"

Bachtrack

"Both Relyea and Johnston bring voices of complex colours and ample size to proceedings, flooding the theatre with tone and riding easily over Bartok's outsize orchestral accompaniment."

The Stage

"Jennifer Johnston sang the part with searchlight intensity."

The Spectator

MAHLER'S EIGHT SYMPHONY

Kirill Petrenko / Bayerisches Staatsorchester

"Jennifer Johnston: warmth, kindness, class. All together: wonderful."

SudDeutsche Zeitung

MAHLER'S THIRD SYMPHONY

Klaus Makela / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

"Mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston sounded equally comforting and richly filled the room in 'O Mensch, Gib Acht'."

De Volkskrant

"Jennifer Johnston calmed the troubled waters...her diction was so awesome the 'sssh' of 'O Mensch' resonated at the back of the auditorium. I felt the pain as she leaned into the falling figure and only the beautiful responses from the violin, principal horn and the oboe's amazing glissandi could bring us salvation."

Bachtrack 

“Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston also delighted the audience with her confident yet refined performance, her interventions bringing legendary sophistication to this difficult opus.”

Nationalul

“the exceptional mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston.”

European Business Review

JUNO / HANDEL'S SEMELE

Vaclav Luks / Glyndebourne Festival 

July / August 2023

"The vengeful Juno, Jove's wife, a role superbly inhabited by Jennifer Johnston...And, displaying impeccable timing, Johnston's Juno relishes her revenge." 

The Times

"Joelle Harvey and Jennifer Johnston are ravishing...Both mezzos are outstanding, with Johnston's formidable hauteur superbly contrasted with Wake-Edwards' passionate intensity."

The Guardian

"The drama centres, though, on Semele and her vengeful antagonist, Juno...Jennifer Johnston brings all the requisite authority and technical skill to leave her regal stamp on Jove's power-dressing consort."

The Stage

"Jennifer Johnston's Juno is so formidable that I wish she had more to sing."

Daily Mail

"Jennifer Johnston makes a scarily imperious Juno."

Observer

"Jennifer Johnston - despite the apparent absence of any directorial input - conveys Juno's vehement desire for vengeance with commanding focus, delivering the heated recitative with which she makes the drowsy Somnus...with delicious dastardliness."

Opera Today

"Juno (Jennifer Johnston, dressed like a peacock, with Flash Gordon headwear) gurgles with pantomime malice as she plots their downfall with her sidekick Iris...The singing hits the spot throughout - from the moments when Johnston reveals her full vocal majesty to the grumpy, half-mumbled aria of the sleep-god Somnus."

Spectator

VERDI'S REQUIEM

Thomas Sondergard / Royal Scottish National Orchestra

09/06/23

"By far the strongest of the soloists was mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, who sang with extraordinary vitality."

Bachtrack

"Mezzo Jennifer Johnston... was on commanding form." 

Herald

'The magnificent mezzo Jennifer Johnston."

Scotsman

MAHLER'S SECOND SYMPHONY

Vasily Petrenko / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

30/03/23

"You couldn't have asked for more from the singers. Jennifer Johnston was nothing less than sublime in Urlicht, bringing the audience from the melancholic depth of humanity's pain and need, in her resonant chest voice, to the radiant hope of everlasting life in her upper register."

Backtrack

CHAUSSON'S POEME DE L'AMOUR ET DE LA MER

Bertrand de Billy / London Philharmonic Orchestra

25/02/23

"We got mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, who demonstrated clearly why the piece works brilliantly with a voice with a slightly lower core. Much of the vocal writing is in the part of the voice where a firm and velvety middle register is needed and Johnston's singing was textually alert and pointed, and both expansive and voluptuous. She was clearly relishing the Wagnerian influences of Chausson's writing."

Classical Source 

MAHLER'S EIGHTH SYMPHONY

Vasily Petrenko / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

23/10/22

"Some especially lyrical vocal writing is given to the mezzo-soprano, persuasively sung by Jennifer Johnston."

Observer

"The solo singers were somewhat uneven, but outstanding contribution from mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston..."

iNews

VERDI'S REQUIEM - FIRST NIGHT OF THE PROMS

Sakari Oramo / BBC Symphony Orchestra

BBC Two, BBC Radio 3

15/07/22

"Jennifer Johnston's polished, grave mezzo-soprano was unfailingly musical." 

The Times

"Soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston stole the show...Jennifer Johnston's rendition of the Liber Scriptus and tender Recorder was beautifully done."

The Telegraph

"Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston was fearless in the 'Liber Scriptus', her voice ringing out thrillingly, ably accompanied by some sonorous brass playing. Johnston was equally effective in the Recorder, her voice blending superbly with soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha."

MusicOMH

"By contrast, Jennifer Johnston showed the flexibility and intensity that Verdi expected of his mezzo-sopranos. Her duets with Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha shimmered like exquisite jewels."

Evening Standard

MAHLER'S SECOND SYMPHONY

Santu-Mattias Rouvali / Philharmonia Orchestra

BBC Radio 3 & on disc

08/06/22

"The soloists are all first rate, from judgment-day horn and trombone to world-class mezzo Jennifer Johnston.”

BBC Music Magazine

"The standard of orchestral playing was mostly exemplary up until the end of the third movement, but from the moment mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston began singing 'Urlicht' with achingly beautiful tone, and scrupulous attention to the text, vocal colours, and dynamics, the entire performance shifted up a gear, and remained on an exalted level until its shattering close. Too much of a stranger in her own land - scandalously she's yet be invited to sing in either of London's opera houses - this hugely talented mezzo from Liverpool possesses a voice of rare quality - richly bronzed, and even throughout its range. Her finely poised, pitch-perfect interpretation of 'Urlicht' held the packed audience in thrall."

MusicOMH

" 'Urlicht' can sometimes - possibly more often than not - leave me rather cold in many live performances. Not here. The mezzo Jennifer Johnston was spellbinding - again almost stereophonic in that way in which a halo of rich sound seemed to surround her, most of it her own magnificent voice like a crown wrapped in gold and velvet."

Opera Today

MAHLER'S THIRD SYMPHONY

Klaus Makela / Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

10/05/22

"Jennifer Johnston, breathtaking, made Nietzsche's text sparkle with a perfectly controlled voice and a diction that would make the most finicky linguists blush."

Forum Opera

"In the fourth movement, Jennifer Johnston, placed in the middle of the first violins, lives up to the preceding pages. Her dark timbre, without the show being closed, is perfect, the noble vocals, the power and the legato serve the text best. Magnificent."

ConcertoNet

A LOVE LETTER TO LIVERPOOL  - DEBUT SOLO ALBUM

RUBICON CLASSICS

Alisdair Hogarth - piano

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir

Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company 

"A fierce, big-hearted and atmospheric tribute to Johnston's home city, celebrated in rewardingly unsoupy arrangements of popular, romantic, traditional and Beatles songs - Johnston handles them all with rich colours, elegance and feeling...I have no claims on Liverpool, this disc made me wish I had."

The Observer

"A seamless musical panorama, exquisitely sung throughout. A beauty."

The Sunday Times

ARTICLES
5657B2C7-9315-4CFA-982E-A5F4A4752914.jpe

'GO AND DO SOMETHING USEFUL'

14 OCT 2020 - THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

'When lockdown began, live music stopped and my career as an opera singer ground to a halt. I've tried to hold on to a nugget of hope that the arts won't be allowed to fall over the edge of a cliff into a bottomless abyss. But that hope has been steadily chipped away..."

4378.jpg

'A NEW LOW? WOMEN IN OPERA NEED CHANGE, BUT SINGING TENOR ROLES ISN'T IT.'

06 MAR 2018 - THE GUARDIAN

'The suggestion that women can take on traditionally male roles at pitch ignores the nature and limits of our voices. A new campaign offers a better route to greater industry inclusion'

5760.jpg

'YES, CLASSICAL MUSIC HAS A HARASSMENT PROBLEM– AND NOW'S THE TIME FOR CHANGE.'

08 DEC 2017 - THE GUARDIAN

'The cult of the maestro has both nurtured great performances and led to abuses of power. The industry needs a code of conduct – and a change of culture – or its future is at stake, writes mezzo Jennifer Johnston'

4100.jpg

'ARE OPERA SINGERS NOW TO BE JUDGED ON THEIR LOOKS NOT THEIR VOICE?'

19 MAY 2014 - THE GUARDIAN

'A storm of protest has erupted over critics’ disparaging comments about a Glyndebourne singer’s size and shape. If there is a line over which opera critics should not step, then it is into the realms of a singers’ personal appearance, writes mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston '

Untitled.jpg

'We must not let Music Education become extinct'

27 MAY 2018 - SWAP'RA BLOG

'Music education in the UK has hit crisis point. An open letter published in the Guardian, signed by over 100 leading artists, expresses grave concerns about the exclusion of arts and creative subjects from the new English baccalaureate (Ebacc) for secondary school children, which they believe will seriously damage the future of many young people in this country'

bottom of page