This week mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston
will make her debut at Teatro alla Scala Milan
, creating the role of Gaia (Mother Earth) in a world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s new opera, CO2
conducted by Cornelius Meister.
Inspired by Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, CO2 explores the self-destructive nature of our society on the planet. The opera is set in the future: a ‘terminally-ill’ earth is in its death throes while human beings remain either indifferent or powerless to change. With a backdrop of the Kyoto Conference, No-Global demonstrations, endangered species, cities at the mercy of hurricanes, civilizations exposed to the risks of climate change, the dumb indifference of the irresponsible, and the ignorance of the impotent masses, CO2 reflects the sad and shocking reality of our planet’s inevitable demise at the hands of the human race.
A noted singer of contemporary music, Jennifer has performed and recorded a number of world premieres, including Anthony Payne’s orchestration of Vaughan Williams’ Four Last Songs with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä at the BBC Proms. She has sung Copland’s In The Beginning with the BBC Singers broadcast live on Radio 3, Rorem’s Evidence of Things Not Seen at the London Song Festival and two song cycles by Cheryl Frances Hoad recorded for Champs Hill Records. She also sang the role of Lady de Hautdesert in Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s 1991 opera Gawain at the Salzburg Festival in 2013 (The Times commented: “From Jennifer Johnston’s enigmatic, elegant Lady de Hautdesert…the women were outstanding.”).
This season’s highlights include Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung under Kirill Petrenko and Hedwige in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell under Dan Ettinger, all at the Bayerische Staatsoper. She also sings Margret in Berg’s Wozzeck with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Mendelsohn’s Elijah with the Bach Choir and the RPO, and Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder and Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 under Antonio Méndez with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at the Evian Festival in France.
Looking ahead, she will return to La Scala for The Turn of the Screw
and Salzburg Festival for Die Liebe der Danae
as well as many concerts and recitals throughout Europe and beyond.
> Teatro all Scala website