A native of Pampa, TX, Mary Jane Johnson is considered one of opera’s premiere interpreters of the dramatic soprano repertoire. She has received international acclaim for her portrayals of Minnie (La fanciulla del West), Emilia Marty (The Makropoulos Case), Katarina Ismailova (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), and Senta (Der fliegender Holländer), as well as the title roles in Turandot, Tosca, Salome, and Elektra. Her career spans five continents and features performances with many of the world’s premiere opera companies, including The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Opera Bastille, Teatro Colon, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Teatro San Paulo, San Francisco Opera, Netherlands Opera, Washington National Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Montreal Opera, Vancouver Opera, and Santa Fe Opera.
Ms. Johnson made history with her debut in The Makropoulos Case with the Prague Opera House and the Prague Festival, being the first non-Czech artist to perform a Czech opera in the National Theatre. Her career skyrocketed after she appeared with Luciano Pavaortti in the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s televised performance of La Bohéme, singing the role of Musetta. Other career highlights include appearances on the nationally televised Pavarotti Plus Gala, Live from Lincoln Center, and CBS Sunday Morning.
In addition to her acclaimed performances of some of opera’s most demanding roles, Ms. Johnson has enjoyed equal success on the recital and concert stages. She has appeared with the Pittsburgh Symphony at Carnegie Hall, under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel, in Beethoven’s Fidelio, and performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as Freia in Das Rheingold, conducted by Sir Georg Solti. Other orchestral appearances include concerts in Naples with the RAI Orchestra and performances with the San Francisco Symphony.
While still active on the concert stage, Mary Jane’s primary focus is now dedicated to passing on her extensive knowledge and experience to the next generation of opera singers. She maintains an ongoing relationship with the Santa Fe Opera, where she was an Artist in Residence. Mrs. Johnson has also served on the voice faculties for McMurray University and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS), in Graz, Austria. Mary Jane retired for her long-standing position with Amarillo College in the fall of 2021. In 2022, Mary Jane retired from her co-founded company, The Taos Opera Institute, where she fostered the talents of aspiring opera signers from around the globe for more than 15 years. She now serves as an advisor to the company.
Mrs. Johnson currently serves full-time as the General and Artistic Director of the Amarillo Opera in Amarillo, TX. Amarillo Opera is currently enjoying it's 5th season at her helm.