6ABC Loves The Arts

Vocal student lands big role in opera production

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A student from Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts has just landed the biggest role of her life&the lead singer in the Opera Company of Philadelphia's latest production.

It's not only soprano Michelle Johnson's debut with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, it is her first major role with a big opera company. She graduates from AVA next month, just three weeks after the show.

Michelle Johnson is singing the title role of Manon Lescaut &Puccini's lush, period piece about a young girl sent by her father to a convent.

"She doesn't want to become a nun. She's young and she's beautiful and everyone knows she's beautiful," said Michelle Johnson, 4th Year AVA Student/Manon Lescaut.

She meets and falls in love with a handsome young student, but then is seduced by riches.

"I leave the student and travel to Paris and become basically someone's mistress. He's my sugar daddy, big poppa," said Johnson.

Last year, Johnson won the Metropolitan Opera Competition in New York City. She was offered the role of Manon after the scheduled singer became sick and had to cancel.

"Very sad for her but an awesome opportunity for me," added Johnson.

She's spending every waking hour learning the role and likens it to opera boot camp. At the end of the opera, she dies of exhaustion. In real life, she's tired but determined.

"My goal is to make a fantastic debut, make a name for myself. This is my first professional like big debut so I want it to be a memorable one," said Johnson.

The opera opens at the Academy of Music April 20th. For tickets and scheduling, go to Opera Company of Philadelphia.

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