Covent Garden, one of the world’s premier homes of opera, has beckoned Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University graduate Samuel Johnson.
Selected as only one of five, from hundreds of applicants across 58 countries, the 26-year-old baritone he will take part in the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme to receive tailored coaching and performance opportunities with The Royal Opera in London for the 2014/15 Season.
The once in a lifetime opportunity will place Samuel in the heart of the opera world as he commences his international career.
Samuel will join fellow Queensland Conservatorium alumni Kiandra Howarth and Samuel Sakker who will also take part in the Programme during the season.
Samuel recently undertook his Masters at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, under the guidance of acclaimed soloist and Head of Vocal Studies, Margaret Schindler – who spotted his talent upon meeting him 10 years ago.
“He had a fantastic energy, which he still has and that’s something special and individual about him, something he brings to each performance,” she recalls.
Director of the Queensland Conservatorium Professor Scott Harrison said he couldn’t be more pleased that “the historical strength we have in voice is not only being maintained, but now furthered to the world’s best stages by our current generation of exceptional students and graduates”.
As one of three boys, Samuel grew up in Nambour hinterland on the Sunshine Coast, an upbringing he says that largely influenced his choice of career.
“My parents were huge fans of classical music and it was listening to the greats like Pavarotti on our way to school that made me first take note of opera.”
“Fortunately, living on acreage gave me every opportunity to make as much noise as possible!
“My parents were always very supportive and even as a child as I sang out loud in the car they would tell me I could be a singer one day. It was back then that I first started thinking about it as a possible career.
“My family is now as thrilled as I am that I’ll soon be able to experience life on stage as part of one of the most renowned opera houses in the world,” he says.
Along with his family, Samuel also credits his teachers at the Conservatorium – Margaret Schindler and his Movement and Stagecraft teacher Anna Sweeney AM Hon RAM – with the success he is enjoying at this early stage of his career.
“I am extremely lucky to have received the time and care I did under their tutelage. They have had such an amazing impact on my life and influenced me greatly.”
Samuel began singing lessons early as a child before moving to Rockhampton with his family at 15. Once he completed high school he then moved to Brisbane to study at the Queensland Conservatorium.
Here he completed a Bachelor of Music with Honours before starting his Masters in Operatic Performance. Samuel is also an alumnus of the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School where he received expert coaching under some of the world’s most esteemed opera professionals, and last year he secured the role of Count Almaviva in the Conservatorium’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Samuel will leave for London this month to commence the Programme. Watch his story, which was recently featured on ABC TV.