Press Release: Jasmine Johnson | Portland Opera Launches the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship Program

Portland Opera announces the creation of the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship program. Jasmine Johnson will be Portland Opera's first Ensemble Leaders Fellow, in tandem with the start of the company's 21/22 season.

Portland Opera is delighted to launch the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship Program—a new course of professional development opportunities for emerging opera administrators with a focus on artistic operations, production, and community engagement. The goal of the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship is to focus on delivering meaningful career advancement experiences for emerging professionals who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color.

Jasmine Johnson, an alumni of Portland Opera’s Resident Artist program, has been selected as Portland Opera’s first Ensemble Leaders Fellow; and will help develop the program in its pilot year, coinciding with the 21/22 season.

"I am so honored to be the first to start this Fellowship program,” says Jasmine Johnson. “While being a Portland Opera Resident Artist I learned so much about the company from a singer's perspective. It is truly exciting to learn how the company functions from the other side." 

Jasmine Johnson, mezzo-soprano, made her professional debut with Opera Parallèle in the world premiere of their original opera, Amazing Grace, in 2015. Committed to new music, Johnson has also collaborated with Festival Opera on developing Wang Jie’s opera, Rated R for Rat(an eco-opera). Johnson received her Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and a postgraduate diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During the 20/21 season, Jasmine was featured as a singer in the Portland Opera Resident Artist Series, as well as Journeys to Justice, and community pop-up performances. In addition to her passion for singing and music, Jasmine’s interest in community engagement, arts administration, and development has deepened her passion for opera.

“The inspiration for launching this program came from discussions surrounding our core value of ensemble and cultural equity,” explains Sue Dixon, General Director of Portland Opera. “When we talk about wanting to accomplish transformational work, and wanting to strengthen the inclusivity of our ensemble, it has to come with an investment in the future—along with immediate changes. We realized that one way we could do that is by creating this dedicated program to inspire new leadership and professional development that focuses on synthesizing what happens behind the scenes, too.”

The intention for the Ensemble Leader Fellowship Program is to grow in capacity and welcome additional fellows annually. During this inception year, the company will seek to develop the program and garner feedback from Ms. Johnson to identify repeatable and meaningful areas of focus and establish workflows interdepartmentally. This is a paid fellowship program.

For the 21/22 season, Portland Opera Ensemble Leader Fellow Jasmine Johnson will focus on various activities. She will lead a process to recenter and connect alumni of the Portland Opera Resident Artist Program, through research and conversation to recommend changes to strengthen the experience of future resident artists.  She will also work closely with the Education and Community Engagement team to assist with Portland Opera’s award-winning Opera a la Cart community program; as well as the Portland Opera To Go educational and community tours. Jasmine’s areas of focus will also include shadowing General Director Sue Dixon, as well as spending time with the External Affairs department (marketing, development, communications, and public relations). Jasmine will join the company of When the Sun Comes Out (January – February 2022) as assistant director; will serve on several company committees, and will attend the OPERA America conference in 2022, on behalf of Portland Opera. Additional activities, projects, and areas of focus will develop based on feedback and opportunity.   

Updated June 28, 2021.  A previously published version of this press release incorrectly stated that Ms. Johnson would be serving as Assistant Stage Manager for When the Sun Comes Out. Rather, she will be joining the company in the role of Assistant Director. Our apologies for the error. 

Portland Opera is supported by generous individual and institutional donors, The Collins Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Community Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Arts Education & Access Fund, Jordan Schnitzer & The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, and special support from The CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.


Interviews, photos, and more details are available upon request. 

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