A uniquely versatile artist, Suzanne Johnston has frequently appeared on opera, concert and recital stages throughout Australia, as well as in music theatre, cabaret and television. She made her debut in 1981 with the Victoria State Opera as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus. Her many appearances with that company have included Suzuki (Madam Butterfly),Olga (Eugene Onegin), Dulcinee (Don Quichotte) Siebel (Faust), the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Rosina (The Barber of Seville), the Secretary (The Consul), and the title role of Carmen, as well as Eliza in the VSO’s hugely successful production of My Fair Lady, opposite Anthony Warlow.
In 1985 she debuted with Opera Australia (formerly The Australian Opera) as Feodor in Boris Godunov. Since then her roles for the company have included Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro), Zerlina, Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte), Varvara (Katya Kabanova), Orsini (Lucrezia Borgia) and Urbain in Dame Joan Sutherland’s final season in Australia of Les Huguenots. New productions have included Thisbe (La Cenerentola), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Annio (La Clemenza di Tito), Tessa ( The Gondoliers), Orlofsky, Sesto (Julius Caesar), and the title roles in The Coronation of Poppea, Pericole, Carmen and Der Rosenkavalier.
Suzanne made her international debut in 1989, as Thisbe at the Salzburg Festival. In 1991 and again in 1992, she appeared as Dorabella opposite Renee Fleming’s Fiordiligi, in Trevor Nunn’s new production of Cosi fan Tutte for Glyndebourne Festival Opera under both Sir Simon Rattle and Bruno Weil.
Equally at home on the concert platform, Suzanne has performed a wide variety of repertoire with the Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, West Australian and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, and Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen with the Nederlands Dance Theatre. She has several times been a guest artist on the nationally televised Carols in the Domain and Carols by Candlelight, toured for Musica Viva, and frequently performed with the Australian Pops Orchestra.
In 1993, Suzanne received the Sydney Theatre Critics’ Circle award for Operatic Performance of the Year; a MO Award (now known as The Helpmann Awards) for Operatic Performer of the Year , and was granted a Churchill Fellowship. She has since been twice nominated for MO Awards, and has received Green Room Awards for her performances of Rosina, Thisbe, Cherubino.
Her discography includes the ARIA award winning CD “Perfect Strangers” with Judi Connelli and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Hansel and Gretel - both for ABC Classics - and a recording with the Australian Pops Orchestra.. Video recordings include Hansel and Gretel, Les Huguenots, La Cenerentola, The Gondoliers, Fledermaus & Pirates of Penzance
After singing the title role of Carmen at the Sydney Opera House and for the annual outdoor Opera in the Domain series, as well as Stephano (Romeo and Juliet) for Opera Australia in their Sydney and Melbourne seasons, she toured Australia as one of The 3 Divas, with Judi Connelli and Jennifer McGregor.
Following a season of cabaret in New York with Judi Connelli, she returned to Australia for Opera Australia as Orlofsky, followed by the title role of The Gypsy Princess, and Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffman for the company.
In 2003, Suzanne appeared again in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen, for Opera Australia, in Lindy Hume’s inspired production. Later in the year she performed the role of Hermia in Baz Luhrmann’s production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Since then she has sung the role of Fairy Godmother in Richard Gill’s realisation of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in 2011 & 2012 for Victorian Opera, and played the role of Mrs Herring in Britten’s Albert Herring for the same company in 2012, for which she won her fourth Green Room Award.
Suzanne is now a highly respected adjudicator and examiner, currently runs a successful private teaching practice, and is a sessional voice teacher at Sir Zelman Cowan School of Music, Monash University and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne.