Suzanne Johnston, Class of 1975
Opera singer, now teacher
Suzanne Johnston has achieved the rare distinction of being recognised equally for her success in opera, music theatre, and as a concert & cabaret performer.
She made her debut in 1981 with the Victoria State Opera as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus. This was followed by numerous operatic roles, as well as Melbourne & Sydney seasons as Eliza Doolittle in the VSO’s hugely successful production of My Fair Lady, opposite Anthony Warlow. In 1985 Suzanne debuted with Opera Australia, for whom she performed over 20 major roles.
Suzanne made her international debut in 1989 as Thisbe in La Cenerentola 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. 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 has performed with each of the Australian state symphony orchestras.
Suzanne’s many accolades include a MO Award (now known as a Helpmann Award), Churchill Fellowship, and four Green Room Awards. She also won an ARIA award for the CD “Perfect Strangers” with Judi Connelli and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Video recordings include Hansel and Gretel, Les Huguenots, La Cenerentola, The Gondoliers, Fledermaus & Pirates of Penzance.
Suzanne is a highly respected adjudicator and examiner, currently runs a successful private teaching practice, and is a Teaching Associate in Voice at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne.
In October 2019 she returned to the stage to play the role of Lady Beaconsfield in the 25th Anniversary concert of Jekyll & Hyde, with Anthony Warlow & the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
What have been you career highlights?
So many, but possibly performing opposite Dame Joan Sutherland in her final Australian operatic appearance in a season of Les Huguenots.
Do you have any future plans?
Perhaps the occasional cameo performance, but my intention is to continue in my role of teacher and mentor to young singers.
What are your memories of Kilvington?
Kilvington occupies a very special place in my heart. I loved my time there, and attended from year prep right through to HSC. The skill, kindness and generosity of the teachers made an indelible impression on me, and I can remember many of them with great clarity even now. The most influential was music teacher Patsy Venn, without whose encouragement I would not have embarked on what turned out to be such a wonderful career. We are still in touch, and I recently attended her 80th birthday celebration.