Portland Opera has announced the launch of its Ensemble Leader Fellowship Program, meant to provide meaningful career advancement experiences for emerging professionals of color.
The company has named Jasmine Johnson as its very first Ensemble Leaders Fellow during their upcoming 21-22 season and will help develop the program in its pilot year. An alumnus of PO’s Resident Artist program, Johnson is a mezzo-soprano who made her professional debut in 2015, with the world premiere of Opera Parallele’s original work “Amazing Grace.” Last season with PO, Johnson was featured in community pop-up performances, their Resident Artist Series, and their “Journeys to Justice” program.
“I am so honored to be the first to start this Fellowship program,” Johnson said in a press release. “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.”
“The inspiration for launching this program came from discussions surrounding our core value of ensemble and cultural equity,” Sue Dixon, General Director of Portland Opera, added. “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.”
Johnson will work on a number of matters, such as leading a process to recenter and connect previous company alumni to enhance the experience of future resident artists; working with Education and Community Engagement team to assist in PO’s “Opera a la Cart” community program and “To Go” educational and community tours; and serving as assistant stage manager of their production of “When the Sun Comes Out,” among other duties.