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American mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer is highly regarded not only as an international singer but also as a writer, teacher and arts advocate. She enjoys a significant opera, concert, chamber music and recital career of over thirty years appearing on four continents with nearly every great opera house and orchestra. She has been a guest artist at the Metropolitan Opera in leading roles since 1989, most recently as Marcellina in the new production of Le Nozze di Figaro in the fall of 2014. She returns to the Met in February and March of 2016. International appearances include at La Scala, The Salzburg Festival, Opéra de Paris, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Teatro Colon, Teatro Liçeu, Wiener Staatsoper and more. Susanne recently added some new roles to her repertoire; as Mrs. Patrick DeRocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd with Opera Theatre St. Louis and Nellie in Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights which has also been recorded for commercial release and as Augusta Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe at Central City Opera summer 2016.  Operatically, she has specialized in music Mozart, Berlioz, Rossini and Richard Strauss and

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American mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer is highly regarded not only as an international singer but also as a writer, teacher and arts advocate.

She enjoys a significant opera, concert, chamber music and recital career of over thirty years appearing on four continents with nearly every great opera house and orchestra. She has been a guest artist at the Metropolitan Opera in leading roles since 1989, most recently as Marcellina in the new production of Le Nozze di Figaro in the fall of 2014. She returns to the Met in February and March of 2016. International appearances include at La Scala, The Salzburg Festival, Opéra de Paris, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Teatro Colon, Teatro Liçeu, Wiener Staatsoper and more.

Susanne recently added some new roles to her repertoire; as Mrs. Patrick DeRocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd with Opera Theatre St. Louis and Nellie in Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights which has also been recorded for commercial release and as Augusta Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe at Central City Opera summer 2016. 

Operatically, she has specialized in music Mozart, Berlioz, Rossini and Richard Strauss and was widely admired as a specialist in trouser roles, most notably for her portrayals of Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Idamante in Idomeneo, der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. and Romeo in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi. She has also appeared in many notable female roles - Dorabella, Despina, and in the bel canto repertoire as Rosina, Angelina in La Cenerentola ,Adalgisa in Norma, Giovana Seymour in Anna Bolena, Giulietta in Verdi’s Un Giorno di Regno

Her extensive discography includes over 25 CDs of opera and oratorio and songs. Her most recent project is a recording of songs by the legendary American opera composer Carlisle Floyd released on Roven Records through Naxos. This included a mono-drama she premiered about Emily Dickinson. She has recorded two other recitals she also performs in concert: The Eternal Feminine, a recital of music by women composers (Koch International Classics) which includes the premiere of Libby Larsen's Love After 1950 with her long-time pianist, Craig Rutenberg; and her personal favorite, Wayfaring Stranger - a collection of international folksongs arranged for voice and guitar with Grammy Award-winning Sharon Isbin. She also received a Grammy nomination for her work as Colombina in Busoni's Arlecchino. She is on the recent releases of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and Plump Jack by Gordon Getty. Susanne appears on DVDs of Les Contes dHoffmann (Opéra de Paris), Don Giovanni (La Scala), and Grammy nominated The First Emperor by Tan Dun (Metropolitan Opera), and Ariadne auf Naxos (Metropolitan Opera). She has appeared numerous times on PBS as part of the Live from Lincoln Center and Live from the Met programs and the Met Cinema broadcasts.

As a recitalist Susanne has appeared in recital on the Great Performers series at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel halls, NY Festival of Song, Tisch Center for the Arts, Morgan Library, Town Hall, Tannery Pond, Schubert Club St. Paul, Kennedy Center, Vocal Arts Society- DC, Spivey Hall Atlanta, Schwartz Hall at Emory, Santa Fe Concert Association, Aspen Music Festival, Aspen Winter Music, Wyatt Artist in Residence Series-Calgary, Ravinia Festival, Ann Arbor University Music Society, Oberlin College, and others. 

A proponent of women composers and new works, her interest in contemporary music has led her to premiere two song cycles by Libby Larsen: Love after 1950 and Sifting through the Ruins both released on CD. She premiered Living the Divine - a cantata for children’s choir, percussion and voice, and The Journey - 5 songs for strings and voice both by Daniel Brewbaker, Carlisle Floyd’s Citizen of Paradise-a mono-drama based on poems and letters of Emily Dickinson, and Stephen Bachicha’s New Mexico Fragments, a work she commissioned in 2010. She also performed Bernard Rand’s Now and Again with 8th blackbird and sang the American premiere of Stabat Mater by Italian composer Matteo d’Amico.

As a chamber musician she has collaborated with the Orion, American and Brentano String quartets, and has appeared with Chamber Music Lincoln Center, Music in the Vineyards, Music from Angel Fire, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, DaCamera Houston, and Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Chicago Symphony Chamber Musicians, Chicago Chamber Musicians, University of Chicago Chamber Music, Rembrandt Chamber Musicians, and Music@Menlo and the NY Philharmonic Chamber Musicians. Additionally she collaborated with faculty at Rice University and at the Aspen Music Festival.  

Ms. Mentzer is a teacher and mentor to young singers and as she continues to actively perform she feels a kinship with her students. She resides in the San Francisco Bay area teaching privately after twelve years in academia as a Professor at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and DePaul University in Chicago. She also served as faculty at the Aspen Music Festival and School and has been a guest teacher at the San Francisco Opera’s Merola program, the Castleton Festival and frequently gives master classes in conjunction with her engagements. She has been on the faculty of Songfest at Coburn for three years and plans to return in 2017. She also taught at The Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy in July 2015. She regularly adjudicates competitions and serves on the Board of Directors of The Sullivan Foundation and The George London Foundation which each give awards to promising young singers. 

Susanne spent her early years in Philadelphia, then moving to in Maryland and Santa Fe, NM where she fell in love with opera as a teenage usher at the Santa Fe Opera. After two years pursuing a degree in music therapy she transferred toThe Juilliard School where she received her Bachelor and Master degrees studying with the late Rose Bampton. She was trained in the Houston Opera Studio where she studied under Norma Newton.

Susanne is also a writer and contributes regularly to the Huffington Post.  Her outspokenness about vocal health has earned her the VERA Award 2013  (Voice Education Research Awareness) from The Voice Foundation. Past awardees include Julie Andrews and Diane Rehm. In her writing Susanne has also been forthcoming about her experience with domestic abuse which has led her to participate in a gala at Carnegie Hall with Music4Life International  which benefits the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.  She received the Alexian Brothers USA Thelan Award for her help raising over one-million dollars through gala concerts for the AIDS cause in Chicago.  Susanne continues to participate in charitable events. 

Read more about Susanne at susannementzer.com

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Reviews

"Mentzer was a charismatic Dido, unspooling Purcell's long, slow melodies in a mezzo voice subtly textured with smoke and golden fire."

Chicago Sun-Times

"And veteran mezzo Susanne Mentzer, who has lately made Despina a signature role, makes the maid the major mover in the story. Given her current ability one asks why she quit singing Strauss' Octavian, a role that she sang with splendor in Santa Fe only a decade ago."

The Daily Camera

"[Susanne Mentzer] invested Dido's desolate lament, ‘When I am laid to Earth,’ with vibrant intensity and a tragic pathos that made her imperious fury when scorned as palpable as the fierce pride she unleashed when the conflicted Aeneas recanted his decision to leave her."

Chicago Tribune

"Susanne Mentzer embodied the overly sensitive Composer in hilarious fashion, while her elegant voice set the tone for the entire opera."

Opera News

"The fabulous mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer sang the Composer. She excels at trouser roles, where her character is male. Mentzer…is superb regardless of the gender of her roles because she uses beautifully colored voice with dramatic insights and acts with a vivid range that includes many levels of subtlety."

Pittsburgh Tribune

"Mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, as the naïve lover Marguerite, sang with darkly luminous tones, delivering a rapturous ‘Romance’ song - perhaps foremost among the evening’s highlights."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"The mezzo’s vocally impeccable, emotionally compelling performance proved that she is among the premier art-song interpreters of our day. Her rich, vibrant sound retains its warmth from top to bottom and throughout its broad dynamic range, and she draws the listener into the spirit of each song with a deep internal connection that creates distinctive characters with a minimum of outward display."

Opera News

"Susanne Mentzer's performance as Joseph's mother was heart-wrenching. Mrs. De Rocher is not an educated woman, and plainly not of the same socio-economic class as the families of the victims, but she eloquently speaks at her son's pardon hearing, wondering how his death can make anything right for anyone. She firmly wants to believe her son is not guilty, and will not listen to his apologies. And Ms. Mentzer sings the role with confidence and beauty."

Huffington Post

"Susanne Mentzer's warm, evenly produced mezzo tones filled out the melodic lines elegantly, achieving particularly beautiful results in "Waldseligkeit" and the disarmingly conversational "Bei dir ist es traut," with its sense of internalized rapture at the close."

Baltimore Sun

"Ms. Mentzer’s appearance as a fellow grieving parent amounted to luxury casting"

New York Times

"..but if you want a graduate seminar in operatic stage artistry, I suggest you keep your eyes trained on mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. Formerly a distinguished Cherubino, she has graduated to the matronly role of housekeeper (and, it is revealed, Figaro’s mother) and turns the part into a model of comic portrayal without upstaging her colleagues."

Santa Fe New Mexican

"Soprano Susanne Mentzer, as De Rocher's confused, heartbroken mother, pleads for her son's life before the parole board. It's a moving portrayal, beautifully sung."

Capitol Times, Madison, WI

"The veteran mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer makes a more youthful-seeming and sassy Marcellina, which enhanced her dealings with Figaro, who, in the opera’s biggest plot twist, turns out to be her lost son. (Bartolo is his father.)"

New York Times

"In a lengthy career, Susanne Mentzer has specialized in the trouser roles of Mozart and Strauss as well as forays into the bel canto of Bellini and Rossini. More recently she has sung character roles. Mentzer’s mezzo-soprano has grown darker but it is still impressive. Her evocation of heartbreak in autumn was spun with warmth and fervor and she captured the joy and darker subtext of the song about maidens picking flowers. In the final setting’s farewell to life, Der Abschied, her voiced soared as she conveyed in supple, radiant tones the anguish and loneliness of the protagonist. Deeply emotional and expressive, Mentzer uttered the final lines almost in a whisper over the tinkling celesta. "

Miami Herald