Introduced to opera as a teenage usher at the Santa Fe Opera, Susanne
Mentzer is now one of today's foremost mezzo-sopranos, recognized for her generous vocal and interpretive gifts, and is widely admired for her versatility from the recital and concert stage to the operatic arena.
Susanne has appeared with the major opera companies, orchestras and festivals of North and South America, Europe and Japan. For over 20 years she has sung leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, and has also appeared at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera, La Scala Milan, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Cologne Opera, Opéra de Paris, Teatro Liceo Barcelona, Salzburg Festival, as well as the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and on tour in Japan with the Met, Mostly Mozart and the Bavarian State Opera.
She has collaborated with many of the world’s great conductors and singers including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Loren Maazel, Pierre Boulez and Christoph Eschenbach, Joan Sutherland, Shirley Verrett, Placido Domingo, Natalie Dessay, Deborah Voigt, Carol Vaness,Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey, to name just a few.
Her extensive discography and videography, includes: Les Contes d’Hoffmann Opéra de Paris, Ariadne auf Naxos and The First Emperor (with Placido Domingo) at the Metropolitan Opera, Don Giovanni at La Scala - all on DVD, numerous operas: Anna Bolena with the late Joan Sutherland, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Il Turco in Italia, Faust and Grammy nominated Busoni’s Arlecchino, and two recitals on CD: Wayfaring Stranger with Grammy- winning guitarist Sharon Isbin and The Eternal Feminine featuring music by women composers with Craig Rutenberg, piano.
A specialist in trouser roles, most notably for her portrayals of Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier), she is also noted for her bel canto style in her performances of Bellini’s Romeo in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi, Adalgisa in Norma, and Rossini’s heroines in Il Barbiere Siviglia and La Cenerentola. Her many Mozart roles include Idamante, Cherubino, Marcellina, Zerlina, Sesto, Annio, Dorabella and Despina. She sings many of the French heroines, including Mélisande in Debussy’s Pélléas et Mélisande, Massenet’s Dulcinée in Don Quixote, and both Prince Charming and Cinderella in Cendrillon.
Susanne has a special interest in new works and has premiered two song cycles by Libby Larsen -Love after 1950 and Sifting through the ruins both available on CD, Carlisle Floyd’s Citizen of Paradise - a monodrama on Emily Dickinson, New Mexico Fragments by Stephen Bachicha and works by Daniel Brewbaker. She also debuted the role of the Mother in Tan Dun’s Grammy-nominated The First Emperor at the Metropolitan Opera (directed by cinematic legend Zhang Yimou).
Her most recent appearances include the role of Nell Quickly in Getty’s Plump Jack with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra Munich (recorded on the Pentatone label) , Jade Boucher in Heggie’s Dean Man Walking (soon to be released by EMI) and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both with the Houston Grand Opera, and Conçepcion in Ravel’s L’heure Espagnol with the Houston Symphony. A frequent recitalist, she also performed Bernard Rand’s Now and Again with the renowned chamber group eighth blackbird, recitals in Houston, Aspen, Calgary , Santa Fe and songs of Alma Mahler with the Baltimore Symphony with conductor Marin Alsop.
Susanne’s upcoming engagements include Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Houston Ballet, chamber music with Brentano String Quartet, Così fan tutte in Kansas City, and concerts in San Diego and Madrid, and the role of the Beggar Woman in Sweeny Todd with Opera Theatre St Louis.
Born in Philadelphia, raised in Maryland and New Mexico, Susanne received her BM and MM from The Juilliard School. Her operatic training was with the Houston Opera Studio. A mentor to young singers she serves on the boards of The George London Foundation and The W.M. Sullivan Foundation, is a Professor of Voice at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, and taught at DePaul University in Chicago and the Aspen Music Festival and School. Susanne also has raised over one million dollars for Alexian Brothers Bonaventure House in Chicago, a residence for homeless people with AIDS.