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Susanne Mentzer
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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.

Entries by Susanne Mentzer

A Song to Sing with My Brothers and Sisters

(1) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 5:41 PM

At an impressionable age in the 1960s and into the 1970s, I longed to be a folk singer. I was too young to be in Washington for The March and I was certainly not old enough to head to the Haight. But I saw at an early age that through...

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Now and Then

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 1:33 PM

Remember wondering how in the world things might change in our world as much as they had in our parents' lifetime?

This past week Carnegie Hall started a series of live, web-streamed concerts with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato's Carnegie Hall Recital via

Podcasts are now a norm in classical...

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I'm Still Here

(7) Comments | Posted October 10, 2014 | 11:25 AM

I understand that this is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Here is my story.

When I was 19 I was swept off my very naïve feet by a funny, talented man who was 27 years older. I cannot access my frame of mind then, although I have tried many...

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Save the Met #weareopera

(6) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 3:02 PM

In the early 1970's, when I was in my tweens and early teens, my father, who was the Superintendent of Catoctin Mountain Park in central Maryland, created a type of living history center. He located craftsmen from the area who could demonstrate domestic arts that were quickly disappearing: blacksmithing, broom...

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To the Met, From the Heart

(11) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 10:40 AM

The Metropolitan Opera, formed in 1880 and the standard bearer of the art form in the United States, is in negotiations with 15 unions whose contracts expire July 31. Some of these represent the stagehands, chorus and soloists and the orchestra -- the backbone of the organization.

Much has been...

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Opera Uncensored

(1) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 2:47 PM

Rock 'n roll music on the radio. Blood-curdling screams. Gunshots. Children's laughter replaced by inmates shouting, "Bitch!" A prison guard shouting, "Show some respect! She's an f---ing nun."

This is my world of the past month. Restful sleep has been hard to come by. I have been rehearsing Jake Heggie's...

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Chew On This: Operatic Mastication

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 2:24 PM

Opera lovers have been on the edge of their proverbial seats waiting to hear the latest about yet another company having trouble. No sooner did the news of the New York City Opera bankruptcy moderately settle, and the Minnesota Orchestra go back to work, than the 49-year San Diego Opera...

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Only Human Super Humans

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 2:22 PM

Fifty years ago last weekend I sprained my neck. I was a hyper seven-year old sitting on the floor in front of our black and white console television throwing my head in circles, tossing my long hair around to the beat of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." There was discussion...

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Betting the Banner XLVIII

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 10:58 AM

This Sunday I will be molded to my sofa watching the big game, alas without the 49ers.

The betting website is reporting on activity leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl -- bets placed not on the actual game but on the length of the national anthem. They report...

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Throwing Out the Baby With the Bathwater

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 12:34 PM

The New York Observer arts critic, James Jordan, recently wrote a "good riddance" of sorts to the Metropolitan Opera's 45 year-old production of Der Rosenkavalier, which had its final performance December 13, 2013. Zachary Woolf, who writes for the New York Times, also wrote an essay on the demise of...

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Here We Go Messiah-ing

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 5:56 PM

Like most of us, I cannot think of Christmas and the holiday season without thinking of Handel's "Messiah." Blah blah blah, music of another old dead guy, you say? What is the point?

A German immigrant to England, George Frideric Handel, composed his oratorio Messiah in just 24 days....

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Obama Care and Me

(1) Comments | Posted November 14, 2013 | 11:30 AM

I am one of the fortunate in our country -- not of the one percent -- but with my career as a an opera singer/teacher that has continued for nearly 32 years and, God willing, will continue a few more. I am also a mother, I do what I love...

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What Do the NFL and Classical Music Have in Common?

(15) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 7:14 PM

I have kept pretty quiet about the most recent draining vortex of long-established classical music organizations.

I am bewildered as to how two formerly strong companies could end up in this sad situation. Last week the New York City Opera declared bankruptcy and the Minnesota Orchestra failed to come to...

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Youth That Is Not Wasted on the Young

(0) Comments | Posted August 7, 2013 | 1:17 PM

Way back in 1957 (the year I was born) a man named John Crosby had a vision that came to fruition -- the Santa Fe Opera -- giving American singers an opportunity to learn and perform new roles in a setting that allowed ample time to rehearse and prepare each...

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Extending Our Senses

(1) Comments | Posted July 28, 2013 | 11:00 AM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

As one who deals in a primal form of expression -- classical singing -- my gut response is one of anti-technology, since the sheer wonder of...

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A Reflection on My Life as a Boy

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 1:02 PM

When I was age 13 and 14, I made quilts. I was taught by a woman from the mountains of Maryland at the Catoctin Folk Crafts Center in the national park where we lived and for which my father worked. (I was also taught to spin wool into yarn and...

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Opera for the New World

(1) Comments | Posted June 27, 2013 | 2:41 PM

Opera is in effect sung theater. Opera, like theater, can be thought-provoking, historical, educational and a reflection of our society. Historically is has been used as a commentary on contemporary life. I would encourage many opera novices to look into the historical context of some of the works in the...

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(2) Comments | Posted May 12, 2013 | 6:18 PM

You know how you might see yourself in a photo and think, "Gee I look horrible" and put it away only to find it years later and think, "Wow! I looked pretty good back then?"

Thursday evening I was driving the two-hour route back home from a day of teaching...

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All About Eve?

(0) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 6:12 PM

In the past few days I have read reports, one in particular through the AP wire, that there was a last-minute casting substitution due to illness of a singer in a major American opera house. The two singers involved are people I happen to admire and like. Both are stars....

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Risë Stevens: A Brief Tribute

(1) Comments | Posted March 25, 2013 | 3:28 PM

The first eleven years of my life were spent in suburban Philadelphia in Springfield, Delaware County, to be exact. We were one of the working class families living in the numerous identical, small, brick houses of the cul-de-sac. In our living room we had a rather wide, two door, dark...

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