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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

#TalkToMe -- an Actor Son Questions His Opera Singer Mom

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2016 | 12:31 PM

I was so moved by participating in the the #TalkToMe project, especially with Mother's Day coming up on May 8, 2016. My 27-year-old son, Ben Landmesser, is an actor in Los Angeles and had some interesting questions of me as an artist and as a son. Background information: His father...

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Travelers Lament

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2016 | 5:44 PM

In the film Grand Hotel Greta Garbo, portraying a ballet dancer on the road, has her famous lines: "I am tired" and "I want to be alone". I get it. I really do.

Recently a colleague was commenting on how blue he was anticipating the travel ahead- even for...

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For a Song

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2016 | 1:42 PM

This past week I had the privilege to perform some songs by the composer Gustav Mahler. His music has spoken to me since I first discovered it while in college. The reason for this sometimes hard to articulate; his choice of words, musical phrases, the joy of singing some of...

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My Life and Guns

(0) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 11:49 AM

Writing about the arts seems light-weight at the time of extreme violence. I cannot sit silently anymore regarding the tragic events of the past few days in San Bernardino, Paris and elsewhere.

I would like to share a little about guns and my life.

I have a gun in my...

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Opera's Blurred Lines

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2015 | 8:05 AM

I just completed a week singing chamber music and song repertoire that was composed for men. It was a bit of a struggle because the vocal part, even though an octave higher, still did not sit quite right. It made me think of gender and what I do. Much song...

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"In Their Own Words," Part III

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2015 | 2:53 AM

Ideas and Answers- PART III of a 3-part series on the Black Classical Singer experience.

"And in so many ways, that never-failing miracle -- the constant work to rise above the bumps in our path to greater freedom for our brothers and sisters -- that has always been the story...

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PART 2: The Black Classical Singer Experience

(4) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 11:01 PM

In Their Own Words Part 2: Attitude

Some of the Black singers with whom I have been conversing asked why I chose to write about the topic of the Black experience and classical music.

I am not a sociologist. I am an opera singer and a...

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In Their Own Words Part I- The Black Classical Singer Experience

(2) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 10:18 PM

Please note: This is Part I of a three-part article. Stay tuned.


"Because here's the thing -- the road ahead is not going to be easy.  It never is, especially for folks like you and me.  Because while we've come so far, the truth is that those age-old...

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Breaking the Sound Barrier

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 4:09 PM

I go around and around about classical music and opera not being popular, especially with younger audiences. It really bugs me. How do you get them to enjoy it and not make it feel so foreign?

For years, arts organizations have done outreach to schools in their towns. This...

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Too Close to Home

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2015 | 7:58 PM

I did not know Oleg Bryjak or Maria Radner.

These are two of the victims who perished in the recent Germanwings plane crash. They were opera singers doing what we all do -- traveling to or from engagements.

Maria perished along with her baby and husband. Oleg and Maria had...

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Dollars and No Sense

(5) Comments | Posted March 6, 2015 | 8:41 AM

Allow me to throw around some numbers.

Driving south from San Francisco I passed the new Levi's Stadium for the 49ers, which cost approximately $1.3 billion to build (Let me remind you that the NFL has non-profit exempt status). This week, the Supreme Court is reviewing the Affordable...

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Virtually Challenged

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 9:15 AM

In honor of the Grammys this coming weekend, I decided to write about audio.

This past week I purchased a MacBook Air to replace my old laptop. It is great -- lightweight and fast. There is no CD slot. When questioned about this the young sales person asked why I...

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A Song to Sing with My Brothers and Sisters

(1) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 4:41 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 | 12:33 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 | 10:25 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

(1) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 2:02 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 | 9:40 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 | 1:47 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 | 1:24 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 | 1:22 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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