A rare performer with equal vocal and acting gifts, American mezzo-soprano SUSANNE MENTZER has become a familiar face at the world's most prestigious opera houses, festivals and concert halls. Known especially for her portrayals of Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro and the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, she is not only a specialist in "trouser" parts, but is also known for her portrayals of classic femme fatale and ingénue roles.
This versatile artist specializes in the works of Mozart, Berlioz, Massenet, and Richard Strauss along with the bel canto operas of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. She also enjoys a significant concert and recital career, with a particular interest in chamber music, and has become known as an interpreter of the vocal works of Gustav Mahler.
Highlights of the 2002/03 season include concert performances of Berlioz' opera Béatrice et Bénédict with Sir Colin Davis and the New York Philharmonic, appearances as the Composer in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos at the Metropolitan Opera (2002/03 marks her 13th season on the Met's stage), and a January performance of Bach's Mass in B minor with conductor Peter Schreier at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to the Metropolitan Opera, Mentzer has appeared at the Teatro alla Scala Milan, Vienna State Opera, Opéra de Paris, Bavarian State Opera, Teatro Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Zürich Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington Opera, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, as well as the festivals of Salzburg, Pesaro, Tanglewood, and Montreux, and the Florence Maggio Musicale, among others. Some of the orchestras and conductors with whom she has worked include the Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Cincinnati May Festival, and New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, under the batons of Riccardo Muti, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Richard Bonynge, Sir Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, Giuseppe Sinopoli, John Nelson, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Neville Marriner, Jeffrey Tate, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Chailly, Roberto Abbado, Sir Roger Norrington, and Wolfgang Sawallisch.
In March 2001, Koch International Classics released The Eternal Feminine, a recital disc with her long-time collaborator, pianist Craig Rutenberg, based on a program she initially crafted at the Ravinia Festival. In October 1998, Erato released Wayfaring Stranger, a collection of international folksongs arranged for voice and guitar, recorded with Sharon Isbin. Also released were her performances of two Haydn rarities: the opera L'isola disabitata (The Abandoned Island, as Costanza) and the dramatic cantata Arianna a Naxos on Arabesque. Other highlights of Mentzer's extensive discography include The Marriage of Figaro (Cherubino) with Mackerras for Telarc; Idomeneo (Idamante) with Sir Colin Davis for Philips; Don Giovanni (Zerlina) with Muti on EMI (also on video and DVD from La Scala); Rossini's Barber of Seville (Rosina) for EMI; Donizetti's Anna Bolena (Jane Seymour) with Dame Joan Sutherland and Bonynge on Decca; Gounod's Faust with the Welsh National Opera for Teldec; and Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle and Il Turco in Italia conducted by Marriner on Philips.
In addition to her performing engagements, Mentzer is a Professor of Voice at the DePaul University School of Music, serves on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival, and frequently gives master classes throughout the country.
Since 1991, Susanne Mentzer has organized the annual autumn Jubilate benefit concert featuring stars of the opera world to support Chicago's Bonaventure House, a residence for people living with AIDS. This endeavor has raised over a million dollars to date.
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Maryland and New Mexico, Susanne Mentzer studied at the Juilliard School, the Houston Opera Studio, and privately with Norma Newton. She is the proud mother of a teenage son.