Two time Grammy nominated artist Jennifer Rivera consistently earns praise for delivering exceptional vocalism, superb musicianship, and a powerful stage presence. Her performance of the title role in Handel's Faramondo with Brisbane Baroque in Australia recently earned her The Helpmann Award for best leading female performer in an opera. Her European debut as Sesto in La clemenza di Tito with the Teatro Regio di Torino directed by Graham Vick and conducted by Roberto Abaddo was followed by her debut with the Berlin Staatsoper as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, as well as Nerone in a new production of Agrippina conducted by Rene Jacobs. She was then invited to sing Licida in L’Olimpiade by Pergolesi at the Innsbruck Early Music Festival, and returned to the Berlin Staatsoper as Rosina, and as Ismene in a new production of Antigone by Traetta conducted by Maestro Jacobs.
Recent seasons have found Ms. Rivera singing Faramondo with Brisbane Baroque, Sister Helen in Dead Man Walking with Opera Parallele, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with Portland Opera, as well as singing with the Milwaukee Symphony, for Schubert’s Mass No. 6 under Hans Graf; Gotham Chamber Opera, for Baden-Baden 1927; Opera Omaha as Nerone in Agrippina; Boston Baroque, as Penelope in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria; and Central City Opera, to debut the role of Sister Helen Prejean in a new production of Dead Man Walking. Current and future seasons include a return to include a return to Music of the Baroque for Bach Cantatas, a debut with Dallas Opera in the Mark Adamo world premiere Becoming Santa Claus, and Sister Helen in Dead Man Walking with New Orleans Opera. Ms. Rivera will also present a solo recital at Bargemusic to introduce the release of her first solo recording Innocence / Experience released by Roven Records and distributed by Naxos.
Ms. Rivera returned to Innsbruck for the title role in La Stellidaura Vendicante during summer of the 2012. The ensuing 2012-2013 season included a return to the Berlin Staatsoper and an appearance at the Salle Pleyel in Paris for Agrippina, Mrs. Williamson in The Difficulty of Crossing a Field with Nashville Opera, and a debut with Central City Opera as Rosina in a new production.
2011 saw the release of two recordings for the mezzo: Nerone in Agrippina for Harmonia Mundi (Grammy Nomination 2013) and Licida in L’Olimpiade for Sony Music. The 2011-12 season found her engaged as Cherubino with Opera Royal de Wallonie, as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette for Palm Beach Opera, and with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
While still a student at Juilliard, Ms. Rivera was invited to join the roster of the New York City Opera, and after winning their prestigious Debut Artist of Year award, went on to sing over 70 performances with the company including Cherubino, Rosina, Lazuli in L’Etoile, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, and Nerone in Agrippina. Praised repeatedly by the New York Times for her “radiant mezzo soprano” (Elmer Gantry), her “warm dark tone” (Barbiere), and “fresh ready singing”, (Hansel) her voice has also been described by the Times as being “dark, musical, and very agile”(Cenerentola) and possessing “richness, ease, and exactness” (L’Etoile).
Previous season’s engagements for Ms. Rivera include Rosina with Opera Pacific, Angelina in La cenerentola with Florida Grand Opera, and Ines in Donizetti’s Maria Padilla with Washington Concert Opera. She also appeared at Avery Fisher Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra singing Varese’s Offrandes and with the Polish National Opera as Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia conducted by Will Crutchfield. Other engagements for the mezzo have included her debut with New Orleans Opera as Stephano in Roméo et Juliette and her return to Portland Opera for Rosina.
A favorite among living composers, Ms. Rivera created the starring role of Sharon Falconer in the critically acclaimed World Premiere of Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry, which premiered at Nashville Opera in 2007. Additionally, Ms. Rivera has performed in four productions of Mark Adamo’s very successful opera Little Women (in New York, Tokyo, Cleveland, and Dayton), as well as his newest work Lysistrata. The summer of 2010 found her in the World Premiere of Peter Ash’sThe Golden Ticket as Veruca Salt at Opera Theater of Saint Louis.
Jennifer Rivera has garnered much acclaim for her portrayal of trouser roles in theaters throughout the world. She has sung Cherubino with New York City Opera (NYCO), Opera Hong Kong, Cincinnati Opera, and Portland Opera; Lazuli in L’Etoile at NYCO and Cincinnati Opera; Siebel in Faust with Cincinnati Opera, and Stephano in Roméo et Juiliette with Madison Opera.
Ms. Rivera’s concert work has included recitals with the Marilyn Horne Foundation in several venues throughout the U.S., a concert with Ms. Horne at Carnegie Hall, Mozart’s Mass in CBach’s B Minor Mass with the Alabama Symphony and Berkshire Choral Festival, and The Mephisto Project with the L’Opera Francais de New York.
Jennifer Rivera has received prizes in several competitions, including the Operalia Competitionheld in Madrid, Spain, in which she was a finalist who performed in the Gala Concert conducted by Placido Domingo; the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in which she was the winner of the Eastern Region and a national Semi-Finalist; the George London Foundation, the Opera Index Competition, the Gerda Lissner Foundation, the Licia Albanese Puccini Competition, and the Richard F. Gold Shoshana Foundation Career Grant. She attended Boston University for her undergraduate degree and The Juilliard School for her Master’s degree. She is a native of California, and currently resides in New York City with her husband and son.
She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post Arts and Culture section and has recently been appointed the Director for Artistic Development at Center for Contemporary Opera in New York City. You can follow Jennifer on Facebook or on twitter at @jjennymr