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 successful 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, and 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 both Rosina, and as Ismene in a new production of Antigone by Traetta conducted by Maestro Jacobs.
Ms. Rivera’s 2016-2017 season features performances with Kansas City Symphony for Handel’s Messiah, and return performances with Portland Opera, as Despina in Così fan tutte, and Boston Baroque, for both Sesto in Handel’s Giulio Cesare and the Bach Mass in B Minor. Last season featured Jennifer Rivera’s debut with Dallas Opera, in the premiere of Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus, and a return to New Orleans Opera to reprise the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking. Additionally, one of her most frequently performed roles, Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, served as the vehicle for her debut with Austin Opera. On the concert stage, she appeared with the Music of the Baroque (Bach Cantata 119) and with the Houston Symphony (Messiah).
Ms. Rivera’s 2014-2015 calendar featured a return to Portland Opera for Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, and her debuts with Opera Parallèle, as Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking, and Brisbane Baroque, as the title role in Paul Curran’s production of Faramondo.
The 2013-2014 season saw Ms. Rivera with the Milwaukee Symphony, for Schubert’s Mass No. 6 under Hans Graf; Gotham Chamber Opera, for Baden-Baden 1927; Opera Omaha, for Nerone in Agrippina; Boston Baroque, for Penelope in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria; and Central City Opera, debuting the role of Sister Helen Prejean in a new production of Dead Man Walking.
Ms. Rivera returned to Innsbruck for the title role in Stellidaura Vendicante during summer of 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 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 several roles with the company including Cherubino, Rosina, Lazuli in L’Etoile, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, and Nerone in Handel’s 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 seasons’ 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’s The 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 C Bach’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 Competition held 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.
Dallas Opera – Becoming Santa Claus
Jennifer Rivera is also terrific in creating a believable character. She is excellent as his long-suffering and love-smothering mother who tries to maintain her icy demeanor to hide her heart of gold.”
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, TheaterJones.com
Central City Opera – Dead Man Walking
With an unassuming yet expressive voice with a light vibrato, Rivera captured Sister Helen’s self-doubt as well as her indomitable moral strength.”
Kyle MacMillan, Opera News
That urgent tone drives the entire show and you hear it in the hurried songs of mezzo soprano Jennifer Rivera, relentlessly driven in the complex role of Sister Helen. She is called upon to be pious and comic at the same time and figures out a way to convey the mix vocally, hitting delicate high notes and broad, lyric expressions.”
Ray Mark Rinaldi, Denver Post
Boston Baroque – Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria
Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera sang the role of Ulisse’s faithful wife Penelope. She demonstrated a powerful sound in the role’s low tessitura and her warm-timbred voice suited both Penelope’s mournful languishing and steadfast character.”
Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera, noble in her bearing and passionate in her singing, made Penelope the emotional center of the work.”
David Bonetti, Bershirefinearts.com
“Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera brought a powerful stage presence and a flexible vocal technique to the role of Penelope. Navigating Monteverdi’s expressive recitative and lyric outbursts with equal aplomb, she evoked the many layers of an increasingly complex character, clinging to her beleaguered widowhood and resisting the extravagant blandishments of the suitors who have taken over her home.”
Virginia Newes, The Boston Music Intelligencer
“The most stunning performance came from Jennifer Rivera as the dolorous Penelope – her part is the longest and most demanding, but Rivera hung onto the sheen of her golden mezzo to the very finish (when she needs it for a sudden burst of joy) – and her emotional performance was just as convincing (even if Penelope’s doubt of her returning husband’s identity isn’t always quite believable).”
Thomas Garvey, The Hub Review
“Jennifer Rivera provided a stunning performance. Especially notable were her pleas for Ulysses to return in her opening scene (“Di misera regina…”), delivered with touching simplicity and a contralto’s strength. She proved equally at home in the florid music, as in Penelope’s joyful aria after fully accepting her husband’s return.”
Angela Mao, The Boston Classical Review
Opera Omaha – Agrippina
“As the infamous Nero, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera played the role with swagger and delicious scene-chewing gusto. She has sung the role of Nero many times, and she’s clearly honed it to a fine point.”
Kim Carpenter, Omaha World-Herald
Innsbruck Early Music Festival – La Stellidaura Vendicante
Jennifer Rivera sang the title role with a luminous mezzo-soprano and reacted keenly to the opera’s swiftly changing moods. She made a standout of an aria about a tormented lover in which graceful melodic sequences anticipate the tuneful Neapolitan style to come.”
George Loomis, The New York Times
Singing the title role in Innsbruck once again is the enchanting Jennifer Rivera. Her wonderfully full mezzo, brilliant coloratura, subtle power in the top register and tour de force dramatic acting characterized her performance.”
Palm Beach Opera – Roméo et Juliette
Guest singers Jennifer Rivera as Stéphano (the “singer of trouser” role) and Alexander Vinogradov as Frère Laurent stole the spectacle whenever they appeared on the stage. Both were charismatic singers with beautiful tone, perfect technique…one can only wish for their return in more important roles with Palm Beach Opera.”
Márcio Bezerra, Palm Beach Daily News
Jennifer Rivera can do something that few females do in trouser roles, really moving like a boy and her gorgeous assured mezzo makes the brief role of Stephano a knockout resembling one of the Dead End kids.”
Jeff Haller, ConcertoNet.com
For questions about the artist’s repertoire, please contact Fletcher Artist Management.