10 Questions with Susanne Mentzer
American mezzo-soprano and graduate of The Julliard School, Susanne Mentzer made her Company debut as Rosina in 1987’s The Barber of Seville and returned to sing Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier in 1992. We're excited to have here back this season to play Marcellina in our Fall production of The Marriage of Figaro (October 20,23,26,28). Boasting an impressive career that features her voice on over 25 recordings, Ms. Mentzer maintains a private voice studio at San Francisco Conservatory and answered ten questions for us to get to know her a little bit better behind-the-scenes.
1. What was your last gig before coming to San Diego?
Teaching at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I do not perform as regularly as I used to and have turned much of my attention to teaching and special projects.
2. How do you relate to/feel about your character in The Marriage of Figaro, Marcellina?
After singing hundreds of performances as Cherubino, I turned down early offers to sing Marcellina because I had such dreamy memories of the opera. But once I sang my first Marcellina I really had fun and now sing it quite often. I love comic parts. I do not feel the pressure or physical exertion I did as when I sang Cherubino. It is nice to be at a place in life where I can enjoy and not worry.
3. Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we're dreaming it doesn't even need to be in your fach.
I Never got to sing Charlotte in Werther which is a shame. I sang Massenet operas Cendrillon (bth the Prince and Cinderella, and I sang in Don Quixote and Mary Magdalene but never Werther. Also, I would have loved to have sung more Berlioz like a role in Les Troyens. I sang a lot of Beatrice and Benedict and Damnation de Faust.
4. What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path you wanted to pursue.
I was an usher at the Santa Fe Opera while in HS. My voice was loud and did not fit in with chorus in school and when I heard opera I realized that maybe that is what I had the voice for. I was pretty clueless until then.
5. Name a singer you loved working with in the last year.
That is a loaded question! I would say Matthew Burns in Figaro in Michigan Opera. He was Bartolo and we had a lot of fun. I had not really seriously worked with him before.
6. What are your hobbies that keep you busy outside of music?
I am busy with teaching at school and a private studio but I love to hang out with my dog Charlie and take him on long walks. I also play a lot of Scrabble. Pretty boring, no?
7. Fill in the blank: "If I was not an opera singer, I would be ____.”
8. If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
Tough question. I really cannot think of one. Well maybe Melania Trump to see first hand how weird her husband is.
9. Name three artists, bands, or composers on a current playlist that aren't opera related.
Paul McCartney, podcasts, anything by Mahler
10. What are you most looking forward to doing in San Diego while you’re in town?
Performing and getting to the beach a bit. I live in Carmel and San Francisco and it is a little chillier up here. Also will reconnect with college friends and second cousins who live there.
11.What’s next for you after your gig in San Diego?
Teaching, but then I will be in Santa Fe next Summer for Jenufa.