Skip to main content

Susanne Mentzer

Susanne Mentzer headshot


Office 328

Courses Taught

Applied Lessons

Vocal Performance Lab


MM, The Juilliard School

BM, The Juilliard School


Metropolitan Opera 1989–Present

La Scala

Covent Garden

Vienna State Opera

San Francisco Opera, 1987, 1995

Awards and Distinctions

VERA Award, The Voice Foundation for Vocal Health Awareness, 2013

Brother Thelan Award, Alexian Brothers, USA for volunteer work, 2004

Notable Studio Wins

Emerson McAlister - special honorable mention at the regional Met Opera Laffont Competition in Los Angeles, 2023

Distinguished Alumni

Stella Hannock, mezzo soprano- full-time chorister SF Opera

Sarah Nadreau, mezzo soprano- full-time chorister SF Opera

Nina Jones, mezzo-soprano performing with Ars Minerva and covering with Opera Parallele

Natalie Mitchell, soprano - Avaloch Chamber Music residency in NH

Mahsheed Massarat, mezzo-soprano- Voice teacher at Westside Music School, and Colorful Universe Performing Arts

Chen Holtzman, mezzo soprano- Performing with the Israeli Opera after being in their Meitar Opera Studio

Marina Davis and Brig Urias premiered their song cycle "Through the endless coil" for guitar and voice

She has an incisive, throbbing mezzo-soprano, and her technique is rock solid, reveling in a freely ringing top and upper middle, while wisely negotiating lower passages with savvy dramatic flair."

— Opera Today


What is your hometown?

Philadelphia, PA; Thurmont, MD; and Santa Fe, NM

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Dogs, movies, theater, and Scrabble.

Who were your major teachers?

Norma Newton and Rose Bampton.

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

When I was about 16, I realized my voice was different. It did not fit in with other people my age.

What was a turning point in your career?

European debut at age 26 in Cologne, Germany.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

Music Therapy.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Mahler, Mozart, and Richard Strauss.

What are your most important collaborations?

Craig Rutenberg (piano), Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (director), and James Levine (conductor).

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Cecelia Hall:  Metropolitan Opera, Frankfurt Opera

Michael Sumuel: Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera. international career

Kyle Albertson: Metropolitan opera and international career

Where have you been published?

The Huffington Post Arts Section

What recordings can we hear you on?

Carlisle Floyd: Wuthering Heights, Resonance Records

Carlisle Floyd: Songs — Citizen of Paradise, Roven Records

Wayfaring Stranger, Erato

Eternal Feminine: Songs by Women Composers, KOCH International

R. Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos, DVD Metropolitan Opera

What is your unrealized project?

Performing a leading role in a new opera premiere


American mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer has established herself not only as an international singer but also as a writer, teacher and arts advocate. Susanne is a mentor to young singers and, as she continues to occasionally perform, she feels a kinship with her students. In 2016 she joined the faculty of SFCM after 12 years in academia as a Tenured Professor at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and Associate Professor at DePaul University in Chicago. She is also an instructor of the Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera and at Songfest at Colburn. She has been on faculty at the Aspen Music Festival and School.  She regularly adjudicates competitions and serves on the Board of Directors of The Sullivan Foundation and The George London Foundation which each give awards to promising young singers. Many of Susanne’s former students are singing in leading opera houses around the world. Her stellar singing career encompasses 37 years in nearly every major opera company, orchestra and recital organization. She sang leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera since 1989. see for a complete listing. Susanne was born in Philadelphia and raised in Maryland and Santa Fe, NM where she fell in love with opera as an usher.  She received her Bachelor and Master degrees from The Juilliard School studying with Rose Bampton, and was trained in the Houston Opera Studio and continually with Norma Newton. She received the Alexian Brothers USA Thelan Award for her help raising over one-million dollars through gala concerts for the AIDS cause in Chicago and continues to participate in charitable events. Susanne has contributed regularly to the Huffington Post and her outspokenness about vocal health has earned her the VERA Award 2013  (Voice Education Research Awareness) from The Voice Foundation.