Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jessica Rivera's "magical performance"

Soprano Jessica Rivera “has carved out a place in the contemporary music world, with important productions of Golijov's Ainadamar and John Adams's Nixon in China and A Flowering Tree,” wrote Judith Malafronte in a July Opera News review of Rivera’s Zankel Hall recital last spring.  Rivera is an artist who deeply inhabits all the music she sings, and the reviewer noted that the recital included “a magical performance” of Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées. “A thoughtful artist, Rivera is especially alive to Schumann's postludes [in Frauenliebe und Leben]; the long final piano reminiscence brought the singer silently but most expressively from the pain of her husband's death, through determination and comfort, to a final transcendence."

In November Rivera appears for the first time with the Finnish National Opera where she will reprise the role of Kitty Oppenheimer in Adams’s Doctor Atomic. Earlier this summer Rivera sat down with Olivia Giovetti for a live online chat about the music of John Adams for WQXR’s Q2. Read the archive of the chat. 

Upcoming Highlights:
  • Nov 4-30:  Finnish National Opera  (Adams: Doctor Atomic - Kitty Oppenheimer)
  •  Jan 10-15:  Cartagena Festival  (Golijov: La Pasión según San Marcos)
  • Feb 3-5:  Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern  (Mahler: Symphony No. 2)
  • Feb 28 & Mar 5: Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Bernard Haitink; Amsterdam-Concertgebouw & Paris-Salle Pleyel (Beethoven: Symphony No. 9)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jessica Rivera wins praise for Górecki & Adams

Soprano Jessica Rivera is winning a lot of acclaim as an inspired interpreter of 20th- and 21st-century composers, from Benjamin Britten (in whose "Spring" Symphony she joined Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony and was declared “radiant” by Atlanta critic Pierre Ruhe) to Henryk Górecki and John Adams. "Jessica embodies the music she sings," says conductor Michael Christie, with whom the Californian performed Górecki's Symphony No. 3 ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs") at the Colorado Music Festival (July 7 & 8). "She brings out the humanity of this music and touches the heart with it."  Read the review: “Orchestra, Rivera, stunning in minimalist symphony” --Daily Camera, 7/8/11

Praising Rivera's late May performances of the “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” with Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic, Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times referenced Dawn Upshaw’s iconic Nonesuch recording of the piece.  He wrote that Rivera's "soprano soared…and conveyed continual intensity.  …A young singer who has worked closely with Upshaw, she now owns Górecki's Third."

Rivera also received raves for reprising the leading role of Kumudha in Cincinnati Opera's recent staging of A Flowering Tree by John Adams. Productions of A Flowering Tree have taken her to three continents, and she is featured on the Nonesuch CD conducted by Adams himself.  The Cincinnati Enquirer said of Rivera's June-July portrayal: "Rivera gave a deeply moving performance as Kumudha, both vulnerable as the young bride and tragic in the darker moments. She fully inhabited her role, and sang radiantly."  Read Q&A with Rivera and view video clip from Cincinnati Opera.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jessica Rivera inspires raves from Carnegie to California

Having sung key roles in such major works as Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar and John Adams's Doctor Atomic, soprano Jessica Rivera continues to win kudos from East Coast to West. Writing for the Financial Times, Allan Ulrich summed up the singer's allure: "California-born Jessica Rivera epitomizes the younger, post-Upshaw generation of American soprano, as much at home in Golijov, Salonen and Adams as she is in the conventional song literature and uncommonly eloquent in all of them. Match a voluptuous instrument that meets all technical challenges . . . with a formidable musical intelligence and a capacity for projecting a text that can seem both intimate and operatic and you have an artist for whom great scores may yet be composed."  

Reviewing Rivera's late March recital at Carnegie's Zankel Hall, which included the premiere of Mark Grey's Fire Angels, written especially for the event, the New York Times praised the singer's "radiant conviction" and ability to wield "her lovely voice to expressive effect." The San Francisco Chronicle, covering Rivera's April recital in Berkeley for Cal Performances, singled out her "eloquent and often brilliant accounts of songs by Schumann and Debussy," marked by both "a plush timbre" and "laser-like technical precision."  And the Plain Dealer chronicled her March debut with the Cleveland Orchestra led by Franz Welser-Möst, when she sang Mahler and Dvorak with a voice of "ravishing fullness."

Looking ahead, Rivera sings a song of the season: Britten's Spring Symphony with the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Spano, May 19-22. The soprano voices a graver contemporary classic on May 26-29, when she joins the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel for Górecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. And June 30-July 2 at Cincinnati Opera, she returns to a role she premiered in Vienna in 2006, Kumudha in John Adams's A Flowering Tree.

For more information, visit, her YouTube channel, or the IMG Artists web site.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jessica Rivera makes Cleveland Orchestra debut

Soprano Jessica Rivera made her debut with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst on March 10 in Mahler's Symphony No. 4 and Dvorak's Te Deum. "Hers was a voice of ravishing fullness," raved the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Read more

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jessica Rivera sings John Adams

This month soprano Jessica Rivera is at the Metropolitan Opera covering the role of Pat Nixon in John Adams's Nixon in China. It's not her first "stand by your man" role in an Adams opera. She made her European debut at Netherlands Opera as Kitty Oppenheimer in his Doctor Atomic (view brief clip), a role she reprised at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In December she sang El Niño with the San Francisco Symphony under Adams's baton.

Also at the Met right now is sound designer Mark Grey, who has collaborated with Adams since the 2002 premiere of On the Transmigration of Souls for the New York Philharmonic. A gifted composer, Grey has written Ātash Sorushān ("Fire Angels") for Rivera on a co-commission from Carnegie Hall and CAL Performances. She sings the premiere of the piece on March 29th in her Zankel Hall recital, shortly after making her Cleveland Orchestra debut.

Rivera's Met Opera residency marks the ten-year anniversary of an event that changed her life: she stepped in from the chorus to sing Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro during final dress rehearsals at Los Angeles Opera, which led to an invitation from Plácido Domingo and a decade of "magnificent adventure," as she writes in her new blog. Read more...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jessica Rivera’s season highlights:

· Nov. 23: Houston Symphony: L. Siegel: Kaddish
· Dec. 3: San Francisco Symphony: Adams: El Niño
· Dec. 16: Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra w/Dudamel, Bogota: Mahler: Sym. 2
· Feb. 2-19 Met Opera: Adams: Nixon in China (Pat Nixon cover)
· Mar. 10, 12: Cleveland Orchestra [debut]: Dvorak: Te Deum; Mahler: Sym. 4
· Mar. 29: Zankel Hall Recital, NYC: Debussy, Schumann, Mark Grey: Fire Angels (Carnegie Hall co-commission)
· Apr. 3: CAL Performances Recital, Berkeley, CA (see March 29)
· Apr. 24: Kimmel Center, Philadelphia: Jonathan Leshnoff: Hope: An Oratorio (World Premiere)
· May 19- 22: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: Britten: Spring Symphony

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jessica Rivera’s creative collaborations

After the Edinburgh Festival this summer, and before her Brazil debut singing the role of Margarita Xirgu in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, soprano Jessica Rivera traveled across Spain in the footsteps of the opera’s subject, poet Federico Garcia Lorca. This “research trip” to learn more and deepen her portrayals is just part of what makes Rivera a favorite of today’s leading composers: Golijov, John Adams and Nico Muhly, among others. Asked what her art is about, she answers, simply, “I want to move people.” And so she is, while collaborating with the likes of conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Haitink, Michael Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sir Simon Rattle.

The young Californian’s discography includes Golijov’s Grammy Award-winning Ainadamar with the Atlanta Symphony and Le Pasión según Marcos with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra (both for Deutsche Grammophon), Poulenc with the Chicago Symphony, Vaughan Williams with Atlanta (Telarc), John Adams’s A Flowering Tree with the London Symphony (Nonesuch) and his Doctor Atomic with Netherlands Opera on DVD (BBC/Pro Arte) in which she sings the role of Kitty Oppenheimer.