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Photograph © 2018 by RibaltaLuce Studio
With a unique personal narrative beginning in Fairbanks, Alaska, and an international career now spanning more than two decades, mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux beguiles audiences and critics alike with her charisma, dedication, and astounding vocal technique. After noting that she ‘has stage presence in spades,’ Clive Paget wrote in Australia’s Limelight Magazine that Vivica ‘demonstrated complete mastery with her exemplary phrasing and effortless vocal dexterity. Add to that a voice of great richness, easy at the top, yet with an ability to plunge at will into a beefy bottom register, and you have what can only be described as the real deal.’
Via opera, concert, and recital engagements in 2021, Vivica will visit some of the world’s most prestigious venues. Featuring music by Johann Adolf Hasse, Jan Dismas Zelenka, Johann David Heinichen, and Johann Georg Pisendel, The Court of Dresden with Vespres d’Arnadí arrives in Madrid, Oviedo, and Barcelona in May, followed by Pyrotechnies : de Vivaldi à Piazzolla with Gabetta Consort at Froville’s Festival de musique sacrée et baroque on 28 May.
Postponed from 2020, Viva Vivaldi!, a concert with Les Accents featuring music from operas by Antonio Vivaldi, will be performed in conjunction with the Vilnius Festival on 6 June 2021. Vivica then visits Linz for her rôle début as Deceit in a performance of Händel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth with Bach Consort Wien on 16 June.
Regrettably, many of Vivica’s performances in 2020 and 2021 were be cancelled in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, including her débuts in the title rôle of Händel’s Tamerlano; performances of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s L’olimpiade (Megacle) and Gioacchino Rossini’s La donna del lago (Malcolm) with Opernhaus Zürich; and a recital with harpsichordist Jory Vinikour for Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera.
Premièred to acclaim in November 2017, Vivica’s multimedia presentation devoted to the life and legacy of Pauline Viardot, Vivica & Viardot, was scheduled to be performed at the Salzburger Pfingstfestspiele, which was cancelled. Il divino Sassone, a programme featuring arias and instrumental music from operas by Hasse in which she partners with Lautten Compagney Berlin, was performed at the 2020 Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival on 12 September 2020.
Vivica figured prominently in Theater an der Wien’s 2019 - 2020 Season, being scheduled to appear in three concert performances. On 21 October 2019, she reprised her interpretation of Trasimede in Riccardo Broschi’s Merope. Two months later, on 20 December, she returned to the title rôle in Händel’s Rodrigo. On 29 January 2020, she made her rôle début as the eponymous heroine of Hasse’s Irene. Also in January 2020, Vivica took her Porpora vs. Haendel programme with Les Musiciens du Louvre to the Valletta Baroque Festival.
Additional engagements in 2020 included concerts with Il pomo d’oro in Reggio Emilia and Concerto de’ Cavalieri in Roma. In February, Vivica lead a masterclass course, Historische Aufführungspraxis: Italienisches Repertoire, 1600 - 1800, for Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg before celebrating Valentine’s Day with a concert with Concerto Köln in Dresden’s Frauenkirche.
Vivica welcomed 2019 with Farinelli-themed concerts with Concerto de’ Cavalieri and Marcello Di Lisa in Antwerp (Belgium) and Valletta (Malta). Later in January, she joined La magnifica comunità and Enrico Casazza for Sulla Via della Seta, a programme featuring music by Domenico Gallo, Händel, Hasse, and Vivaldi. February 2019 found her first in Poissy and Bilbao with Les Musiciens du Louvre and then in Karlsruhe for Internationale Händel-Festspiele's Händel-Gala, in which she will be joined by mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg in performances of music by Vivaldi, Händel, Rossini, and Bellini.
On 5 April 2019, Vivica added the rôle of Emma in Rossini’s Zelmira to her repertory in a concert performance with Washington Concert Opera. Afterwards, she traveled to Madrid to revisit music sung by Farinelli. On 29 April, Vivica had the privilege of performing at the International Opera Awards ceremony in London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre, representing Pinchgut Opera’s 2018 production of Hasse’s Artaserse, which won the award in the Rediscovered Work category.
On 5 May 2019, Vivica and Bach Consort Wien took a Vivaldi programme to Vienna’s storied Musikverein. Gender Stories, a presentation of music by Händel, Hasse, and Baldassare Galuppi that unites Vivica with countertenor Lawrence Zazzo and Lautten Compagney Berlin, was heard in Dortmund on 30 May and in Halle on 1 June and was reprised in La Chaux-de-Fonds and Olten, Switzerland, and Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany, in December 2019. On 8 June, she returned to the Salzburger Pfingstfestspiele to participate in a gala concert, Farinelli & Friends, alongside some of the world’s most renowned interpreters of repertory composed for the legendary castrato. She joined New York Baroque Incorporated, with which ensemble she performed Cavalli’s Veremonda at the 2015 Spoleto Festival USA, in a concert at Caramoor on 30 June.
Returning to Austria, Vivica débuted in the rôle of Trasimede in Riccardo Broschi’s Merope at Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik in August. She returned to Romania’s George Enescu International Festival in September for a concert performance of Händel’s Lucio Cornelio Silla with Europa Galante. On 20 October 2019, she celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the formation of Bach Consort Wien with a concert at the Musikverein.
During 2018, Vivica’s concert and recital itineraries took her to Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the USA. Duelo Barroco partnered her with Ann Hallenberg in performances in Spain of music by Händel and Vivaldi. Concerts featuring music made famous by Farinelli and Senesino, the latter’s music being interpreted by Sonia Prina, transported Vivica to Denmark, France, Germany, and London's Wigmore Hall. A collaboration with Les Accents and Thibault Noally premièred in Paris’s Salle Gaveau, Deux genies en Italie explored arias composed by Alessandro Scarlatti and the young Händel. After visits to Chicago and Miami, a tour of Asia with Europa Galante, and a series of concert performances of Händel’s Serse with Il pomo d’oro, Vivica ended 2018 in Australia with her rôle début as Mandane in Johann Adolf Hasse’s Artaserse with Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera. In June 2019, she received nominations for The Helpmann Awards for Best Female Performer in an Opera for her depiction of Mandane and Best Individual Classical Music Performance for her Melbourne concert with Pinchgut Opera.
Particular joys amongst Vivica’s recent endeavors are teaching engagements that have allowed her to deepen her commitment to sharing her enthusiasm and expertise with young artists. In 2017, she founded and led the inaugural course of V/vox Academy, in addition to leading well-received masterclasses in Rome and Weimar. She returned to Roma Opera Campus in December 2017 for the second edition of the Dal barocco al belcanto course and participated in ROC’s initiative to prepare and perform Hasse’s Enea in Caonia in June 2018.
Vivica’s professional début was in 1994, when she interpreted Isabella in a Florentine Opera production of Gioachino Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri, a part that she reanimated to great acclaim in 2015 for Opera Fairbanks. Her 1997 début at New York’s Metropolitan Opera was in her most-performed rôle, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and she returned to the MET for more performances as Rosina in 2002. In the wake of those milestones, Rossini rôles have taken Vivica to theatres throughout the world. Her Angelina in La Cenerentola has been heard in her native USA in cities including Charlotte (North Carolina), West Palm Beach (Florida), and Washington, DC, and internationally in locations ranging from the prestigious Grand Théâtre de Genève, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Wiener Staatsoper to Bremen (Germany), Rieti (Italy), and Santiago (Chile). In addition to Angelina, she has sung another pair of Rossini rôles for Washington Concert Opera, Falliero in Bianca e Falliero (2008) and Arsace in Semiramide (2015), as well as singing music from La donna del lago and Maometto secondo in the 2016 gala concert celebrating WCO’s thirtieth anniversary. Singing both female heroines and male travesti rôles, Vivica has amassed a repertory of nine Rossini characters, one of her favorites among whom, Malcolm in La donna del lago, she revisited in concert at the Salzburger Pfingsfestspiele in June 2017.
Alongside her bel canto credentials, Vivica has been widely lauded for her performances of the music of Georg Friedrich Händel, Antonio Vivaldi, and their contemporaries. A cornerstone of Vivica’s extensive Baroque repertory is the music of Johann Adolf Hasse, whose works she champions in performance and on disc. In 2017, the rôle of Piramo in Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe took her to Budapest, Vienna, and Valencia for performances with Europa Galante. 2017 also witnessed her rôle débuts as Lepido in Händel’s Lucio Cornelio Silla, presented in concert with Europa Galante at Wiener Konzerthaus in January and recorded and released on CD on the Glossa label; as Eternità and Diana in Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto at Opéra national du Rhin; and as Arsamene in Händel's Serse at Opéra de Versailles.
Other recent additions to Vivica’s operatic repertoire include Emilia in Antonio Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica and Junon in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actéon, the latter sung in a double bill with Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, presented by Les Talens Lyriques in Beaune, France, Acre, Israel, and Paris's Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in September and October 2016.
On the concert platform, highlights of recent seasons include the début of a new program featuring music composed for the mythological singer Orpheus by Gluck, Händel, Hasse, Porpora, Ristori, and Wagenseil; the continuation of Rival Queens, Vivica’s traversal with soprano Simone Kermes of arias and duets composed for Eighteenth-Century divas Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, documented on CD by Sony Classical and revived in Turkey, Switzerland, and Malta in January 2017; and a return to Chicago in February 2017 for three concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Some of Vivica’s most memorable engagements in recent seasons include participating in the world première of Piet Swerts’s Le sack de Louvain in August 2014, commemorating the centennial of the destruction of Louvain at the start of World War One; a rapturously-received portrayal of Händel’s Giulio Cesare in Shanghai in 2014; her rôle début as Ruggiero in Händel’s Alcina in Moscow in January 2015; singing the title rôle in the modern première of Francesco Cavalli’s Veremonda, l'amazzone di Aragona at the 2015 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina; her Brisbane Baroque début in April 2016; a tour of Asia with The Academy of Ancient Music in May 2016; and concert performances of Bellini’s I Capuleti ed i Montecchi with Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi, recorded and released on CD by Glossa.
The winner of coveted prizes including a 1997 ARIA Award, New York City Opera’s 2007 Christopher Keene Award, and Pittsburgh Opera's 2008 Maecenas Award, Vivica is the 2017 recipient of the City of Halle’s prestigious Händel-Preis, which was formally awarded in June 2017. In January 2019, she received the Hasse-Preis of the Johann Adolf Hasse-Stiftung.
Vivica is frequently featured in broadcasts and CD and DVD/Blu-ray recordings, expanding an impressive discography that documents the whole span of her career to date, and she continues to expand her concert and opera repertories, the latter of which now extends to more than sixty rôles.
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Vivica during a performance of Piet Swerts’s oratorio Le sack de Louvain
Leuwen, Belgium - 24 August 2014
[Image © 2014 by Albertine Eylenbosch; used with permission]
[Updated 18 January 2022]