Meet The Performers

Visiting Artist

Jessica Rivera

Possessing a voice praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “effortless precision and tonal luster,” Jessica Rivera is established as one of the most creatively inspired vocal artists before the public today. The intelligence, dimension, and spirituality with which she infuses her performances on the great international concert and opera stages has garnered Ms. Rivera unique artistic collaborations with many of today’s most celebrated composers including John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov, and Nico Muhly, and has brought her together in collaboration with such esteemed conductors as Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Ms. Rivera was heralded in the world premiere of John Adams’s newest opera, A Flowering Tree, singing the role of Kumudha, in a production directed by Peter Sellars as part of the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna. Since then, she has performed A Flowering Tree for her debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker with Sir Simon Rattle and, under the composer’s baton, with the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Lincoln Center, and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre. The London performances were recorded and are now commercially available on the Nonesuch Records label.

The artist made her European operatic debut as Kitty Oppenheimer in Peter Sellars’s acclaimed production of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic with the Netherlands Opera, a role that also served for her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and she joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in a past season for its new production of Doctor Atomic under the direction of Alan Gilbert. She gave concert performances of Doctor Atomic with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and her portrayal of Kitty Oppenheimer was captured in Amsterdam and is commercially available on DVD on the BBC/Opus Arte label.

Performances of the 2010-11 season include John Adams’s El Niño under the composer’s baton at the San Francisco Symphony and at the Edinburgh International Festival with James Conlon and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Golijov’s She Was Here with Roberto Minczuk and the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, Britten’s Spring Symphony with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Franz Welser-Möst for a debut with the Cleveland Orchestra. Ms. Rivera covers the role of Pat Nixon for the Metropolitan Opera’s company premiere of Nixon in China directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by John Adams and joins the Grammy Award-winning Beninoise singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo for the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Hope: An Oratorio at the Kimmel Center with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia conducted by Mr. Minczuk. Carnegie Hall and Cal Performances Berkeley co-commission a work for Jessica Rivera written by Mark Grey to a libretto by Niloufar Talebi: Ātash Sorushān (Fire Angels) which receives its premiere during recital presentations at Zankel Hall and Hertz Hall in a collaboration with pianist Molly Morkoski and the MEME Chamber Ensemble.

San Francisco Performances welcomes Jessica Rivera to their Artist Residency Program during the 2010-11 season as she conducts workshops in classroom and community settings throughout the Bay Area encouraging young people to open their minds to the beauty and power of music as well as to the poetry and spirit behind the art of song.

Performances of the 2009-10 season included Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (in Atlanta and at Carnegie Hall), a program of Copland and Golijov with Mr. Spano and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Sir Roger Norrington and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall and with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Adams’s A Flowering Tree with Joana Carneiro and the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Chorus at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, and both Salonen’s Five Images of Sappho and Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Ms. Carneiro and the Berkeley Symphony. Ms. Rivera returned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for performances of Golijov’s celebrated La Pasión según San Marcos with Maria Guinand and for Poulenc’s Gloria with Grant Gershon at the Hollywood Bowl and joined the San Diego Symphony and Jahja Ling for Mozart’s Requiem.

Highlights of recent seasons include performances of El Niño with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Nixon Tapes with the Pittsburgh Symphony under the direction of John Adams, Golijov’s Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Phoenix Symphony and Michael Christie, Carmen, as Micaëla, with Bramwell Tovey and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Poulenc’s Gloria with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Ravel’s Shéhérazade with Mr. Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.

Jessica Rivera made her critically acclaimed Santa Fe Opera debut in the summer of 2005 as Nuria in the world premiere of the revised edition of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar. She reprised the role for the 2007 Grammy Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording of the work with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano, and bowed in the Peter Sellars staging at Lincoln Center, Opera Boston, as well as in performances at the Barbican Centre, the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Cincinnati Opera, and the Ojai and Ravinia Festivals. The artist’s first performances of Margarita Xirgu in Ainadamar, a role created by Dawn Upshaw, occurred in the summer of 2007 at the Colorado Music Festival under the baton of Michael Christie.

Committed to the art of recital, Ms. Rivera has performed in concert halls in New York, Los Angeles, and Santa Fe. In past seasons, to support a recital disc on the Urtext Records label that examines works for soprano, clarinet, and piano, Ms. Rivera toured North America with concerts in Los Angeles, New York (Carnegie Hall), Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, and Chicago (Ravinia Festival). She also has given a recital program at the Amelia Island Festival accompanied at the piano by Robert Spano. She was deeply honored to have received a commission from Carnegie Hall for the world premiere of a song cycle by Nico Muhly called The Adulteress given on the occasion of her Weill Hall recital performance.

Ms. Rivera has sung Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Musetta in La bohème with the Los Angeles Opera. As a member of the prestigious Los Angeles Opera Resident Artist Program for three seasons, she received critical acclaim from the New York Times for creating the role of Anastasia in the world premiere of Deborah Dratell’s Nicholas and Alexandra.

This biography is based on information provided by the artist, ensemble or representatives thereof and may only be as current as the artist’s or ensemble’s most recent performance at Symphony Center.