The American coloratura mezzo-soprano, Vivica Genaux, was born, in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her father was a biochemistry professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and her mother was a language teacher. She began her vocal studies as a young girl with late American dramatic soprano Dorothy Dow. She then studied with the late Nicola Rossi-Lemeni and Virginia Zeani at Indiana University Bloomington and currently studies with Claudia Pinza (daughter of bass Ezio Pinza).She won coveted prizes including a 1997 ARIA Award
Vivica Genaux began her professional career specializing in charming portrayals of Gioachino Rossini comic heroines (Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Isabella in L'italiana in Algeri, Angelina in La Cenerentola). She has performed these roles more than two hundred times with many of the major USA opera companies (including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota Operas), as well as in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Dresden, Munich, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Verona, Santiago and Perth. She made her professional debut in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1994, when she interpreted Isabella in a Florentine Opera production of L’italiana in Algeri, a part that she reanimated to great acclaim in 2015 for Opera Fairbanks. She has sung this role also at Opéra National de Paris. Her 1997 debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera was in her most-performed role, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and she returned to the MET for more Rosinas in 2002. 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, Dallas Opera, and internationally in locations ranging from the prestigious Grand Théâtre de Genève, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Wiener Staatsoper to Bremen (Germany), Bayerische Staatsoper (Germany), Rieti (Italy), and Santiago (Chile). In addition to Angelina, she has sung another pair of her finest Rossini roles 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 30th anniversary. Singing both female heroines and male travesti roles, Vivica has amassed a repertory of nine Rossini characters, one of her favorites among whom, Malcolm in La donna del lago, she will revisit in concert at the Salzburger Pfingsfestspiele in June 2017.
Alongside her bel canto credentials, Vivica Genaux has been widely lauded for her performances of the music of George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, and their contemporaries. A cornerstone of her extensive Baroque repertoire is the music of Johann Adolf Hasse, whose work she champions in performance and on disc. Her role as the hero in G.F. Handel's Arminio was her first Baroque role, and she continues to expand her repertoire, which currently includes 28 roles, 20 of which are pants roles (a woman - often a mezzo-soprano - playing a male character).
Career highlights have included: Brussels (La Monnaie) and Paris (Champs-Elysées) for J.A. Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra, led by long-time mentor, conductor René Jacobs; the recently rediscovered Alessandro Scarlatti's oratorio La Santissima Trinità in Paris, Palermo and Lyon, which marked her first collaboration with Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante; Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice at the Los Angeles Opera; a Weill Hall recital at New York’s Carnegie Hall; Rosinas at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper and the Metropolitan Opera; the Opéra National de Paris (Barbiere and Alcina); a concert at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin with René Jacobs and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin performing music from their “Arias for Farinelli” CD; Felix Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Paris and Hong Kong with Kurt Masur and the Orchestre National de France; Rinaldo in Montpellier and Innsbruck; Minnesota Opera for Lucrezia Borgia, I Capuleti ed i Montecchi and Semiramide; Urbain in Les Huguenots for the opening of the new opera house in Bilbao; Hassem in Donizetti’s Alahor in Granata in Seville; Selimo in J.A. Hasse’s Solimano at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin; Juno/Ino in G.F. Handel's Semele at New York City Opera; and seven appearances at the Caramoor Festival.
With an international career that now spans more than two decades, Vivica Genaux charms audiences and critics alike with her charisma, commitment, and astounding vocal technique. After noting that she ‘has stage presence in spades,’ Clive Paget wrote in Australia’s Limelight Magazine in April 2016 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.’
In 2017, the role of Piramo in J.A. Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe takes Vivica Genaux to Budapest, Vienna, Valencia for concert performances with Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi. 2017 also brings her role debuts as Lepido in G.F. Handel’s Lucio Cornelio Silla, presented in concert with Europa Galante at Wiener Konzerthaus in January, and as Eternità and Diana in Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto at Opéra national du Rhin, with performances in both Strasbourg and Mulhouse. Earlier in the 2016-2017 season, she interpreted the role of Emilia in A. Vivaldi's Catone in Utica for the first time in a pair of concert performances with Oper Köln. In July 2016, she added Junon in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actéon to her repertoire via a double bill with Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, in which she sang Dido, presented by Les Talens Lyriques (Director: Christophe Rousset) in Beaune, France, and reprised in Acre, Israel, and Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in September and October 2016.
On the concert platform, a highlight of the 2016-2017 season is the debut of a new program featuring music composed for the mythological singer Orpheus by Gluck, G.F. Handel, J.A. Hasse, Nicola Porpora, Ristori, and Wagenseil. This continues the tradition of Rival Queens, Vivica Genaux' exploration with soprano Simone Kermes of arias and duets composed for 18th-Century divas Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, documented on CD by Sony Classical and revived in Turkey, Switzerland, and Malta in January 2017. In February 2017, she returned to Chicago for three concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with which ensemble she débuted in 2014. Other concert appearances in the 2016-2017 season take her to Tours, France, for The Colours of Emotions with Concerto Köln; to Rovigo, Italy, for La magnifica comunità, featuring works by Riccardo Broschi (brother of the legendary castrato Farinelli), G.F. Handel, J.A. Hasse, and A. Vivaldi; and to the Händel-Festspiele Halle for Pianto di Maria, presenting music formerly misattributed to G.F. Handel.
Some of Vivica Genaux' most memorable endeavors in recent seasons include participating in the world premiere 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 I; a rapturously-received portrayal of G.F. Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Shanghai in 2014; her role debut as Ruggiero in G.F. Handel’s Alcina in Moscow in January 2015; singing the title role 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.
Vivica Genaux enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise with new generations of singers via master-classes and teaching opportunities.
Vivica Genaux 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 roles. In 2007 she received New York City Opera’s Christopher Keene Award, and in 2008 Pittsburgh Opera’s Maecenas Award. It was announced in November 2016 that she is the 2017 recipient of the City of Halle’s prestigious Händel-Preis, which will be formally awarded in June 2017. She resides in Italy with her husband, Massimo.