Mezzo-soprano and novelist Vivien Shotwell recently made her L.A. Opera debut as the Second Lady in The Magic Flute, for which she was praised as being “a real standout for volume and vibrancy of tone” (Parterre.com). This January, she joined the Rai Symphony Orchestra (Turin, Italy) for Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony, under the direction of James Conlon, of which GB Opera wrote, “The luminous song, Urlicht, which constitutes the 4th movement, flowed easily, full of charm, from the voice of American mezzo-soprano Vivien Shotwell.” In the 2020-2021 season, canceled due to Covid-19, she would have performed Zosia in Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness with the Miami Music Festival, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Wichita Grand Opera, and returned to the Rai Symphony as the soloist in Mahler’s Third Symphony, again under the direction of James Conlon.
She recently sang Ottone in Bare Opera’s Poppea, of which Opera News wrote, “Shotwell’s portrayal was gripping, her voice rich in its lowest reaches and projecting just enough gender ambiguity.” In 2018 she sang Fricka in Die Walküre with the Miami Music Festival. Praised for her “extremely attractive and extremely large voice” (Berkshire Review for the Arts), Vivien received a Master’s in Voice from the University of Iowa, and an Artist Diploma in Opera from the Yale School of Music, where she performed Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi under the baton of Speranza Scappucci. Also at Yale, she sang the title role in The Rape of Lucretia, for which she was described by the Hartford Courant as being “filled with intensities…like the ringing of a haunted bell.” She was an Emerging Artist with Calgary Opera, where she performed Béatrice in Béatrice et Bénédict. She studied violin and viola for ten years, and participated in intensive theatrical training as a child and teenager. A dual American-Canadian citizen, she resides in Canada and studies with Mark Oswald in New York City.
Vivien has given visiting artist recitals and led masterclasses at Williams College and the University of Iowa School of Music, and has received grants from the Olga Forrai Foundation, Early Music America, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She was twice a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and at the Yale School of Music received both the David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize and the Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize. Her debut novel, Vienna Nocturne, about an English singer who loved Mozart, was a Globe and Mail bestseller, and has been translated into seven languages. Editions of Vienna Nocturne include German, Italian, Dutch, Czech, Turkish, Hungarian, and Bulgarian. It is also available in large print, and as an ebook and audiobook. (Photo above by Brent Calis.)
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