Hailed as “impassioned...and vibrant” (Opera Today), award-winning American tenor John Riesen is consistently impressing audiences with his "fantastic, powerful voice" (Texarkana Gazette). Riesen’s growing career boasts a variety of roles in which he excels and includes significant work in Opera, Musical Theater and concert. The 2018/19 season saw many house and role debuts including Prince Charming in
Cendrillon (Opera Company of Middlebury), Lensky in Eugene Onegin (Intermountain Opera Bozeman), Alfredo in La Traviata (Gulfshore Opera, Tri-Cities Opera), Younger Thomspon in Glory Denied (Opera Birmingham, Des Moines Metro Opera), Candide in Candide (Chautauqua Opera), and his Lincoln Center debut as Tony in West Side Story Suite (New York City Ballet).
In an exciting 2019/20 upcoming season, Riesen will make his professional debut as Romeo in Romeo et Juliette as a guest artist with the Janiec Opera Company and will also be making his Michigan Opera Theater debut performing the role of Pirelli in Sweeny Todd. He will then return to two acclaimed roles, as Prince Charming in Cendrillon with Opera Birmingham, and Younger Thompson in Glory Denied in his Atlanta Opera and Urban Arias debuts. He will also be debuting Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate with Intermountain Opera Bozeman and singing the Tenor solist in Rachmaninoff's Vespers with the New York Oratorio Society.
In the last few seasons, John performed across the U.S., including appearances with the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, FAR Conservatory, Marshall Symphony, Jackson Symphony, Texarkana Symphony, Shreveport Symphony and Cuttime productions, as well as in concerts in Texarkana, TX; Pensacola and Miami, FL; Detroit, MI; Tulsa, OK; and more. Theatrically, Mr. Riesen was featured as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast at Shreveport Opera, Tony in West Side Story with the Boulder Philharmonic/Central City Opera, Tony in West Side Story with the New York City Ballet at the Lincoln Center, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly (Pensacola Opera), Rodolfo in La Boheme (Shreveport Opera) and Frederic in Pirates of Penzance (Opera Ithaca, Shreveport Opera).
"AT THE PRIME OF HIS POWERS"
as YOUNGER THOMPSON in GLORY DENIED
DES MOINES METRO OPERA & OPERA BIRMINGHAM
"...a vibrant, focused tenor...an impassioned performance of complete commitment and coltish deportment..."
" Mr. Riesen bolted about the stage, flailed at his captors’ abuse, repeatedly flung himself on the floor, and managed to do all of this while singing with secure abandon."
In 2016, John completed his second of two seasons as the resident tenor at Shreveport Opera, where he sang many leading roles, including Father Grenville in Dead Man Walking, Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S Pinafore, Don José (cover)/Remendado in Carmen, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance and Alfredo (cover)/Gastone in La Traviata. The previous year, John finished his third season at Chautauqua Opera as an AGMA apprentice artist. In his three summers at Chautauqua, he performed many roles, including Lensky in Eugene Onegin, Stagedoorman/2nd Dandy in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Malcom (cover) in Macbeth and Rector Adams (cover) in Peter Grimes. He was awarded the Chautuaqua Opera’s Studio Artist Award in 2012, Returning Apprentice Award in 2014 and Apprentice Artist Award in his final year, 2015.
Other awards and honors include first place in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition, second place in the William C. Byrd Competition, Regional Finalist and the Audience Choice Award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Gulf Coast Region (2015), Great Lakes Region (2014 and 2013); second place in the Mary Jacobs Smith Singer of the Year Competition (2016), as well as the competition’s Dr. Melvin & Lea Johnson memorial award the previous year; fifth place in the Opera Columbus Cooper-Bing Competition (2015); and the Clare S. Mackey Endowed Fund at Michigan State University among other merits.
He has been privileged to sing for political figures, including President Barack Obama, President Jimmy Carter, Judge Stephanie Kulp Seymour and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He also has been honored to sing the national anthem at several collegiate, semi-professional and professional athletic organizations, including the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, the Pensacola Ice Flyers, MSU hockey/baseball and more.
Before singing, John avidly pursued athletics and he attained Academic All-State honors in 2008 in baseball and All-Region in 2006 and 2007 (also for baseball) in the state of Michigan. His athletic career segued quickly into his singing during college, and has helped influence his performing ever since. .