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 theatre, studio recording and concert. He has released two studio recording albums: What You'd Call a Dream (2019) and Christmas at Home (2020), and several singles including, “Autumn Leaves (2021)” “You Came Into My Life (2021)” and “You’re the Best (2020)” that have reached over 700,000 streams on Spotify and Apple Music. He has also collaborated with Emmy-nominated PBS TV pianist Marina Arsenijevic in both video performance (during COVID-19) and in studio recordings.
In the covid-affected 2020/2021 season John performed concerts, livestreams, and productions with several companies including Intermountain Opera Bozeman, Shades of Pink Charity Foundation, The FAR Conservatory in Detroit, and Las Vegas Opera. He was able to return to the stage in 2021 as Ralph Rackstraw in HMS Pinafore with Pensacola Opera and as Alfredo in La Traviata with the Pacific Symphony.
Looking ahead to the 2021/2022 season John will return to acclaimed roles such as Younger Thompson in Glory Denied with Berkshire Opera Festival, Frederic in Pirates of Penzance with Utah Opera, as well as his Carnegie Hall debut as tenor soloist in the Messiah with Musica Sacra under the baton of Kent Tritle in 2021.
2019/2020 season highlights included house and role debuts at Michigan Opera Theater in the role of Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd and a return to one of John's most celebrated roles, Younger Thompson in Glory Denied with Atlanta Opera* and Urban Arias. *cancelled due to covid19
Other highlights of the 2019-20 season included a debut with the New York Oratorio Society as the tenor soloist in Rachmaninoff's Vespers, a return to Intermountain Opera Bozeman as Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate and to Opera Birmingham as Prince Charmant in their production of Massenet's Cendrillon*.
In the 2018/2019 season, John was seen as Prince Charmant in Cendrillon (Opera Company of Middlebury), Lensky in Eugene Onegin (Intermountain Opera Bozeman), Alfredo in La Traviata (Gulfshore Opera, Tri-Cities Opera), Younger Thompson in Glory Denied (Opera Birmingham, Des Moines Metro Opera), Candide in Candide (Chautauqua Opera), and made his Lincoln Center debut as Tony in West Side Story Suite (New York City Ballet).
In the last few seasons, John performed across the U.S., including appearances with the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, FAR Conservatory, Shades of Pink Foundation, NY Oratorio Society, 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).
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.