Hailed by The Chicago Tribune as a “Wonderfully natural singing actor,” through his innate sense of style, command of languages, and superior acting abilities, tenor Dennis Petersen is sought after for a variety of operatic roles. More recently he is being noted for his foray into some of the most eminent dramatic tenor roles in the repertoire, such as Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, Florestan in Fidelio, the Captain in Wozzeck, Aegisth in Elektra, Canio in Pagliacci, and the title role in Peter Grimes.
His début with the Seattle Opera as Mime in both Das Rheingold and Siegfried brought the highest accolades from Ring fans and critics alike. He returned in 2013 and was once again praised by Opera News for his superb “tone, technique, expressivity [and] diction.” He also performed in Der Ring des Nibelungen with Washington National Opera. This season, Mr. Petersen performs his signature role of Herod in Salome with Minnesota Orchestra, Father Grenville in Dead Man Walking with Kentucky Opera and Minnesota Opera, and Mime in Das Rheingold with Arizona Opera and Fort Worth Opera.
Last season’s engagements include the role of Beadle in Sweeney Todd with Mill City Summer Opera, Mime in Das Rheingold with Minnesota Opera, Spoletta in Tosca with Opera Tampa, and Grandpa Joad/Muley Graves/Endicott 1/Contractor/ Patrol Guard in The Grapes of Wrath with Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Since making his Metropolitan Opera début as The Drunken Lout in Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Petersen has been seen at the coveted house on a regular basis in such roles as Bob Boles in Peter Grimes, The Detective in the world première of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, Mime in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, Nathanael/Spalanzani in Les contes d’Hoffman, and in their productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia, The Rake’s Progress, The Merry Widow, The Gambler, War and Peace, Boris Godunóv, Andrea Chénier, The Nose, Tosca and Tchaikovsky’s Mazepa.
Of his performance in one of his signature roles of Herod in Minnesota Opera’s production of Salome, critics wrote “…Petersen as Herod was not just excitingly sung but was also the evening’s strongest characterization: a depraved, superstitious borderline psychotic whose frenzy and lust became barely manageable as the story unfolded.” He has also portrayed the role with Boston Lyric Opera and Winnipeg Opera.
Notable engagements have also included a tour to Japan singing the School Master in The Cunning Little Vixen under Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival; Dead Man Walking with Michigan Opera Theatre and in the New York première with New York City Opera; the U.S. première of The Handmaid’s Tale with Minnesota Opera; The Wreckers at Bard SummerScape; Das Lied von der Erde with St. Croix Valley Orchestra; and Die Zauberflöte with the Israeli Opera.
In his prolific career, Mr. Petersen has developed a strong relationship with San Francisco Opera, performing in a variety of operas including Pique Dame, Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, Tosca, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, Andrea Chénier, Die Fledermaus, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Don Quichotte, Capriccio, Der Ring des Nibelungen, Pagliacci, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Meistersinger, Roméo et Juliette, Boris Godunóv, Lulu, L'incoronazione di Poppea, Prince Igor, Anna Bolena, Wozzeck, War and Peace, The Cunning Little Vixen, Doktor Faust and a new production of La forza del destino.
Also a house favorite at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he has performed in The Cunning Little Vixen, Das Rheingold, Die Fledermaus, Dialogues des carmélites, and most recently Die Zauberflöte. With the Spoleto Festival USA, he has appeared in new productions of Weill’s political-satirical opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Amistad and as Tichon in Káťa Kabanová. With the New York City Opera, he performed in Lizzie Borden, Intermezzo, and Roberto Devereux.
Orchestral appearances have included Bach’s Magnificat with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the symphonies of Eugene and Columbus; Händel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, and Mozart’s Requiem with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Verdi’s Requiem with Cedar Rapids Symphony and St. Cloud Symphony; Haydn’s Theresienmesse at both Spoleto Festivals; Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Times with New York Choral Society at Carnegie Hall; as well as various performances with the New Jersey Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and the Calgary Philharmonic.