Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Star..Except Around Home

I just finished a wonderful conversation with one of our area's most talented and world-renowned stars. She is a performer sought-after by the very top opera houses on the planet. She is receiving rave notices wherever she opens her mouth to sing. She is Christine Brewer.

Many in our neck of the woods have no idea who she is...let alone understand how big a name she is in the world of opera. After all, St. Louis isn't exactly the opera center of the universe. But, a visit to her website will start to give you an idea just what an unbelievable talent she possesses, and how she is thought of in places where opera is a major part of the cultural scene.

Check out this review of one of her recent New York performances...

The essence of these three days lay elsewhere: in Christine Brewer's Isolde. Given the hardships of Wagnerian singing, devotees tend to negotiate, forgiving certain vocal shortcomings for compensating assets. Ms. Brewer is the most complete Isolde I have heard in many years. The sound and the reserves of power are there, but so are the musical poise, the delicacy when required and the explosive passion free of any coarseness or overstatement. Whether Ms. Brewer could have sustained this remarkable performance over a single evening I don't know, but this was an Isolde to remember...At the end, Mr. Viola's image of Tristan - rising underwater, arm outstretched - was touching. But with my attention fully fixed on Ms. Brewer's radiant "Liebestod," I saw it, I am afraid, only out of the corner of my eye.
Bernard Holland - New York Times (Dec. 7, 2004)

And another from London...

Brewer, whose voice is, quite simply, one of the greatest in the world, had delivered the song with such blazing intensity that the usually sedate Wigmore audience burst into spontaneous applause.
Tim AshleyThe Guardian - London (March 23, 2004)

It's somewhat understandable, and frankly Christine rather likes it, that she is largely anonymous in this part of the world. She can move around without being bothered by someone seeking an autograph, or a short conversation with a "star". She can go to the grocery store, or visit a class at Marissa grade school (where she used to teach) without being pestered. She is also someone that we would be able to meet on the street and feel like we've known for a long time. That makes her even more of an asset to the area. She's just good people.

I had Christine as a guest on my radio show a number of years ago. She was just beginning to make a name for herself in the opera world. She told me how she wanted to raise her daughter before really "going after it" with her singing career. How many people would do that? To put a tremendous talent "on hold" for the sake of doing the right thing by her husband and child before reaping all the rewards of stardom had to be tough. It's true that many opera performers don't become stars without a fair amount of "seasoning" of their voice...but Christine likely could have been traveling the world with her talent at a much younger age.

I spoke with her today in hopes of arranging a recital for the benefit of the auditorium project at Lindenwood University's Belleville campus. Her schedule is such that it's not likely we'll be able to make that happen for a few years. But whenever we do, it will be a very special event. And, I'm very much looking forward to working with her on the project....when, and if.

Christine Brewer
-Nominated for 3 Grammys this year in the opera category
-Featured performer on at least 15 operatic CD's during her career
-Calls Lebanon, Illinois home

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