"Some productions and performers depict Musetta as a foil for Mimì, a robust, flamboyant contrast to the frail Mimì’s docile introversion. Greensboro Opera’s Musetta embodied this archetype, but soprano Diana Thompson-Brewer gave her a beguilingly unique personality. From her first appearance in Act Two, it was apparent that Musetta’s flirtation with the dull Alcindoro was solely a means to an end, but there were flickers of fondness in her banter with him. Thompson-Brewer’s voicing of ‘Marcello mi vide’ revealed that, as Mimì sensed, passion for her recalcitrant former lover motivated Musetta’s actions.
‘Quando me’n vo’ soletta per la via’ was radiantly sung, the top Bs resplendent. The quarreling in Act Three was spirited but avoided vocal harshness, affection tempering even the most heated exchanges. Helplessness shaded Thompson-Brewer’s voice in Act Four, her singing of ‘Intesi dire che Mimì’ and ‘Madonna benedetta, fate la grazia a questa poveretta’ disclosing the breadth of Musetta’s devotion to the bohemians. She alone seemed to accept that Mimì’s death was imminent yet was unprepared for it. Vocally and theatrically, Thompson-Brewer’s Musetta delighted, but it was as a humble woman holding the hand of her dying friend that she shone most brilliantly."
by Joseph Newsome
La regina del viale: (from left to right) baritone Robert Wells as Alcindoro,
soprano Diana Thompson-Brewer as Musetta, baritone David Pershall as Marcello,
tenor Arnold Livingston Geis as Rodolfo, and soprano Suzanne Kantorski as Mimì
in Greensboro Opera’s November 2022 production of Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème.
[Photograph by VanderVeen Photographers, © by Greensboro Opera]
Galaxies in Her Eyes
World Premiere Opera
by Mark Weiser & Amy Punt
"Eden, the youngster whose misadventure precipitates the time-defying events of Galaxies in Her Eyes, is a cousin of the eponymous protagonists of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, but soprano Diana Thompson-Brewer made Eden a unique character, a girl recognizably like and absolutely unlike any other. From the start of Eden’s expedition, Thompson-Brewer sang Weiser’s music and Punt’s words with disarming sincerity. Eden’s reactions to each of her exchanges with her mathematical ancestors were astutely differentiated, but her yearning for her mother was omnipresent in the soprano’s performance.
Eden is no ordinary operatic heroine, but Thompson-Brewer approached her music with the same concentration that she devotes to rôles like Mozart’s Königin der Nacht, Donizetti’s Lucia, and Strauss’s Zerbinetta. Eden’s vocal lines make relatively modest demands by comparison, but Thompson-Brewer left nothing to chance, her singing demonstrating the confidence of preparedness. She managed in the opera’s brief duration to forge a richly-detailed depiction of Eden, culminating in an uplifting realization of the girl’s dream to land on the surface of Mars. The revelation in the opera’s final scene that Eden’s mother had died, the loving daughter singing that her father had done his best but could not fill her mother’s absence, was all the more devastating for being fleeting. Eden’s trek began as a girl’s physical quest and ended as a gloriously independent woman’s mission to reconnect to the mother who nurtured her dreams. Along the way, Thompson-Brewer’s singing shone as radiantly as the constellations Eden revered."
by Joseph Newsome
Photo credit: Bill Broadway