Grammy Award-winning American soprano Christine Brewer’s appearances in opera, concert and recital are marked by her own unique timbre, at once warm and brilliant, combined with a vibrant personality and emotional honesty reminiscent of the great sopranos of the past. Named one of the top 20 sopranos of all time (BBC Music), her range, golden tone, boundless power and control make her a favorite of the stage and a highly sought-after recording artist, one who is “in her prime and sounding glorious” (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times).
Christine Brewer highlighted her 2012–2013 season as Sister Aloysius in the world premiere of Douglas J. Cumo’s Doubt at Minnesota Opera, based on the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play and popular film by John Patrick Shanley. An equally exciting concert season saw the soprano singing Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Kansas City Symphony, Eugene Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra. Brewer also performed Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung with the University of Kentucky as well as with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, rounding out her concert season with Britten’s War Requiem with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Equally at home on the recital stage, Brewer was seen at the Sheldon Arts Foundation 9/11 memorial, Vocal Arts Society in Washington D.C., Concord Methodist Church in St. Louis, Wimbledon Music Festival in London, St. Alban’s Church in East Sussex, Cleveland Institute of Music and a special birthday gala for William Lyne at Wigmore Hall in London.
Ms. Brewer’s 2011–2012 season included singing Wagner and Beethoven for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s season-opening concert, followed by Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, and finally, Ring cycle excerpts with the San Francisco Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen. The soprano also revisited Beethoven in five accounts of the Missa solemnis with the Boston Symphony and James Levine, culminating in a March 2012 performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The “superlative Strauss singer” (The New York Times) undertook the late-Romantic’s Four Last Songs with the St. Louis Symphony and David Robertson, and performed his music alongside that of Marx, Thomson, Ives and Smith for a Mother’s Day recital with her regular pianist Craig Rutenberg at New York’s Alice Tully Hall. She returned to the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis for concert performances of Weber’s Der Freischütz and made her Los Angeles Opera debut with her celebrated portrayal of Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring.
The soprano’s numerous 2010–2011 season highlights included performances of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with both the Atlanta Symphony under Donald Runnicles and the San Francisco Symphony with Tilson Thomas, as well as Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with the Toronto and Chicago Symphonies led by James Conlon. She reprised Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Royal Concertgebouw and Detroit Symphony under Mariss Jansons and Leonard Slatkin, respectively, and performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony. She debuted in the iconic title role of Puccini’s Turandot in a concert performance at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel, and was the featured soloist for the New York City Opera’s opening night gala.
An avid recitalist, Brewer has graced such prestigious venues as Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Oberlin Conservatory, the Friends of Chamber Music, Washington, D.C.’s Vocal Arts Society, and many others. She has appeared in Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Song” series at Alice Tully Hall, in the Boston Celebrity Series and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, California’s Mondavi Center and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Her unique voice has also been featured at the Gilmore, Ravinia and Cleveland Art Song festivals.
On the opera stage, Brewer is highly regarded for her striking portrayal of the title role in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, which she has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Théâtre du Chatelet, Santa Fe Opera, English National Opera and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Attracting glowing reviews with each role, she has performed Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at San Francisco Opera, Gluck’s Alceste with Santa Fe Opera, the Dyer’s Wife in Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Paris Opéra and Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring at Santa Fe Opera. She is also revered for her work on lesser-known operas, which has seen her take on the title roles in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride with the Edinburgh Festival, the Rio de Janeiro Opera and Madrid Opera and Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena with the Santa Fe Opera.
Brewer has worked with many of today’s most notable conductors, including Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Shaw and Jaap van Zweden. Frequently sought after to sing the great symphonic works of Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, Mahler, Beethoven, Strauss, Wagner, Janáček and Britten, she has sung with the philharmonics of New York and Los Angeles, and the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas. In Europe, the soprano counts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Orchestre de Paris and Toulouse Orchestra as regular partners. In addition, she has made appearances with the Malaysia Philharmonic, New World Symphony and Toronto Symphony. The versatile artist has also been invited to perform for such special engagements as the re-opening of Covent Garden with Plácido Domingo for HRH the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, a concert of Handel with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and a gala performance of Górecki’s Third Symphony with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and long-time collaborator Runnicles.
Brewer’s recordings include a contribution to Hyperion’s prestigious Schubert series with pianist Graham Johnson; the Janáček Glagolitic Mass and Dvořák Te Deum with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Telarc); Dvořák’s Stabat mater (Naxos); and two recital recordings entitled “Saint Louis Woman” and “Music for a While,” produced and released by Opera Theatre of St. Louis. March 2011 saw the release of Echoes of Nightingales (Hyperion), presenting the soprano and pianist Roger Vignoles in a nostalgic selection of the encore songs once favored by Kirsten Flagstad, Eileen Farrell, Helen Traubel and Eleanor Steber. As the UK’s Guardian describes, “Brewer, in tremendous voice, carves out a niche as their successor, partly because the majestic quality of her delivery equals theirs, but more importantly because she, like they, has the ability to make this repertoire live and breathe.” Other recent releases include a live recital disc from Wigmore Hall (Koch); Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde, Strauss’ Opera Scenes and Mozart’s Requiem with Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony (Telarc); Fidelio in German with Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live); Barber’s Vanessa with the BBC Symphony (Chandos) and the Grammy Award-winning Bolcom Songs of Innocence and Experience (Naxos), both conducted by Slatkin; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (EMI); a disc of lieder for Hyperion’s new Richard Strauss series with Vignoles; Fidelio in English and “Great Operatic Arias” with the London Philharmonic (Chandos); and Britten’s War Requiem with the London Philharmonic and Masur (LPO Live).
Actively involved in passing on a love of opera to the younger generation, Brewer introduced “Opera-tunities” to the sixth grade students of Marissa Elementary School, where she herself once taught, in Marissa, IL; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch describes this new educational outreach program as “an excellent lesson in music-making.”