Soprano Christine Brewer on Motherhood and Music

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Christine Brewer, the soprano of choice for the operas of Richard Wagner worldwide(Photo: Dario Acosta)
Christine Brewer, the soprano of choice for the operas of Richard Wagner worldwide(Photo: Dario Acosta)

Soprano Christine Brewer went from small town Illinois to the great concert and opera stages of he world. She still lives in Lebanon, Illinois, (population 3,500) and waited until her daughter was grown to take her opera career international.

Today, Brewer is the soprano of choice for the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss worldwide, and sings Brunnhilde in Wagner’s Ring cycle at the Metropolitan Opera with James Levine in 2009.

Her latest CD, Wigmore Hall Live: Christine Brewer & Roger Vignoles, is of a recital she gave last year in London’s Wigmore Hall.

Brewer talks of motherhood, music, and her big voice in this interview:

[audio src="http://wosu.org/audio/classical/2008/christine_brewer-interview-061008.mp3"]

Highlights From This Interview:

“When (my daughter) was really small, I took her with me on the road. When she got a little older, and got into school, and she was playing in sports and playing in band, she didn’t want to travel with me, so she stayed home with my husband. And the when she hit sort of that age 14 to 18, I felt like I needed to not do so much opera, because it’s such a time commitment.”

“When I’m doing a recital, I don’t think of myself as an opera singer. To tell the truth, I just think of myself as a singer all the time. I don’t think ‘Oh, now, I’m doing Wagner. I have to be a certain way.’ I just sing, and I just try to tell a story. And I think the reason I’m so attracted to doing recitals is because basically I’m a storyteller… That’s my philosophy of singing.”

(On singing Wagner’s music on the CD): “They’re very moving love songs. They’re very heart-wrenching. The third one – “The Greenhouse (Im Treibhaus)” – is probably my favorite of the five. I guess I relate it a bit to myself, because when he says ‘You’re this beautiful plant, and you’re in a foreign land, but you long for your home.’ I find that in myself sometimes when I’m traveling to these beautiful, exotic places, and then I get a little homesick. Those words speak to me.”

“I say this in master classes: the composer was obviously inspired by the words, or he wouldn’t have written the music. So I feel like you have to go back to the source. I spend a lot of time just reading the text aloud, reading them in the language that they were written, reading them in my literal translation, until they speak to me.”

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