First heard as a Mozartian, Christine Brewer has retained the flexibility of her lyric voice while adding to its power. A peerless Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan, she is now in her prime.
At the height of the hoo-hah over Deborah Voigt’s dismissal over weight issues from Christof Loy’s production of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos , it was odd that no one asked Christine Brewer what she thought about the Little Black Dress that caused all the trouble. But the quietly-spoken Mid-Westerner has little interest in building a media profile, and would be the last to criticise a soprano for putting on weight or losing it. If her own physique has held her back on stage, she has triumphed in the concert hall. Brewer’s magnificent, lustrous, easy sound is startling enough in Wagner, Mahler, Berg and Britten. Married to perfect diction, meticulous shading and exquisite phrasing, it is a miracle in Schubert and Strauss. Less secure personalities would have lost the plot with a voice like this, yet Brewer never takes her glorious sound for granted and prioritises text and melody. She is a conscientious and generous musician.
In her own words: ‘The common threads in singing roles like Isolde, Elizabeth I [Gloriana], Leonora [Fidelio] etc is that I find the vulnerability in these women – I try and find what makes them take risks, and then I take those risks.’
Greatest recording: Wagner Tristan und Isolde, cond. Trevelyan Warner 2564-62964-2 (4 discs)