Thomson, Heather

Heather Thomson. Soprano, b Vancouver 7 Dec 1940. A pupil 1954-61 of Phylis Dilworth Inglis in Vancouver, in 1961 she was a CBC Talent Festival winner and a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions. She attended the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto and then studied with Irene Jessner at the RCMT and made her COC debut in 1962 as the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel, followed in 1963 by Mimi in La Bohème. She was the winner of the 1964 San Francisco Opera auditions. While a member 1964-6 of Sadler's Wells, where she sang Mimi, Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress (on the company's 1965 European tour), and Marguerite in Faust, she also appeared with the COC as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus (1964) and as Marguerite (1966). Other COC roles have included Giulietta/Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann (1967), Liù in Turandot (1969), Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (1970), Tatiana in Eugene Onegin (1972), Marguerite again (1974), the title role in Manon Lescaut (1975), Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes (1980), and Rosalinda again (1986). In 1973 she created the role of Heloise in the COC's premiere of Charles Wilson'sHeloise and Abelard. She was the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro for Festival Canada (Festival Ottawa) in 1971, Nedda in Pagliacci for the Opéra du Québec in 1973, and Hanna in the Quebec Symphony Orchestra performance of The Merry Widow at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. She was Euridice in the Guelph Spring Festival's 1984 production of Gluck's Orpheus and Euridice, Leonora in the Pacific Opera Victoria's 1986 production of Il Trovatore, and Madeleine in Opera Hamilton's 1987 production of Giordano's Andrea Chénier. She has also appeared with the Edmonton, Manitoba, Southern Alberta, Vancouver, Boston, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and San Diego operas.

In 1969 she made her New York City Opera debut as Marguerite and in 1974 her European debut as Violetta in La Traviata at the Augsburg opera house, where her husband, the US tenor Perry Price, was a leading tenor. In 1980 she toured England with the Welsh National Opera in the title role of Tosca. She has sung in the initial productions of several opera companies including the New Haven Opera (Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus 1989) and the Birmingham (Alabama) Opera (the title role in Tosca 1990). She has been heard on CBC radio and TV, including television broadcasts of a 1980 Edmonton Opera production of Manon and a 1982 Opera Hamilton production of Pagliacci. In 1984 Thomson broadcast with pianist Bryan Gooch a concert of rarely-heard songs by W.O. Forsyth, Clarence Lucas, and Edward Manning (see United States).

Thomson's voice has both lyric and dramatic capacity; she is as effective in a simple, disarming song as in a demanding operatic role. She possesses a prodigious technique and a sensitive approach to both music and text, to the nuances as well as the more obvious implications of words and the demands of stage and action.

In 1990 she was living in Connecticut, teaching privately, and continuing to appear throughout North America and Europe.