Mark A. Thomsen

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Mark A. Thomsen[1] (born March 6, 1956) is an American operatic tenor. His performance repertoire includes the history of opera, from Cavalli, Bach, and Mozart, to Puccini, Verdi, and Richard Strauss, and the premieres of operas by composers such as Dominick Argento, Leonard Bernstein, Carlisle Floyd and Lowell Liebermann.

Thomsen is from Minnesota, where he attended Burnsville High School in Burnsville and then graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.[2] He spent two years as an apprentice with the Minnesota Opera and then set off to achieve a master's degree in Applied Voice from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. During this period he also twice won the Pavarotti Award at the Metropolitan Opera's National Council auditions.

After graduation from Eastman, he was a member of the Houston Opera Studio for three years, appearing in mainstage productions of Peter Grimes, Der fliegende Holländer, Eugene Onegin,[3] La Traviata, Fidelio, and Trouble in Tahiti.[4] Shortly thereafter, he joined the ensemble, which performed Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place at the Kennedy Center, La Scala, and Vienna Staatsoper, before recording the opera for Deutsche Grammophon.[5]

For the next two years, Thomsen developed his early career under the guidance of Beverly Sills at the New York City Opera, where he performed the title role of La Clemenza di Tito, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and many others, including the premiere of Argento's Casanova.[6] At the conclusion of his first year in New York City, he received the New York City Opera Debut Artist of the Year award.

Thomsen spent several seasons with the Santa Fe Opera,[7][8][9] a renowned center for progressive opera, where his repertoire expanded to include Flamand in Capriccio, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and roles in the American Premiere of Hans-Jürgen von Bose's The Sorrows of Young Werther and Siegfried Matthus's Judith. Subsequently, Mr. Thomsen appeared in roles such as Henry Morosus in Die Schweigsame Frau, the Steuermann in Der fliegende Holländer, in Strauss's Friedenstag and Feuersnot.[10]

Over the course of many years, Thomsen has shared his vocal and acting talents in a variety of venues across the United States, with notable engagements. Some of these include the title role in the American premiere of Lowell Liebermann's The Picture of Dorian Gray (Florentine Opera),[11][12] as Gerald in a Chicago Opera Theater's production of Lakmé,[13] as Camp Williams in Cold Sassy Tree (Austin Lyric Opera and Kansas City Opera), as Lenski in Eugene Onegin (Indianapolis Opera), as the title role in Werther and as Jenik in The Bartered Bride (Washington Opera), Lennie in Of Mice and Men[14] and the title role in Les contes d'Hoffmann (Edmonton Opera), the title role in Faust with the New Orleans Opera,[15] and as Fitzpiers in the world premiere of Stephen Paulus' The Woodlanders. In February 2000 he also portrayed Miguel Morales in the world premiere concert and recording session for Daren Hagen's Bandanna.[16][17]

Additional companies he has performed with include the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Connecticut Opera,[18] Dallas Opera,[19] Houston Grand Opera,[20] Atlanta Opera,[21] Minnesota Opera,[22][23] Boston Lyric Opera,[24] Portland Opera, Opera Columbus, Opera Omaha, Spoleto Festival USA,[25] and the Colorado Music Festival. European engagements have included several seasons with the Vienna Volksoper where he performed leading roles in operettas and Mozart operas. He toured Japan with the Volksoper and later joined the Vienna Staatsoper as Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He made his Opéra de Nantes debut as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and returned in a later season as Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

In addition to his frequent presence on the operatic stage, Mr. Thomsen has appeared on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion radio program several times to sing lyric recital pieces and participate in comedic skits and has been involved with pre-performances of Garrison Keillor's first opera, Mr. and Mrs. Olson.[26][27]

Memorable performances of recent years have included Tenors 4U concerts, a role as Frederic in Pirates of Penzance and as Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca[28] in Florida, a "Holiday of Musicals" in Guatemala City, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at the Lincoln Center with the Met, an acclaimed stand-in for Don Jose for the Chicago Lyric Opera's Carmen,[29][30] and Nicias in an exotic Palm Beach production of Thaïs. He has also fulfilled engagements with the Metropolitan Opera to cover the roles of Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Nicias in Massenet's Thais, Rinaldo in Rossini's L'Armida, and others.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Barbara Flanagan, Barbara Flanagan: [METRO Edition], Minneapolis Star Tribune, Dec. 9, 1987, 01B.
  3. ^ Jerome S. Ozer, Opera Annual U.S. 1984-85, J.S. Ozer, 1984, pp. 571, 574.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Peter G. Davis, Casanova’s Latest Conquest, New York Magazine, Nov. 18, 1985, pp. 93-95.
  7. ^ Joanne Sheehy Hoover, S.F. Opera's 'Giovanni' Energetic, Delightful, Albuquerque Journal, July 2, 1996.
  8. ^ Craig Smith, SFO HITS THE MARK WITH `DON GIOVANNI', The Santa Fe New Mexican [Santa Fe, N.M], July 1, 1996, A-3.
  9. ^ Donal Henahan, Review/Opera; A New 'Dutchman' for Santa Fe: [Review], New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) [New York, N.Y] Aug. 1, 1988, C.16.
  10. ^ Franklin Mesa, Opera: an encyclopedia of world premieres and significant performances, singers, composers, librettists, arias and conductors, 1597-2000, McFarland & Co., 2007, p. 438.
  11. ^ George Henry Hubert Lascelles Earl of Harewood, Opera, Volume 50, Issues 7-12, Rolls House Publishing Company, 1999, p. 799.
  13. ^ John von Rhein, Right place, right time `Lamke' fares well in staging at Athenaeum: [NORTH SPORTS FINAL, CN Edition], Chicago Tribune (pre-1997 Fulltext) [Chicago, Ill] May 11, 1990, 9.
  14. ^ D.T. Baker, Bleak story of shattered men makes edgy opera: No toe-tapping tunes stand out, but music, acting top quality: [Final Edition], Edmonton Journal [Edmonton, Alta], Mar. 10, 2002, B6.
  15. ^ Contributing writer, N.O. Opera's 'Faust' hits all the high notes ; Soaring voices mix with special effects, Times - Picayune [New Orleans, La] Oct. 13, 2001, A.23.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Gilbert H. Mott, In review: From around the world, Opera News. 1/16/93, Vol. 57 Issue 9, p38.
  19. ^ Heidi Waleson, Opera: A Dignified `Don Quichotte', Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition [New York, N.Y] Nov. 29, 2000, A.24.
  20. ^ Martin Bernheimer, AT WORTHAM CENTER AN `ABDUCTION' WITH A TOUCH OF MOVIE MELODRAMA: [Home Edition], Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) [Los Angeles, Calif] Oct. 26, 1987, 1.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Michael Anthony, Minnesota Opera's `Don Giovanni' is striking: [METRO Edition], Star Tribune [Minneapolis, Minn], Oct 23, 1988, 05B.
  23. ^ Mike Steele, Minnesota Opera does well by seldom-seen `Armida': [METRO Edition], Star Tribune [Minneapolis, Minn], Jan. 24, 1993, 03B.
  24. ^[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Lawrence Toppman, In Review: CHARLESTON, SC, Opera News, Sep 2005, Vol. 70 Issue 3, p73-76.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Cary McMullen, 'Tosca' May Be ISO's Best Opera, The Ledger [Lakeland, Fla], Jan 21, 2008.
  29. ^ Mark Thomas Ketterson, In Review: CHICAGO, Opera News. Dec 2005, Vol. 70 Issue 6, p67-68.
  30. ^ Sarah Bryan Miller, Stand-in stands out in the Lyric's 'Carmen': [Fourth Edition], St. Louis Post - Dispatch, Oct 23, 2005, F.7.
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