Taking criticism

Some of the negative criticism I’ve had, professionally:

  1. “My dear, you are not a mezzo. You do not have the low notes to be a mezzo and if you don’t by your age, you never will.” (Judge at a competition – I was 30 and had just started working with my teacher a year before; the low notes came in a few months later.)
  2. “Christine Thomas, while adequate, paled in comparison with last year’s alto, the splendid Theodora Hanslowe.” (Washington Post review – Teddy Hanslowe was an awesome mezzo, but considering I had walked up my skirt and fell on my face before “He shall feed his flock,” I’ll take adequate. But still. Crappy thing to say.)
  3. “Do you really think you’re suited to American song?” (Blanche Thebom, judge at the American Traditions Competition. My response, “Yes, I do. I’m an American and I love the music and I sing it well.” And now she’s dead and I’m not, so there.)
Some of the positive criticism I’ve had:
  1. “Christine Thomas sang the role of the Cat in a way that made you want to hear her Carmen.” (Joe McLellan, Washington Post, regarding my performance in Starbird. Never did sing Carmen, but I held that close to my heart for years. First review.)
  2. “The role of Smeton is one in which to spot future stars. Christine Thomas fits the bill.” (Octavio Roca, Washington Times, regarding Anna Bolena. Really should’ve pursued an agent after that.)
  3. “Thomas’ voice, an amazing instrument” (James Auer, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, regarding my performance of Yehuda Yanny’s “Incantations.”)
  4. “The wildly randy Wanda Kazlakowski” (Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, regarding A Cudahy Carolers Christmas.) 
  5. “The girls’ mother, Marmee, was played with quiet dignity and wisdom by Christine Thomas, who also directed the play. Thomas has an amazing voice, and small wonder as she’s performed extensively as an opera singer. Listening to her solos was one of the richest treats of the show.” (Liz Ruth-Brinegar, MD Theatre Guide, Little Women)
  6. “As Marmee March, she is a vocal powerhouse. She has a strong, clean vocal style and commands the stage with every note in her solos “Here Alone” and “Days of Plenty.” Her portrayal as the matriarch of four daughters is admirable and she seems quite comfortable in the role.” (Jason Crawford Samios-Uy, Backstage Baltimore)
  7. “Thomas has a striking voice that is perfectly suited for her solo numbers. Filling both “Days of Plenty” and “Here Alone” with mournful sorrow and deep nostalgia, Thomas emotionally connects to the songs on a deep and earnest level, creating a much revered Marmee.” (Mandy Gunther, Theater Bloom)*
*Mandy also found me somewhat aloof and frigid in the role, initially, but I blame that on the fact that I was also directing the show and there was something going on with the Christmas tree and the projections right before I went on, so I was distracted. But I clearly got over it by the time I had to sing. 
So I take the good and I throw out the bad. Or, rather I decide if the bad had any merit, and if it didn’t, move on.
As Sondheim said in Sunday in the Park with George (the video of which I posted a few weeks ago), you have to move on….
Stop worrying where you’re going
Move on
If you can know where you’re going
You’ve gone
Just keep moving on
I chose, and my world was shaken
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken
The choosing was not
You have to move on…

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