Glenwood, Rifle concerts offer opera for the everyman
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Romance. Lies. Opera?
“That’s kind of like our lives every day, isn’t it?” joked classical singer Mark Thomsen.
Minus the question mark, it’s also the title of the tenor’s latest show, performed alongside soprano Robin Follman. Accompanied by Debra Ayers, the duo is currently traveling through the Western Slope. Tonight and tomorrow, they’ll show off their musical chops in the Roaring Fork Valley.
On a recent morning, the pair talked up the show, which swings from fanciful theater tunes to heavy, operatic ballads. Taking turns answering questions, their words were loose and spontaneous. They were laughing, and trying not speak over each other. And their dedication to their craft showed right through.
“So much of our purpose is to take the audience on some kind of journey and let them tap into experiences and feelings and situations that the average person might not have time to,” Thomsen said. “We’re trying to touch the heart.”
“Good job,” applauded Follman. “I like that.”
For an outside observer, it was hard to tell whether she was joking or not, but surely Thomsen got it. You see, they’ve done shows together all over the world. Though Thomsen, a former Minnesotan, lives in Las Vegas, and Follman makes her home in Orange County, Calif., they’ve been teaming up regularly for “more than three, less than 20 years” (Follman’s words).
“When you’re driving for 3,000 miles, you want someone in car with you that tells really good stories,” Follman laughed.
On more slightly more serious note, Thomsen put it like so: With the ups and downs of performance, sometimes it’s good to have a buddy.
“You’re thrown into a situation where you’re emoting and you have to throw your emotion on stage and then you have to just go ‘bye,'” he said. “That’s why you want to do it with friends. It’s safe.”
That comfort, however, doesn’t mean they won’t try something new. Thomsen dubbed their current piece a “trial balloon”; Follman called it a good place to bring kids. Human emotions, it seems, can’t be dated. This performance is their way of showing just how relevant classical music can be.
“It’s the most fun way, the most intimate way, the least stuffy way to experience classical music,” Follman asserted.
So, why, you may ask, does this matter so much to them? Why try to bring the general public into the classical fold?
In short, this is just what they love.
What keeps Follman going, she said, is hearing how the notes and the words and the voices come together. It amazes her how it’s different every time, a constant evolution. To her, the perfection of live singing is its imperfection.
“The humanity of the performance is what touches the audience,” she explained.
“I want people to have a smile on their faces, a song in their hearts,” Thomsen went on.
“How corny is that?” he then added, good-heartedly.
“It all comes along with you being from Minnesota,” said Follman, with a friendly sarcasm.
And then they were off, to drink coffee, to start their day. They are in the middle of a tour, after all.
Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.