Wendy Dawn Thompson studied singing at Victoria University of Wellington, winning New Zealand Young Performer of the Year Award in 1998. She joined the prestigious Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist scheme at New Zealand Opera before coming to the UK to complete postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and Royal College of Music. In 2003 she won the Kathleen Ferrier Award and in 2005 was a finalist at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, representing New Zealand.
A gifted and energetic performer, Wendy’s operatic appearances have seen her shooting across the stage on a Segway, climbing 3-metre walls, singing in the rain, balancing on top of a caravan, and adorned in motorcycle leathers from top to toe.
Her operatic roles include 3rd Innocent in the world première of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden); Sesto La clemenza di Tito (Opera Australia); Gwendoline The Importance of Being Earnest (Opéra national de Lorraine); Charlotte Werther (Teatro Nacional de São Carlos); Vlasta The Passenger (English National Opera); Varvara Katya Kabanova (Opera North); Fidalma The Secret Marriage (Scottish Opera); Dorabella Così fan tutte, Der Komponist Ariadne auf Naxos, Argene L’incoronazione di Dario (Garsington Opera); Magdalana Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Edinburgh International Festival); title role Mignon (Buxton International Festival); Ruggerio Alcina (English Touring Opera); and has performed regularly with Birmingham Opera Company and New Zealand Opera. She also performed as Teresa Salieri Amadeus (National Theatre of Great Britain).
Wendy relishes telling stories through music on the song recital and concert circuit too. Recital appearances have seen her performing at the Wigmore Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival and Bridgewater Hall. Other concert highlights include Mozart Requiem (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic); and Beethoven Symphony No 9 and Mendelssohn Elijah (BBC National Orchestra of Wales).
Having gained a huge amount from mentors and teachers over the course of her career – the late conductor Richard Hickox and tenor Philip Langridge were major influences – Wendy embraces opportunities to mentor younger singers whenever possible. She enjoys leading masterclasses and has done so at institutions including the University of Birmingham and Blackheath Halls, part of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Wendy feels strongly that the world of opera and classical music can only benefit from becoming more reflective of society as a whole and, as such, is a vocal supporter of organisations campaigning for improved access to the profession, including Parents and Carers in Performing Arts and Supporting Women and Parents in Opera.
Life is a Dream / Birmingham Opera Company / 2012
“The physicality of the cast instead became the dramatic focus, especially Eric Greene as the bestial, sweat-drenched prince Segismund and Wendy Dawn Thompson as the jailer’s daughter Rosaura, in skin-tight slit dress and singing beautifully while perched on an iron bed as it was wheeled crazily through the crowd.”
Title role / Mignon / Buxton International Festival / 2011
“She was sung, in Annilese Miskimmon’s subtle and insightful production, by Wendy Dawn Thompson, who had no difficulty with the high-lying mezzo part. She brought an almost fey charm to the role, singing her song of longing for Italy in a ravishing half-tone and her Act 3 aria with meltingly lovely phrasing.”
“Wendy Dawn Thompson finds a perfect match in the vulnerable, sexually ambiguous title role, her rich mezzo perfectly scaled to the music.”
Isabella / L’italiana in Algeri / NZ Opera / 2009
“Returning home amid a rapidly expanding international career, Wendy Dawn Thompson (Isabella) extended her repertoire with great success: she has just the voice for Rossini heroines.”
“Soprano Wendy Dawn Thompson proved an ideal Isabella; her vocal firepower, stratospheric agility and audacious character portrayal abounded with conviction as a sharp-witted, sassy signorina running rings round Mustafà.”