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Christine Brewer: a soprano and her teddy bear

July 9, 2011 |  9:00 am

Brewer When Christine Brewer goes on tour, she rarely ever travels without Marissa Melody.

Melody isn’t the famed American soprano’s stylist, public relations representative or vocal coach.

She’s one very lucky toy bear.

Brewer, who is appearing in a concert version of Puccini’s “Turandot” at the Hollywood Bowl with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on July 17 and is the subject of a profile in Sunday's Arts & Books section, sends photographs of the bear to the sixth grade students at Marissa Elementary in Marissa, Ill.

Not only has the jet-setting plush toy visited such cities as London, Tokyo and Rome many times, but she has also been photographed in the arms of some of the world’s top classical music artists such as James Levine, Thomas Hampson and David Robertson.

Before she rose to fame as a singer, Brewer, who lives in an equally tiny rural town not far from Marissa, used to be a teacher at Marissa Elementary.

These days, she returns to the school around twice a year to chat with the students and their teacher, Nancy Wagner, as part of Marissa Elementary’s “Opera-Tunities” social studies program. Brewer also invites Wagner’s class to hear her rehearse and perform at Powell Hall in St. Louis whenever she has an engagement with the St. Louis Symphony.

“We always have a lot of fun trying to figure out where in the world Marissa Melody and Christine Brewer are. One day we’ll get a photograph of Marissa at the Parthenon. The next day, she’ll be on the London Eye,” Wagner said. “Then, when Marissa comes to visit our classroom with Christine and the kids touch the bear, it’s like they get to touch a bit of the world.”

Click here to read the profile of Christine Brewer.

-- Chloe Veltman

Photo: Thomas Hampson and Christine Brewer with Marissa Melody. Courtesy: Christine Brewer