“Rather deservedly, each aria received rounds of applause but Imogen Thirlwall's performance as Despina the meddling maid was outstanding with incredible stage presence and vocals to match.” (Taranaki Daily News, 2016).
An accomplished character actor, Imogen specialises in comic soubrette roles. Praised for her stylish delivery of a quirky and vivacious Despina in Cosi fan tutte (Opera News, 2015), Imogen’s first incarnation of the role, for Opera in a Days Bay Garden, was described as “bubbling with a mix of infectious energy and insouciance which made her a force to be reckoned with beneath the girlishness!” (Middle C, 2013).
In 2016, Imogen went on to perform in a touring production of Cosi fan tutte with Wanderlust Opera, an initiative bringing quality performances of opera to New Zealand audiences outside of major centres.
Imogen has performed in six productions with Opera in a Days Bay Garden, situating opera at Canna House surrounded by native beech forest. In Cavalli: La Calisto, “Linfea’s thoughts ran the full gamut of the lovesick maiden’s thoughts and feelings in a totally convincing fashion” (Radio New Zealand, 2015). Imogen used her “comic talent and gift for characterisation to great effect” as Annina in Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (Seen and Heard International, 2014). As maidservant Auretta in Mozart: L’oca del Cairo, “Imogen Thirlwall and Christian Thurston often stole the scene as the marquis’s inevitable servants” (The Listener, 2013); Imogen was described as “an absolute delight, voice production and stage movement so spontaneously “theatrical” in overall impulse one felt in complete and more-or-less instant accord with the character” (Middle C, 2013).
Imogen performed the role of Lieschen in Bach: Coffee Cantata with the New Zealand Trio to open the 2015 Wanaka Arts Festival, presenting a midday traditional version and a 10pm burlesque version; “this taste of an opera… a hilarious and exquisite half hour, showcasing an artform many shy away from” (The Wanaka Sun, 2015).
In February 2018, Imogen made her European debut as Musetta in a concert version of La bohème with Berlin Italian Opera.
"Imogen Thirlwall soared above the choir and trio, thrilling the audience with the clarity, power and beauty of her voice. Her command of the jazz idiom was breath taking and a credit to her musicality and versatility" (John Wanhill, 2016).
Imogen regularly performs across New Zealand as a featured soloist with regional choirs and orchestras. Repertoire includes Mozart: Requiem Mass, Faure: Requiem, Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 2 Hymn of Praise, Mozart: Vesperae solennes de confessore, Haydn: Nelson Mass, Bach: Christmas Oratorio, and Schubert: Mass in C Minor.
Known for her adventurous and passionate approach to modern repertoire, in 2016 Imogen performed as soprano soloist for Will Todd: Mass in Blue alongside the Julie Mason Trio and Civic Choir in Tauranga, and again with Supertonic: The Wellington Young Professionals Choir in a sold-out concert at Hannah’s Playhouse in Wellington.
In the same year, Imogen performed in the southern hemisphere, sold-out premiere performance of an epic oratorio by Robert Hanson: Hiawatha with the Kapiti Chorale, children’s choir and orchestra. Hanson, who was in attendance, wrote to Imogen: “as a gifted soprano and a gifted musician… intonation impeccable, preparation wonderful and the dramatic elements set a new standard for the role of Minnehaha”.