The American mezzo-soprano, Melissa Thorburn, began her career as a pianist, receiving a degree from Louisiana State University, and continuing her studies with Yvonne Lefébure in Paris on grants from the French and American governments. She completed a Master of Music degree in voice at the New England Conservatory and subsequently began private study with Phyllis Curtin. In 1982 she won the first prize f the Metropolitan Opera New England Regional Auditions.
Melissa Thorburn has been engaged by such distinguished organizations as the Metropolitan Opera, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, as well as being a featured soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra for five consecutive seasons. Her European debut was as Siebel at the Deutsche Opera Berlin in a new production of Faust conducted by Jesús López-Cobos, and she has also worked with such conductors as Gerard Schwarz, Richard Hickox, Roger Norrington, John Currie, and William Smith.
Recent and forthcoming engagements have included Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2 (Lobgesang) with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, George Frideric Handel's Messiah with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (Spain), J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) with the Wichita Symphony, and Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with Greater Buffalo Opera, F. Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream under the baton of Charles Dutoit at the Mann Music Center and with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Georges Bizet's Carmen with the Kalamazoo Symphony, L.v. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Bach Festival of Winter Park, Haydn's Mass in Time of War with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, David Stahl conducting, W.A. Mozart's Great Mass in C minor with the Canterbury Choral Society, Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder and excerpts from Der Rosenkavalier with the Portland, Maine Symphony. In addition she was engaged for concerts with the Bermuda Festival and a recital for the Friends of Vienna in Buffalo and she debuted with the Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival in J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), Cantata BWV 78, and Dido's Lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.