“Don Jose finally got to be a hero; or at least the tenor singing him did. As the male lead in Bizet’s Carmen, American Mark Thomsen not only made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut Saturday, but he did it on the season’s opening night – and as a last-minute substitute for the billed Neil Shicoff, who was recovering from laryngitis. Thomsen began the evening facing a firing squad during the last bars of the overture, and he ended the night riddled with rifle bullets as the curtain fell. In between, though, he scored a personal triumph. What sort of tenor loses the girl to a bass-baritone?… Don Jose does get to kill her… And he gets to sing, beautifully, in Thomsen’s case, particularly in Act II’s ‘Flower Song.’ Thomsen is also young enough to play the role effectively, and handsome enough to account for why Carmen, the tempestuous Gypsy, singles him out for her attentions in Act I.

“…Credit for saving opening night went to Thomsen. When a large bouquet came flying over the orchestra pit at the curtain calls, Graves picked it up, extracted one red rose and presented it to the tenor. It was an echo of the action in Act I, but it was also a way of saying ‘Thank you.'”
— F.N. D’Alessio, Associated Press