PC: Fay Fox
“Thomas’s entrance had ringing authority, immediately establishing Otello’s primacy. But there was no harshness; Thomas succeeded in keeping Otello a lyrical tenor role.”
Gordon Williams, Opera Wire
July 19, 2018
With a “heroically shining tone of exceptional clarity and precision” (Opera Magazine) and “gorgeously burnished power” (The New York Times), American tenor Russell Thomas uses his signature elegance and intensity to create vivid character portrayals on the world’s most important stages.
In the 2022/23 season, Mr. Thomas performs three Verdi title roles in major international venues, appearing as Ernani at Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and as Otello at Los Angeles Opera. He also returns to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden as Calaf in Turandot and makes his highly anticipated Paris Opera debut as Don Alvaro in La Forza del Destino. Mr. Thomas appears in recital at the Colburn in Los Angeles in collaboration with LA Opera and joins conductor James Conlon for Verdi’s Requiem at Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He concludes the season at Carnegie Hall, singing Act IV of Otello opposite Renée Fleming with the MET Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Acclaimed for his “voice of intrinsic warmth and refined sense of style” (Opera News), Mr. Thomas has enjoyed a string of operatic triumphs in key Verdi roles, including debuts as Otello at Canadian Opera Company and Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Manrico in Il Trovatore at Bayerische Staatsoper, Radames in Aida at Houston Grand Opera, Stiffelio at Opera Frankfurt, and Don Alvaro in La Forza del Destino at Deutsche Oper Berlin. An alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Program, Russell most recently returned there as Rodolfo in La Bohème. Other important appearances include Cavaradossi in Tosca at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Idomeneo at the Salzburg Festival, Roberto Devereux at San Francisco Opera, Radames at Los Angeles Opera, Florestan in Fidelio at San Francisco Opera and Cincinnati Opera, and Adorno in Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. His portrayal of Tito in the new Peter Sellars production of La Clemenza di Tito at the Salzburg Festival drew praise from The New Yorker, which noted, “Thomas’s penetrating tenor, which has lately acquired richness and heft, anchored the evening.”
Mr. Thomas’s “ardent expression and spine-tingling high notes” (Cincinnati Enquirer) have been heard in the Verdi Requiem with the New York Philharmonic and the national symphonies of Washington, D.C. and Barcelona. He has appeared as tenor soloist in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the symphonies of Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle, and Houston; the title role in Oedipus Rex at LA Opera and with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen; and as tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, BBC Proms, and Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Mr. Thomas created the role of Lazarus in the world premiere of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a passion oratorio by John Adams and Peter Sellars, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
During the hybrid 2020/21 season, Mr. Thomas began his tenure as Artist in Residence at LA Opera, where he plays a substantial role in artistic planning and casting. In addition to hosting and curating the company’s After Hours recital series, he has spearheaded new training programs designed to serve outstanding singers from historically Black colleges and universities and Los Angeles public high school students from underserved communities.
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