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.
The current season sees Mr. Thomas’ return to the San Francisco Opera as Florestan in Fidelio, to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Cavaradossi in Tosca, to the Los Angeles Opera as Radames in Aida (as part of his three-year engagement as Artist in Residence) and to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as the title-role in Otello. In concert he will appear with the Finnish Radio Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen as the title-role in Oedipus Rex and the Seattle Symphony and Thomas Dausgaard in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Future projects include returns to the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Los Angeles Opera and the Houston Grand Opera. He will also make a debut at the Paris Opera.
Last season Mr. Thomas returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for a film of I Pagliacci (in his role debut as Canio), to the Los Angeles Opera for a concert of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with James Conlon and to the Deutsche Oper Berlin for some concerts of excerpts of La Forza del Destino, as well as to the Cincinnati Opera as Cavaradossi in Tosca. In concert he was heard as the tenor soloist in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in an opera gala with the Atlanta Symphony and in a virtual presentation by the Dallas Opera of Janacek’s The Diary of One Who Vanished.
The previous season featured Mr. Thomas’s much-anticipated Verdi role debuts. He opened the season with his first Don Alvaro in a new Frank Castorf production of La Forza del Destino at Deutsche Oper Berlin, and subsequently made his role and house debuts as Radames in Houston Grand Opera’s new Phelim McDermott production of Aida. He returned to the Washington National Opera as the title character in Verdi’s iconic Otello and joined Gianandrea Noseda and the Wiener Symphoniker at the Vienna Konzerthaus for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, reprising this piece on tour with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Andris Nelsons in Hamburg and Munich.
Prior to that, Mr. Thomas made his staged role debut as Verdi’s Otello, appearing at Canadian Opera Company and Deutsche Oper Berlin after concert performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He sang Manrico in Il trovatore at the Bayerische Staatsoper and Lyric Opera of Chicago, Idomeneo in a new Peter Sellars production at the Salzburg Festival, made his role debut as Roberto Devereux at San Francisco Opera, and brought his celebrated Tito in La clemenza di Tito to Los Angeles Opera. On the concert stage, he joined the World Orchestra for Peace in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the BBC Proms, and performed Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Acclaimed for his “voice of intrinsic warmth and refined sense of style” (Opera News), Mr. Thomas has enjoyed a string of operatic triumphs in recent seasons, including performances as Don Carlo at Washington National Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; Cavaradossi in Tosca at Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic; and Pollione in Norma at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. He has debuted as Florestan in Fidelio at Cincinnati Opera, as Stiffelio at Oper Frankfurt, and as Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana at Deutsche Oper Berlin. Mr. Thomas has sung Rodolfo in La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, Loge in Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic, Adorno in Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and Ismaele in Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera and Seattle Opera. His portrayal of the title character in the new Peter Sellars production of La clemenza di Tito at the Salzburg Festival and Dutch National Opera drew praise from the 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, Oregon Bach Festival, Theater Basel, 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 the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the symphonies of Detroit, Atlanta, and Houston; and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and the 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, and has performed the work at English National Opera, Ravinia Festival, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which commissioned it.
Mr. Thomas is an alumnus of the young artist programs at the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and has received prizes from the George London Foundation for Singers, Liederkranz Foundation, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, and Richard Tucker Music Foundation. In 2010, he swept the Grand Prize, Audience Prize, and Tenor Prize of the Francisco Viñas Competition in Barcelona, Spain.