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 2023/24 season, Mr. Thomas undertakes his first Parsifal at Houston Grand Opera and returns to major stages around the world in signature Verdi and Puccini roles. He sings Radamès in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Aida, Cavaradossi in Royal Opera House’s Tosca, Calaf in Los Angeles Opera’s Turandot, and Alvaro in Den Norske Opera’s La forza del destino. He appears in concert and recital with the Edinburgh International Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Vocal Arts DC at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, before concluding his artistic residency at LA Opera with Fire and Blue Sky, a world premiere song cycle composed for him by Joel Thompson.
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 appearances as Otello at Canadian Opera Company and Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Ernani at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Manrico in Il trovatore at Bayerische Staatsoper, Radamès in Aida at Houston Grand Opera, Stiffelio at Oper Frankfurt, and Don Alvaro in La forza del destino at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Opéra national de Paris. An alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Program, Russell most recently returned to the Met as Don Carlo and Rodolfo in La bohème. Other important appearances include Cavaradossi at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Idomeneo at the Salzburg Festival, Roberto Devereux at San Francisco Opera, Radamès and Otello at Los Angeles Opera, Florestan in Fidelio at San Francisco Opera and Cincinnati Opera, and Calaf and Adorno in Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Mr. Thomas created the role of Lazarus in the world premiere of The Gospel According to the Other Mary by John Adams and Peter Sellars, and his portrayal of Tito in the new 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.