Artist Of The Week: Russell Thomas To Make A Highly Anticipated Debut

By Francisco Salazar

A month ago Russell Thomas surprised Metropolitan Opera audiences with his immense voice and gleaming high notes. The role was the small but crucial part of Ismaele in Verdi’s “Nabucco.” While this is a character that can sometimes be ignored, Thomas brought undisputed star power to it. With such a big breakout, Thomas is set for another milestone in his career.

This week Thomas will make his highly anticipated debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the role of Pollione in Bellini’s “Norma.” The Lyric Opera is one of the most important theaters in the United States where the world’s greatest singers have performed. It is quite surprising that Thomas has yet to make his debut at the house, given his international career that has seen him appear at most of the world’s greatest houses.

In recent years, Thomas has received acclaim when taking on the character of Pollione. When he sang it at the Los Angeles Opera critics were ecstatic and stated, “Russell Thomas’ Pollione, who casts off Norma for the younger Adalgisa, presents an unusually believable combination of haughty authority and punishing vulnerability.”

Thomas has also showcased the role in San Francisco and Toronto alongside Sondra Radvanovsky to positive reception. With experience as Pollione, Thomas is expected to be a great hit in Chicago.

Thomas is one of the most sought-after tenors of his generation and this season he is scheduled for the part of Mao in Adam’s “Nixon in China” and Cavaradossi in Puccini’s “Tosca” with the Los Angeles Opera.

After a successful career as a lyric tenor, Thomas is slowly moving into the dramatic repertoire, though he is keeping some lyric parts. His repertoire has included roles such as Faust in Gounod’s opera, Tito in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito,” Hoffmann in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” Verdi’s “Stiffelio” and most recently Florestan in Beethoven’s “Fidelio.”

Thomas was a member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera, as well as a  member of Seattle Opera Young Artist Program, a Roger R. Hinkley artist at the Florida Grand Opera and a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of St Louis.  He won the First-Prize of the prestigious “Viñas Competition” in Barcelona in 2010 and of the “Competizione dell’Opera” in Dresden in 2008.


For those not familiar with his voice, Thomas recorded Donizetti’s “Belisario” with Joyce El-Khoury. The opera was released by Opera Rara and it showcases Thomas’ lyrical qualities.

He is also featured in the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Adam’s “The Gospel According to the Other Mary.” This has been a warhorse piece in Thomas’ repertoire and one that he recently performed at Ravinia and in London.

Thomas has been featured on the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD twice as Malcolm in Verdi’s “Macbeth” and as Ismaele in Verdi’s “Nabucco.”


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