Learn about our 70-year history.

Russell Thomas

Otello

Russell Thomas

Biography

Tenor Russell Thomas, recently the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-2015 Artist in Residence, is quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting vocal and dramatic talents on the international opera and concert scene.

In the 2016-2017 season, Mr. Thomas returns to the Metropolitan Opera to sing Ismaele in NABUCCO, to the Canadian Opera Company and Lyric Opera of Chicago for performances of Pollione in NORMA, and to the Los Angeles Opera for Cavaradossi in TOSCA. After that, he makes his debut with the Salzburg Festival singing the title role in LA CLEMENZA DI TITO. Concert highlights this season include performances of DAS LIED VON DER ERDE with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Beyond the Aria recitals at the Harris Theater in Chicago, the role of Mao in NIXON IN CHINA with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Florestan in FIDELIO with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Loge in DAS RHEINGOLD with the New York Philharmonic, and Beethoven’s SYMPHONY NO. 9 with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. Future engagements include debuts with the Bavarian state Opera, the Washington National Opera and the Netherlands Opera and returns to the San Francisco Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Canadian Opera Company and the Oper Frankfurt.

Last season featured several important role debuts for Mr. Thomas; first as Turiddu in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA with the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, then in the title-role of a new production of STIFFELIO with the Oper Frankfurt and as Don José in CARMEN with the Canadian Opera Company and finally as Florestan in FIDELIO with the Cincinnati Opera. He made his Los Angeles Opera debut as Pollione in NORMA and appeared in his celebrated portrayal of Lazarus in John Adams’ THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE OTHER MARY in Strasbourg. On the concert stage, Mr. Thomas appeared with the New York Philharmonic in concerts celebrating the great African-American artists that have appeared with the orchestra, and performed in recital at Wigmore Hall.

Mr. Thomas’ 2014-15 season began with performances of Bellini’s NORMA with the San Francisco Opera marking his debut as Pollione and with the company. Mr. Thomas then took part in the English National Opera’s Peter Sellars production of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE OTHER MARY, followed by several new roles: the title-role in FAUST with Michigan Opera Theatre and Manrico in IL TROVATORE with the Cincinnati Opera. He also returned to Pollione in NORMA with the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain and sang his first Ismaele in NABUCCO with the Seattle Opera. As part of Mr. Thomas’ residency with the Atlanta Symphony, he was heard in CHRISTMAS CONCERTS and RECITALS. Further recital appearances took place at Rockefeller University in New York and for Marilyn Horne’s 81st Birthday Gala at Zankel Hall.

Russell Thomas’ previous season began with concert performances of Adams’ GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE OTHER MARY at the Ravinia Festival and of Verdi’s I MASNADIERI with Washington Concert Opera, followed by the tenor’s Deutsche Oper Berlin debut in the title-role of Verdi’s DON CARLO, Andres in WOZZECK with the Metropolitan Opera, the title-role in THE TALES OF HOFFMANN with the Seattle Opera and the Prince in RUSALKA with North Carolina Opera. In concert, Mr. Thomas sang Beethoven’s SYMPHONY NO. 9 with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert as well as with the Mostly Mozart Festival and Gianandrea Noseda, MESSIAH with the National Symphony, DAS LIED VON DER ERDE and Verdi’s MESSA DA REQUIEM with the New Jersey Symphony.

Prior to that Mr. Thomas sang on a recording and a concert of Donizetti’s BELISARIO for Opera Rara in London, followed by the artist’s role debut as Tito in Mozart’s LA CLEMENZA DI TITO at the Metropolitan Opera. Later in the season, Mr. Thomas returned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic to reprise his stunning Lazarus in John Adams’ THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE OTHER MARY, this time in performances staged by Peter Sellars, which were also seen in London, Lucerne, Paris and New York. Mr. Thomas ended the season with his Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut as Gabriele Adorno in Verdi’s SIMON BOCCANEGRA and in concert performances of Wagner’s DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Further concerts included the tenor’s return to the New York Philharmonic in Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE, Mozart’s REQUIEM at Carnegie Hall and Verdi’s MESSA DA REQUIEM in Barcelona. Last, but not least, Mr. Thomas appeared in recital in his hometown of Atlanta for the opening concert of Atlanta Vocal Arts Society’s new recital series.

The 2011-2012 season included performances of DAS LIED VON DER ERDE with the Houston Ballet, followed by the Duke of Mantua in RIGOLETTO with the Orlando Philharmonic, Foresto in Verdi’s ATTILA with the Seattle Opera, A CHILD OF OUR TIME with the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall and a notable debut with the Canadian Opera Company in the title role of LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN. In concert, Mr. Thomas scored a personal triumph in the world premiere of John Adams’ THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE OTHER MARY with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, which was followed by A FLOWERING TREE with the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Spano, Verdi’s seldom-heard INNO DELLE NAZIONI with the Yale Alumni Chorus, Don Ottavio in the Finale to Act I of DON GIOVANNI with the New York Philharmonic and its Music Director, Alan Gilbert, and finally Mahler’s SYMPHONY NO. 8 with Mr. Spano at the Aspen Music Festival.

Earlier Mr. Thomas performed the Duke in RIGOLETTO with the Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile, followed by Tamino in THE MAGIC FLUTE and Andres in WOZZECK at the Metropolitan Opera, Faust in LA DAMNATION DE FAUST in Frankfurt, the title-role in Stravinsky’s OEDIPUS REX with the Boston Symphony and Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY with the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Spano and the Prince in A FLOWERING TREE with the Cincinnati Opera. Other notable concert appearances included the Mozart REQUIEM with the Milwaukee Symphony and Edo de Waart, Beethoven’s SYMPHONY NO. 9 with the Dallas Symphony and the Rossini STABAT MATER with the San Antonio Symphony.

Previous projects included the tenor’s role debut as Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY for his return to the Welsh National Opera. He was then heard in two operas at his home company, the Metropolitan Opera, first as Foresto and Uldino in a new Pierre Audi/Riccardo Muti production of Verdi’s ATTILA, then as the Steersman in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER. Later in the season, Mr. Thomas added two more Verdi parts to his repertoire: the tenor solo in his MESSA DA REQUIEM for the Basel Opera and Cassio in OTELLO with the Cincinnati Opera. Prior to that Mr. Thomas sang Tamino in THE MAGIC FLUTE at the Metropolitan Opera, made his debut as the Duke of Mantua in RIGOLETTO with the Arizona Opera, and sang the Steersman in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER with Atlanta Opera. He also reprised his role of the Prince for John Adams’ A FLOWERING TREE with Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Perth International Festival and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Among other notable debuts were the role of Mao Tse-Tung in Mr. Adams’ NIXON IN CHINA with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the composer conducting as well as concerts of Schubert’s MASS NO. 6 with the Houston Symphony and Hans Graf. He also performed George Walker’s LILACS with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Verizon Hall and Carnegie Hall/Stern Auditorium, conducted by Charles Dutoit, as well as the tenor soloist in Michael Tippett’s A CHILD OF OUR TIME as part of the Honor! Festival at Carnegie Hall/Stern Auditorium. In addition, Mr. Thomas appeared at Carnegie’s Weill Hall for the Marilyn Horne Foundation in a joint recital that was part of the mezzo’s 75th birthday celebration. Further engagements included Tamino in THE MAGIC FLUTE for Welsh National Opera, Malcolm in MACBETH for the Metropolitan Opera, as well as appearances at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence where he reprised his role of the Sultan in ZAIDE and A FLOWERING TREE at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, among other concert and recital engagements.

In the 2006/2007 season the tenor returned to the Metropolitan Opera to cover Tamino in DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, while creating the role of the Prince in the world premiere of John Adams’ A FLOWERING TREE for Peter Sellars’ New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna. The work was also the vehicle for his Berlin Philharmonic debut under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, as well as his San Francisco Symphony debut. Other engagements this season included debuts with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Michigan Opera Theatre as Tybalt in ROMEO ET JULIETTE, concerts with the London Symphony at the Barbican Centre in London and recitals in Miami and NYC with renowned pianist Ken Noda.

In the 2005/06 season the tenor covered Tamino and performed the 1st Prisoner in FIDELIO at the Metropolitan Opera, and returned to the Seattle Symphony for Mozart’s MASS IN C-MINOR, and the finale of Strauss’ IDOMENEO. Other appearances included the Sultan in Mozart’s ZAIDE at the Vienna Festwochen, the Barbican Centre in London, and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in a new Peter Sellars production. During the 2003/04 Season Mr. Thomas performed Orff’s CARMINA BURANA with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Ernesto in DON PASQUALE with Spokane Opera, and appeared in recital in NYC, Miami, and Manchester, VT. In the 2004/05 Season he made his Metropolitan Opera debut as the Herald in DON CARLO and covered Tito in Mozart’s LA CLEMENZA DI TITO. Other appearances that season included debuts with the Seattle Symphony and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival and a summer at the Marlboro Music Festival where he returned in 2006 to perform Mozart’s IDOMENEO. In 2006 he was awarded 1st Place at the Liederkranz Competition as well as the George London Foundation Competition and was a major award recipient of the Lee Schaenen Foundation. In 2005 he was a winner in the Young Concert Artist Competition, George London Foundation Compeition, and the Loren L. Zachary Society Competition, as well as 1st place winner of the 2004 Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Competition.

Mr. Thomas has also performed with the Florida Grand Opera (Roderigo in OTELLO, Mayor Upfold in ALBERT HERRING, Ivan in Wargo’s THE MUSIC SHOP, Male Chorus in THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA), Seattle Opera (Tamino in THE MAGIC FLUTE and Rodolfo in LA BOHEME) and Tulsa Opera (Nemorino in L’ELISIR D’AMORE, Borsa in RIGOLETTO, Ruiz in IL TROVATORE, Janicku in Janáček's DIARY OF ONE WHO VANISHED).

Other notable appearances include his 2001 Tulsa Philharmonic debut with Simon Estes in a benefit for the Simon Estes Foundation, Handel’s MESSIAH with the New Jersey Symphony, Rossini’s STABAT MATER with Florida Grand Opera Chorus, and the U.S. Premier of Lorenzitti's MESSE A GRANDE SYMPHONIE with the Miami Bach Society. Mr. Thomas also recorded Thomas Sleeper’s ACELDAMA: FIELD OF BLOOD for Albany Records.

A Miami native and alumnus of the prestigious Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera, Russell Thomas was also a member of Seattle Opera Young Artist Program, a Roger R. Hinkley artist at the Florida Grand Opera, a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of St Louis, an apprentice at the Sarasota Opera and was proud to take part in the 2005 and 2006 Marlboro Music Festivals. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Music in Performance from the New World School of the Arts. He was the First-Prize winner of the prestigious “Viñas Competition” in Barcelona (First Prize, Audience Favorite and Best Tenor) in 2010 and of the “Competizione dell’Opera” in Dresden in 2008.


ASO