Russell Thomas 'Imbues Otello with Vocal and Psychological Nuance'

May 5, 2019

Photo by Michael Cooper

Photo by Michael Cooper

American tenor Russell Thomas has made his highly anticipated staged role debut as the title character in Verdi’s Otello, earning critical acclaim across North America.

Thomas stars alongside soprano Tamara Wilson as Desdemona and baritone Gerald Finley as Iago, in a new David Alden production at Canadian Opera Company. Performances run through May 21, with tickets available via COC.

Read reviews:

“A rare black tenor to be cast in the part, Russell Thomas imbues Otello with vocal and psychological nuance. Otello requires a dramatic tenor with a wide vocal range, the power to cut through heavy orchestration, and the skill to make the long, declamatory passages sing — ideally, a voice that marries Wagnerian stamina and Italianate beauty. Russell Thomas is one of them. His assured vocalism and theatrical acuity were central to the success of the Canadian Opera Company’s chilling new production. This was an insightfully psychological portrayal…”

Wall Street Journal

“Thomas brings [Otello] to life on stage in the most compelling and authentic way. While there are many stunning and familiar arias in this magnificent opera, some of the most captivating and interesting moments lie in the duets.”
Mooney on Theatre

“A subtle and exceptionally nuanced performance; his voice explored Otello from a profoundly internal space.”

Plays to See

“Thomas’s performance is carefully thought out, his authority established from his clarion-call opening notes onward, his jealous fury building gradually and inevitably… Make no mistake. It’s in the music that this Otello triumphs.”

Now Toronto

“Never has his tenor sounded so heroic and Italianate nor has his acting shown such intensity as it does in this role.”
Stage Door Review

“Anchored by a mesmerizing performance by Thomas in the title role, the production takes you on a journey of true love, revenge, and morality. Thomas’ performance oozes sophistication and considering the vocal challenges that a production like Otello throws at a performer, Thomas pulls it off with ease as he brings the title character to life with steadfast devotion, strong vocal delivery, and exceptional stage presence. A tour-de-force experience with exceptionally authentic performances by Thomas…”

Aesthetic Magazine

“Inhabiting Otello’s namesake principal, Russell Thomas crafts a tense, tortured Moor… His well constructed, fine-tuned instrument with its shiny array of top notes is more than sufficiently assertive. Thomas electrifies in a moving, superbly proportioned rendition of the composer’s supercharged lament.”

Opera Going Toronto