Jess Thomas



Having studied Psichology in the Stanford University, Jess Thomas was a pupil of voice teacher Otto Schulmann. He debuted in 1957 as the Haufhofmeister in Rosenkavalier at the San Francisco Opera, where he also sang Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth. In 1958, he was engaged by the Karlsruhe Staatstheater, where he debuted in the title role in Lohengrin. In 1960, he appeared as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Munich Festival and was a guest singer in the Stuttgart Staatsoper.

It was in Bayreuth that he had his greatest success. There he sang Parsifal (1961-63, 1965), Lohengrin (1962, 1967), Walther in Meistersingern (1963, 1969), Tannhäuser (1966-67), Siegfried (1969,1976) and also the tenor solo in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. He was honoured with the Wagner-Medal in Bayreuth in 1963. He was a member of the the Vienna State Opera and a regular guest at the Zürich Oper and the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. There, he debuted as Radamès in Wieland Wagner’s production of Verdi’s Aida in 1961. In the same year, he became a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper company. In 1963, in the reopening of this opera house, he sang the Emperor in R. Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten and also became a member of the Metropolitan Opera House, where he appeared in 15 seasons in 95 performances of 15 roles including the Wagner heroes, Florestan and Samson, not to mention the opening of the Lincoln Center hall in the first performance of Barber’s Anthony and Cleopatra, with Leontyne Price.

In the Salzburg Festival, he sang the part of Bacchus in 1964 and 1965 with Karl Böhm. In the Salzburg Easter Festival, he sang the role of Siegfried in Karajan’s Ring in 1969 and 1970. At the Covent Garden, he was acclaimed as Walther and Tristan in 1969-71. At the Paris Opera, he was seen as Siegmund in 1967 and as Tristan in 1972. From 1965, he has often appeared as a guest in the San Francisco Opera as well. His farewell performance took place in Washington in a guest performance of Parsifal from the Metropolitan Opera in 1982. Besides the above mentioned roles, he took also the parts of Calaf in Puccini’s Turandot, Hoffman in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Lenski in Tchaikovsky’s Yevgeny Onegin.

(source: Operissimo)