Tito in LA CLEMENZA DI TITO

Los Angeles Opera

“The core of tenor Russell Thomas’ powerful Titus was compassionate and thoughtful, but he could also show flashes of anger in the rare situations that called for it. With not a weak spot in the cast, Mozart — and the legend of Emperor Titus — were well served. Go.”
–Richard S. Ginell, Los Angeles Times

“Russell Thomas projected his long legato phrases and fast, tricky runs clearly and coordinated them perfectly with James Conlon's impeccable orchestra. Thomas's strong interpretation communicated his character's changing attitudes to the audience.”
–Maria Nockin, Broadway World

“The six principal performers not only enthrall with their powerful vocals, but are terrific at using their facial expressions to emote their turbulent agitation at having to face the many dilemmas that befall them. They are led by tenor Russell Thomas, whose acting is just as moving as his robust timbre. When faced with Sesto’s punishment, it’s apparent that he would rather win loyalty with love as opposed to fear, and Thomas gets this across with a passionate and vigorous intensity in “Se all’impero.” Thomas’ Titus is a tour de force of steadfast conviction, who admirably fights off heartache and the impulse to avenge, earning the audience’s utter respect.”
–Imaan Jalali, LA Excites

“The three leading characters, played by Yu, DeShong and Thomas, balance each other perfectly. Thomas champions his role with pure ferocity. It makes sense that Titus’ subjects think he is a divine ruler, because that voice took the audience to church.”
–Sasha Urban, Daily Trojan

“Still, for all the spectacle, what outshone most were the voices and music, all of which breathed utterly freely and satisfyingly. Exuding the stature of a noble warrior and outfitted in golden breastplate, tenor Russell Thomas was convincing in authority, virtuosity, disturbance and compassion as Titus. Full power when needed was there, as was the sensitivity of pianissimos. But Thomas’s most striking weapons were the voice’s quick flight through a range of colour, swirling and gargling notes in the most natural way and planting intent on every syllable of text.”

–Paul Selar, OperaChaser

“Typically, Tito Vespasian is not an interesting character, but Russell Thomas has had plenty of experience in perfecting and adding dimension to this role. There’s a benevolent palate of luxuriance that gives the opera stately stability on a noble front. His dimensional mood swings are well gelled and his disapprobation of Sesto (upon learning of his evil plot) suddenly stuns the audience into total silence. This tenor creates an umbrella of wholesome magnanimity as the 79 A.D. Flavian ruler, and, indeed, Russell Thomas exemplifies Tito as the ‘mouthpiece of divine foregiveness.’”
–Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet

“Tenor Russell Thomas as Titus leads a fine cast that artfully and inspiringly brings Mozart’s score to life.”
–Paul Hansen, ScreenPicks

“The vast Dorothy Chandler can eat up tenor voices, but as he did in “Tosca” two years ago, Thomas easily fills the cavernous hall and brings power and precision to Tito’s recitatives and arias. Opera fans anticipate his debut as Verdi’s Otello in Toronto later this spring, and one can only help he sings that role soon at the Chandler.”
–Christopher Cappiello, Los Angeles Blade

“Thomas has the presence and the patience to make us feel for Titus. His elegantly crafted tenor is in complete command of Mozart’s music, including the vocal fireworks that finally appear in his rage aria.”
–Michael Van Duzer, ShowMag

“At the end of the opera, when the curtain goes up and the cast steps forward, Titus (Russell Thomas) receives the loudest round of applause.”
–Bondo Wyszpolski, Easy Reader News

“One would have welcomed more music for Tito as well. Tenor Russell Thomas, who has previously sung the emperor at Salzburg, provided a mature, beautifully wrought performance.”
–Simon Williams, Opera News

“The Emperor Tito Vespasian was given to Russell Thomas who just last summer had success in this role in a new production at the Salzburg Festival directed by Peter Sellars. Having heard Mr. Thomas on two occasions as Puccini’s Cavaradossi and as Bellini’s Pollione did little to prepare me for his expertise in Mozart. His opening aria, “Del piu sublime soglio” displayed an intense attention to the text and some surprisingly beautiful piano phrasing that I’ve never heard risked before and it brought wonder and gooseflesh. Sublime indeed. In the recitatives his authority was total and his voice rang out in true Heldentenor fashion to my surprise and delight. Some composers show little affinity for the tenor voice in their writing (Richard Strauss, Beethoven) and I could compose an essay on how Mr. Thomas thoroughly and elegantly conquered every challenge in his path to mold his character through his vocalism. In the last Act Tito’s aria, “Se all’impero” is nothing short of a vocal minefield for the tenor. Mr. Thomas ripped into it with such ferocity that fully a quarter of the audience burst into applause at the end of the A section before the da capo. I have no higher praise.”
–Patrick Mack, Parterre Box

“Russell Thomas as Tito colored every note with a depth and emotion worthy of an emperor. His final aria, ‘Se all’impero’, was masterful for its secure coloratura. Wearing Mattie Ullrich’s ornate costumes from golden armor to royal robes, he not only sounded royal but looked the part too.”
–Jane Rosenberg, Seen and Heard International

“The performance brought together a stellar cast led by tenor Russell Thomas as the benevolent Emperor Titus… Throughout the performance, Thomas brought the same level of vocal and dramatic intensity to his role that he brought to his Hollywood Bowl appearance as Verdi’s Otello. Russell projected a commanding presence on stage.”
–Jim Farber, San Francisco Classical Voice

Beth Stewart18/19