Lyric Opera of Chicago

“The fervency and emotional commitment of Thomas’s interpretation proved fiercely effective…. The ardor he expressed for Leonora in “Ah si, ben mio, coll’essere” and the heat he generated in the vocally daunting “Di quella pira” underscored the stature of his work. Here was a tenor who didn’t so much act the role of the doomed lover Manrico as inhabit it.”
–Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

“Russell Thomas delivered a terrific Manrico distinguished with reams of clarion power in the upper register and a good, centered top C for ‘Di quella pira’, but was also able to fine away to the gentler dynamics of the troubadour’s ballad and a caressing ‘Ah sì, ben mio.’”
–Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News

“Tenor Russell Thomas delivers an impassioned, technically secure turn in the title role of Manrico. He really comes on in the second half, especially in his Act 3 vow of devotion to Leonora, ‘Ah! si, ben mio.’”
–Kyle MacMillan, Chicago Sun-Times

“Among the mostly young cast successfully navigating demanding vocal roles, tenor Russell Thomas as the gypsy's supposed son, Manrico, is a standout.”
–Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader

“Lyric gives us the powerhouse Russell Thomas, who appeared in Norma two seasons ago… His soaring, full-throated tenor is outstanding to listen to, particularly when accompanied by a single harp.”
–Barnaby Hughes, Stage and Cinema

“As one would expect at the Lyric, the vocal talent of the principles drove this piece once again over the top of the ramparts, as it were… Russell Thomas (Manrico) and Jamie Barton (Azucena) are at their best in this love triangle/fraternal dual/filial vengeance call.”
–Joseph Anthony Rulli, Picture this Post

“Russel Thomas gets his well-deserved first starring role at the Lyric as Manrico, and his tenor is warm and sweet. During his battle cry to save Azucena, “Di quella pira,” his presiding emotion is love, and the one time we hear him performing as the titular troubadour, his voice is mysterious and alluring.”
–Jacob Davis, Around The Town Chicago

“The title role of Manrico (the troubadour) is in solid hands with American tenor Russell Thomas [who] has the bearing of both a lover and a fighter…”
–M.L. Rantala, Hyde Park Herald

“Thomas delivered an incredible performance as Manrico, imbibing every tone with courage and heroism to instill a deep sense of empathy in audiences.”
–Emily Rosca, Loyola Phoenix

“Thomas was an imposing Manrico. He conveyed the depths of his emotions with a tender “Ah si! Ben mio” while his fiery “Di quella pira” was in stark contrast with determined intensity.”
–Santosh Venkataraman, Opera WIre

“There’s no denying that Russell is a brilliant tenor with star power and a stage presence to match. Especially gripping was his Act III aria-cabaletta ‘Ah, si ben mio…di quella pira.’”
–Michael Pecak, Schmopera

“Speaking of sublime, how can we start to describe the perfect storm of vocalism which was created by an ensemble of some of the greatest Verdi voices of our age? Every singer was ideally cast in these difficult roles. Tenor Russell Thomas was well up to the daunting task of the Troubador, Manrico. His clarion tenor, so powerful at full voice, was tenderly sympathetic in the softer moments, when his color became more burnished. Manricos’ aria, “Ah, si, ben mio”, was lyrical, idiomatic and meltingly lovely.”
–William and Margaret Swain, Buzz Center Stage

“As star-crossed lovers, tenor Russell Thomas and soprano Tamara Wilson become sadder and wiser quickly, but not without singing gloriously about it. Thomas’ “Di quella pira,” in which he vows to rescue his mother even though he knows it’s a trap set by the Count, was the stratospheric show-stopper one always hopes for.”
–Nancy Malitz, Chicago on the Aisle

“Tenor Russell Thomas, who sang so beautifully in Lyric's "Norma" in 2016, scores again as Manrico, the titular troubadour who has won the heart of Leonora and, as a result, the enmity of the brutal Count di Luna.”

–Chuck Lavazzi, Stage Left

“Lyric provided the finest, best matched group of lead singers that I can imagine singing today. Tenor Russell Thomas was a heroic Manrico, bringing stentorian power throughout. He had all the tools for a successful Manrico in his pocket, singing with a stunning intensity. He provided a stirring “Di quella pira”… a thrilling musical moment.”

–Henson Keys, Parterre Box

“As Manrico, Russell Thomas clearly possesses the Verdian bona fides for this heroic protagonist. The tenor was able to sustain a strenuous vocal intensity to handle the demands of this voice-shredding role. “Di quella pira” was the rousing showstopper it was meant to be for once, Thomas singing every note and nailing the top C. Yet he also showed a graceful lyricism in “Ah, si, ben mio” and the duetted scenes with Leonora…”
–Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

Beth Stewart18/19