The world acclaimed tenor has curated a program of newly commissioned music by contemporary Black composers
(Los Angeles) January 26, 2023 — LA Opera continues its 2022/23 season with a recital featuring tenor Russell Thomas, the company's Artist in Residence, and a chamber ensemble of musicians from the LA Opera Orchestra on February 25 at Zipper Concert Hall.
The program will feature the world premieres of new music, commissioned by Thomas, created by three gifted young Black composers.
"My goal for this program was to expand the vocal chamber repertoire by Black composers, to increase representation in this corner of recital music," said Thomas. "I commissioned texts that focus on themes close to my own heart: queer sensuality, romance and the beauty of the Black male form. Damien Geter, Jasmine Barnes and Dave Ragland have created moving new works that celebrate the Black experience across gender, sexuality and religious lines."
The newly commissioned pieces are Love and Light by composer Jasmine Barnes, with text by Deborah D.E.E.P Mouton; Annunciation by composer Damien Geter, with text by Joshua Banbury, and To Harlem with Love by Dave Ragland, a setting of texts by several poets of the Harlem Renaissance era: James Weldon Johnson, Helene Johnson, Gwendolyn Bennett and Arna Bontemps.
The recital will also feature music by two pioneering Black composers who began their careers in the last century: the 1994 song cycle Four Love Songs by Adolphus Hailstork (born in 1941), written to poetry by Paul Laurence Dunbar, and the 1961 song cycle Nightsongs by H. Leslie Adams (born in 1932), written to poetry by Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Clarissa M. Scott Delany, James Weldon Johnson and Leslie Morgan Collins.
About Russell Thomas
With a "heroically shining tone of exceptional clarity and precision" (Opera magazine) and "gorgeously burnished power" (New York Times), tenor Russell Thomas uses his signature elegance and intensity to create vivid character portrayals on the world’s most important stages. His performances for the 2022/23 season include three Verdi title roles in major international venues: Ernani at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and Otello at LA Opera. Other appearances of the season include Calaf in Turandot with London's Royal Opera, Don Alvaro in La Forza del Destino for his Paris Opera debut, and the Verdi Requiem with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He concludes the season singing Otello opposite Renée Fleming on tour with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and further European locations to be announced.
In 2021, he began his tenure as Artist in Residence at LA Opera, where he plays a substantial role in artistic planning and casting. In addition to hosting and curating the company’s After Hours recital series, he has spearheaded new training programs designed to serve outstanding singers from historically Black colleges and universities and Los Angeles public high school students from underserved communities. He made his LA Opera debut in 2015 as Pollione in Norma, returning as Cavaradossi in Tosca (2017), Titus in The Clemency of Titus (2019), the title role of Oedipus Rex (2021) and Radames in Aida (2022).
Performance Date, Time and Address
The recital will take place at 7:30pm on Saturday, February 25, at the Colburn School's Zipper Concert Hall, located at 200 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012.
Tickets begin at $20 and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased online at LAOpera.org, by phone at 213.972.8001, or in person at the LA Opera box office at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012). For disability access, call 213.972.0777 or email LAOpera@LAOpera.org.
More information is available at LAOpera.org/Thomas.
Click here to download photos of Russell Thomas.
About LA Opera
Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be. Through imaginative new productions, world premiere commissions, and inventive performances that preserve foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling, LA Opera has become one of America’s most exciting and ambitious opera companies.
In addition to its mainstage performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the company explores unusual repertoire each season through the LA Opera Off Grand initiative, featuring performances in a variety of venues throughout Los Angeles. The LA Opera Connects initiative offers a robust variety of educational programming and community engagement offerings that reaches people throughout every corner of Los Angeles County. The company also offers a multitude of online content via its LA Opera On Now digital offerings, which launched in 2020. Learn more at LAOpera.org.
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LA Opera’s 2022/23 season is generously underwritten by GRoW @ Annenberg.
LA Opera is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the greater Los Angeles community.