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Shira Renee Thomas
Shira Renee Thomas has performed as a soloist alongside such opera stars as Ana Maria Martinez, Quinn Kelsey, Rod Gilfry, Milena Kitic, and Nicole Cabell. She has performed over twenty leading soprano roles, with favorites including Marguerite in Faust, Gilda in Rigoletto, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Violetta in La traviata, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Adinain L'elisir d'amore, and Pamina in Die zauberflöte. Ms. Thomas also debuted the character of Pietain the world premiere, staged version of Eric Whitacre’s groundbreaking work, Paradise Lost - Opera Electronica.
Ms. Thomas made her debut with Townsend Opera in Modesto, CA as Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, for which critics praised her "vibrant portrayal" and "vocal fireworks". She was then invited back to perform as a featured soloist in their season-opening concert, Opera Remix, for two consecutive seasons. She made her East Coast debut as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto with Opera Company of the Highlands in New York, and then made a return appearance there, singing the role of Magnolia in Show Boat. As a resident artist with Opera Pacific in Costa Mesa, CA, Ms. Thomas performed and covered mainstage roles, including Pamina in Die zauberflöte, Micaela in Carmen,a and Mrs. Hayes in Susannah,in addition to performing as a soloist in several mainstage concerts. With the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, CA, Ms. Thomas performed the roles of Pamina and Gretel in the Family Musical Mornings presentations at Segerstrom Concert Hall. Ms. Thomas was a Festival Artist with the Utah Festival Opera Companyin 2009, where she was a soloist on two different orchestra concerts, both with the UFOC orchestra conducted by Maestro Barbara Day Turner. In addition, she covered the roles of Micaela in Carmen and Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and was chosen as a finalist in the Concorso Lirico International Opera Competition. She was invited back to cover the role of Desdemona in Otellothe following year, but she had to leave the show due to a medical emergency.
In June 2011, Ms. Thomas created the role of Mariein the world premiere of Marie's Orchardwith Center Stage Opera (CA). She was highlighted in an LA Times feature on the premiere, and she received high accolades for her stunning vocal interpretation, as well as her moving character portrayal. Marie's Orchardis a new opera by composer Philip Westin and librettist Dylan F. Thomas inspired by Willa Cather's novel, O Pioneers! In April 2008, Ms. Thomas sang the role of Marie in segments from a previous version of the story, entitled Heartland, for an invited audience of ASCAP heavyweights, including Stephen Schwartz and Eric Whitacre. The role of Marie in the original Heartland score was tailored specifically for Ms. Thomas, and the role in the re-envisioned work, Marie's Orchard, was written entirely for her.
Metropolitan Opera soprano Carol Vaness states that "(Thomas') rendition of the Poison Aria from Romeo et Juliette is incredibly moving, as she can sing it beautifully with incredible passion and commitment." As Adinain L'elisir d'amore, critics stated that Thomas "dominates the story, the stage, and all the music of the work". The Press Enterprise noted her "...perfect intonation, elegant control, and artistic phrasing", in a performance of arias and duets with the Riverside Philharmonic. As Juliette, Ms. Thomas was reviewed as being "...a wonder of dramatic and lyric intensity."
Among the numerous awards and scholarships earned by Ms. Thomas, she was awarded 1st prize in the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Vocal Solo Competition in North Wales, which has hosted such competitors as Luciano Pavarotti and Bryn Terfel in past years.
Shira Renee Thomas is the Co-Founder and General and Artistic Director of Valley Opera & Performing Arts (VOPA). Currently in its 17th season, VOPA presents performances of everything from fully-staged opera and musical theater works with orchestra, to laid back concerts of jazz standards and even classic rock concerts with its band, VOPA Rocks. Through the company’s Outreach, Education, and Community Service program, VOPA provides entertainment for underserved and economically or otherwise disadvantaged communities such as retirement communities, charities, homeless shelters, schools, and hospitals. Sign up for VOPA’s mailing list to stay up to date on upcoming shows! www.VOPArts.org/contact-us