Jess Thomas (August 4, 1927, Hot Springs, South Dakota – October 11, 1993, San Francisco, California) was a lyric and
As a child he took part in various musical activities and later studied psychology at the University of Nebraska and
He was awarded the Wagner medal at Bayreuth, Germany in 1963. His many appearances in North America and Europe between
the late 1950s and
early 1980s included 15 seasons in 95 performances of 15 roles at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Thomas made his operatic debut in 1957 for the San Francisco Opera performing in Der Rosenkavalier as the Haushofmeister.
In 1958, he made his debut in the title role of Lohengrin for the Karlsruhe Staatstheater at the commencement of a
Thomas appeared as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Munich Festival.
It was at Bayreuth that he established his reputation as a Wagnerian tenor performing in the following roles:|
Parsifal 1961–63, 1965;
Lohengrin 1962, 1967;
Walther in Meistersinger 1963,1969;
Siegfried 1969, 1976.
In 1963, he joined the Metropolitan Opera. Amongst the highlights
of his career there was appearing at the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in the first
performance of Samuel Barber's Antony and
Cleopatra with Leontyne Price.
Thomas's farewell performance took place in Washington DC in a guest performance of Parsifal by the Metropolitan Opera
in 1982. His recordings include Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (with Claire Watson, 1963), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1963),
Siegfried (conducted by Herbert von Karajan, 1968–69),
Ariadne auf Naxos (conducted by Karl Böhm, 1969) and, from Bayreuth, Parsifal (led by Hans Knappertsbusch, 1962) and
Lohengrin (with Anja Silja and Astrid Varnay, 1962).