Thomas, Jess (Floyd )
- Martin Bernheimer
(b Hot Springs, SD, Aug 4, 1927; d San Francisco, Oct 11, 1993). American tenor . After studying psychology at Stanford University, he was encouraged by his singing teacher, Otto Schulman, to pursue an operatic career. He made his début in 1957 at San Francisco and then went to Germany, where he sang at the Karlsruhe Opera for three years. At that time his roles included Tamino, Alfredo, Manrico, Don José, Calaf and Lensky. He soon began to make guest appearances with larger German companies, and in 1961 Wieland Wagner cast him as Parsifal in Bayreuth and Radames in Berlin. He returned to the USA and made his Metropolitan début in 1962 as Walther (the role of his Covent Garden début in 1969). He then began to concentrate on the heavy Wagnerian roles such as Siegfried, which he sang in the Bayreuth centenary Ring in 1976 and Tristan, which he sang at the Metropolitan and at Covent Garden. Some listeners have felt that the strain of these challenges robbed his voice of freshness and ease; nevertheless, his intelligence and histrionic credibility remained uncommon assets. Other roles included Samson, Florestan, Bacchus and the Emperor in ...