Shira Renee Thomas is the Co-Founder, General Director, and Principal Soprano for Valley Opera and Performing Arts (formerly Center Stage Opera). In addition to working with the senior staff to produce high quality operatic and musical theater productions, she is also the casting director, graphic designer, and administrative director for the company. In 2014, Ms. Thomas founded the Center Stage Opera Vocal Competition, which has hosted such prestigious judges as Nicole Cabell, Milena Kitic, Rod Gilfry, and LA Opera music and directing staff, including Joshua Winograde, Sam Gelber, Eli Villanueva and Nino Sanikidze.
Shira Renee Thomas has performed all over the world, from Los Angeles to New York to Wales, Great Britain. As a soloist, she has performed alongside such opera stars as Ana Maria Martinez, Quinn Kelsey, Rod Gilfry, Milena Kitic, Rodell Rosel, 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, Adina in L’elisir d’amore, and Pamina in Die zauberflöte. Ms. Thomas also debuted the character of Pieta in the world premiere, staged version of Eric Whitacre’s groundbreaking work, Paradise Lost – Opera Electronica.
Ms. Thomas recently made her debut with Opera San Luis Obispo as First Lady in The Magic Flute and as a headliner in the company’s “Broadway by the Sea” series. She debuted 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 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 Company in 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.
In June 2011, Ms. Thomas created the role of Marie in the world premiere of Marie’s Orchard with 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 Orchard is 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, both of whom have continued to follow the progress of the revised opera. The role of Marie in the original 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 stated 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 Adina in 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. She was also a Finalist in the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition (Advanced Division) and the Burbank Philharmonic Hennings-Fischer Competition, and a winner of the Society of Singers Vocal Scholarship, the Sigma Alpha Iota Pasadena Alumni Chapter Vocal Competition, the Mu Phi Epsilon SFV Chapter Scholarship Competition, the FeBland Foundation Vocal Scholarship Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council (Los Angeles District).
Shira Renee Thomas is becoming well-known as an exceptional operatic voice teacher, musical coach, and career mentor in the Los Angeles area. Her students have been accepted to the top opera programs and conservatories in the nation, including Manhattan School of Music, Peabody Institute, Carnegie Mellon, Oberlin, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Juilliard. Current and former students have sung with such organizations as Los Angeles Opera, Center Stage Opera (CA), Opera Las Vegas, Opera Philadelphia, Wolf Trap Opera, Komische Oper Berlin, Houston Grand Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, and English National Opera. Ms. Thomas also enjoys leading Masterclasses, and adjudicating competitions and auditions.