Baritone Thomas Glass returns to the role of Marcello for his company debut in DMMO’s beloved revival of Puccini’s La Bohème. With opening night fast approaching, we asked Glass a few questions about his long history with La Bohème, his passion for sports, and his favorite role he’s performed — complete with a fight scene!
You’ve portrayed the role of Marcello before. How do you keep the character feeling new and fresh when taking on a role you’ve sung before?
I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter La Bohème almost a half a dozen times so far in my career. I’ve gone from chorus to the Act 3 Sargent to Schaunard and most recently to Marcello. Marcello in particular does a lot of listening and reacting to the other characters and their problems. I find that each night, let alone each production, is naturally different since I’m feeding off what my colleagues are giving me right there in that moment.
How did you discover opera, and when did you know it is something you wanted to make a career out of?
I went to undergrad wanting to work in the music/performing arts industry in some capacity but didn’t have a specific job in mind. I had grown up doing musicals and plays, so I knew that I enjoyed performing, but thought it was too risky to pursue professionally. Part of the curriculum for music business was voice lessons, and after about a year of studying with my teacher, he mentioned that going to graduate school for voice could be a possibility for me if I was interested. My undergrad didn’t have a performance space on campus let alone an opera program, so to better acquaint myself with the art form I auditioned for the chorus of Minnesota Opera. I was incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the world premiere of Silent Night there, and it was after that experience that I knew I wanted to do this for a living.
What other careers have you considered pursuing outside of singing?
My three biggest passions growing up were music, theater, and sports. Had I not gotten into opera, I probably would have been a high school choir teacher. Otherwise, I think I would have found a way to be happy working adjacently to opera and music, like working in administration for an arts organization. Outside of music, I like to think I would have found a way to work for the Minnesota Vikings in some capacity, maybe in the marketing department or another creative capacity like that. Going to work for a sports organization would be absolutely fascinating to me!
What is your favorite role you’ve sung?
My favorite role I’ve sung is Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. I love it because it’s small, you get a super fun aria, you get a sweet fight scene (with some pretty awesome vocal writing) and then you’re done! Pretty low impact but I still got to have a blast.
What role would you like to perform someday, and if you could sing any role (regardless of fach), what would you most like to sing?
My dream role is Sweeney Todd. I got to do it once when I was 19 at a community theater, but I would absolutely love to get another stab at it (see what I did there?). Playing such a conflicted and troubled man is so juicy as an actor, and singing Sondheim is a treat! If I could sing any role regardless of fach, it would be Lady Macbeth from Verdi’s Macbeth. Like. C’mon. Going crazy and you get to sing that craziness? Awesome.
What are you most excited about this season?
I am most excited about performing Bohème with this cast! I’ve worked with almost everyone involved in some capacity before, and I had a feeling this show would be something really special.
Favorite part about your role/this opera?
My favorite part about this opera is that there isn’t a wasted note in the score. The pacing of the whole opera is pretty quick, and I’ve never found myself checked out listening to or watching Bohème, which is rare for me!
What can audiences expect from your performance in La Bohème?
Audiences can expect to see a character that most people can relate to. Marcello is a young man full of passion and charisma, but underneath it all he’s a total softie. He’s just a guy who’s had his heart broken before and protects himself from letting it happen again, which, it inevitably does.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
People might be surprised to know that I have Type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed when I was in kindergarten and wear an insulin pump under every costume.
What advice do you have for aspiring opera singers?
Once you figure out who you are as a person and a singer, stick to your convictions and trust your teacher. Every one of us is different, and we all need different things. Above all though, LEARN YOUR MUSIC WELL AND KNOW YOUR TRANSLATIONS.
Hometown: Edina, Minnesota
Family: Tom and Coco (parents), Danny, Bridget, and Molly (siblings), Gabrielle (fiancée), Sgt. Pepper (dog—IG @sgtpepperglass)
Education/Training: B.A. Music Business and B.M. Voice Performance from the University of St. Thomas (MN) 2014, M.M. Voice Performance from Rice University 2016, Merola Opera Program 2017, Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program 2016-2017, Houston Grand Opera Studio Artist Program 2017-2019.
Favorite Composer: Verdi
Favorite Opera: La Bohème
Favorite Book: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Favorite Food: Texas BBQ brisket
Favorite Beverage: Topo Chico (non-alcoholic), bourbon (alcoholic)