This Edina High School Grad is an Opera Wunderkind

by | Oct 2019

Edina High School alumnus Thomas Glass, who was a finalist for the Metropolitan Opera.

Photo: Simon Pauly

Edina alumnus Thomas Glass was a Metropolitan Opera finalist.

Edina resident and Edina High School alumnus Thomas Glass represented one of five national regions in the 65th annual Metropolitan Opera Council Grand Concert in March.

After a month-long series of auditions, Glass was selected out of a pool of more than 1,000 vocal musicians from across the globe.

As one who was always passionate about music, Glass never expected to end up where he is now. Growing up, he listened to everything from 60s era music to folk to pop. “I have very eclectic music taste, I am really all over the map,” Glass says. “I was one of those kids who thought there was no good music created after 1994.”

It wasn’t until college when Glass discovered his love for opera. His voice teacher Alan Bryan, a music professor of 36 years at the University of St. Thomas, introduced Glass to the genre early on in their weekly 55-minute voice sessions while Glass attended the university as a music business major with a degree in vocal performance. Bryan, a renowned opera singer, has held more than 40 lead roles in his career spanning the nation at places like Eastman Opera in New York and the Denver Lyric Opera in Colorado.

“Not all teachers can say that they have taught a national opera winner,” Bryan says. “I am blessed to have that happen three years before I retire.”

Bryan isn’t the only one of his teachers who feels this way. Former Edina High School choir director David Henderson believes that music came easy to Glass because he always had an ear for accurately producing music while in chamber and concert choir.

Though music has always been natural for Glass, Henderson says, “I always wanted students to never settle for the easy way out. I always worked to challenge students to all buy in and be the best that they can be.” As for Glass, he strived to be just that.

Extracurriculars such as St. Patrick’s youth group, theater and school choirs enhanced Glass’s love for performing and encouraged him to continue pursuing his craft throughout his college years. Encouraged by Bryan, Glass auditioned and was cast for the chorus at the Minnesota Opera, where he later worked as an intern. After graduating from St. Thomas, Glass attended the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

While learning the art form, Glass claims the hardest elements to get used to are the foreign languages, stylistic techniques and learning how to pace yourself in a new role. Though Italian is the traditional language, operas range culturally and can be sung in German, French, Spanish, Mandarin-Chinese and English to name a few.

Prior to his opera career, Glass’s only background in foreign language was four years of Latin in high school and a few semesters of German in college. However, he now actively studies Italian and in 2015 he went to Florence, Italy with Rice University for three weeks to immerse himself in the culture and language. Though he is still perfecting his Italian, Glass performs it most often and claims his voice responds best to it.

With language, comes a reliance of a healthy voice to sing it. Glass says the constant travel and up to six hours of practice a day means it’s in his best interest to take care of his body, mind and voice.

Though his work is somewhat unpredictable, Glass says, “The work will come if the performer is ready for it.”

Glass will make his debut with the Arizona Opera in February; an Atlanta Opera debut will be in November and in April he will sing with Houston Grand Opera.


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