Internationally acclaimed soprano Nova Thomas named professor of voice at Rice

Internationally acclaimed soprano Nova Thomas has been appointed a professor of voice at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. She begins July 1.


Nova Thomas

Described as “ravishing in sound and magical in stage presence,” Thomas hopes to bring the same energy to her students at the Shepherd School.

“In the past few years I have crossed paths with numerous Shepherd School of Music singers, and there are immediate and uniquely recognizable traits,” she said. “In addition to the superb vocal, musical and linguistic training, there is an intellectual vigor, a certain sense of the whole artistic self and a strong artistic mission in evidence.”

Thomas said she is thrilled and humbled to be joining these students and the team of extraordinary artist-educators at the renowned Shepherd School.

“The new Brockman Hall for Opera, an unparalleled, state-of-the-art theatrical space, will serve not only as a destination for opera-goers, but as perhaps the school’s greatest pedagogical tool,” she said. “Students will be given a world-class performing experience in a theater where the very design has prioritized the needs of young artists.”

“The Shepherd School conducted an exhaustive search, targeting a voice teacher of national renown with a distinguished record as a professional artist,” said Robert Yekovich, dean of the Shepherd School. “Nova Thomas exemplifies all that and more. The school is incredibly fortunate and thrilled to have her join our illustrious faculty.”

Performance engagements have taken Thomas to many of the important opera houses throughout Europe and the U.S., as well as Mexico City and Hong Kong. Her repertoire features the heroines of “La Traviata,” “Il Trovatore,” “Norma,” “Otello,” “Aïda,” “Un ballo in maschera,” “Tosca,” “Madama Butterfly,” “Il trittico,” “Macbeth,” “La bohème,” “Faust,” “Così fan tutte,” “Le Nozze di Figaro,” “Anna Bolena,” “Don Giovanni,” “Turandot,” “Dialoques des Carmelites” and “Les Contes d’Hoffman.” She enjoyed a close collaboration with Dame Joan Sutherland and Maestro Richard Bonynge — the latter with whom she recorded the title role in the “Bohemian Girl” for Decca Records.

Other conductors and directors of renown with whom she has had the privilege of working include Carlo Rizzi, John Nelson, Michelangelo Veltri, John Crosby, Philippe Augin, Eduardo Muller, Maurizio Barbacini, Colin Grahm, Michael Hampe, Lotfi Mansouri, John Crosby, John Copley and John Pascoe.

Thomas previously served as an associate professor of voice and opera studies at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Her teaching responsibilities included private vocal instruction for both graduate and undergraduate students; the co-directorship of the Opera Workshop; and two courses in the sequential professional training core, the Singing Actor and Performing in Lyric Theater and dramatic coaching and role preparation. Thomas was also the appointed assessment coordinator for the college, responsible for the evaluation and development of institutional effectiveness across all degree programs.

A highly sought-after master class artist, Thomas has had recent engagements across the U.S. and in Europe. She is a teaching-artist for several respected summer training programs, including the Santa Fe Opera apprentice program; the Opera Theater of Saint Louis; the CoOPERAtive (in residence at Westminster Choir College); Building Your Craft: From Studio to Stage, one of the offerings of the International Texas Music Festival; and Le Chiavi: The Institute of Bel Canto Studies, and a master teacher for the Westminster Choir College Conducting Institute. She is also a resident teaching-artist for the young artist programs of Utah Opera and Palm Beach Opera.

Other academic appointments include professor of professional practice at the New School University (New School for Drama, formerly the Actors Studio Drama School) in New York, where her work is solely focused on actor training. She is a recipient of that university’s most prestigious award for excellence in teaching.

Originally from North Carolina, Thomas is the co-author of two books: “Towards Center” (GIA Press, 2009) and “The Musician’s Breath” (GIA Press, 2011). She received her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her graduate degree at Indiana University and a certificate in leadership development from Harvard University. She is a recipient of the John Haber UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Award and a lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the arts from her home state’s 4-H organization, and has most recently received Rider University’s Mazzotti Award for Women in Leadership. She served on the founding board of advisers for the General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative.

For more information on Thomas, visit

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.