William ShomosRichard H. Larson Distinguished Professor of Music (Voice), Director of Opera
Area of Focus: Music, Voice
William Shomos is the Richard H. Larson Distinguished Professor of Music (Voice) and Director of Opera at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There he has staged a wide variety of productions ranging from traditional fare (The Marriage of Figaro, La Bohème) to world premieres and new works such as O Pioneers! (White), Dead Man Walking (Heggie), and A Wedding (Bolcom). His staging of Tyler White's O Pioneers! received regional and national acclaim and was aired on Nebraska Educational Television (NETV). One of his most cherished projects has been the stage direction of the world premiere of Tyler White's second full-length opera, The Gambler's Son, based on a novel by Nebraskan author Mari Sandoz and the life of Nebraskan painter Robert Henri (view YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFTBr4BZBxk&t=1572s). His productions of Dead Man Walking, Così fan tutte and Street Scene won first place in the National Opera Association's Opera Production Competition.
Shomos has staged several works with Pensacola Opera and Nevada Opera. Between 2003 and 2005, he spent three seasons with the Des Moines Metro Opera as stage director in the company's Apprentice Artist program, while also assistant directing mainstage productions. Between 2006 and 2009, he directed productions with La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy. Shomos has also directed outreach programs for both the Des Moines Metro Opera and Opera Omaha. From 2011-2013, he returned to the Des Moines Metro Opera to direct in the Apprentice Artist Program. Shomos returned in the summer of 2016 to La Musica Lirica to direct a production of Verdi's Falstaff. Bookending his professional career have been productions with the Muddy River Opera Company in Quincy, Illinois--La Bohème in 1994 and The Tender Land in 2019.
In 2017, he staged a new production, Ulysses: An American Mythology, an updated dramatic and musical realization of Monteverdi's Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria for Opéra Louisiane. Inspired by that experience, Shomos went on to create a new singing translation of that same masterpiece, The Return of Ulysses, which was produced by UNL Opera in 2018. In the fall of 2021, UNL Opera produced The Magic Flute, also with a new singing translation by Shomos.
In May of 2016, he began to realize one of his long-standing goals: to tour opera through rural Nebraska. Generously supported by the James C. and Rhonda Seacrest Tour Nebraska Opera Fund, and empowered by a wonderful cast, musical staff, and crew, UNL Opera toured a production of The Marriage of Figaro throughout the state. The successful tour was the first of a multi-year project to bring live opera to rural communities which have included Friend, Ord, Wayne, Norfolk, Central City, Red Cloud, and North Platte. In October of 2019, UNL Opera presented the world premiere of Tyler White's The Gambler's Son to a full house in Cozad, Nebraska--the locale of that opera's setting. Most recently, in December 2021, UNL Opera collaborated with the Ord community to produce Amahl and the Night Visitors at Ord's Golden Husk Theatre.
UNL Opera was one of the nation's few performing organizations to produce live theatre during the 2020 pandemic, with an outdoor production Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen. An artistic collaboration with friends and colleagues Jill Hibbard, Andy Park, and David Tousley from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre, the show was produced safely and successfully. Webcast by NETV, the production can seen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdR4vMnYIA0&t=1338s.
As a singer, Shomos has performed numerous leading baritone roles including Marcello in La Bohème, Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore, and the title role in Sweeney Todd. In 2006, he appeared as a faculty artist with UNL Opera's production of The Most Happy Fella featured at the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera in Waterford, Ireland, where he was awarded "Best Male Singer" for his portrayal of Tony Esposito. As a recitalist, Shomos toured throughout the country as a part of internationally renowned accompanist John Wustman's project to present the Complete Songs of Franz Schubert. In 2010, he performed Winterreise with Wustman at UNL. In 1999 he sang a performance of the Complete Mörike Songs of Hugo Wolf, which the Omaha World Herald declared to be "a towering accomplishment that will stand as one of the region's musical high points of the year and even the decade." Oratorio work has included the baritone roles in Ein deutsches Requiem, Messiah, and Elijah. In 2013, Shomos was blessed with the unlikely opportunity to sing the role of Wolfram in Wagner's Tannhäuser in Tirana, Albania--the land of his heritage. And in 2016, Shomos had the good fortune to perform another of his dream roles, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, with Lincoln's own TADA Theatre.
William Shomos holds degrees from the University of Illinois (DMA), Northwestern University (MM), and Knox College (BA).
In his free time, Bill enjoys hanging out with his wife Mary Beth, and their two daughters Elena and Madeline, sons-in-law Zachary Smith and Clinton Bartek, and brand new grandkids Helena and Gabriel.