Though she launched her solo vocal career relatively late, Elin Manahan Thomas earned the reputation as one of the finest British sopranos of her generation. Some will hear her voice as more appropriate for Baroque sacred works, and while she has scored great success in that genre, she has also achieved acclaim in a wide range of operatic roles and has sung an eclectic choice of repertory in the concert hall. She has taken roles in operas by Handel, Mozart, Berlioz, Bizet, Poulenc, Britten, Menotti, and others and has garnered much praise on the concert stage in works by J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Orff, Britten, and contemporary composers James MacMillan, Judith Weir, John Tavener, and many others. Thomas has appeared at major concert venues throughout the U.K., Europe, and the U.S. and has sung on BBC televsion and radio. She has recorded for Hyperion, Naxos, Coro, and other labels.
Elin Manahan Thomas was born in Gorseinon, Wales. She sang in church choirs in her youth and became a member of National Youth Choir of Wales and the Swansea Bach Choir as a schoolgirl. From 1995-1998 she studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic at Clare College, Cambridge, on a choral scholarship. She sang in the choir there, often as a soloist, and appeared on several recordings, including on the Collegium Records CD, Blessed Spirit, issued in 2000.
Thomas studied voice with Hazel Wood and, from 1999, sang with the Monteverdi Choir under John Eliot Gardiner. She also sang with other choral groups, including the Sixteen, Gabrieli Consort, Polyphony, and the Cambridge Singers. From 2001, she studied in London at the Royal College of Music, where her teachers included Eiddwen Harrhy. She appeared on the 2003 CD John Rutter: Mass of the Children, also on Collegium Records, where she was soloist in the anthem Come down, O Love divine.
In 2005 she gave the modern premiere of a lost J.S. Bach work Alles mit Gott, a 1713 birthday ode. Thomas married operatic baritone Robert Davies in 2006. In 2007 she appeared at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London as Belinda in a production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. That same year saw the release of her debut solo album, Eternal Light, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment led by Harry Christophers. A collection of arias and other vocal works from the Renaissance and Baroque eras issued by Universal Classics, the CD hit number two on the classical charts in the U.K.
In February 2008 Thomas appeared at Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral in the premiere of John Tavener's Requiem, and the EMI recording of that performance was issued to great acclaim in 2009. On Easter Sunday 2009, Thomas appeared as Mary in Andrew Miller's The Birth of Christ at the Vatican. In December 2011, Thomas performed in Handel's Messiah to acclaim in Norwich and Cardiff, U.K., and at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Zurich Tonhalle Concert Hall.