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John Tomlinson

Bass

Biography

John Tomlinson in action.
John Tomlinson in The Minotaur, The Royal Opera © ROH/Bill Cooper, 2013

British bass John Tomlinson sings Doctor (Wozzeck) for The Royal Opera in the 2013/14 Season. In the 2012/13 Season, Tomlinson celebrated 35 years performing with The Royal Opera. His recent roles for the Company have included The Minotaur, Hunding and Hagen (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Veit Pogner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, following his many acclaimed performances as Hans Sachs), General (The Gambler), King Marke (Tristan und Isolde) and Gurnemanz (Parsifal).

Born in Lancashire, Tomlinson read civil engineering at Manchester University and studied singing at the Royal Northern College of Music. He made his Bayreuth Festival debut in 1988 as Wotan (Der Ring des Nibelungen) under Barenboim, and sang at Bayreuth every year from 1988 to 2006. He has sung for English National Opera, at most of the leading opera houses in Europe, for the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and for the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Munich and Glyndebourne festivals. Along with the main Wagner roles for bass and bass-baritone, his repertory has included Boris Godunov, Bluebeard, Baron Ochs (Der Rosenkavalier), Golaud (Pelléas et Mélisande), Claggart (Billy Budd), Philip II and the Grand Inquisitor (Don Carlo), Méphistophélès (Faust), the four villains (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Boris Ismailov (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) and Moses (Moses und Aron). He created the roles of Green Knight (Gawain) and The Minotaur for Harrison Birtwistle at The Royal Opera.

Tomlinson’s discography includes CDs of works by Handel, Mozart, Wagner and Stravinsky and DVDs of The Minotaur, Parsifal and Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Videos

News and features

Joyce DiDonato, John Tomlinson and Written on Skin win RPS Music Awards

Joyce DiDonato, John Tomlinson and Written on Skin win RPS Music Awards

14 May 2014

Other winners include Daniel Barenboim, Welsh National Opera and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Watch: John Tomlinson on his approach to performance

Watch: John Tomlinson on his approach to performance

26 February 2014

The British bass gives a masterclass on the nuances of the human voice.

Watch: Insights into Parsifal

Watch: Insights into Parsifal

19 December 2013

A masterclass from legendary Wagnerian John Tomlinson, a musical introduction from Antonio Pappano, and the creative team on their production.

Your reaction: Wozzeck

Your reaction: Wozzeck

1 November 2013

What did you think of Keith Warner's production of Alban Berg's dark and tragic opera?

Watch: Ryan Wigglesworth on The Minotaur

Watch: Ryan Wigglesworth on The Minotaur

23 January 2013

The British conductor and composer speaks about Harrison Birtwistle's mythical opera.

Q&A: John Tomlinson

Q&A: John Tomlinson

20 December 2012

The legendary operatic bass answers your questions on Wagner, what inspires him, and the pressures of opera.

Photos

Rainer Trost as Aron and John Tomlinson as Moses in Moses und Aron © Bill Cooper 2014

John Tomlinson as Moses in Moses und Aron © Bill Cooper 2014

John Tomlinson as the Doctor and Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck in Wozzeck © ROH / Catherine Ashmore 2013

Gerhard Siegel as the Captain, Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck and John Tomlinson as the Doctor in Wozzeck © ROH / Catherine Ashmore 2013

Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck and John Tomlinson as the Doctor in Wozzeck © ROH / Catherine Ashmore 2013

Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck and John Tomlinson as the Doctor in Wozzeck © ROH / Catherine Ashmore 2013

Gerhard Siegel as the Captain and Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck in Wozzeck © ROH / Catherine Ashmore 2013

John Tomlinson as Gurnemanz, Petra Lang as Kundry and Christopher Ventris as Parsifal in Parsifal © ROH/Clive Barda 2007

John Tomlinson as Gurnemanz in Parsifal © ROH/Clive Barda 2007

John Tomlinson with Kasper Holte, celebrating 35 years performing with The Royal Opera © ROH / Sim Canetty-Clarke 2013

John Tomlinson with Antonio Pappano, celebrating 35 years performing with The Royal Opera © ROH / Sim Canetty-Clarke 2013

John Tomlinson with composer Harrison Birtwistle after The Minotaur, celebrating 35 years performing with The Royal Opera © ROH / Sim Canetty-Clarke 2013

John Tomlinson celebrating 35 years of singing with The Royal Opera after a performance of The Minotaur © ROH / Sim Canetty-Clarke 2013

John Tomlinson with Tony Hall, celebrating 35 years of singing with The Royal Opera after a performance of The Minotaur © ROH / Sim Canetty-Clarke 2013

John Tomlinson performing at the Verdi vs Wagner debate as part of Stephen Fry's Deloitte Ignite © Intelligence Squared

John Tomlinson in The Minotaur, The Royal Opera © ROH/Bill Cooper, 2013

John Tomlinson as The Minotaur in The Minotaur © ROH / Bill Cooper 2013

Sir Thomas Allen with Sir John Tomlinson in Die Meistersinger (2000) © Clive Barda/ROH 2000

John Tomlinson as Hunding in Die Walküre © Clive Barda/ROH 2012

John Tomlinson as Hagen and Wolfgang Koch as Alberich in Götterdämmerung © Clive Barda/ROH 2012

John Tomlinson as Hagen in Götterdämmerung © Clive Barda/ROH 2012

Peter Coleman-Wright as Beckmesser and Sir John Tomlinson as Pogner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg © Clive Barda/ROH 2011

Emma Bell as Eva and Sir John Tomlinson as Pogner with chorus in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg © Clive Barda / ROH 2011

Sir John Tomlinson as Pogner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg © Clive Barda / ROH 2011

Sir John Tomlinson as The Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo © Catherine Ashmore/ROH 2011

Sir John Tomlinson in rehearsal with the Meistersinger cast © Neil Gillespie/ROH 2011

John Tomlinson

Nina Stemme as Isolde and John Tomlinson as King Marke in Tristan and Isolde © Bill Cooper / ROH 2009

Sir John Tomlinson as King Marke in Tristan and Isolde © Bill Cooper / ROH 2009

John Tomlinson as Wanderer and Gerhard Siegel as Mime in Siegfried © Clive Barda/ROH 2007

John Tomlinson as Wotan and Peter Sidhom as Alberich in Siegfried © Clive Barda/ROH 2007

John Tomlinson as Wotan and Lisa Gasteen as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre © Clive Barda/ROH 2007

John Tomlinson as Hagen in Götterdämmerung © Clive Barda ROH 2012