British bass John Tomlinson made his Royal Opera debut in 1977 as Fourth Jew (Salome). He has returned regularly to sing with The Royal Opera, his many roles including Wotan, Hunding and Hagen (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Veit Pogner and Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), King Marke (Tristan und Isolde) and Gurnemanz (Parsifal), and the role creations Green Knight (Gawain) and the title role of The Minotaur, both for Harrison Birtwistle. In the 2016/17 Season he sings Ivan Iakolevitch/Clerk/Doctor (The Nose) and Doctor (The Exterminating Angel).
Tomlinson was born in Accrington and 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 Daniel Barenboim and went on to sing for the festival every summer from 1989 to 2006. He has sung for the world’s leading opera houses, including English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and for the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Munich and Glyndebourne festivals. Along with leading 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).
Tomlinson’s wide discography includes CDs of works by Handel, Mozart, Wagner and Stravinsky and DVDs of The Minotaur, Parsifal and Der Ring des Nibelungen. He was knighted in 2005.
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Thomas Allen as Marcello, José Carreras as Rodolfo, Ilona Tokody as Mimì, William Workman as Schaunard and John Tomlinson as Colline in La bohème, The Royal Opera, 1984
John Tomlinson as Moses in Moses und Aron
John Tomlinson as The Minotaur in The Minotaur
Gerhard Siegel as the Captain, Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck and John Tomlinson as the Doctor in Wozzeck
John Tomlinson as Gurnemanz in Parsifal
John Tomlinson with Tony Hall, celebrating 35 years of singing with The Royal Opera after a performance of The Minotaur
Nina Stemme as Isolde and John Tomlinson as King Marke in Tristan and Isolde
John Tomlinson as Wanderer and Gerhard Siegel as Mime in Siegfried
John Tomlinson as King Marke in Tristan und Isolde
John Tomlinson and Harry Nicoll in Boris Godunov
John Tomlinson as Gurnemanz, Petra Lang as Kundry and Christopher Ventris as Parsifal in Parsifal
John Tomlinson as the Doctor and Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck in Wozzeck
Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck and John Tomlinson as the Doctor in Wozzeck
John Tomlinson with composer Harrison Birtwistle after The Minotaur, celebrating 35 years performing with The Royal Opera
John Tomlinson celebrating 35 years of singing with The Royal Opera after a performance of The Minotaur
Emma Bell as Eva and Sir John Tomlinson as Pogner with chorus in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Sir John Tomlinson as Pogner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Sir John Tomlinson as King Marke in Tristan and Isolde
John Tomlinson as Hagen and Wolfgang Koch as Alberich in Götterdämmerung
John Tomlinson as Hunding in Die Walküre
John Tomlinson as Hagen in Götterdämmerung
Sir John Tomlinson as The Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo
John Tomlinson as Tirésias in Oedipe, The Royal Opera
Harry Nicoll and John Tomlinson in Boris Godunov
Gerhard Siegel as the Captain and Simon Keenlyside as Wozzeck in Wozzeck
John Tomlinson as The Minotaur in The Minotaur
John Tomlinson as Wotan and Lisa Gasteen as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre
Sir Thomas Allen with Sir John Tomlinson in Die Meistersinger (2000)
Peter Coleman-Wright as Beckmesser and Sir John Tomlinson as Pogner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Harry Nicoll as Missail and John Tomlinson as Varlaam in rehearsal for Boris Godunov, The Royal Opera
Rebecca de Pont Davies as Hostess of the Inn and John Tomlinson as Varlaam in rehearsal for Boris Godunov, The Royal Opera
John Tomlinson as Colline, Thomas Allen as Marcello, William Workman as Schaunard and José Carreras as Rodolfo in La bohème, The Royal Opera, 1984
Rainer Trost as Aron and John Tomlinson as Moses in Moses und Aron
John Tomlinson in The Minotaur, The Royal Opera
John Tomlinson performing at the Verdi vs Wagner debate as part of Stephen Fry's Deloitte Ignite