Sir John Tomlinson CBE
Initially training as a civil engineer (‘the sensible alternative’) at the University of Manchester, Lancashire-born Sir John Tomlinson grew up with ‘an extended family of musicians … all amateur and proud of it …much singing around the piano’ before deciding on a career in opera at the age of 21. He studied with Patrick McGuigan at the Royal Northern College of Music (of which he is now President) and with Otakar Kraus. While at the RNCM, he was a member of the Manchester Universities Gilbert and Sullivan Society. A regular artist at Covent Garden and English National Opera, he has appeared with all the major British opera companies. His Wagnerian credentials are the stuff of legend, with appearances at Bayreuth every year from 1988 to 2006 as Wotan, the Wanderer, King Marke, Titurel, Gurnemanz, Hagen and the Dutchman. No stranger to contemporary music, he created the title role in Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur at Covent Garden. He has sung in something like 3000 performances comprising some 200 roles. Yet somehow, in spare time, he and his wife find time to ‘grow willow of various colours and types, and weave baskets, chairs and umbrella stands. Totally absorbing, I will make perhaps three items a year, so it’s not on an industrial scale!’.