John Tomlinson was born in Lancashire. He gained a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Manchester University before winning a scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music. He was awarded a C.B.E. in 1997 and knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2005. He was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Singing in 1991, 1998 and 2007 and in 2014 their Gold Medal.
John Tomlinson’s engagements include performances at La Scala, Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Geneva, Lisbon, Metropolitan Opera, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Tokyo, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin (Deutsche Oper and Deutsche Staatsoper), Dresden, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Antwerp, and Bilbao and the Festivals of Bayreuth (where he sang for eighteen consecutive seasons), Orange, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg, Edinburgh and the Maggio Musicale, Florence. He has sung regularly with English National Opera since 1974 and with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, since 1977 and has also appeared with all the other leading British opera companies. His repertoire includes Wotan (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre), Wanderer (Siegfried), Hagen (Götterdämmerung), Titurel and Gurnemanz (Parsifal), King Marke (Tristan und Isolde), Heinrich (Lohengrin), Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Landgraf (Tannhäuser), title role and Daland (Der fliegende Holländer), Baron Ochs (Der Rosenkavalier), Boromeo (Palestrina), Orestes (Elektra), Moses (Moses und Aron), Green Knight in the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Gawain, Claggart (Billy Budd), Doctor (Wozzeck), Rocco (Fidelio), King Philip and Grand Inquisitor (Don Carlos), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Leporello and Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Lindorf, Coppelius, Dr Miracle and Dapertutto (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Golaud and Arkel (Pelléas et Mélisande), Boris Timofeyevich Ismailov (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), Boris Godunov, Pimen and Varlaam (Boris Godunov), Ivan Susanin (A Life for a Tsar), Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra), Tiresias (Oedipus), Dosifey (Khovanshchina), The General (The Gambler), Thomas à Becket (Murder in the Cathedral), Ivan Yaklovlevich, Newspaper Clerk and Doctor (The Nose), Sergeant of Police (The Pirates of Penzance) and title roles in Bluebeard’s Castle, Oberto, Mosè in Egitto, and the world premieres of Birtwistle’s The Minotaur, Brett Dean’s Last Days of Socrates and Ghost of Old Hamlet in the world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet and Doctor Charles Conde in Thomas Ades’ Exterminating Angel.
John Tomlinson has a large concert repertoire and has sung with all the leading British orchestras and in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, France, Spain, Denmark and the U.S.A. He has made many recordings including Wotan, Wanderer, Hagen, Hans Sachs, Titurel, Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Leporello, and title roles in Le Nozze di Figaro and Bluebeard’s Castle, Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, Messiah, Acis and Galatea and the Verdi Requiem. Videos include Maria Stuarda, Peter Grimes, Giulio Cesare, Rigoletto, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and The Minotaur.
Engagements in 2017/18 include Doctor Charles Conde (Exterminating Angel) for Metropolitan Opera, New York, Ivan Yaklovlevich, Newspaper Clerk and Doctor (The Nose) for Opera Australia and Boris Ismailov (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) for Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Future engagements include Dresden Semperoper, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Metropolitan Opera, New York.