Observations: All hail Sir John Tomlinson, opera's king of bass
Friday 18 September 2009
Help! – is there a bass-baritone in the house? When one of these rare beasts falls sick, as has just happened at Covent Garden, the search for a replacement becomes a nail-biter, particularly when the role is as demanding as that of King Marke in Tristan und Isolde. It just so happened that the perfect replacement was indeed in the house, just singing another role on other nights. Step forward Sir John Tomlinson, the Wotan of many critics' dreams – "magnificent", "towering", and "majestic" being the commonest epithets – and therefore the dream King Marke too. His magnificent etc performance as the Grand Inquisitor in Covent Garden's current Don Carlos will, from 29 September onwards, be complemented by this tormented royal victim.
Two years ago this unassuming Accrington boomer saved the Covent Garden Ring by stepping in as Wotan when Bryn Terfel cried off, becoming the star of the show at a time when everyone had assumed he was starting his downhill glide. Will he go on for ever? A low, rumbling laugh: "I'm now 63, and supposed to be slowing down. It's not the voice – that's just fine – it's the energy levels, and these roles take an immense amount of that. There are no Wotans in my schedule, but I have not said I will not do any more – I think there are a few more in me." Who will be the next Wotan after him and Terfel? He laughs again. "There are two or three people I know, but I don't want to put pressure on them by saying they are the next. It's not fair on them." What about Matthew Rose, who seems to have exactly the right physical and vocal heft? "No, I won't be drawn." But I sense we're on the right track.
'Tristan und Isolde' is at the ROH, London WC2 (020-7304 4000), from 29 September
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Arts & Ents blogs
The desolation of the Weinstein brothers: Film producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
Christmas songs: the best and the worst
X Factor winners: Where are they now?
Your Money, Money, Money please - Abba ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
Lost Peter Sellers films Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia Is Good for You hailed as the movie equivalent of 'finding Dead Sea Scrolls'
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding