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
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 2 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’
- 4 Lauren Goodger sex tape: Reality star calls for tougher laws on revenge porn after intimate video leaks online
- 5 The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral backlash from US parenting groups
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
50 best running songs: From Avicii and Pharrell Williams to the classic 'Eye of the Tiger'
Doctor Who series 8: Watch Peter Capaldi in new ‘Listen!’ teaser trailer
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia