The English bass, John Tomlinson, studied Civil Engineering at the Manchester University (BSc.), at the Royal Manchester (Royal Northern) College of Music and with Otakar Kraus.
John Tomlinson began his musical career with Glyndebourne in 1970. He sings regularly with the Royal Opera Covent Garden and English National Opera and has appeared with all the major British opera companies. He appeared at the Bayreuth Festival for the first time in 1988 as Wotan in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, and continued to appear there for eighteen consecutive seasons, as Wotan, the Wanderer in Siegfried (1989), King Marke, Titurel, Gurnemanz, Hagen and the Dutchman. He has also appeared in Amsterdam, Avignon, Berlin (Deutsche Oper Berlin and Berlin Staatsoper), Bologna, Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Florence, Geneva, Lisbon, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Vancouver (Hagen and Hunding), Vienna, and the Glyndebourne, Orange, Aix-en-Provence, Munich and Salzburg festivals. He sang at the English National Opera from 1975 as Masetto, Wagner's Pogner, Fasolt and Mark, Bluebeard (Béla Bartók), Moses (Rossini), Mephistopheles, Padre Guardiano and Baron Ochs. He sang with Opera North in 1991 as Attila; at Covent Garden in 1991 as Hagen and as the Green Knight in the premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's Gawain. He sang in the Reginald Goodall Memorial Concert, London in 1991.
John Tomlinson has sung over 100 operatic bass roles. His repertory includes Hans Sachs, Heinrich der Vogler, Baron Ochs, Leporello, Claggart, King Fisher, Méphistophélès (Charles Gounod's Faust), the Villains (Contes d'Hoffmann), King Philip (Don Carlos) and the title roles in Oberto (which he also directed), Attila, Mosè in Egitto, Le nozze di Figaro, Boris Godunov, Moses und Aron and Duke Bluebeard's Castle. In 2008, he created the title role in Harrison Birtwistle's opera The Minotaur at the Royal Opera House.
Recordings: Roles in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, George Frideric Handel's Hercules, Rameau's Näis, Thomas' Hamlet, Martinu's Greek Passion and Verdi's Macbeth. In 1993, he won a Grammy Award for B. Bartók's Cantata Profana.
John Tomlinson was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1997 for his services to music and was knighted in the 2005 Queen's Birthday Honours List. In February 2007 he was honoured with the "Special Award" at the Laurence Olivier Award Ceremony.