New Sussex Opera - Sir John Tomlinson
The German word, ‘leitmotif’ is given the two-fold definition of ‘ a melodic phrase that accompanies the reappearance of a person or situation’ and ‘a dominant and recurring theme, as in a novel’. The composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner was famed for his elaborate use of them and the musical meaning of the word has become inextricably intertwined with his work. It is fitting, then, that for the world-renowned opera singer, Sir John Tomlinson, Wagner has come to be a leitmotif to his own career. He has sung roles in all ten of the canonical Wagner operas and always includes a large dosage of the controversial composer in his repertoire. It is inevitable, then, that Wagner will feature heavily on the bill in tonight’s evening of opera and song with the locally based Lancastrian bass at Pelham House, which is programmed to raise money for the New Sussex Opera’s planned Spring 2007 tour of Tobias and the Angel. Sir John will be accompanied by the equally weighty David Syrus, who is Head of Music for the Royal Opera.
A lot of things come down to what your voice is suited to,’ Sir John explained in a recent interview, when asked about Wagner’s enduring appeal for him. ‘I think what I’m really good at vocally and mentally is Wagner. It’s my world, psychologically and dramatically’. To accusations that the composer was anti-Semitic, Tomlinson is quick to disagree. ‘There is of course no anti-Semitism in the operas, and if there were, I wouldn’t be a part of them.’ ER