At 71, the great British bass Sir John Tomlinson is headed to Australia for the very first time, singing multiple roles in Barrie Kosky’s production of The Nosefor Opera Australia. In this second part of a two-part interview (read part one here), he talks to LimelightEditor at Large Clive Paget about the joys of singing old and new music, his attitude toward the future, and how the profession of singing has changed for better or worse.
Sir John Tomlinson. Photo © Robert Workman
Were you ambitious as a young singer, and did you ever have a career plan?
I can answer the second part easily, I’ve never had a career plan. And I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a career plan. The plan is basically sing beautifully and work and sing as well as you can and just see what happens. But sometimes I work with young basses who say “if I’m not singing Boris Godunov at Covent Garden in five years’ time, then I’m not interested in this profession” sort of thing, which is an absolutely crazy way of looking at things. I think your career in a way...