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John Rawnsley




Joan Sutherland and John Rawnsley

After studying in Manchester with Albert Haskayne and Ellis Keeler at the Northern School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music, he joined the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1975 and in 1976 he won the John Christie Award. He then began studying in London with the renowned baritone Ottakar Kraus.

Roles at Glyndebourne have included 'Masetto' in Sir Peter Hall's Don Giovanni, 'Perruchetto' in La Fedelta Premiata, 'Marcello' in La Boheme, 'Figaro' in Il Barbiere di Seviglia.
With Glyndebourne Touring Opera he sang the roles of 'Ford' in Falstaff and 'Nick Shadow' in The Rake's Progress.
He made his Royal Opera House debut in 1979 as 'Schaunard' in La Boheme where he was fortunate to work with the man who had inspired him twelve years previously - Peter Glossop who was singing the role of 'Marcello'!

Rawnsley sang the role of 'Marcello' with Opera North early in 1979 and later that same year he sang his first 'Rigoletto'. In 1981 Opera North gave him his first opportunity to sing, to huge acclaim, the role of 'Macbeth'.
He made his debut with English National Opera in 1980 as 'Amonasro' in Aida and in 1982 he sang the role of 'Rigoletto' in Jonathan Miller's ground breaking 'Little Italy' production of that opera both here and on their 1984 tour of North America with performances at the New York Metropolitan Opera House.
Here is a recording of John singing the famous aria from Act 2 of Rigoletto 'Cortigiani vil razza dannata' sung here in English - 'Filthy Rabble You Liars, You Cowards' with the English National Opera Orchestra, conducted by Sir Mark Elder.

In the 1985 season at the Royal Opera House he sang the role of 'Enrico' in Lucia di Lammermoor with Joan Sutherland (see photograph on the left) and Carlo Bergonzi. Later in that same season he sang the role of Sonora in La Fanciulla del West with Placido Domingo.
In July 1985 he made his Italian debut at the Sferisterio Arena in Macerata singing the role of 'Rigoletto'. He followed this success with 'Renato' in Un Ballo in Maschera and 'Rigoletto' in Trieste.

Later that same year he sang the role of 'Don Alfonso', Cosi fan Tutte, in a film directed by Jonathan Miller for BBC Television.

His return to Macerata in the summer of 1986 to sing 'Tonio' in Pagliacci paved the way for his successful debut at La Scala, Milan - again in the role of 'Tonio'. He returned to Macerata again in the summer of 1988 to sing the role of 'Macbeth' with tremendous success.

John Rawnsley has performed at major opera houses in France, Italy (Rigoletto in Pisa, Mantua, Lecce and Modena. Also the role of 'Hermann' in Catalani's Loreley with the late Ghena Dimitrova in Verona), Spain ('Ezio' in Attila with Nesterenko and Zampieri in Madrid), Switzerland ('Taddeo' in Italian Girl in Algiers, a Ken Russell production in Geneva), Germany, Holland, Denmark, Iceland, the Far East, the USA and Canada singing the title roles in 'Falstaff', 'Rigoletto', 'Macbeth' and 'Nabucco', not to mention 'Germont' in La Traviata.

Perhaps his most treasured achievement was being able to perform 'Rigoletto' in a production of that opera with Alfredo Kraus as the 'Duke of Mantua' in Madrid which was subsequently filmed for the Spanish television network.

Below are a selection of photographs of various roles, including Rigoletto, Tonio, Falstaff, Taddeo and Don Alfonso
JR as Don Alfonso
Don Alfonso in 'Cosi Fan Tutte' BBC Film
JR as Rigoletto
Rigoletto - English National Opera
JR as Don Alfonso
Don Alfonso in 'Cosi Fan Tutte' BBC Film
As Tonio
Tonio in Pagliacci - Macerata
As Taddeo
Taddeo in 'Italiana in Algieri' with Stefania Toczyska - Geneva
As Tonio with Giacominni
Tonio in Pagliacci with Giuseppe Giacomini - Macerata
JR as Rigoletto
Rigoletto in Macerata - finale to Act I
JR with Umberto Grilli Rigoletto Trieste
Rigoletto in Trieste with Umberto Grilli as Il Duca
JR and Gasdia in Rigoletto
Rigoletto in Macerata with Cecilia Gasdia
As Falstaff with Valerie Masterson
Falstaff with Valerie Masterson as Alice
JR after Cortigianni Rigoletto
Rigoletto in Macerata - ActII 'Cortigiani'
JR as Rigoletto with Marullo
Rigoletto in Macerata - Act II 'Marullo, Signore'

Some reviews:

"Rawnsley has yet to be surpassed in this staging as 'Rigoletto', a palpable presence and is impressive. His true Verdian baritone is used to convey character through delivery of James Fenton’s thoughtful translation."
Verdi: Rigoletto Chandos CDs

"John Rawnsley turn[ed] in a powerful and idiomatic performance of 'Stankar' as a deranged old man. His projection of words was as ever wonderfully pungent, and his upper register remained bright and firm . . ."
Stiffelio – Opera Holland Park

"John Rawnsley's stage presence and musicality, especially in his Act 3 aria were compelling."
Stiffelio – Opera Holland Park
Sunday Telegraph.

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