Sir Tom declares his innings closed

The English international baritone Sir Thomas Allen will close his Covent Garden account with the present Cosi fan tutte, the Royal Opera House has posted.

He has sung 45 years and 50 roles at Covent Garden.

Sir Tom is 74.

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  • What a wonderful career and complete artist. Sir Thomas Allen is a perfect example of excellence germinating from grass roots. He grew up in the mining communities of the North-East, where most villages had at least one choir and a brass band. I grew up in the same place. My father sang in those choirs. The singers, most of them pit men, would come to our house aftwards for a singsong — opera, oratorio and song scores tucked under their arms! These were highly cultured places and a highly cultured era. It is a myth that classical music always belonged to the rich. It was a highly democratic art form in those communities, and gave us so many great artists like Sir Thomas Allen. His legacy ought to inspire us back to that community-based music making, by all, for all.

    • Agree entirely, my own background is not dissimilar, but these were genuine “communities”, more often than not centred around a particular industry.

      The word “community” is overused, often to give a misleading and warm, fuzzy impression of cohesion where none exists.

      It would be difficult if not impossible to reproduce the conditions which produced people like Sir Thomas Allen in areas where the populations are less stable, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong.

      It’s to his credit, I think, that he has always behaved with dignity, never taking the chippy, victim route to exploit his modest background. You get my drift.

  • My all time favourite baritone who isn’t only blessed with a wonderful, warm, velvety voice, but musicality and intelligence too. I adored his versatility and he got me to like Lied.
    Besides he’s a proof, that one can “conserve” a voice by handling it smartly. I heard him last year live and I was amazed how great he still sounds.

  • i heard him last night at covent garden. musically superb and Tom didn’t sound as if was 74 years old. happy retirement! not sure about the production ….

  • One of the very finest English singers I have been fortunate to hear, and a wonderful stage performer to boot. He has a very proud career, which has enriched many people’s lives over very many years. THANK YOU, Sir Tom.

  • Sir Tom once said that he hoped to turn his energies to directing opera, after his singing career. Is that something we can now expect? I can’t yet imagine him with cup of Horlicks…

    • He’s already at it – in May the Scottish Opera shows again “his” magic flute (which was great), the Royal College of Music has in the moment a production of “Figaro” in the run which he has directed and he did Figaro and Don G. for the Scottish Opera a few years ago.

    • Yes sadly he’s been allowed free reign several places causing administrative and financial chaos – it’s “interesting” how ignorant management think that because someone was directed for years that they’d automatically be capable of directing.

      • Well, considered that the Scottish Opera repeats now for the second time one of his productions I don’t think he caused “administrative and financial chaos” there. Just on the contrary. His “Figaro” for the ScotOp was mostly outsold, his “Magic Flute” who’s now in rehearsal again was a big success.
        Besides there was his “Cosi” in Boston which then went to Pittsburgh and was in both cities well taken.
        I’ve seen his Magic Flute and the Figaro for RCM (it’s online, by the way – just google it) and I liked both. Hence I think he is capable of directing.

  • I was lucky to see him many years ago with WNO, an outstanding singer who could also act. More recently, he gave a wonderful account of Die Winterreise with Joseph Middleton at the RWCMD – thank you Sir Thomas.

  • He is still a fine singer and very good actor. And a great example of when to call it a day while on top.

    • The difference between him and some other people in the scene was always that he isn’t only a highly intelligent man, but one who know exactly what he could do with his voice and what he couldn’t.
      There’s this lovely story about his audition with Karajan who wanted him to sing Trovatore. Allen refused because he found the role not suiting. Karajan offered Matthäus Passion – Allen refused. And the game went on and Jose Carreras said: “I’d sing Zerlina for him if he’d want me to!”, but Allen wasn’t to tempt – and I think this saved his voice and that’s the reason why he still sounds lovely.

  • The best colleague I ever had. The definition of the term “English Gentleman” without the slightest hint are arrogance. Meticulous in his preparation and presentation at all times. I have known no other who deserved his knighthood more. Thank you Thomas for all you taught me. It went a long way.

  • One of my singing heros – heard many happy times at ROH – his Beckmesser was a joy – but also a moving story teller of song at the Wigmore Hall where his recitals were spellbinding. Silent noon, one of his encores, often moved me to tears. His voice is unmistakable and when I’ve met him – just the nicest man. Another thread on here said don’t meet your heros – Sir Thomas is the exception.

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