Opera Scotland

Thomas Round Suggest updates

Born Barrow-in-Furness, 18 October 1915.

Died 2 October 2016.

English tenor.

Thomas Round spent most of his very successful singing career in operetta, being particularly noted for his performances of Gilbert and Sullivan. His charming stage manner and ease with dialogue made him ideal in these roles, but he also appeared in opera, oratorio and musicals, as well as maintaining a concert career.

Before the war he spent a short time as an apprentice carpenter before joining the police, and he spent the war years in the RAF as a fighter pilot and flying instructor, largely in the USA. He sang as an amateur and had little formal training. In the late 1940s he worked with the D'Oyly Carte company. He toured in musicals, and worked with Sir Thomas Beecham in 1953 when the Delius opera Irmelin received its first performance at Oxford. He created the role of Nils.

He went on to spend six years as a principal with Sadler's Wells, where his repertoire included Tamino, Don Ottavio, Don Basilio, Jeník and Lensky, as well as Danilo. In 1957 he appeared in the premiere of John Gardner's The Moon and Sixpence, conducted by Alexander Gibson. He returned to the D'Oyly Carte company from 1958-64, touring Britain regularly, as well as visiting the United States and Canada. In 1962 he sang Fairfax in open-air performances of The Yeomen of the Guard in the Tower of London. In 1964 he played the role of Baron von Schober in a tour of Lilac Time in South Africa, repeating the part in a British tour during 1966.

His extensive concert work ranged from appearances with Vic Oliver's British Concert Orchestra to the Royal Philharmonic under Beecham. In the mid-60s he joined with the bass Donald Adams and manager Norman Meadmore, both stalwarts of the D'Oyly Carte, to form an organization called Gilbert and Sullivan for All. The idea was to take concert parties singing excerpts to places that lacked a theatre able to take full-scale performances. On one of the Dundee visits in 1966, for example, they were joined in a packed Caird Hall by Valerie Masterson and Gillian Knight, as well as D'Oyly Carte chorusmaster William Cox-Ife as accompanist and a chorus from local amateur societies. This successful innovation continued for many years, touring all over the world.

He made many recordings including excerpts from The Merry Widow and Lilac Time. His recordings of the leading tenor roles in Gilbert and Sullivan include Princess Ida, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, Iolanthe, The Gondoliers, Ruddigore and Trial By Jury. 

Roles in Scotland

Jeník Micha's son by his first wife
Bartered Bride 1957
Gherardo Buoso's nephew, aged forty
Gianni Schicchi 1957
Don Basilio a priest and music master
Nozze di Figaro 1957
Count Danilo Danilowitsch Secretary to the legation, reserve cavalry lieutenant
Lustige Witwe 1958

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