Thomas Round (18 October 1915 – 2 October 2016) was an English opera singer and actor, best known for his performances in the leading tenor roles of the Savoy Operas and grand opera.
Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.
A tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice types. It is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A♭2 (two A♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.
Savoy opera was a style of comic opera that developed in Victorian England in the late 19th century, with W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan as the original and most successful practitioners. The name is derived from the Savoy Theatre, which impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte built to house the Gilbert and Sullivan pieces, and later, those by other composer–librettist teams. The great bulk of the non-G&S Savoy Operas either failed to achieve a foothold in the standard repertory, or have faded over the years, leaving the term "Savoy Opera" as practically synonymous with Gilbert and Sullivan. The Savoy operas were seminal influences on the creation of the modern musical.
Round began working as a joiner and then a police officer. During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force, training in Texas and later becoming a flight instructor for the United States Army Air Forces, while singing in churches. He sang leading tenor roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1946 to 1949. He next spent six years in the 1950s singing opera and operetta with Sadler's Wells Opera. From 1958 to 1964, Round again performed mostly with the D'Oyly Carte company. In 1963, he co-founded a new ensemble, Gilbert and Sullivan for All, with which he toured extensively over the next two decades, singing and serving as one of the company's directors. He also sang in oratorio and concerts, broadcast on radio and television, and is heard on many recordings. Round continued to perform and lecture into his 90s.
A joiner is an artisan and tradesperson who builds things by joining pieces of wood, particularly lighter and more ornamental work than that done by a carpenter, including furniture and the "fittings" of a house, ship, etc. Joiners may work in a workshop, because the formation of various joints is made easier by the use of non-portable, powered machinery, or on job site. A joiner usually produces items such as interior and exterior doors, windows, stairs, tables, bookshelves, cabinets, furniture, etc. In shipbuilding a marine joiner may work with materials other than wood such as linoleum, fiberglass, hardware, and gaskets.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.
Round was born and raised in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire (now in Cumbria).He was the third of four children of a furnace man at a steel mill. Round began singing as a child in the St Paul's Mission church choir, where he met his future wife, Alice York. On leaving Barrow Technical College at the age of 15, he started working at the mill as an apprentice joiner and competed at some music festivals. In 1936 he joined the police force and was stationed in Lancaster. He found his duties generally dull, although he was posted to guard the house where Dr Buck Ruxton had notoriously killed his wife and housemaid the previous year. During this time, he enjoyed performing with local musical societies. In 1938 he married Alice at St Paul's Church, Barrow, and the couple had one son, Ellis, born in 1942, who became an aeronautical engineer.
Barrow-in-Furness is a town and borough in Cumbria, North-West England. Historically part of Lancashire, it was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1867 and merged with Dalton-in-Furness Urban District in 1974 to form the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness. At the tip of the Furness peninsula, close to the Lake District, it is bordered by Morecambe Bay, the Duddon Estuary and the Irish Sea. In 2011, Barrow's population was 57,000, making it the second largest urban area in Cumbria after Carlisle, although it is geographically closer to the whole of Lancashire and most of Merseyside. Natives of Barrow, as well as the local dialect, are known as Barrovian.
Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.
Cumbria is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local government, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's county town is Carlisle, in the north of the county, and the only other major urban area is Barrow-in-Furness on the southwestern tip of the county.
During World War II, Round became a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force and was posted to Canada and then the No. 1 British Flying Training School in Terrell, Texas, serving as a flying instructor for the United States Air Force.He then began his performing career, later recalling, "I was doing a lot of singing every Sunday in churches all over Texas. I had my own plane so I would fly down 300 miles to San Antonio for an 11 a.m. service, I would sing and then I would fly back home in the evening." He also performed on the radio and was offered the chance to appear as a guest in a college production in Dallas, playing Canio in Pagliacci . "It was my first time in any type of production but I loved it." Round was offered a place at a music school in New York, but turned it down to return home to England in 1943.
Terrell is a city in Kaufman County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 15,816. In 2017 the estimated population was 17,842. Terrell is located 32 miles (51 km) east of Dallas.
The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.
San Antonio, officially the City of San Antonio, is the seventh-most populous city in the United States, and the second-most populous city in both Texas and the Southern United States, with more than 1.5 million residents. Founded as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost in 1718, the city became the first chartered civil settlement in present-day Texas in 1731. The area was still part of the Spanish Empire, and later of the Mexican Republic. It is the state's oldest municipality, having celebrated its 300th anniversary on May 1, 2018.
While still in the RAF, Round auditioned for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Companyand joined it upon his discharge, in February 1946. He understudied the leading Gilbert and Sullivan tenor roles, appearing occasionally as Nanki-Poo in The Mikado . In September of the same year, he became the company's principal tenor, for the next three years, playing the roles of Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore , Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance , Earl Tolloller in Iolanthe , Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, and Luiz in The Gondoliers .
Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of the dramatist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and the composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900) and to the works they jointly created. The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado are among the best known.
The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second-longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. By the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera.
H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time. H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.
Round found the D'Oyly Carte touring schedule gruelling and left company in 1949.He appeared in Emile Littler's musical Waltzes from Vienna, playing the young Johann Strauss, and two ice shows, Rose Marie on Ice (1950) and the London Melody. Next, he sang for six years with Sadler's Wells Opera. He appeared in some comic character parts such as Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro , but generally took the leading romantic tenor roles, including Tamino in The Magic Flute , Jeník in The Bartered Bride , and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni . He played roles in Gianni Schicchi , Lilac Time , Eugene Onegin , and less-frequently staged works including Rimsky Korsakov's The Snow Maiden (Tsar Berendei), Wolf-Ferrari's School for Fathers (Count Riccardo), and John Gardner's adaptation of The Moon and Sixpence .
Sir Emile Littler, born Emile Richeux, was an English theatrical impresario, producer and author.
Johann Strauss II, also known as Johann Strauss Jr., the Younger, the Son, son of Johann Strauss I, was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as "The Waltz King", and was largely responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century.
Rose-Marie is an operetta-style musical with music by Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart, and book and lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II. The story is set in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and concerns Rose-Marie La Flemme, a French Canadian girl who loves miner Jim Kenyon. When Jim falls under suspicion for murder, her brother Emile plans for Rose-Marie to marry Edward Hawley, a city man.
During his Sadler's Wells years, Round undertook guest engagements elsewhere. He created the tenor lead, Nils, in the world premiere of Delius's Irmelin under Sir Thomas Beecham in Oxford in 1953. The critic Eric Blom wrote, "Thomas Round as the hero was particularly good. He should soon make a Siegfried, though perhaps only the young Siegfried to begin with."Also in 1953, he appeared in the film The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan . The following year, he rejoined D'Oyly Carte as a guest artist for a short period, playing Prince Hilarion in a new production of Princess Ida at the Savoy Theatre. In 1955 he and the young Heather Harper played the leads in a televised version of La traviata , which was the first full-length opera ever shown on BBC television. In 1958, he participated in the Royal Variety Performance. Round sang Don Luis in the zarzuela El barberillo de Lavapiés (The Little Barber of Lavapiés, in a version by Geoffrey Dunn) for a BBC radio broadcast in 1954.
Round returned to D'Oyly Carte, on tour in 1958 in Dublin, playing his old roles of Frederic, Nanki-Poo, adding Ralph, and, for the first time, Marco in The Gondoliers, the following season.During the company's summer break in 1958, Round earned more good notices as Count Danilo opposite June Bronhill with Sadler's Wells in The Merry Widow at the London Coliseum. The Musical Times found him "dashingly stylish". The production was made into the first film by a major British opera company of The Merry Widow (1958). The same year, he appeared in the Royal Variety Performance. He also played principal roles in Pagliacci , In 1960 and 1961 he assumed a new role, Colonel Fairfax, in The Yeomen of the Guard , also appearing in that role for the City of London Festival production at the Tower of London in 1962. In 1961, his other new roles were Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore and Cyril in Princess Ida , and he participated in 1962–63 in the company's extensive North American tour. By 1963, Philip Potter had taken over the parts of Frederic and Nanki-Poo, but Round added the role of the Defendant in Trial by Jury and resumed singing Tolloller in Iolanthe. In 1964, he again left the D'Oyly Carte company. He told The Times , "For the first time in my career I am not under contract to anyone, and I find this quite exciting." Round built up a popular following particularly among female members of the D'Oyly Carte and Sadler's Wells audiences.
In 1963, Round, together with Norman Meadmore and Donald Adams, founded their own ensemble, Gilbert and Sullivan for All.In 1969, when Adams left D'Oyly Carte, the partners began to tour extensively with this new company in the British Isles, the Far East, Australasia, and North America, including three Hollywood Bowl concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. To enable the company to appear in small venues, Sullivan's orchestrations were adapted and arranged for smaller forces than D'Oyly Carte employed. Other regular members of the ensemble were Valerie Masterson and Gillian Knight. Round sang the roles of Box in Cox and Box , the Defendant in Trial, Ralph in H.M.S. Pinafore, Frederic in Pirates, Tolloller in Iolanthe, Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore, Colonel Fairfax in Yeomen, and Marco in The Gondoliers, as well as acting as a director for the company. Gilbert and Sullivan for All wound down in the 1980s, but Round and Adams continued to appear in Gilbert and Sullivan together into the 1990s.
During his Gilbert and Sullivan for All years, Round also appeared as Arthur Sullivan on tour with Donald Adams in Tarantara! Tarantara!, a musical about the Gilbert and Sullivan partnership by Ian Taylor.Among other non-Gilbert and Sullivan appearances in the 1960s, Round played Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady . In the 1970s, Round and Adams presented a television series about the Savoy operas, devoting each programme to an individual opera.
Throughout his career, Round continued to give concerts and to sing in oratorio and recitals.He was frequently heard on BBC radio, including the Friday Night Is Music Night programme, and his television performances included several operas, listed in the filmography below. In November 1995, he celebrated fifty years as a professional singer with a three-day opera event in the Lake District at which Adams also appeared.
In 1980, Round took up sailing as a hobby, together with his son Ellis,and in 1988, he and his wife moved from London to Bolton-le-Sands on the Lancashire coast, where he enjoyed sailing on Lake Windermere. Round maintained his interest in Gilbert and Sullivan and their works and served as president of the Marton Operatic Society and vice-president of The Gilbert and Sullivan Society (London). Until 2006, Round was also honorary president of the University of York Gilbert and Sullivan Society. In 2006, he became the president of Lancaster & District Choral Society, serving until 2015. He also appeared many times at the annual International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival performing, lecturing and meeting with Gilbert and Sullivan enthusiasts well into his 90s. He published a biography in 2002. Round's wife Alice died in 2010; the couple were married for 72 years.
Round died two weeks before his 101st birthday, on 2 October 2016.
In 1958, Bronhill and Round recorded The Merry Widow for HMV and were filmed. The Gramophone described his Danilo as "first class ... with a fresh youthful voice and an easy and appropriately racy style."This was followed by Lilac Time released in 1960.
With the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and Decca Records, Round recorded Hilarion (1955), Frederic (1958), Nanki-Poo (1958), Ralph Rackstraw (1960), Tolloller (1960), Marco (1961), Richard Dauntless (1962), the Defendant (1964), and Captain Fitzbattleaxe in Utopia, Limited (1964 excerpts).In 2008 the critic of The Gramophone, John Steane, wrote that, of Gilbert and Sullivan tenors, Round was "surely the best we've had."
In the 1970s, Round also recorded and filmed his roles with Gilbert and Sullivan for All. These were complete recordings of Trial by Jury and Cox and Box, 6
8 alternative of "Is life a boon?".
For Pearl Records, Round recorded a collection of Victorian ballads, which was chosen by The Times as one of the "Critics' choice, records of the year" for 1974,an eclectic collection, Songs You Love (1976), and he participated in a recording of Edwardian music. In 2008, he released a CD of twelve Irish songs called Thomas Round sings Irish Songs, recorded when he was principal tenor with Sadler's Wells Opera.
Round's filmography is as follows:
Durward Lely was a Scottish opera singer and actor primarily known as the creator of five tenor roles in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas, including Nanki-Poo in The Mikado.
Charles Donald Adams was an English opera singer and actor, best known for his performances in bass-baritone roles of the Savoy operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and his own company, Gilbert and Sullivan for All.
Philip White Potter was an English singer and actor, best known for his performances in the principal tenor roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1961 to 1971. Potter recorded several of his roles with D'Oyly Carte, and his performance as Nanki-Poo is preserved in the company's 1966 film of The Mikado.
Derek Oldham was an English singer and actor, best known for his performances in the tenor roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.
Charles Courtice Pounds, better known by the stage name Courtice Pounds, was an English singer and actor known for his performances in the tenor roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and his later roles in Shakespeare plays and Edwardian musical comedies.
Ann Drummond-Grant was a British singer and actress, best known for her performances in contralto roles of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.
Leonard Osborn was an English opera singer and actor, best known for his portrayal of the tenor roles in the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. An accomplished actor and dancer, he later became a stage director for the company.
L. Radley "Rad" Flynn was an English singer and actor, best known for his performances in bass roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1928 to 1951. He married D'Oyly Carte contralto Ella Halman in 1940. In 1951, the Flynns toured in America and continued to play in Gilbert and Sullivan operas with Martyn Green. They retired to England where they retired to Penrith and were involved with amateur operatic societies. Flynn recorded five of his D'Oyly Carte roles.
Patricia Leonard was an English opera singer, best known for her performances in mezzo-soprano and contralto roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.
John Dean was an English singer and actor, best known for his performances in the tenor roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.
Harry Henry Russell, better known as Scott Russell, was an English singer, actor and theatre manager best known for his performances in the tenor roles with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. He was the brother-in-law of D'Oyly Carte contralto Louie René.
Charles Eric Goulding was a British operatic tenor and actor best known for his performances with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory.
The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan is a 1953 British technicolor film that dramatises the story of the collaboration between W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote 14 comic operas, later referred to as the Savoy Operas, which became the most popular series of musical entertainments of the Victorian era and are still popular today.
Hugh Enes Blackmore was a British opera and concert singer and actor. Known as the 'Iron-Throated Tenor', he is best remembered for his performances of tenor roles with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. His career with D'Oyly Carte spanned almost 30 years, as he briefly became the company's stage manager, and was later a teacher of operatic singing and acting.
Pauline Wales is an English singer and actress best known for her performances in the mezzo-soprano roles of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.
Barry Clark is an English opera singer and actor. Beginning in the 1970s, Clark played tenor roles in the Savoy Operas for over a decade with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. He then sang in various opera companies, including New Sadler's Wells and Scottish Opera, and played in musicals on the West End. Later, Clark concentrated on oratorio and, in recent years, appeared with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, among others.
Peggy Ann Jones is an English opera singer and actress, best known for her performances in the mezzo-soprano roles of the Savoy operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. During a fifteen-year career with that company, beginning at age 19, she was particularly known for her interpretations of the title role in Iolanthe, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, Phoebe Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Mad Margaret in Ruddigore. She later performed on television, in films and in musicals in London's West End. Jones's best-known recordings include the role of Pitti-Sing on both the 1973 D'Oyly Carte Mikado and the company's 1966 film version of The Mikado.
John James Fryatt was an English actor and opera singer best known for his performance in comic character roles.
Llewellyn "Lyn" Cadwaladr was a Welsh operatic tenor who originated roles in, or starred in early tours of, comic operas and operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, Solomon and Stephens, Robert Planquette and others in the Victorian era, often in America for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. He was touring as Ralph in H.M.S. Pinafore when he was asked to create the role of Frederic in the ad hoc 1879 British copyright performance of The Pirates of Penzance.
Frederick Strafford Moss was a British tenor and actor. He appeared in the Savoy operas of Gilbert and Sullivan from 1897 to 1913, mainly in touring companies of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, following which he had a career in musical theatre on the West End stage until 1931.