Opera Scotland

John Mitchinson Suggest updates

John Leslie Mitchinson.

Born Blackrod, Bolton, 31 March 1932.

Died 17 December 2021.

English tenor.

John Mitchinson studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music under Frederic Cox and Heddle Nash. For much of his career he concentrated on concert work, not thinking of himself as much of an actor. However he generally became successful at projecting character. His vocal technique was superb, allowing him to sing elaborate Vivaldi even after he had achieved success as Tristan in 1979.

He sang with many of the choral societies up and down the country, including Scotland.  He made 38 appearances at the BBC Proms. These concerts included Beethoven (Choral Symphony and Missa Solemnis); Berlioz (Béatrice et Bénédict); Liszt (Christus); Mahler (8th Symphony, Das Lied von der Erde); Janáček (Glagolitic Mass); Stravinsky (Oedipus Rex).

While he never worked with the Royal Opera, he did sing at Covent Garden in many of the Royal Ballet's performances of Mahler's Song of the Earth, one of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's greatest ballets. 

His debut in opera came with the Handel Opera Society in 1959 (Jupiter Semele) and his Handelian repertoire included Israel in Egypt and Samson as well as Messiah.

His main operatic appearances in Britain began in the 1970s.

He sang with SWO/ENO from 1972: Mozart (Idomeneo); Smetana (Dalibor); Janáček (Svatopluk Čech Excursions of Mr Brouček); Stravinsky (Oedipus Rex).

Roles with WNO were Beethoven (Florestan); Wagner (Tristan); Janáček (Filka Morozov From the House of the Dead); Strauss (Aegisth); Martinů (Manolios Greek Passion); Britten (Peter Grimes).

He showed off his astonishing coloratura technique at the 1983 Buxton Festival, singing Vivaldi (Gualtiero Griselda).

With Scottish Opera he appeared as Filka Morozov (in the famous co-production with WNO).  Later on, he returned to give a touching yet comic cameo in Offenbach (Ménélas La belle Hélène).

At the Edinburgh Festival he sang in many of the major choral masterpieces.  Later, when the Festival was directed by Sir Brian McMaster, he also made two brief appearances in opera at the Usher Hall; in Strauss (Taupe Capriccio) and finally Wagner (Eisslinger Die Meistersinger).  This last was in the closing concert of McMaster's final Festival.  Mitchinson was surrounded by highly experienced veterans and former colleagues in those brief parts, while Walther marked the role debut of another Festival favourite, Jonas Kaufmann.

He can be heard on two recordings from his WNO years - Tristan (under Goodall) and Manolios (under Mackerras).

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