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John Rawnsley

John Rawnsley




John is greatful to 'marcomirandaxx' for kindly posting a clip of him singing the aria 'Largo al Factotum' from the Glyndebourne production of
'Il Barbiere di Siviglia' on YouTube

It can be viewed by clicking here so please take a look!

John is also greatful to Shawn Melon for posting on YouTube the film of English National Opera's famous production of 'Rigoletto'.

It can be viewed in its entirety by following this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVKaw05aDII


October 2013

John was thrilled to be asked to film the role of 'Director' in Pudsey: The Movie on the 8th of October.
The movie is directed by Nick Moore and will be released in May 2014. The cast is led by: Jessica Hynes, David Walliams, Olivia Grant, John Sessions, Maggie Steed and of course the wonderful and talented Pudsey!

There are two more performances of the Co-Opera Co production of Madame Butterfly on the 18th of October at The Hawth in Crawley and on the 19th of October at The Castle in Wellingborough.

September 2013

John is singing the role of 'Sharpless' in the Co-Opera-Co production of Madame Butterfly, directed by Jacopo Spirei, at The Hackney Empire on the 3rd and 6th of September. Tickets may be purchased by clicking on the Hackney Empire link above.

August 2013

On the 5th of August, John flies to Sofia, Bulgaria in order to film the role of 'Russo' in the movie 'God The Father' directed by Simon Fellows.
The movie is based on the book 'The Good, The Bad and The Forgiven' by Micheal Franzese.

June 2013

John has been helping quite a few young singers this year with vocal technique - mainly baritones, basses and tenors. So he was thrilled when Kate Flowers, one of the founders of Co-Opera-Co, asked him if he would consider singing the role of 'Sharpless' in their forcoming production of 'Madama Butterfly'.
This will give John an opportunity to help the young singers who are performing the other roles with their stage and performance technique.

The role of 'Sharpless' is a particular favourite of his and he is looking forward to rehearsals beginning in June - along with a gala performance at The Apex, Bury St Edmonds on Sunday the 21st of July which incidently, begins at 6pm.
The performances will be conducted by Co-Opera-Co's Musical Director Martin Handley and the production will be directed by Jacopo Spirei.

There will be further performances of 'Madama Butterfly' along with Co-Opera-Co's production of the 'Mikado' at The Hackney Empire between the 3rd and the 7th of September.

May 2013

On May the 30th John will be appearing in a matinee performance of Victorian Music Hall at the Queens Theatre, Hornchurch.

January 2013

Glorious show at the Castle Theatre, Wellingborough, Victorian Music Hall at it's best - with the wonderful Jan Hunt (Producer) and the lovely Johnny Dennis as Chairman.


After finishing the pantomime in January 2012 at The Hall for Cornwall in Truro, John has been teaching and coaching singers plus building the odd website and giving Apple Mac Computer Support to friends of a 'certain age' who have bought Apple Computers and need his help!

August 2012

John is delighted to appear again with Ian Marshall Fisher's Lost Musicals company. This time the show is 'Aladdin', written by S.J. Perelman and Cole Porter for The DuPont Show of the Month on American television.
Aladdin was broadcast 'live' in 1958 and starred Basil Rathbone as the Emperor, Cyril Ritchard as the Magician, Sal Mineo as Aladdin, Dennis King as the Astrologer, Anna Maria Alberghetti as the Princess and Una Merkel as Aladdin's Mother.
John will be playing the Astrologer and gets to sing that wonderful Cole Porter ballad, 'Trust Your Destiny To Your Star'.

Some interesting facts concerning Dennis King.

He was born in Coventry, England in 1897. He made his way to New York where he became a Broadway star of both dramas and musicals. He created the role of Francois Villon in Rudolph Friml's 'The Vagabond King' in 1925, in which he also made his sound film debut opposite Jeanette MacDonald with Lillian Roth and Warner Oland in 1930. He also starred with Laurel and Hardy in the film of Auber's opera 'Fra Diavolo' in 1933. He was very active on early television in America.
He passed away in New York City on May 21, 1971.

The production is directed by Ian Marshall Fisher and performances are again in the Lillian Bayliss Studio at Sadler's Wells on 19th and 26th August at 4pm, on Saturday 1st September at 2.30pm and 5.30pm, and again on Sunday 2nd at 4pm.

Caroline Jowett - Daily Express - August 24th

...... John Rawnsley has a fine rich voice as the Astrologer ........

Paul Vale - The Stage - August 20th

.......John Rawnsley as the Astrologer makes much of the delightful ballad 'Trust Your Destiny to Your Star'.........

Julia Rank - Hornsey & Muswell Hill Journal, Islington Gazette - August 22nd

........John Rawnsley provides the afternoon's real vocal heft as the Astrologer ......

Chris Hislop at onestoparts.com

........and John Rawnsley gives a fine, operatic performance as the Astrologer, although he is sadly restricted to only a couple of songs.........

Matt Martin - British Theatre Guide - August 26th

........John Rawnsley is in good voice as the Astrologer ........

October 2012

On the 5th and 6th of October John will be performing a variety of Victorian ballads at the newly restored Leeds City Varieties Music Hall.




December 2011

John is pleased to announce that he has been asked to return to Truro to star again in Pantomime during the Christmas Holidays. After the success of last year's production of 'Sleeping Beauty' this year's production is 'Robinson Crusoe and The Cornish Pirates' and is to be seen at the wonderful Hall for Cornwall
Again the production is in conjunction with Ian Liston's Hiss and Boo Theatre Company and will again be directed by the talented Stewart Nicholls!

In this swashbuckling epic, John will be playing the roles of 'The Mayor of Trurovia', 'The Harbour Master', 'Captain Cockles' and 'Lord Neptune', and that's just in Act One!
In Act Two John plays the 'Governor of the Island' who after fighting off the 'Kraken', a mighty Sea Monster and the advances of 'Cap'n Jackie Killigrew', the evil Pirate Queen - played by the lovely and delicious Jules Hobbs (see also Finding The Will) - he then morph's into 'Cornelius Crusoe' - the long lost husband of 'Dame Cornish Patsy', and the father of 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Tweedy Crusoe'......yikes, what a plot!

As you can imagine, these roles will be played with all the buccanering spirtit he can muster!

Rehearsals begin on November the 21st and the performance dates are from Monday the 12th December 2011 through to Saturday the 7th January 2012.

September/October/November 2011

During this period John, along with his wife Nuala Willis, will be filming and singing in the movie 'Quartet' directed by Dustin Hoffman and with a screenplay by Ronald Harwood from his play of the same name. The cast is led by: Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtney and Billy Connolly.

August 2011

Touring with Heritage Opera in Jonathan Dove's 'Mansfield Park'.

JF Wakefield - Austenonly.

'...... John Rawnsley was a wonderful Sir Thomas'.

Michael Cookson - Seen and Heard International
MusicWeb International's Live Concert and Ballet Reviews.

'........ I also liked John Rawnsley as Sir Thomas Bertram for his strong, rounded tone'.

Roderic Dunnett - Music and Vision

'........There are some fine large cameo roles, not least for the first-rate baritone John Rawnsley, always characterful and commanding onstage and here predictably impressive as the paterfamilias Sir Thomas Bertram.'

'Rawnsley is an inspiring presence and inventive actor, with a striking range spanning the casually comic (the enjoyably Britten-like 'Who are these Crawfords?'), the benign, concerned and caring (his relations with Fanny are profoundly tender and paternal) and the explosive and outraged (as when he returns to find the play in full flow ........

John Rawnsley in Mansfield Park
John Rawnsley and Nuala Willis as Sir Thomas and
Lady Bertram in Jonathan Dove's 'Mansfield Park'.

July 2011

In July John begins rehearsals for a production of 'Mansfield Park', a new Chamber Opera by Jonathan Dove. The new opera was commisioned three years ago by Chris Gill, the then artistic director of Heritage Opera, now their Chairman and Musical Director. The World Premier of 'Mansfield Park' will take place in August 2011, with a libretto by Alisdair Middleton based on the novel by Jane Austen.

John will be singing the role of 'Sir Thomas Bertram' and John's wife, Nuala Willis will sing the role of 'Lady Bertram' in the production to be directed by Michael McCaffery and conducted by Heritage Opera's Musical Director, Chris Gill.
For further information, performance dates and venues etc, please click on the following link: http://www.heritageopera.co.uk/whatson.html

June 2011

On June the 11th John will be singing in a Victorian Music Hall at The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch.
For more details please click on the following link: http://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/index.htm


On May 15th John will sing at an Anniverary Concert in Colne, Lancashire to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 'Colne Orpheus Glee Union'.
John joined the 'Orpheus' in 1965 at the tender age of 14! He was the youngest person ever to do so - and along with his father who had joined in 1953, sang with the choir until 1970, just before he went to the Northern School of Music in 1971. The conductor of the choir at that time was Ronald Riley conductor of the choir from 1951 until 1970, who would become John's honorary father, good friend and mentor!

Here below are a few interesting facts:

John was singing in the choir when they celebrated their 80th Anniversary Concert in 1966.
Ronald Riley was the conductor that evening at the Municipal Hall in Colne and the wonderful contralto, the late Alfreda Hodgson was the guest artiste who sang 'The Alto Rhapsody' by Brahms.

Then in 1986 the choir invited him to be the Guest Artiste at the 100th Anniversary Celebration Concert, again at the Municipal Hall when the choir, conducted by Arthur Hartley, honoured him by bestowing upon him the gift of Life Membership.

Now, 25 years later he is singing in the 125th Celebration Concert! The concert is to be at the Pendle Hippodrome Theatre at 7.30.

John cherishes his links with this wonderful choir - after all, his musical education began in 1965 when he joined the 'Colne Orpheus Glee Union!'


The Christmas Holidays and the Pantomime season will soon be upon us, and this Christmas John is pleased to announce that he will be starring in a production of 'Sleeping Beauty,' in conjunction with Ian Liston's Hiss and Boo Theatre Company
Rehearsals begin on November 22nd for the season at Truro in The Hall for Cornwall

John will be playing the role of 'King Colin of Cambourne.' This is the first time John has played in 'Panto' and quite frankly he can't wait for rehearsals to begin!
The performance dates are: Fri. 10th December 2010 – Mon. 3rd Jan. 2011

For the first time for many years John and his wife, the singer and actress Nuala Willis, will sadly not be spending Christmas together or with family. This is because Nuala is playing the 'Queen of Transalvania' in a production of 'My Fair Lady' at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris!

Since the beginning of the year during January and February John has been doing quite a lot of teaching. He has also been singing in performances of 'The Victorian Music Hall' in theatres in and around London, including Wimbledon Theatre, The Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch www.queens-theatre.co.uk and the Northfields Theatre, a beautifully restored Victorian theatre in the Langdon Down Centre at Teddington www.langdondowncentre.org.uk/

In April John is pleased to announce that he will play the role of 'John Heppenstall' a cotton mill owner in a production of 'The Northerners,' a play by Harold Brighouse, directed by Tim Newns for the Finborough Theatre in London.

Harold Brighouse remains best known for his 1916 classic 'Hobson's Choice.'
'The Northerners,' which premiered in 1914 at the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester www.gaietytheatre is set in 1820 in Lancashire which is in the grip of recession mainly due to the then recent war with Bonaparte.

The cotton weavers are on the brink of revolt, the Luddites are burning the new machinery and destroying the new power looms. The employers are doing everything in their power to maximise their profits, regardless of the human cost.
As the price of bread rises to over a shilling a loaf, wages fall and famillies starve,
and mills and looms are engulfed in flames as the weavers fight a hopeless and desperate battle against the ever expanding factory.

A powerfull drama, 'The Northerners' is receiving its London premiere nearly 100 years after the first production and Tim Newns' production is only the third production ever of this play!

Rehearsals begin on March 9th and the premiere will be at the Finborough Theatre on Sunday April 4th with performances on the 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th of April.
Please follow this link for further information: www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/

Here are some reviews for 'The Northerners':

Lizzie Loveridge - 'Curtain Up'
"....... John Rawnsley embodies John Heppenstall"

Johnny Fox - 'thepublicreviews'
"....... particularly John Rawnsley, Dickensian-perfect as the rival mill owner."

Robert Tanitch - 'The British Theatre Guide'
"....The major surprise is the decency and
humanity of the factory owners - and William Maxwell and John Rawnsley have the gravitas the roles need."




On March 7th John will be singing in a concert given by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir in St. Albans Cathedral.

In June 2009 John is pleased to announce that he will again be performing with Stanley Hall Opera in a production of Auber's
'Fra Diavolo' directed by Michael McCaffrey with a new English translation by Simon Butteriss.

In July 2009 John will sing the role of 'Sharpless' in a production of 'Madama Butterfly' directed by Annie Corbier at Ales in Provence, France.
Rehearsals begin at the end of June.


In December 2007 John begins rehearsals for the roles of Dr. Bartolo and Antonio in a new production of Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro' with the Armonico Consort conducted by Christopher Monks.

The Opera will be sung in English using a new translation by
Kit Hesketh-Harvey and the production will be directed by Michael McCaffery with performances beginning at the Warwick Arts Center on the 17th, 18th and 19th of January 2008, and in Malvern at the Malvern Forum on the 24th and 25th January 2008.

"Operatic comedy at its finest......John Rawnsley's lovable Dr Bartolo......Rawnsley is an old-stager with many a hilarious comic turn: it's a bit like watching 1950s costume drama or Music-Hall, with gags straight out of the RADA's dressing-up cupboard. Wholly apt for Bartolo -- the 'revelation' scene was an utter hoot. The icing on the cake was Rawnsley's Antonio (talk about a quick change!), peppered with a wholly different set of walks and gestures, brazenly presumptuous with his master, and handsomely sung. Like watching an Old Master".
Roderic Dunnett - Music & Vision

On every Sunday during the month of April (6, 13, 20, with two performances on the 27th), John is performing the role of Charles Crowell in an Ian Marshall Fisher production of 'Park Avenue' (1946) by Ira Gershwin and Arthur Schwartz, with a book by George S Kaufman and Nunnally Johnson. This is in the season of Ian Marshall Fisher's 'Lost Musicals' - it is a semi staged performance at Sadler's Wells in the Lilian Baylis Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London.

"Ian Marshall Fisher's LOST MUSICALS semi staged performances are a spectacular celebration of rarely heard works by America's most important writers"
- The New York Times

The Independent, April 7th
".......Opera singer John Rawnsley's combination of geniality and gravitas adds a welcome gloss to his characterisation of the discarded millionaire Charles Crowell..."
Rhoda Koenig

Lost Musicals – Park Avenue
.....John Rawnsley is good as one of Sybil’s ex’s (Charles Crowel) and, if he wants to stay in musical comedy, he would make a fine Nicely-Nicely in “Guys and Dolls”.
Reviewed by: Michael Darvell

The Stage
Monday 13 October 2008

'The Good Old Days' at the Leeds City Varieties Theatre.
".....Bravo Mr John Rawnsley. Only rarely, in the last ten years of the Good Old Days, has a male singer made such an impact. Splendidly dressed and magnificent of voice, he has superbly appropriate material, such as The Road to Mandalay and Passing By. When he launches into Champagne Charlie, this theatre’s ghosts will surely be roused from their slumbers".
Reviewed by: Kevin Berry


The 'Enchanted Pig' continues at the Young Vic through January until the final performance, on Saturday the 28th of January.
During February and early March 'The Enchanted Pig' will embark on a short five week tour with six performances at the Northern Stage, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - 29th January - 3rd Febraury.
Then, in conjunction with Aldeburgh Music there will two performances at The Maltings, Snape - 9th February - 11th February.
From the 14th of February to the 17th of February there will be 5 performances at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield.
Then a further 7 performances nearer London at the Richmond Theatre, Richmond - 26th February - 3rd March.

'Enchanted Pig' Reviews and Pictures

June 2007 update.

At the moment John is enjoying teaching and coaching voices - mainly baritones in various roles. He is also enjoying imparting his knowledge of stage and concert platform technique - something dear to his heart - to young singers of all voices.
All this while sustaining a busy concert career.

He is also, with his accompanist Mark Packwood, putting together a programme of Sea Songs by the British composers Michael Head, Frederick Keel and John Ireland. Also rarely performed songs by Ivor Gurney and Willie B Manson - who was sadly killed on the Western Front.
Some of these are little known settings of well known poems by A.E Houseman and John Masefield.

This programme will be performed later this year, venue to be confirmed.
Please contact John via this site for further details.


In March 2006 John will sing two concert performances of Handel's 'Messiah' with the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth.
The performances will be at the Dome Concert Hall, Brighton on the 18th of March and then at the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne on the 19th of March.
On Tuesday March 21st, John will sing 'The Priest' and the 'Angel Of The Agony' in a performance of Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' at Westminster Abbey with soprano Rosalind Plowright, tenor Dominic Natoli and the Chorus of Westminster School conducted by Guy Hopkins.

On the 2nd of April John will again sing 'The Priest' and the 'Angel Of The Agony' in a performance of Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' with the Plymouth Philharmonic Choir at Plymouth Guildhall, Plymouth.

On Saturday the 5th of August John will be the Narrator in a performance of 'Side by Side by Sondheim' given by the Opera Project at West Green House, Surrey.

In October John will begin rehearsals in London with The Young Vic Theatre Company for 'a musical tale' called 'The Enchanted Pig' composed by Jonathan Dove with lyrics by Alasdair Middleton, in which John will sing the roles of 'King Hildebrand' and 'The North Wind'.

'The Enchanted Pig' is directed by John Fulljames and designed by Dick Bird with lighting by Paul Anderson and choreography by Philippe Giraudeau.

'The Enchanted Pig'
is a Fairy Tale .... of a Princess .... who marries a Pig .... who is of course .... a Prince....!
But don't worry, as with all Fairy Tales involving a Prince and a Princess ..... 'everyone lives happily ever after' .... well ... nearly everyone ....!

Performances begin previewing in December with the press night on December 14th at the Young Vic's recently restored and refurbished theatre.


John will sing the title role in Verdi's 'Falstaff' in June for Stanley Hall Opera at Stanley Hall, Halstead.The production will be directed by Michael McCaffery using Amanda Holden's English translation and Jonathan Dove's imaginative reworking of the score for chamber orchestra conducted by Orlando Jopling.
Performances will take place on the 23rd, 25th and 26th of June at 6pm each day.

"...... Rawnsley is an ideal Fat Jack: charming, entirely free of malice, his boastful ardour undercut by a sort of wistful self-knowledge ..... bags of stagecraft ...."
Robert Thickness - The Times.

During the latter half of October 2005 John will visit Vietnam to sing the role of 'Tonio' in two performances of Leoncavallo's 'Pagliacci' on the 27th and 28th October at the Opera House, Hanoi.

Concert engagements during 2005 will include Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. 'A Sea Symphony' by Vaughan Williams with Bedford Choral Society, 'Carmina Burana' with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Nicholas Cleobury at Reading on October 7th, Puccini's 'Messa di Gloria' at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford on December 3rd.
On December 10th John will sing the role of 'Elijiah' in a performance of Mendelssohn's 'Elijiah' in Salisbury Cathedral.


The Beach at Aldeburgh




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