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John Ayldon (born December 11 1943) is an Englishmarker opera singer, best known for his performances in bass-baritone roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

Life and career

John Ayldon was born John Arnold in London. His parents moved the family to San Francisco in 1954, where he went to school and first became interested in the theatre, appearing in many school productions (including some Gilbert and Sullivan) and professional engagements, including appearing on television in Huckleberry Finn before returning to England in 1958, where he joined the Elthammarker Little Theatre.

D'Oyly Carte years

Ayldon joined the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company as a member of the chorus in 1967. The following season, he began to play the small role of the Associate in Trial by Jury and filled in on occasion as Sergeant Bouncer in Cox and Box, the Learned Judge in Trial, and the Boatswain in H.M.S. Pinafore. In 1968, he began to understudy Donald Adams in the principal bass-baritone roles, appearing on occasion as Dick Deadeye in Pinafore, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, the Earl of Mountararat in Iolanthe, and the title role in The Mikado.

When Adams left the Company in 1969, John Ayldon took over as Deadeye, Pirate King, Colonel Calverly in Patience, Mountararat, Arac in Princess Ida, the Mikado, Sir Roderic Murgatroyd in Ruddigore, and Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard. Later that year, he added Sergeant Bouncer in Cox and Box (only for a few years, though), and the following year added Sir Marmaduke Poindextre in The Sorcerer.

For the 1975 D'Oyly Carte Centenary Celebration, Ayldon played all his principal bass-baritone roles as well as Phantis in Utopia Limited and the Prince of Monte Carlo in The Grand Duke (in concert). As part of the 1975 centennial season, before the first of the four performances of Trial by Jury, a specially-written curtain raiser by William Douglas-Home, called Dramatic Licence, was played by Peter Pratt as Richard D'Oyly Carte, Kenneth Sandford as Gilbert and Ayldon as Sullivan, in which Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte plan the birth of Trial in 1875. Ayldon continued to play his regular roles through the remaining days of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, except that in 1977 (at his request) he swapped Florian for Arac in Princess Ida. The Prince of Monte Carlo's "roulette song" became a favourite concert piece of Ayldon's, and he sang it on the Last Night of the D'Oyly Carte on 27 February 1982.

Later years

Since 1982, Ayldon has remained active in musical theatre and opera. He appeared in principal roles with Canadian Opera, Welsh National Opera, Dublin Grand Opera, and New Sadler's Wells Opera. He has appeared frequently in concerts, music hall, cabaret, and pantomime. He made his West End, Londonmarker debut in The Phantom of the Opera as Firmin, and subsequently other roles in that musical, and followed this by playing the Pope in Which Witch. Ayldon was a guest artist with the revived D’Oyly Carte Opera Company on its tour to California, playing Pooh-Bah in The Mikado and also with "The Magic of D'Oyly Carte".

Ayldon toured North America frequently with Kenneth Sandford, Geoffrey Shovelton, Lorraine Daniels, and others in the 1980s and into the 1990s with a concert program of G&S favorites called "The Best of Gilbert & Sullivan", often conducted by John Owen Edwards. In recent years, he has performed at the annual International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival.


Ayldon's roles recorded with D'Oyly Carte included Dick Deadeye in Pinafore (1971), the title role in The Mikado (1973), Mountararat in Iolanthe (1974), the Foreman in Trial (1975), Phantis in Utopia Limited (1976), the Prince of Monte Carlo in The Grand Duke (1976), Mr. Grinder in The Zoo (1978), and Sergeant Meryll in Yeomen (1979). He also recorded Old Adam in Ruddigore for New Sadler's Wells Opera(1987), appeared as Dick Deadeye in the D’Oyly Carte 1973 TV production of H.M.S. Pinafore, and was soloist in the concert video recording "Gilbert & Sullivan's Greatest Hits" at the Royal Albert Hallmarker in 1983. He is The Pope on the 1993 London cast album of Which Witch (NBCD 015) [340221].


  1. Forbes, Elizabeth. Kenneth Sandford obituary, The Independent, 23 September 2004


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