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Sir Thomas Boaz Allen, CBE, (born 10 September 1944) is an internationally renowned Englishmarker operatic baritone from Seahammarker Harbour, County Durham. He is widely admired in the opera world for his beautiful voice, his versatility in repertoire, and his prowess as an actor - leading many to rate him as one of the best lyric baritones of the late 20th Century.

Early years

Born to Florence and Thomas Allen in the fishing town of Seahammarker Harbour in 1944, Allen studied at Ryhope Grammar School from 1955 to 1964, becoming captain of his house and later head boy while also doing well in sports, such as in athletics, rugby and especially golf.

Allen's initial ambition was to be a doctor but this was later abandoned when he won a place at the Royal College of Musicmarker in 1964, where he studied for four years, specializing in oratorio and lieder until 1968. He won the prestigious Queen's Prize while studying at the college which allowed him to study under James Lockhart, who noticed Allen's talents. Under Lockhart, Allen then shifted his attention from lieder and oratorio to opera and in 1969, he made his debut as Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville with the Welsh National Opera. His early roles with the WNO also included Mozart's Almaviva, Guglielmo and Papageno, Falke, Billy Budd, Posa, Eugene Onegin and Germont.

In 1971, Allen made his Covent Garden debut as Donald in Billy Budd and he joined the company the following year. His solo Glyndebourne Festival debut was as Papageno in 1973, and he returned as Figaro in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (1974), Guglielmo (1975) and Don Giovanni (1977) and it was during this time that he was quickly hailed by music critics as the finest English baritone since Sir Charles Santley. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1981 as Papageno. He left Covent Garden to become a freelance singer in 1979 although he still remains a guest artist with the company. He sang the title role in the British stage premiere of Busoni's Doktor Faust for the English National Opera in 1986 (a performance which was also commended in the 1986 Laurence Olivier Awards when the production won the award for 'Outstanding Achievement in Opera') , while his debut at the Salzburg Festival was as Ulisse in Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria in 1985. His Chicago debut was Rossini's Figaro in The Barber of Seville in 1989.

Present Work

More recently, Allen has performed Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, Don Alfonso, Ulisse and Don Giovanni at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Don Giovanni at La Scalamarker, Yeletsky (in The Queen of Spades), Sharpless (in Madama Butterfly), and the title role in Sweeney Todd at the Royal Opera Housemarker, Eisenstein at the Glyndebourne Festival, Don Alfonso at the Salzburg Easter and Summer Festivals, Forester (The Cunning Little Vixen) at the San Francisco Opera and Beckmesser (in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) at the Metropolitan Opera in New Yorkmarker.

Allen also appears in recital in the United Kingdommarker, throughout Europe, in Australia and Americamarker, with his recital repertoire no less extensive than his operatic one; ranging from German lieder, French songs by Duparc, and English song cycles by Ralph Vaughan Williams to musical numbers by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter. He has also recorded oratorio and choral works such as Brahm's Ein deutsches requiem, Handel's Saul, and Orff's Carmina Burana. The greatest part of his repertoire has been extensively recorded with such distinguished names as Sir Georg Solti, James Levine, Sir Neville Marriner, Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Riccardo Muti.

In 1989, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1999, he was knighted. Both were awarded for his services to opera.

Thomas Allen's first book, Foreign Parts - A Singer's Journal was published in 1993. He recently directed for the first time, in Albert Herring at the Royal College of Musicmarker, Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni (for the Samling Foundation, of which he is the patron) at the Sage Music Centremarker in Gateshead. In 2006, he made his American directorial debut with a production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro for Arizona Opera. In 2007, he directed a new production of The Barber of Seville for Scottish Opera. He has also performed in a Live Concert Recording of Leonard Bernstein's Candide at Avery Fisher Hallmarker at Lincoln Center for the Performing Artsmarker, New York Citymarker.

Allen has now performed at Covent Garden for over thirty-five years, playing over forty roles with the company. The 25th anniversary of his debut at the Metropolitan Opera was celebrated in 2006. Allen has been revealed as being the model and inspiration in developing the now famous character of Billy Elliot in the play of the same name by Lee Hall.

In September 2008, he performed under the direction of Woody Allen in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi for the Los Angeles Opera as well as at the Spoleto Festival in June 2009. This year, Sir Thomas Allen celebrates the 40th anniversary of his professional debut as Figaro in October 1969, also marking the four decades he has been in the opera world. Recently, Sir Thomas took part in the annual BBC Proms, singing songs from numerous MGM musicals such as Gigi, Kismet and Hit the Town at the Royal Albert Hallmarker, London. In the coming 2009-10 opera season, he will be making appearances in operas in both America and the United Kingdom; as Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Prosdocimo in Il turco in Italia, Gianni Schicchi at Covent Garden and Beckmesser in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Personal Life

Sir Thomas Allen currently resides in Londonmarker, Englandmarker with his wife, Jeannie. He has one son, Stephen.


His film credits include The Real Don Giovanni and Mrs Henderson Presents.


  3. Opera Magazine, October 1978
  4. Opera Magazine, October 1978
  6. Sadie, Stanley (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Vol. One A - D, Macmillian Press Ltd., 1992

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