Thomas Round as Colonel Fairfax in The Yeomen of the Guard

Thomas Round (1946-49, 1954, 1958-64)

[Born Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, 18 Oct 1915, died Lancaster 2 Oct 2016]

Thomas Round studied singing and gave concerts in Texas while serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Upon his discharge from military service he applied to both the Sadler's Wells and D'Oyly Carte Opera Companies and was engaged by the D'Oyly Carte in February 1946 as understudy to the principal tenor, filling in on occasion during the next six months as Nanki-Poo in The Mikado.

In September 1946 he was promoted to principal tenor, appearing over the next three seasons as Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Earl Tolloller in Iolanthe (shared with Leonard Osborn), Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, and Luiz in The Gondoliers.

He then left the D'Oyly Carte in July 1949. During his absence he appeared in an ice show, Rose Marie on Ice, spent six-and-a-half years with Sadler's Wells Opera, sang the tenor lead in the world premiere of Delius's Irmelin under Sir Thomas Beecham in Oxford in 1953, and that year appeared in the film "The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan." He returned to the D'Oyly Carte for a short time as a guest artist in September 1954, appearing as Prince Hilarion in a new production of Princess Ida at the Savoy until December of that year, before resuming his work at Sadler's Wells.

In July 1958, he rejoined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for the last weeks of its tour in Dublin, appearing as Frederic and Nanki-Poo. He sang Danielo in The Merry Widow at the Coliseum while the D'Oyly Carte was on vacation (July-September 1958), rejoining them when they resumed touring in September 1958. Round appeared as Ralph, Frederic, Nanki-Poo, and Marco in The Gondoliers during the three seasons spanning 1958-61, as well as Colonel Fairfax in The Yeomen of the Guard for a time (September 1960-March 1961). In September 1961 he yielded Frederic to Philip Potter, but by November of that year he had added Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore and Cyril in Princess Ida, which was revived that month.

In January 1963, Round added Colonel Fairfax to his regular duties when Yeomen was restored to the repertoire following a lengthy North American tour, but at the same time yielded Nanki-Poo to Potter. When Joseph Riordan left the Company in August 1963, Round took over his parts as the Defendant in Trial by Jury and Tolloller in Iolanthe. Round would appear as the Defendant, Ralph, Tolloller, Cyril, Richard, Fairfax, and Marco until June 1964 when he left the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for the last time. During his years with the D'Oyly Carte he recorded the Defendant in Trial by Jury (1964), Ralph in Pinafore (1960), Frederic in Pirates (1958), Tolloller in Iolanthe (1960), Prince Hilarion in Princess Ida (1955), Nanki-Poo in The Mikado (1958), Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore (1962), Marco in The Gondoliers (1961), and Captain Fitzbattleaxe in Utopia Limited (1964 excerpts).

In 1963 Round, along with Norman Meadmore and Donald Adams, founded Gilbert & Sullivan for All.  That Company toured the British Isles, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East, and recorded versions of nine of the operas. Round appeared in all of them: as Box in Cox and Box, the Defendant in Trial by Jury, Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Tolloller in Iolanthe, Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore, Colonel Fairfax in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Marco in The Gondoliers. When the operas were reissued on video cassette in 1996 by the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival, Round recorded introductions for each.

During his Gilbert & Sullivan for All years, Thomas Round also found time to appear as Arthur Sullivan on tour with Donald Adams in Tarantara! Tarantara!, Ian Taylor's musical about the Gilbert & Sullivan partnership, and, again with Adams, recorded a musical documentary, "The Story of Gilbert & Sullivan," written by Dr. Thomas Heric. Round also recorded a collection of Victorian ballads for Pavilon Records, and participated in a recording of Edwardian songs on the Pearl label.

Round has maintained his interest in Gilbert & Sullivan throughout the years. In 1997, at age 81, he appeared as Box in Cox and Box at the three Gilbert & Sullivan Festivals held that year in Berkeley, Philadelphia, ans Buxton. His autobiography, "A Wand'ring Minstrel, I" was published by Carnegie Publishing in 2002.

Thomas Round was president of the Lancaster and District Choral Society from 2006 until 2015. He died on October 2, 2016, just eighteen days shy of his 101st birthday.

Page modified October 3, 2016 © 2001-16 David Stone