Adrian Thompson

Adrian Thompson

“I’m not sure I have seen any singer in a concert performance bring such energy and sheer range to the character he is portraying...What was also so notable about Thompson’s Mime was the quality of the singing. Here we had a tenor with clarion high notes and a solid bottom register – a remarkably complete performance of the role.”

Opera Today

Representation: General Management


Adrian is one of Britain’s leading operatic character tenors, long established on the stages of Covent Garden, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival and Garsington Festival and has made guest appearances at La Scala, Milan, Geneva Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Nederlandse Reisopera, Aix en Provence Festival and has sung in concert with all the leading orchestras of the UK and abroad. Over his career Adrian has long established a specific relationship with the music of Britten and Elgar for which he is much in demand on both the concert platform and recording studio.


Full Biography

London-born Adrian Thompson is an artist of extraordinary versatility with a wide-ranging opera, concert and recital repertoire. He trained at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he is now a professor of vocal studies.

His opera appearances have included the title role of Peter Grimes, Skuratov From the House Of The Dead for Oper Frankfurt; Snout A Midsummer Night’s Dream for La Scala, Milan; Mao Nixon in China and 1st Jew Salome for Canadian Opera Company; Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, 1st Jew in Salome, Arv in Nielsen’s Maskarade and Valzacchi Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Scribe Khovanshchina and Lilaque Pere Boulevard Solitude for Welsh National Opera, Esslinger Die Meistersinger and School Teacher The Cunning Little Vixen at Glyndebourne, Michael Jarrell’s Galilée and Rev. Adams Peter Grimes (Runnicles) for Grand Théâtre de Genève; Mime Das Rheingold and Siegfried for Nederlandse Reisopera; the title role of Janacek’s The Diary of One who Disappeared both in Brussels and the Aix-en-Provence Festival; Vitek The Makropulos Case for Angers/Nantes Opera; Zivny in Janacek’s Osud and Midas in Die Liebe Der Danae for Garsington Opera, concert performances of Grigory Boris Godunov at the Brighton Festival and Big Prisoner From the House of the Dead for Opéra National du Rhin Strasbourg. He has also performed with Badisches Staatstheater, Karlsruhe, Oper der Stadt Köln, Staatstheater Stuttgart, at the Bregenz Festival, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, New Israeli Opera, and The Netherlands Opera.  Further engagements include Albert Herring with BBC Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte for Lichfield Festival, Noctambulist Louise for Buxton Festival, Shabby Peasant Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for ENO, further performances as Eisslinger Die Meistersinger for Glyndebourne Festival, Shapkin From the House of the Dead at the Savonlinna Festival and at the Brno Festival (for WNO), Hermit in Hartmann’s Simplicius Simplicissimus for Independent Opera and Mr Upfold Albert Herring for The Grange Festival.

Adrian Thompson has performed with all the major British orchestras and ensembles and his overseas engagements have taken him all over the world. During his career he has worked with many distinguished conductors: Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Trevor Pinnock, Harry Christophers, Sir Andrew Davis, Richard Hickox, Sir Colin Davis and Philippe Herreweghe. In the contemporary field he has performed Lutoslawski’s Paroles Tisées with Oliver Knussen and The London Sinfonietta, recorded Judith Weir’s A Night at the Chinese Opera and has given many first performances of works by British and European composers. His recent concert highlights include Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with the Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder, Dream of Gerontius with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Christopher Seaman and at the Royal Festival Hall and War Requiem at the Barbican Centre, London.  He is particularly associated with the works of Britten and Elgar and his repertoire also includes Beethoven 9th Symphony, Verdi Requiem and Mahler Das Lied von der Erde as well as the Evangelists of Bach’s St John and St Matthew Passions.

A very experienced recitalist, Adrian Thompson has made many appearances at the Wigmore Hall and at festivals in the UK and Europe with pianists Graham Johnson, Iain Burnside and Roger Vignoles and harpist Osian Ellis, also appearing in recital recently with Roger Braun at the Concertgebouw. He has recorded discs of works by Vaughan Williams and Gurney, a volume in the acclaimed Complete Schubert Edition and Janácek’s The Eternal Gospel with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for Hyperion, Warlock’s The Curlew for Collins Classics and Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin for Pickwick.  He appears on Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Virgin Classics, Vaughan Williams’ The Pilgrim’s Progress, Sir John in Love for Chandos and in Handel’s Rodelinda for Virgin Classics. His discography also includes Britten’s Serenade, Les Illuminations and Nocturne, and Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang for Naxos.

Recent engagements include Judith Weir’s In the Land of Uz at the BBC Proms, Scribe Khovanshchina and Shapkin From the House of the Dead for WNO, Mime Das Rheingold at the Royal Festival Hall (LPO/Jurowski), Don Basilio Le Nozze di Figaro with Irish National Opera and Monostatos Die Zauberflöte and Bardolfo Falstaff for Garsington Opera as well as Monostatos for Scottish Opera.

Engagements in 2019/2020 include Emperor in the new production of Turandot for the Canadian Opera Company, Toronto, Mime (in concert) Siegfried with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Vladimir Jurowski) and Snout A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Grange Festival.

Promoters please note: if you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please contact Hazard Chase to make sure you receive the most up to date version.  E-mail



From the House of the Dead

November 27th, 2018

Hazard Chase artists repeat their roles at this year’s Brno Festival

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Summer Opera 2018

May 31st, 2018

Hazard Chase artists in the 2018 summer opera festival season

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WNO: Khovanshchina BBC Radio 3

November 3rd, 2017

The performance recorded on 7th October will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 18.30 on Saturday 4th November, featuring Simon Bailey (Shaklovity), Mark Le Brocq (Vasily Golitsyn) and Adrian Thompson (Scribe) BBC Radio 3 Broadcast

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A Russian Revolution

September 19th, 2017

Khovanshchina, From the House of the Dead and Eugene Onegin dominate the autumn season at Welsh National Opera

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Albert Herring at The Grange Festival

June 23rd, 2017

John Copley directs and Adrian Thompson and Kitty Whately are in the cast of this new production

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Wagner SIEGFRIED – London Philharmonic (Jurowski)

“Adrian Thompson’s engagingly characterful Mime dominated the first half”
Financial Times, Richard Fairman (February 2020)

“Adrian Thompson’s funny yet dangerous Mime was all obsessive hatred, self-loathing and manipulative malice”
The Guardian, Tim Ashley (February 2020)

“…literally dwarfed by the Mime of Adrian Thompson, who projected his part with enough animation for an army of Nibelungs”
Evening Standard, Barry Millington (February 2020)

“Torsten Kerl…saved his greatest firepower for his discovery of love in Act III. Before, he had been out-punched in decibels by Adrian Thompson’s mincing, mocking Mime, one of those 110 per cent performances destined to stay in the memory”
The Times, Geoff Brown (February 2020)

“[Adrian Thompson]  I’m not sure I have seen any singer in a concert performance bring such energy and sheer range to the character he is portraying. Thompson’s skill isn’t to make us entirely forget that Mime is fundamentally evil – though perhaps, we got rather more deviousness than outright evil on this occasion. Thompson doesn’t exactly skimp on the comedic elements of Mime, however. His constant whinging that he cannot forge a new sword from the smashed fragments of Notung, his howls tempered with groans are all emphasised…What was also so notable about Thompson’s Mime was the quality of the singing. Here we had a tenor with clarion high notes and a solid bottom register – a remarkably complete performance of the role.”
Opera Today, Marc Bridle (February 2020)

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Mozart DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE – Garsington Opera

“His loathsome servant Monostatos, the mesmerising Adrian Thompson, powders his nose and applies lipstick, only slightly more of a molester than the touchy-feely Sorastro himself.”
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer (June 2018)

“Adrian Thompson’s psychotic, cross-dressing Monostatos could have come straight from one of Hitchcock’s creepier thrillers.”

Richard Morrison, The Times (June 2018)

Mozart THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO – Irish National Opera

“This full version of the score — both Marcellina’s and Basilio’s Act IV arias were included and dispatched with artistry and taste by Murphy and the British tenor Adrian Thompson”

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times (April 2018)

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Wagner DAS RHEINGOLD – London Philharmonic Orchestra

“Were the singers audible? Yes. Did they jangle the nerve-ends? Sadly not. Only tenor Adrian Thompson, who was outstanding in Mime’s one brief appearance, managed to create the illusion of immediacy; everyone else needed to be brought forward.”
Mark Valencia, Bachtrack, (January 2018)

 “Adrian Thompson made a suitably funny, obsequious Mime”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, (January 2018)

“So would Adrian Thompson, who temporarily stole the show as a very put-upon but nasty-in-the-making Mime.”
David Nice, The Arts Desk (January 2018)

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Mussorgsky KHOVANSHCHINA – Welsh National Opera

“In the role of the hapless scribe – somehwat put upon by Mussorgsky as well as by his empolyers – the tenor Adrian Thompson was indefatigable”
Rian Evans, Opera Magazine (December 2017)

Wagner DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG – Glyndebourne Festival

“The Masters were cast from strength and lovingly characterized, with Colin Judson’s fussy Vogelgesang [and] Adrian Thompson’s delightfully dotty Eisslinger …outstanding – their singing was definitely master quality.”
Melanie Ezkenazi, Music OMH (May 2016)

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R. Strauss DER ROSENKAVALIER – English National Opera

“Adrian Thompson and Madeleine Shaw made an exceptionally slimy pair of intriguers”
Russ McDonald, Opera Magazine (April 2012)

“Adrian Thompson (Valzacchi) and Madeleine Shaw (Annina) are superb, vocally and dramatically, individually as well as in their double act.”
Musical Criticism, Agnes Kory (January 2012)

Tchaikovsky EUGENE ONEGIN – English National Opera

“There was also an exceptional Monsieur Triquet from Adrian Thompson.  Often parodied in a camp cameo, the role of the Frenchman was presented with a dignity and a surpassingly beautiful mezza voce in the second verse of his couplets
Opera News, George Hall (February 2012)

Wagner DAS RHEINGOLD – Nederlandse Reisopera, Enschede

“Adrian Thompson’s first assumption of the role [Mime] – why so late, one has to ask? – is perhaps the production’s most compelling characterisation to date.  It is a tragicomic masterpiece of malevolence, yet one that is strangely sympathetic thanks to his treatment by Mati Turi’s burly, bully-boy hero”
Hugh Canning, Opera Magazine (March 2012)

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Discography & Repertoire

Frank Martin – GOLGOTHA

Cast includes Adrian Thompson, Judith Gauthier, Marianne Beate Kielland with Cappella Amsterdam, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Reuss



Solo song recital with Adrian Thompson and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ronald Zollmann

NEOS (2006)

Vaughan Williams – SIR JOHN IN LOVE

Cast includes Adrian Thompson, Stephan Loges, Roderick Williams, Sarah Connolly with Sinfonia Chorus and Northern Sinfonia conducted by Richard Hickox

CHANDOS (2000)

Artist Manager

John McHugh (Cambridge)
01223 706024

Associate Artist Manager

Elin Jones (Cambridge)
01223 706026