John Fryatt as Prince Hilarion in Princess Ida

John Fryatt (1952-59)

[Born York 7 Jul 1927, died Brighton, Sussex 7 Jan 2011]

John James Fryatt joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as a chorister in January 1952. He took his first named part, First Citizen in The Yeomen of the Guard, in September 1953, and also deputized as Major Murgatroyd in Patience on one occasion in January 1954. He continued to play First Citizen in 1954-55, also making regular appearances as Francesco in The Gondoliers, a role he shared with Herbert Newby. Fryatt took over as the Defendant in Trial by Jury and Leonard Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard in March 1955 when Newby dropped out of the chorus. Fryatt also assumed Prince Hilarion in the new production of Princess Ida in December 1954 when Thomas Round left the role.

During the 1955-56 season Fryatt was the regular Defendant, Hilarion, Leonard, and Francesco (though he shared the last role with Frederick Sinden), and filled in on occasion for Neville Griffiths as Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, and Nanki-Poo in The Mikado.

Fryatt remained a third-string tenor, behind Neville Griffiths and Leonard Osborn, in 1956-57, his roles now limited to the Defendant, Leonard, and Francesco (Princess Ida having been dropped from the repertoire). In 1957-58, while he got Hilarion back and moved up to Luiz in The Gondoliers (replacing baritone Jeffrey Skitch), he yielded Leonard to Sinden, taking the smaller part of First Yeoman instead.

For the remainder of his D'Oyly Carte career, it was Defendant, Hilarion, First Yeoman, and Luiz, with occasional substitutions as Earl Tolloller in Iolanthe, the Duke of Dunstable in Patience, Leonard in Yeomen, and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance. Fryatt left the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in November 1959.

After leaving the D'Oyly Carte, Fryatt went on to become a leading tenor and sometime baritone with Sadler's Wells Opera, English National Opera, and several other opera companies in Great Britain, Europe, and America. He played many roles, notably in the Offenbach operettas (The Brazilian in La Vie Parisienne, the title role in Orpheus in the Underworld, and Menelaus in La Belle Helene). One of his later roles was the Duke of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers with New Sadler's Wells Opera in 1984.

He also sang the roles of Cyril, Richard Dauntless, and Marco in 1966 BBC radio productions of Princess Ida, Ruddigore, and Gondoliers, and appeared in the 1982 Brent Walker television productions of Cox and Box (as Mr. Box) and Patience (as Archibald Grosvenor).

Fryatt's operatic career took him far and wide--to Glyndebourne, Rome and Amsterdam Operas, New York's Carnegie Hall, and Santa Fe Opera to name just a few venues. He also fulfilled an ambition to appear in a West End musical, achieved with a nine-month engagement as Rosco in Sondheim's Follies as the Shaftesbury Theatre.

In 1986, John Fryatt and Cynthia Morey devised and wrote a "Gilbert & Sullivan pantomime" entitled The Sleeping Beauty of the Savoy. They later collaborated in 1995 on another production, Off the Beaten Track, featuring songs from forgotten shows of the past. John's love of, and service to, Gilbert & Sullivan was honored by his recent appointment as Vice President of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, London.

Page modified April 3, 2011 © 2001-11 David Stone