Internationally-acclaimed tenor John Hudson, who grew up in Barnsley and studied in Sheffield, is to headline Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity’s musical extravaganza, Proms in the Peaks, in Castleton on Sunday, September 7. He will appear alongside soprano Deborah Norman in support of the region’s only cancer hospital. John studied at Guildhall in London and became a chorister at the Welsh National Opera before being offered a principal contract with the English National Opera in 1993. “I am lucky enough to be an Italianate tenor, which therefore opens up the works of Puccini, Verdi and Bizet and some of the greatest tenor arias. The tenor is pretty much always the romantic lead whereas the baritone or bass tend to get the meatier “baddie” roles which are probably more fun! The only baddie role I can remember is that of Pinkerton, the man who breaks Madame Butterfly’s heart and when I came on stage at the Coliseum, I was booed like a pantomime villain - great fun!
I travel so much that home is always my favourite place. Even luckier is that home happens to be in beautiful rural Dorset. My family and I moved out of London nearly five years ago. This was mainly for the children’s schooling, but, as I don’t work anywhere specifically, I am lucky to be able to live anywhere and I’m happy to drive anywhere, and I haven’t found it to be a problem yet. In my downtime, I paint and have discovered a love of carpentry.
Music: Be Bop Deluxe
Anyone remember them? A real taste of my youth growing up in Barnsley. I was lucky enough to see them at Sheffield City Hall - what a night! I was originally a graphic artist in Barnsley, in the good old days of pencil and paper, but I always loved singing. I was a long standing member of the Barnsley Junior Operatic Society, where I met many of my oldest friends. A singing teacher from school encouraged me to audition for Guildhall, which I did reluctantly and I was terrified when offered a place. I still hate auditioning to this day, but it is an essential part of the job unfortunately.
An Italian slow cooked veal dish I first discovered during a singing tour of Tuscany. Also, when I was with English National Opera, Gino at the Spaghetti House on St Martins Lane would always have one ready for me after a show! I love to cook, which is lucky because my wife hates cooking! We’re a good team, because she’s good at clearing up the devastation I leave behind me!
I studied graphic art at Granville College in Sheffield and my memories of my time there are varied and many - especially the former Limit Club in West Street where I saw “up and coming” bands like Blondie and The Jam! I love painting and drawing and still do many sketches, although mostly my art work is now confined to my children’s art projects!
I have been lucky enough to sing all over the world, from New Zealand to Canada with stops at the Sheffield Crucible, Buxton Opera House and The Royal Albert Hall. The most surreal was Buckingham Palace - seeing the Queen Mother appear through a false wall will stay with me forever! I could never say which place
has been my favourite, as it has been the amazing people I have met along the way who have made the most impact. I always love to come to my home town to sing. I also receive a warm northern reception at The Crucible in Sheffield and The Lamproom in Barnsley, and especially last year at Hodsock Priory for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity’s Proms concert. I’ve been living “down south” for over 20 years now and you can take the man out of Barnsley, but you can’t take the Barnsley out of the man!
The greatest moment of my life?
Apart from meeting my wife (whom I met and proposed to on the same day!) and holding my newborn babies for the first time, it was meeting Spike Milligan at Buckingham Palace (get me!) He was getting on at the time, but still the funniest man on the planet. I’m really looking forward to performing at Proms in the Peaks this year. I have worked with Deborah Norman many times and she is one of my favourite fellow artists. We will be performing some good old opera pops and some real crowd pleasers.
*Proms in the Peaks: tickets cost £15/£13; www.promsinthepeaks.org.uk; tel 226 5370.