A long-serving member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, John Ayldon sang all the main bass-baritone roles in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas in spite of his lack of a formal musical education.
He became fascinated by the theatre soon after his family moved from London to San Francisco when he was still a boy. In his teens, he took the title role in a television adaptation of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
Back home, he was asked by the Eltham Little Theatre Company – which runs the Bob Hope Theatre at Greenwich in south-east London – to join a production of The Pirates of Penzance. Before long, he was appearing in other amateur and semi-professional productions, acquiring a wide knowledge of the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire.
Then, in 1968, he successfully auditioned for the D’Oyly Carte chorus, gaining promotion the following year when the company’s principal bass-baritone, Donald Adams, left. During the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, Ayldon appeared in a command performance of HMS Pinafore at Windsor Castle.
Although D’Oyly Carte ceased operating five years later, Ayldon took part in revivals and tributes to the company, sang in a concert performance of Patience at the Proms, and appeared at the Wexford Festival in the Irish Republic and the annual International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at Buxton in Derbyshire.
John Ayldon, who was born John Arnold in London on December 11, 1943, died in Northampton on February 16, at the age of 69.