The English baritone Thomas Hemsley was born in Coalville, Derbyshire in 1927. He went to Brasenose College, Oxford and studied singing privately with Lucie Manen. It was as Aeneas in Purcell’s opera that he made his stage début in 1951 at the Mermaid Theatre, London. He appeared at Glyndebourne between 1953 and 1961, sang with Aachen City Opera (1953-56), Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf (1957-63), Zürich Opera (1963-67) and Bayreuth (1968-70). He also sang with the English Opera Group from 1955 onward and created the rôle of Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1960. His first appearance at Covent Garden was in the première of Tippett’s The Knot Garden in 1970. His other parts included Don Fernando, Count Almaviva, Dr Malatesta, Masetto and Beckmesser.
In parallel he enjoyed a successful career in the concert hall, especially in the field of Lieder. Later he became an opera director and teacher. He wrote "Singing and Imagination: a human approach to a Great Musical Tradition" (OUP: 1998)