Geoffrey Dolton was born in Shrewsbury. He studied with Joy Mammen at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won many prizes for Opera and Recital singing, culminating in the Principal’s prize. Outside the Academy, he won the International Young Concert Artists Competition of Royal Tunbridge Wells, the Royal Over-Seas League competition, the inter-collegiate Peter Pears Prize, and was runner-up in the Brighton English Song competition, as well as being a Ferrier finalist.
He then studied at the National Opera Studio with scholarships from the Munster Trust, the Royal Society of Arts and the Boise Foundation. He also studied in Milan with a Peter Moores Foundation scholarship.
He made his debut as Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte with Opera North, where he went on to sing a wide variety of roles, including Silvio (I Pagliacci), The Count (The Marriage of Figaro), Lescaut (Manon), Henrik (Nielsen’s Maskerade), Hector (King Priam), Fritelli (The Reluctant King) and Magician, Interlocutor and Leader of the Vaudeville in Weill’s Love Life.
At English National Opera he has sung the roles of Guglielmo, Florian, Princess Ida, Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus) and Alcindoro (La Boheme).
With Opera Factory he sang Guglielmo and the Count in The Marriage of Figaro, which were both televised on Channel 4, Orestes (Iphigenie en Tauride), Otho (The Coronation of Poppea), Alan (Birtwhistle’s Yan Tan Tethera), Nick Shadow (A Rake’s Progress) and Ferryman (Curlew River).
With Opera Northern Ireland he has sung Papageno (The Magic Flute), Dr Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Marullo (Rigoletto), Harlekin (Ariadne Auf Naxos) and Figaro (The Barber of Seville). Roles at Welsh National Opera include Papageno, Oreste, and Njegus (The Merry Widow).
Other roles include Shaunard (La Boheme) at Scottish Opera, Dandini (La Cenerentola) for Castleward Opera, Masetto (Don Giovanni) for CBSO and Simon Rattle, Creon and the Messenger (Oedipus Rex) for The Halle and Kent Nagano, Reverend Gedge (Albert Herring) for New Kent Opera and Bartolo (Barber of Seville) for Savoy Opera.
His operatic roles have taken him to Glyndebourne, La Fenice Venice, Flanders Opera, New Israeli Opera, Opera New Zealand, the Hong Kong Festival and to many other opera houses around Europe. He returned to Glyndebourne to sing in the premiere of John Lunn’s opera Zoe, which was also recorded for Channel Four. He also returned to La Fenice, Venice, to sing First Mate in Britten’s Billy Budd, and appeared for the first time for Opera Zuid in Maastricht, singing Dr Malatesta.
He has broadcast many times on the radio and television and has recorded Donizetti’s Emilia di Liverpool and One Hundred Years of Italian Opera for Opera Rara.
He has worked as Staff Director and Assistant Director for Opera North and Glyndebourne and has restaged Eugene Onegin for Pimlico Opera. Recently he revived Richard Jones’ Glyndebourne production of Jonathan Dove’s Flight for the Reisopera Holland, for Flanders Opera in Belgium and for the Adelaide Festival where it won the Helpmann award for best opera. He also directed L’Elisir d’Amore for Clonter Opera, which was seen at the RCM’s Britten Theatre.
He has devised and run Education Workshops for Glyndebourne Touring Opera, Welsh National Opera, the National Opera Studio and Clonter Opera.
He has appeared in another Dove piece, Death of a Princess, which was premiered on Channel Four. He created the role of X in Martin Read’s Dance to the End of Time (London venue Aldwych Tube Station!) and sang the title role in Ullman’s The Emperor of Atlantis, set in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin for Opera Theatre Company.
Last year he sang the role of Kalenik, (Rimsky Korsakov’s May Night) to great critical acclaim for Garsington Opera; Eumete, (The Return of Ulysses) for WNO and an exceptionally successful The Duke of Plazatoro (The Gondoliers) for ENO.
In 2007 he appeared in the Raymond Gubay production of 'Madam Buttefly at the Royal Albert Hall and revived the Richard Jones production of Macbeth for the Glyndebourne Festival. In the summer he sang the role of Popolani in the Buxton Festival's production of Offenbach's 'Bluebeard'.
In 2008 he was Associate Director of the Royal Albert Hall/Gubbay production of ‘Tosca’ and he returned to Opera North singing Starveling/’Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and Paris/’Romeo et Juliette’. In 2009 he created the leading role of Dr Needlemeier in Opera North’s world premiere production of David Sawer’s ‘Skin Deep’, which was also performed at the Bregenz Festival. He also sang the role of Il Cavaliere di Rapafratta in Garsington’s ‘Mirandolina’ (Martinu) and returned to Opera North for Don Alfonso/’Cosi fan Tutte’.
In 2010 he reprised Don Alfonso for Opera North, sang at the Nederlandse Opera (Mendo in Francesco Conti's Don Chisciotte) and returned to Opera North for Baron Zeta in ‘The Merry Widow’. 2011 saw further performances of ‘The Merry Widow’, a production of ‘Macbeth’ for Glyndebourne and he sang Geronio/’Il Turco in Italia’ at Garsington. He returned to Garsington last year for Don Andres in ‘La Perichole’ and to ENO in Martinu's 'Julietta'.
2012 also saw him sing Dancairo in ENO's 'Carmen', Frank Maurrant in The Opera Group's 'Street Scene' and a revival of Belloc's 'Cautionary Tales' at Opera North. He returned there last year for Starveling, appeared again in 'Street Scene' in Paris and Barcelona and sang his first Dulcamara/'L'Elisir d'Amore' at Opera Holland Park.
This year sees him return to Opera North for Benoit/Alcindoro in 'La Boheme' and to Garsington in Offenbach's 'Vert Vert'.