Michael Rayner (6th December 1932 to 13th July 2015)


Here I am at Markeaton Crematorium in Derbyshire where the English opera singer Michael Rayner was cremated. As well as opera he sang bass-baritone roles and brought the music of Mendelssohn, Handel and Mozart to the masses.


He started work as an apprentice for Rolls Royce but later worked for the family’s car dealership company and became a sales manager. All the time he was singing in the evenings and at the fairly late age of 34 he decided to pursue a career as a classical singer. They weren’t in the habit of taking on mature students but The Birmingham School of Music accepted Michael based on the high quality of his voice. Soon he joined the Welsh National Opera and was on his way. For the next three decades he would sing for various Gilbert and Sullivan companies and starred with Hinge and Bracket on cruise ships. However his career was temporarily derailed by a heart attack at just 45 and he gave up singing. Oddly he worked for the Probation Service and then with the elderly for the social services even though his faultless voice was in demand. People who knew him couldn’t quite understand this well-matched pair of lungs and voice getting shopping in for elderly people. Singing couldn’t be repressed and in his fifties he re-joined more Gilbert and Sullivan companies and toured again.


I can’t pretend to understand how broad his career was as it’s not my kind of music but he must have been a terrific singer as he toured the world playing just about every major singing role. At home he supported Derby County, played golf, cooked and enjoyed hosting dinner parties with his second wife at their home in Ilkeston. He died in Derby Hospital aged 82 after many years of declining health leaving four children and a substantial recording legacy.


As usual I stood and looked up at the chimney that took some of the singer skyward. I know ashes are left in the oven but some microscopic bits of the person must go upward and outward.



Looking up at the chimney where Michael was sent into the heavens…


I always like funeral homes have black traffic cones….where do they buy them from?...