To follow in the footsteps, at fairly short notice, of such artists as Leslie Rands, Alan Styler, and John Webley is no easy task, especially when one is, frankly, not the type of which matinee idols are made! Michael Rayner's personality is so strong, however, and his voice and acting capabilities so good, that within a very short time he had endeared himself to audiences all over the country, with the result that people now accept him as having been a stalwart of D'Oyly Carte for many more years than in fact he was.

Like so many other singers, Michael started as a chorister in a Church choir (St. Werburgh's, Derby), where he sang for some ten years before joining the Derby Opera Company. From there he went to a group called Opera da Camera, which gave him his first real taste of opera singing as such. Before taking up singing as a career he was Company Director and Sales Manager with the family firm, selling motor cars and, as he says, not altogether enjoying it.

He started his professional singing career comparatively late in life after studying with Frederick Sharp at the Birmingham School of Music and with Gordon Clinton, and spent two years with the Welsh National Opera for All group, singing in "Madame Butterfly", Die Fledermaus", and as Figaro in "The Barber of Seville", before joining the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in the autumn of 1971 to play the parts of Cox, Counsel, Captain Corcoran, Samuel (which he later changed for the Sergeant of Police), Strephon, and Giuseppe; and in 1973 he added the part of Pish-Tush to his repertoire.

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