John Savournin studied at Trinity College of Music, where he was awarded the Founder’s Prize for Excellence and the Paul Simms Opera Prize. He was a Park Lane Young Artist, the winner of the Concordia Foundation’s Serena Neville Prize and a Yeomen of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
Recent engagements have included Zuniga Carmen for Welsh National Opera, Fotis The Greek Passion and Carl Olsen Street Scene for Opera North, Il Barone di Kelbar in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno for Chelsea Opera Group and Heart’s Delight for Opera Holland Park in Concert. He had been due to return to Opera Holland Park to sing Baron Mirko Zeta The Merry Widow and The Pirate King The Pirates of Penzance, both productions sadly falling victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In previous seasons, his engagements have included Peter Quince A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Leporello Don Giovanni, Sarastro The Magic Flute, Schaunard La bohème, Angelotti Tosca, Armchair / Tree L’enfant et les sortilèges, Alidoro La Cenerentola, Count Horn Un ballo in maschera and Second Gunman in a critically-acclaimed production of Kiss Me, Kate (a role he has also sung for Welsh National Opera, at the Coliseum in London and at the Ravenna Festival in Italy), all for Opera North; The Immigration Officer Flight, Leporello Don Giovanni, Colline La bohème, Count Horn Un ballo in maschera and the silent role of Sante Il segreto di Susanna for Opera Holland Park; and Alidoro La Cenerentola for Scottish Opera.
His passion for contemporary music has seen John Savournin perform Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King for the Land’s End Ensemble, Calgary, and the Ossian Ensemble, Kagel’s …den 24.XII.1931 with the Warehouse Ensemble, The Boy Who Lived Down the Lane by Diana Soh at the Performer’s Voice Symposium in Singapore, Stephen Oliver’s A Man of Feeling and the premiere of Edwin Roxburgh’s Two Sonnets, written for him, at London’s Wigmore Hall.
Artistic Director of Charles Court Opera, John Savournin is also extremely experienced in the world of operetta and has performed many times with the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company.
In concert, his engagements have included Fortitudo in Haydn’s Applausus for Classical Opera at Cadogan Hall, Messiah for Raymond Gubbay at the Bridgewater Hall, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Mozart’s Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Three Choirs Festival.
His recordings include Bartolo on the BBC Singers / BBC Concert Orchestra recording of Alfred Cellier’s The Mountebanks for Dutton Epoch, whilst his broadcasts include The Greek Passion, The Magic Flute, Street Scene and In Tune for BBC Radio 3 and ENO’s Drive & Live La bohème for Sky TV.
In Autumn 2021, John Savournin will make his main-stage debut at English National Opera as Captain Corcoran HMS Pinafore and record Gaffer Gubbins The Dragon of Wantley for Resonus Classics.
Please note that this biography is not to be used for programmes. Current information is available on request.
Fotis: The Greek Passion / Opera North
“John Savournin in commanding from as the refugees’ priest, Fotis, touchingly acted.”
“John Savournin as Fotis was almost mystical in his intensity and with a powerful feeling of working to his own time. A moving portrayal…”
“Chorus and soloists, especially John Savournin, excelled.”
“…with a special mention for John Savournin (Priest Fotis).”
“John Savournin commands our sympathy as the refugees’ spiritual guide…”
Leporello: Don Giovanni / Opera Holland Park
“John Savournin was the perfect foil as Leporello, a bluff cove who presents his Catalogue Aria winningly in a warm bass-baritone.”
“…with his strong comic timing, John Savournin makes an excellent Leporello.”
The Financial Times
“John Savournin’s dry, sardonic, brilliantly timed Leporello…”
“John Savournin was equally good as Leporello, delivering the character’s trademark patter with brisk efficiency. His comic timing was impeccable throughout and he displayed an ability to think on his feet as he moved from one crisis to another. The catalogue aria was exceptionally fine…
Seen and Heard International
Leporello: Don Giovanni / Opera North
“…the slick-moving, quick-reacting John Savournin, who also boasted a firm bass-baritone.”
“…excellent Leporello, John Savournin.”
Sarastro: The Magic Flute / Opera North
“John Savournin is a smart and elegant Sarastro…”
Gangster 2: Kiss Me Kate / Opera North
“The other possible show-stealers in any production of this musical play are, of course, the two gangsters, here played by Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin, who do not disappoint: their “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” delivered with plenty of comic business in front of the curtain, is really hilarious.”
“…delightful comic turns from Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin.”
The Mail on Sunday
“Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin’s pair of hapless hoodlums are a joy.”
“The showstopper was Bruch Up Your Shakespeare, expertly performed by Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin…”
Colline: La bohème / Opera Holland Park
“John Savournin’s eloquent Colline was the pick of the men, real warmth to his soft bass.”
“Two performances stand out, Colline is a secondary character, but John Savournin invests his mock-serious farewell to his coat with immense dignity.
“John Savournin was first rate in the role of Colline and he gave a dark sonorous account of Vecchia zimarra in Act 1V.”
Seen and Heard International
“…the class act that is John Savournin…”
Alidoro: La cenerentola / Opera North
“As the fixer and straight man, the equivalent of a Fairy Godmother, he has a kind of instant dramatic authority, and his warm tones fit the part.”
“Alidoro is the tutor / philosopher who supplants the story’s Fairy Godmother and John Savournin distinguished with a voice both powerful and movingly lyrical.”
Seen and Heard International
“John Savournin twinkles as the manipulative Alidoro.”
“Alidoro, here sung by the vocally stylish and urbanely hilarious bass-baritone John Savournin, who makes light work of his big aria, “Là del ciel.””
Barone di Kelbar: Un giorno di regno / Chelsea Opera Group
“John Savournin, with his easily flowing bass-baritone, made an elegantly obsequious Barone di Kelbar.”
Count Horn: Un ballo in maschera / Opera Holland Park
“Benjamin Bevan and John Savournin tread a fine line between comedy and darkness as the two would-be assassins.”
“Benjamin Bevan and John Savournin as Ribbing and Horn were a pair of well-contrasted conspirators…”
Sante: Il segreto di Susanna / Opera Holland Park
“With John Savournin in fine form as Susanna’s dumb waiter, this was first-class entertainment.”
“The priceless antics of John Savournin in the mute role of the servant Sante are straight out of the Basil Fawlty school of faux obsequiousness.”
“The show was very nearly stolen by John Savournin in the silent role of the butler…”
“John Savournin’s deliciously tongue-in-cheek, long-suffering manservant Sante…”
“John Savournin as the butler Sante can raise a laugh with a flick of the little finger.”
Heart’s Delight / Opera Holland Park in Concert
“…no-one gets laughs more easily and naturally than G & S supremo John Savournin: the Lord Chancellor’s Song from Iolanthe was a model of deft economy in suggestive hand gestures as well as the necessary clarity of diction.”
The Arts Desk
“…a voice that’s so pregnant with comic gravitas.”
Cellier The Mountebanks (role of Basilio)
Soraya Mafi, Catherine Carby, Madeleine Shaw, Thomas Elwin, James Cleverton
BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra / John Andrews
Dutton Epoch 2CDLX 7349