Meet the cast and creative teams behind Opera Holland Park's 2022 Season. Over the coming weeks, we'll introduce our singers, directors, conductors and crews at the heart of the productions this summer.
This summer, John Savournin returns to Opera Holland Park to direct and perform in HMS Pinafore, the second collaboration with Charles Court Opera. In today's Spotlight interview, he tells us about falling in love with Gilbert and Sullivan and the challenges of performing and directing at the same time.
Could you introduce us to your role at OHP?
I’m putting on two hats this summer; directing HMS Pinafore and singing Captain Corcoran.
You directed and performed in The Pirates of Penzance last summer, can you tell us about the challenge of directing and performing a show at the same time?
It’s a juggling act but both those hats fit well if you know the work inside out and have a great support team that you trust. I often step in and out of scenes to get a view on how things are coming together.
What aspects of your role are you most excited about?
It’s difficult to pinpoint any one aspect, though I am particularly excited to get into the rehearsal room and work with the fantastic OHP Chorus again. They were so brilliant and motivated in Pirates last summer, and I know they’re going to have a ball in Pinafore. One of the big pleasures of working at OHP is the sense of camaraderie and teamwork, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing that again as we make a new production.
What is it that fascinates you about Gilbert and Sullivan, and how did you first discover their operettas?
There’s always something new to discover in their works, and they are situational comedies that stand the test of time. I first discovered them as a child; my mother took me along to a technical rehearsal for a production she was directing, and I caught the theatre bug at that moment.
Who is your musical role model?
I’m a huge fan of Luca Pisaroni and I really admire Bryn Terfel for his phenomenal acting ability. His Scarpia is so grotesque and dangerous. But I also love listening to great singers of the past – Janet Baker, Thomas Hampson, Kurt Moll, Maria Callas. There are so many wonderful artists to learn from and who are all so different. It’s one of the great things about singing particularly; everyone has a different sound, and a different way of using it. The flexibility and subtlety of the human voice never ceases to amaze me.
Do you have a favourite OHP Memory?
There are so many, but a real favourite has to be my first job for OHP, which was The Immigration Officer in Jonathan Dove’s Flight. It was such a special opera to be part of, and it was a great production from Stephen Barlow. The atmosphere in the theatre was electric.
If you could perform any role, what would it be?
Any role? Well, if it could be ANY role, and not one that fits my voice type, then I would have to pick a role like Mimì or Tosca – or something that’s crazy fun like the Witch in Into the Woods!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received, musical or otherwise?
Be your genuine self, and be kind – to yourself as well as others. It’s so easy to lose sight of yourself when you’re trying to squeeze into certain boxes as a performer, but in the end, you are who you are and that is a thing to be proud of. The last few years has been tough for many, so a bit of self-care counts for a lot, and being kind to others goes a long way, but costs nothing!