'A beautiful voice is not enough to animate a recital, and animation was what the New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts and the British pianist Gamal Khamis brought to their Schumann, Britten, Tchaikovsky and Debussy, alert to the specifics of style, language and character in each miniature narrative. No surprise that Van Mellaerts, witty and wiry-toned, walked away with the top prize.'
Review of Wigmore Song Competition, in The Times, 11/9/2017
J U L I E N V A N M E L L A E R T S
B a r i t o n e
Winner of the Maureen Forrester Prize and the German Lied Award at the 2018 Concours Musical International de Montréal, Winner of the 2017 Wigmore Hall / Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, and the 2015 Maureen Lehane Vocal Arts Award, British / New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts studied at the University of Otago, before joining the International Opera School of the Royal College of Music. His studies have been supported by the 2016 Kiwi Music Scholarship, a 2016 Countess of Munster Award, the Hunn Trust and the ongoing support of the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. He graduated in Summer 2017, having been a Fishmongers Company Scholar, supported by a Toeman Weinberger Award studying with Russell Smythe. On Graduation in 2017 he was awarded the Tagore Gold Medal. He is also a scholar and alumnus of the 2017 Verbier Festival Academy, the 2018 Heidelberger Frühling Lied Academy with Thomas Hampson and the 2018 Bayreuth Festspiele Stipendium.
Since graduating, he has toured with James Baillieu for Chamber Music New Zealand and given recitals with Julius Drake at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin, the Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, for the Juan March Foundation, Madrid, and at Temple Song, London. Further recital engagements have included A Heine Liederkreis at Oxford Lieder, the Lied Festival Victoria de Los Ángeles (LIFE Victoria), Barcelona, with Simon Lepper and appearances at Leeds Lieder, the Lewes Song Festival the London Song Festival and Oxford Lieder. With the Royal Ballet, he appeared in Elizabeth at the Barbican Hall.
He also sang The Referee Mozart vs Machine for Mahogany Opera Group, Schaunard La bohème for Opera Holland Park Young Artists and New Zealand Opera, the title role in Stanford’s The Travelling Companion for New Sussex Opera, Harlequin Ariadne auf Naxos for Longborough Festival Opera, the title role in Eugene Onegin for Cambridge Philharmonic Society, Mr Fezziwig in the premiere of Will Todd’s A Christmas Carol for Opera Holland Park, Britten War Requiem in Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals, Copland Old American Songs with the Joensuu City Orchestra, Messiah with the Orchestra of St John’s, Mahler Kindertotenlieder with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen on tour with the Israel Camerata.
Singing under conductors including Alphonse Cemin, Valeri Gergiev, Stanislav Kochanovsky, Fabio Mastrangelo, Mathieu Romano and Sir András Schiff, his current engagements include The Ferryman Curlew River for the Cross-Cultural Year of Russia and Great Britain at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Moscow, Oreste Iphigénie en Tauride at the Fondation Royaumont, Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro for Opera Holland Park, Figaro Le nozze di Figaro at Salzburg Mozart Woche 2020, Papageno Die Zauberflöte at the 2019 Verbier Festival, Mangus The Knot Garden for English Touring Opera, an Opera Gala with the Sevastopol Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Cantata for the Death of Joseph the Second with Symphonia Varsovia, Brahms German Requiem with Ensemble Aedes and Les Siècles, Handel Arias with the Bellot Ensemble and A Sea Symphony with the Northern Chamber Orchestra.
Recital engagements include Schubert Die schöne Müllerin with Daniel Gerzenberg at the Piano Salon Christophori, Berlin, Wolf Italienisches Liederbuch with Mary Bevan and Joseph Middleton for Leeds Lieder, The Sexual Outsider – Settings of Walt Whitman for the 2019 London Song Festival, a return to the Wigmore Hall with James Baillieu and concerts with Joseph Middleton for Northern Ireland Opera’s Glenarm Festival of Voice, with Simon Lepper for Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, and with Sergey Rybin in the Crush Room of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Julien Van Mellaerts represented New Zealand at Cardiff Singer of the World 2019. His broadcasts and recordings His broadcasts and recordings include Britten War Requiem (Siren Media), Songs by Duparc, Richard Strauss and Vaughan Williams (Classic fM), In Tune and Lunchtime Recitals (BBC Radio 3), Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Rádio Clásica España) Die Zauberflöte, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome (Medici TV) and The Travelling Companion (SOMM Recordings).
“As a well-deserved award winner of numerous singing competitions, Julien Van Mellaerts became the shooting star of the evening in the title role of Figaro. The young New Zealander is still unknown on the opera stage, but his charisma and vocal elegance were in no way inferior to the Count of Florian Boesch.”
Figaro: Le nozze di Figaro / Salzburg Mozart Week / Das Opernmagazin
“The character of Papageno requires a lot of theatrical energy and lightness, which the baritone, with his assured voice and clear and articulated projection, absolutely fulfilled, anchoring the show, and quickly making him the most touching character of the opera.”
Papageno: Die Zauberflöte / Verbier Festival / Olyrix
“Julien Van Mellaerts a lively Schaunard with his rich baritone and high-spirited acting...“
Schaunard: La bohème / New Zealand Opera / Bachtrack
“Julien Van Mellaerts possesses a distinctive, birch-grained baritone, subtle verbal skills and a generous presence which made him a model, Housman-esque Companion.”
The Traveling Companion / New Sussex Opera / Opera
“Julien Van Mellaerts’ baritone songs are beautifully, conversationally delivered…”
The Arts Desk / Elizabeth / Royal Ballet at the Barbican
“…the baritone Julien Van Mellaerts brings the songs to life with warmth and wit.”
The Times / Elizabeth / Royal Ballet at the Barbican
“Eisenstein, the philandering husband about to go to prison for assaulting a police officer, was sung by the New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts. He managed to be both bumptious and suave, while also negotiating the high notes skillfully.”
The Guardian / Gabriel von Eisenstein: Die Fledermaus / RCMIOS
“Julien Van Mellaerts made a nicely fatuous Eisenstein, and his sunny tenorial baritone made one regret the character’s lack of an aria.”
Opera / Gabriel von Eisenstein: Die Fledermaus / RCMIOS
"...there was a sense of substance behind the macho bravado of Julien Van Mellaerts' Husband, even when togged up in a floral wrapover dress and matching turban..."
Opera / Le Mari: Les mamelles de Tirésias / RCMIOS
“As Le Mari, New Zealander Julien Van Mellaerts displayed the characteristic ‘open, engaging tone’ and ‘muscularity and vitality’ that I’d enjoyed at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final earlier this year. Van Mellaerts delighted in the grotesqueries and improbabilities, and the brightness and power of his baritone enabled Le Mari to hold his own against his wife’s feminist proselytizing.”
Opera Today / Le Mari: Les mamelles de Tirésias / RCMIOS