ABOUT

“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

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 graduated with the Tagore Gold Medal from 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 is also a scholar and alumnus of the Verbier Festival Academy, the Heidelberger Frühling Lied Academy with Thomas Hampson, the Bayreuth Festspiele Stipendium, a Samling Artist and a lauréat of La Fondation Royaumont. In January 2021, he was invited to return to the Royal College of Music as a member of the staff to teach English Song.

He has toured with James Baillieu for Chamber Music New Zealand, and given recitals with Julius Drake at the 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 Schubert Die schöne Müllerin with Jocelyn Freeman at Blackheath Halls and 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 Heine Liederkreis at Oxford Lieder, the Lied Festival Victoria de Los Ángeles (LIFE Victoria), Barcelona, with Simon Lepper, and Northern Ireland Opera’s Glenarm Festival of Voice. With the Royal Ballet, he appeared in Elizabeth with Zenaida Yanowksy at the Barbican Hall and with Sergey Rybin, he gave a Crush Room Recital at the Royal Opera House. Further engagements have included 'The Referee' Mozart vs Machine for Mahogany Opera Group, Schaunard La bohème for 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.

Most recently, he has returned to LIFE Victoria, Barcelona, with Simon Lepper, appeared in The Land of Lost Content: An exploration of Heine’s Poetry at the Lewes Song Festival, joined Louise Alder and Roderick Williams for Momentum: Our Future, Now recitals and sung Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro for Opera Holland Park. Engagements during 2021 / 2022 include Duke of Nottingham Roberto Devereux with Chelsea Opera Group, Garibaldo Rodelinda at the Göttingen Festival, Silvio Pagliacci for the Israeli Opera, Masetto Don Giovanni at the Verbier Festival, Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro at Ibiza Clásico with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Christoph Koncz, further performances of Brahms German Requiem with Ensemble Aedes, the world premiere of John Lubbock’s orchestration of Dichterliebe with the Orchestra of St John’s, Mahler Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mahler en héritage for the Fondation Royaumont, Mozart Coronation Mass at the Newbury Festival, a recording of Russell Pascoe’s Secular Requiem with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Christmas Carols with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Songs of Innocence and Experience for Oxford Lieder and A Dangerous Obsession for the London Song Festival.

Julien Van Mellaerts represented New Zealand at Cardiff Singer of the World 2019. His broadcasts and recordings include Britten War Requiem (Siren Media), Songs by Duparc, Fauré, 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). His debut song CD, Songs of Travel and Home with James Baillieu, is now available on Champs Hill Records.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Julien Van Mellaerts co-organized and co-curated Whānau: Voices of Aotearoa, far from home. Devised to highlight the plight of and raise funds for those New Zealand singers unable either to return home or work, the concert was recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall and broadcast on both YouTube and Radio New Zealand Concert. He also organised and co-curated Opera in Song for Opera Holland Park 2021, closing the traditional gap between opera and song recitals. The season has been re-commissioned for 2022.

Selected reviews:

 

Count Almaviva: Le nozze di Figaro / Opera Holland Park 2021

“Van Mellaerts makes a superb Count, a dangerously attractive figure, capable of turning from charm to angry hauteur in a flash…”

The Guardian

“Julien Van Mellaerts spun long, suave lines in the Count’s aria…”

Opera

“Julien Van Mallaerts sang the Count with authority and bravado…”

Opera Wire

“Julien Van Mellaerts was an aristocratic but deliciously self-important Count, behaving with glorious abandon yet never losing consciousness of his status. From his first appearance, deliberately flashing naked legs and boxer shorts (under his robe) at Susanna to his final capitulation to the Countess this was a fully rounded performance. We could laugh at the way his servants frustrated his plans, and decry his selfishness but Van Mellaerts also made him sympathetic, a little of the self-important yet powerless underdog who does not realise that he lacks power. A delightful performance, well-judged in balancing comedy and anger, and finely sung.”

Planet Hugill

“Strong dramatic performances from (ia) Julien Van Mellaerts’ emphatic, hectoring Count – — excellent with the text as one would expect of the 2017 Wigmore Hall Song Competition winner…”

The Sunday Times

Duke of Nottingham / Chelsea Opera Group 2021

“Julien Van Mellaerts proved a highly effective Duca di Nottingham as he asserted his secure and pleasing baritone to excellent effect.”

Music OMH

“Baritone Julien Van Mellaerts was superb as the aggrieved Duke of Nottingham.  Always mellifluous and elegant of voice, Van Mellaerts persuasively charted Nottingham’s evolving feelings from affability and concern to pain and anger, and finally vengeful vindictiveness.  He evinced real dramatic power in Act 3.”

Opera Today

“Julien Van Mellaerts switched from joviality to rage with skill, suggesting how powerful he will be in future Verdi roles revolving around betrayal.”

Plays To See

“Julien Van Mellaerts had great fun with Nottingham who starts out as reliable and sympathetic to Roberto, a good friend, but on discovering that Roberto loves Sara, his wife, Nottingham turns vengeful and Van Mellaerts really made us feel the change, without ever blustering. This was a finely sung account of the role, but one full of character, and also a lovely flexible top to his voice.”

Planet Hugill

“Julien Van Mellaert’s Duke of Nottingham was a deliciously scheming villain.”

The Times

Songs of Travel and Home / Champs Hill Records 2021

“A heartfelt, glorious disc of song, the programme imaginative, the performances radiant.”

Classical Explorer

“This is a fantastic disc: a singer with a very expressive voice, a pleasing tone, a great insight into the music, and accuracy pitch…In my mind, this is a must have recording.”

Classical Music Daily

“This disc would be notable if only because it’s the debut recital recording of the much-awarded and much-travelled New Zealand-born baritone Julien Van Mellaerts… Thanks to the baritone’s natural enunciation and the pianist’s detailed shading, the performance goes beyond the outward descriptive elements and well into the fantasy, romance and even visionary qualities that sometimes need to be coaxed from the music. From a purely vocal standpoint, I particularly love the way Van Mellaerts ascends fluidly to his upper range.”

Gramophone

“…a lovely collection of arts songs performed with beauty, subtlety and wit.”

NZ Listener

“This is a lovely disc, not just beautifully sung and played, but genuinely personal in tone.  The programme is performed with both insight and affection.  I know that I shall return to Songs of Travel and Home time and again, most especially for the sensitive interpretation of Bridge’s three songs; for the pathos and humour of Farr’s avian portraits; and for the engaging journey that we make alongside Vaughan Williams’ vagabond.”

Opera Today

Garibaldo: Rodelinda / Göttingen International Handel Festival 2021

“Julien Van Mellaerts was suitably mean as the sneering villain Garibaldo, with a smooth, resonant voice.”

Bachtrack

“Julien Van Mellaerts enjoyed playing the baddie, wrapping his firm baritone around Garibaldo’s “Tirannia gli diede il regno…”

Opera

“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