John Savournin enjoys a varied international career as a singer and director, and as the Artistic Director of Charles Court Opera.  The British bass-baritone’s 2023/24 season started with a return to English National Opera as the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe.  He then made his debut with the Nederlandse Reisopera as the Hotel Manager/Duke in Powder her face, after directing CCO’s Christmas production, Odyssey, in a co-production with the West End’s Jermyn Street Theatre.  This Spring, he sang the Priest/Angel in The Dream of Gerontius with London Chorus at Cadogan Hall and directed The Barber of Seville for CCO at Wilton’s Music Hall.  This summer, he sings Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Garsington Opera, and reprise the silent role of Sante in Il segreto di Susanna for Opera Holland Park.  He will round off the season as Wilfred Shadbolt in The Yeomen of the Guard (a production he will also direct) for Opera Holland Park, in a fourth co-production with CCO and reprise Quince with Garsington Opera at the BBC Proms.  Also this summer, he directs The Sorcerer for CCO on tour and at Wilton’s Music Hall.  John has a passion for outreach, and directing a new children’s opera, Dewi in the Deep, at the Royal Opera House, in a co-production with CCO and The Opera Story this Spring.  For Opera North this season, he revives his family versions of Cinderellafeaturing music by Viardot, Rossini and Massenet, and The Mini Vixen, both of which he penned and musically arranged.

Engagements in the 2024/25 season include a return to Opera North as Sir Despard in Ruddigore, to ENO as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, and directing new productions of The Merry Widow and Trial by Jury, both co-productions with Scottish Opera and Opera Holland Park.  He will also write the script for a new translation for Widow, with lyrics by David Eaton.

John’s 2022/23 season included returns to Scottish Opera as José Tripaldi in the UK premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, to Opera North as the Major Domo & Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, where he also wrote and directed a new families version of The Cunning Little Vixen.  The summer marked his debut at Garsington Opera as Micha in The Bartered Bride, and a return to Opera Holland Park to sing Sir Despard in, and direct, Ruddigore – a third co-production with CCO.  CCO also toured his intimate productions of The Mikado and Express G&SIn concert, he sang Messiah for Gloucester Cathedral, and Judas in Elgar’s The Apostles at the Three Choirs Festival.  Rounding off the season, he curated a G&S Walking Tour in London, for ENO.  He was a finalist in the International Opera Awards for his work as a Director in the 2021/22 season.

In 2022, John created CCO’s Christmas show, Rumpelstiltskin, in association with Park Theatre, and in the summer CCO toured revivals of his intimate productions of The Mikado and Express G&S.  He 2021/22 engagements included Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore for English National Opera; directing Opera Highlights for Scottish Opera; Sir Richard Cholmondeley in The Yeomen of the Guard for The Grange Festival, directing & singing Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore for a co-production between Charles Court Opera and Opera Holland Park, and directing Patience for CCO at Wilton’s Music Hall, for which he won Best Opera Production in the Off-West-End Awards.  

In previous seasons, his engagements have included Peter Quince A Midsummer Night’s DreamLeporello 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,  Fotis The Greek Passion, Carl Olsen Street Scene  and Second Gunman Kiss Me, Kate, all for Opera North. The role of Second Gunman is one he returned to at Welsh National Opera, at the Coliseum in London and at the Ravenna Festival in Italy. He recently sang Zuniga Carmen for Welsh National Opera, appeared as Alcindoro La boheme for English National Opera’s Drive and Live production at Alexandra Palace, sang Il Barone di Kelbar in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno for Chelsea Opera Group and Alidoro La Cenerentola for Scottish Opera.

Engagements with Opera Holland Park have included The Immigration Officer Flight, Leporello Don Giovanni, Colline La bohème, Count Horn Un ballo in maschera, the silent role of Sante Il segreto di Susanna, Badger/Priest The Cunning Little Vixen, and directing The Pirates of Penzance – a co-production between Opera Holland Park and Charles Court Opera – in which he also played The Pirate King. 

John is also extremely experienced in the world of operetta, and is the Artistic Director of Charles Court Opera.  For Directing credits, please click on the Directing tab.


“John Savournin invests his mock-serious farewell to his coat (it’s off to the pawnshop) with immense dignity”


“John Savournin displays a warm voice and terrific comedic stage skills as his sidekick Leporello.”


John also enjoys a varied concert, chamber music and contemporary music schedule.

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 a song cycle by Edwin Roxburgh (especially written for him) at the Wigmore Hall.

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, Mozart’s Requiem for the Three Choirs Festival and the première of Edwin Roxburgh’s Two Sonnets, written for a recital at London’s Wigmore Hall.

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.

Further chamber and concert engagements have also included Elijah, Creation, Bach’s B Minor Mass, and Christus/Bass arias in Bach’s St. John & Matthew Passions.  John has also worked regularly with Counterpoise, a contemporary chamber ensemble dedicated to performing melodramas. With Counterpoise, he has performed works including John Casken’s Deadly Pleasures (Brighton Festival), Walton’s Facade and David Matthew’s Acteon.  He performed the UK premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ A Fiddler’s Tale at the Forge in Camden and Strauss’ Enoch Arden, Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale and Walton’s Henry V.

John studied with a scholarship at Trinity College of Music, where he was awarded the Founder’s Prize for Excellence and the Paul Simms Opera Prize.  He is the winner of the Concordia Foundation’s Serena Neville Prize, and a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.  At Trinity, he sang Dr. Hasselbacher in a revival of Malcolm Williamson’s rarely heard Our Man in Havana, Plutone in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, the Narrator/Mysterious Man in Into the Woods, and the bass solos in Tippett’s A Child of our Time.  Operatic roles to date also include Dulcamara (L’Elisir d’Amore), Don Giovanni, Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), and Don Fernando (Fidelio).


“…his singing, qua singing, was very fine and, crucially, his character identification was extremely convincing. To me, he conveyed very successfully both the anguish of Judas as he realises how gravely he has miscalculated and then the character’s complete despair.”

Seen and Heard International

“… a force of nature.”

The Telegraph

The Telegraph


John has created productions both as Artistic Director of Charles Court Opera, and as a freelance director, deviser, and writer.  He was a finalist in the International Opera Awards for his work as a Director in the 2021/22 season.

In the 2023/24 season, for CCO, he directs their Christmas pantomime, Odyssey: A heroic pantomime in a co-production with Jermyn Street Theatre and The Barber of Seville at Wilton’s Music Hall.  This summer directs The Sorcerer on tour and at Wilton’s Music Hall, and CCO’s fourth co-production with Opera Holland Park, The Yeomen of the Guard.  In outreach, he directs Dewi in the deep, a children’s opera, in a co-production between the Royal Opera House, CCO and The Opera Story, and for Opera North, he revives his family versions of Cinderella, featuring music by Viardot, Rossini and Massenet, and The Mini Vixen, both of which he penned and musically arranged.

He recently directed RuddigoreHMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance for Opera Holland Park/CCO; Trial by Jury for Opera North; The Opera Highlights show for Scottish Opera; CCO’s pantomime, Rumpelstiltskin, in association with Park Theatre and Patience at Wilton’s Music Hall, and The Mikado on tour, for both of which he won Best Opera Production in the Off-West-End awards.  It was also written by John, with music and lyrics by David Eaton.  Last summer, in collaboration with IF Opera, CCO launched a schools tour of The Man in the Moon – a children’s opera that focusses on ecological matters.  It was written and directed by John, with music and lyrics by Samuel Bordoli.  The same production is touring London schools in January 2023.

In 2022, he directed Ruddigore in a third co-production with CCO, created a new families version of The Cunning Little Vixen for Opera North, which has also just released a six part children’s TV series inspired by The Carnival of the Animals which John wrote, directed and performed in during 2021. It can be viewed on the company’s website.

While his production of Britten’s Songs and Proverbs of William Blake for English Touring Opera was lost to the pandemic, other projects during 2020 included creating two ‘Whistle-stop’ versions of Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella for Opera North, writing and directing CCO’s online pantomime Snow White in the 7 months of lockdown, and making a short new opera Grief for Opera Harmony/Opera Vision.


Alongside his singing career, John has created productions of opera and musical theatre for his award-winning chamber opera company Charles Court Opera, and recently made his main stage directorial debut with Opera North. Recent directing engagements include his main stage debut with Trial by Jury, as part of Opera North’s season of Little Greats; Il Barbiere di Siviglia and The Magic Flute, both for CCO at the Iford Arts Festival.

He has written and directed Opera North’s ‘Whistle-stop’ productions to date as part of their Outreach programme, wrote adaptations of The Magic Flute and Cenerentola for the Royal Opera House’s Opera dots series, and devised an abridged The Pirates of Penzance for Opera Holland Park’s Inspire Programme.  He was the Education Manager for the Concordia Foundation until the charity closed in 2020, programming and creating their Young Audiences projects.

John founded CCO in 2005, and recent productions for them also include The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore. He has written/directed their 13 pantomimes to date, described by the Telegraph as an “annual madhouse” and he also directed an evening entitled ‘Avant garde’ for CCO, including Pierre Lunaire, Eight Songs for a Mad King and a series of Beckett shorts. For more information and a full list of productions John has directed for CCO, please visit their website:

Elsewhere, John has directed a rare revival of Sondheim and Rogers’ musical Do I Hear a Waltz? at the newly opened Park Theatre in London; Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Tosca for the Musique Cordiale Festival in the South of France; Wolf Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret; Handel’s Julio Caesare; The Falcon (play – world-premiere); Acis and Galatea; Cosi fan tutte; Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri and Mozart’s Impresario.




<Summer 2023 – Sir Despard/Director, Ruddigore – Opera Holland Park / Charles Court Opera co-production>

<Summer 2023 – Micha, The Bartered Bride – Garsington Opera>

<Spring 2023 – Major Domo / Truffaldino, Ariadne auf Naxos – Opera North>

<Winter 2022/Spring 2023 – Director/Writer, The Cunning Little Vixen (Outreach production) – Opera North>

<Winter 2022 – Director/Librettist, Rumpelstiltskin – Charles Court Opera in association with Park Theatre>

<Autumn 2022 -Jose Tripaldi, Ainadamar (UK Premiere) – Scottish Opera>

<Summer 2022 – Sir Richard Cholmondeley, The Yeomen of the Guard – Grange Festival>

<Summer 2022 – Captain Corcoran/Director, HMS Pinafore – Opera Holland Park / Charles Court Opera co-production>

<Spring 2022 – Sarastro, The Magic Flute, Oxford Opera>

<Winter 2021/Spring 2022 – Director/Writer, Opera Highlights – Scottish Opera>

<Winter 2021 – Director/Librettist, Beowulf: an epic panto – Charles Court Opera and King’s Head Theatre>

<Autumn 2021 – Captain Corcoran, HMS Pinafore – English National Opera>

<Summer 2021 – The Pirate King/Director, The Pirates of Penzance – Opera Holland Park / Charles Court Opera co-production>

<Summer 2021 – Badger/Priest, The Cunning Little Vixen – Opera Holland Park>

<Winter 2020 – Director/Writer/Snow White, Snow White (film) – Charles Court Opera>

<Winter 2020 – Director/Writer, Cinderella – Whistle-stop Opera – Opera North>

<Autumn 2020 – Alcindoro, La boheme (Drive and Live) – English National Opera>

<Autumn 2020 – Director/Wrter/Narrator, Hansel and Gretel – Whistle-stop Opera – Opera North>

<Spring 2020 – Zuniga, Carmen – Welsh National Opera>

<Spring 2020 – Carl Olsen, Street Scene – Opera North>

<Autumn 2019 – Fotis, The Greek Passion – Opera North>

<July 2019 – Sante, Il Segreto di Susanna – Opera Holland Park>

<July – August 2019 – Director, The Gondoliers – The National G&S Opera Company>

<July – August 2019 – Director, Ruddigore – Charles Court Opera on tour>

<June 2019 – Count Horn, Un ballo in Maschera – Opera Holland Park>

<June 2019 – Cadmus/Somnus, Semele – Northern Aldborough Festival>

<June 2019 – Librettist, La Cenerentola – Royal Opera House ‘Opera dots’ series>

<Spring 2019 – Librettist, The Magic Flute, Royal Opera House ‘Opera dots’ series>

<April – August 2019 – Director, H.M.S. Pinafore – Charles Court Opera at the King’s Head Theatre and on tour>

<Jan – March 2019 – Sarastro, The Magic Flute – Opera North>

<December 2018- January 2019 – Director/Librettist, Buttons (A Cinderella Pantomime) – Charles Court Opera>

<Autumn 2018 – Angelotti, Tosca – Opera North>

<Summer 2018 – Librettist, Pirates ‘revisited’ – Opera North Youth Chorus>

<Summer 2018 – 2nd Gunman, Kiss me, Kate – Opera North>

<Summer 2018 – Director/Librettist, The (mini) magic flute – Opera North & CBBC Summer social>

<Summer 2018 – Director, The Sorcerer – The National G&S Opera Company UK tour>

<Winter/Spring 2018 – Leporello, Don Giovanni – Opera North>

<Winter/Spring 2018 – Count Horn, Un ballo in maschera – Opera North>

<Spring 2018 – Director, The Mikado – Charles Court Opera at the King’s Head Theatre>

<Spring 2018 – Director/Librettist, Don Giovanni – Opera North ‘Whistle stop opera’ – Outreach>

<Winter 2017 – Director/Librettist, King tut – an egypt panto – Charles Court Opera (King’s Head Theatre)>

<Autumn 2017 – Armchair/Tree – L’Enfant et les sortileges – Opera North>

<Autumn 2017 – Director, Trial by Jury – Opera North main stage production>

<Summer 2017 – Leporello, Don Giovanni – Opera Holland Park>

<Summer 2017 – Director, The Barber of Seville – Iford Arts collaboration with Charles Court Opera>

<Winter/Spring 2017 – Alidoro, La Cenerentola – Opera North>

<Spring 2017 – Director/Librettist, Hansel & Gretel – Opera North ‘Whistle stop opera’ – Outreach>

<Winter 2016 – Director/Librettist, Pinocchio (pantomime) – Charles Court Opera (King’s Head Theatre)>

<Autumn 2016 – 2nd Gunman, Kiss me, Kate – Welsh National Opera co-production with Opera North>

<Summer 2016 – Colline, La Boheme – Opera Holland Park>

<Summer 2016 – Director/Librettist, The Magic Flute – Iford Arts collaboration with Charles Court Opera>

<Spring 2016 – Director, The Pirates of Penzance – Opera Holland Park Inspire Project>

<Autumn 2015 – 2nd Gunman, Kiss me, Kate – Opera North>

<Summer 2015 – The Immigration Officer, Flight – Opera Holland Park>





Alfred Cellier: The Mountebanks (Bartolo)

John Andrews, BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra



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