Covent Comes to Dorset, Wimborne Minster

THE devil, so the old adage goes, has all the best tunes – and they don’t come much better than Don Giovanni’s wickedly, deliciously seductive La Ci Darem la Mano duet with Zerlina. It was the perfect opening for an evening of quite heavenly music in a heavenly setting.

The ancient Wimborne Minster hosted a Dorset Opera Festival concert, featuring five alumni of Covent Garden’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, four singers and a pianist – sopranos Vlada Borovka and Madeleine Pierard, tenor David Junhoon Kim and baritone Pauls Putnins, replacing the indisposed Grant Doyle, and pianist James Hendry, who also presented the concert.

This was one of those good news-bad news things – missing Doyle meant the audience did not get to hear his Macbeth with Pierard’s Lady Macbeth, but this will still be able to see the pair in English Touring Opera’s production of the Verdi opera at Poole at the end of May.

What the audience did get, however, was a Dorset Opera favourite, a man of twinkling, humorous charm and a gorgeous flexible baritone, who not only gave us a sexy Don but a put-upon Leporello, boasting of his master’s conquests in the famous Catalogue Song (not in the original programme for this concert). Putnins also gave a terrific, bombastic performance of the Toreador Song, to well-deserved applause.

Tenor David Kim is one of the rising stars of the opera world, and his big solo at Wimborne, Edgardo’s Tombe degl’avi miei was a tantalising foretaste of his performance in this leading role in Dorset Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor this summer.

Demonstrating both his acting ability and the beauty of his voice, he also sang Rodolfo in a Act III of La Boheme, with the three other soloists, and the famous Franz Lehar aria, Dein ist mein ganzes herz, from The Land of Smiles. Not one of my favourite operettas, but he sang it with gusto and real sentiment.

The two sopranos presented a very different style. The New Zealander Madeleine Pierard is a charismatic performer, with a huge range and a personality to match, slyly teasing the old seducer in the Don Giovanni duet, taunting Marcello in Boheme and thrilling with her Lady Macbeth putting some fire in her husband’s belly to achieve his destiny.

Russian-born Vlada Borovka, who has already sung Violetta at Covent Garden, is a dramatic singer with a voice that soars effortlessly upwards. Her Mimi, in the Boheme Act III quartet, was touching and lyrical, but it was in the two songs, after the interval, that we got a sense of the range of her performing skills. Gliere’s Mermaid song – a taxing piece for the accompanist – showed the flexibility of her voice, while the Ukrainian song Why Didn’t You Come? revealed her saucy side.

The Jette Parker Young Artists programme is designed to support the artistic development of young professional singers, conductors, directors and repetiteurs. The Young Artists are salaried company members who work at the Royal Opera House on a full-time basis over a two-year period.

This year’s Dorset Opera Festival runs from 23rd to 27th July at Bryanston School’s Coade Theatre, with Nabucco in repertoire with Lucia di Lammermoor. For more information visit

Pictured: Vlada Borovka as Violetta, Madeleine Pierard as Lady Macbeth, David Junghoon Kim and Pauls Putnins.


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