Vuyani Mlinde began his training with Wilhelm Theunissen at the Free State Musicon, South Africa. He won a scholarship on the Opera Queensland Young Artists’ Programme, and a full scholarship for study at the Royal College of Music, and the Benjamin Britten International Opera School. He was the 2007 recipient of the coveted Clonter Opera Prize, and finalist in the prestigious Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition in Germany. From 2007-2009 Mlinde was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
In September 2010 Mlinde joined the ensemble of Oper Frankfurt. Since then he has performed roles in their productions of Le nozze di Figaro, Don Carlo, Die Zauberflöte, Murder in the Cathedral, Tosca, Medeé, L’amico Fritz, The Makropoulos Case, and The Rake’s Progress. While on the Jette Parker programme Mlinde’s performances included Zaretsky Eugene Onegin with Jiří Bělohlávek, Jake Wallace La Fanciulla del West under Antonio Pappano, Cappadocian Salome with Philippe Jordan, Tutor Elektra under Mark Elder, Count Ceprano Rigoletto with Daniel Oren, 4th Elder Lohengrin with Semyon Bychkov and Tom Un ballo un maschera with Maurizio Benini as well as Leporello Don Giovanni in the end of year showcase under Rory Macdonald.
Operatic roles elsewhere have included Sparafucile Rigoletto, Bonze Madama Butterfly, Angelotti Tosca, Leporello and Commendatore Don Giovanni, Colline La Bohème (ROH), Prince Gremin Eugene Onegin, Seneca L’incoronazione di Poppea, Bartolo Le nozze di Figaro, Doctor Pelléas et Mélisande (Independent Opera), Palemon Thaïs and Tchelio The Love for Three Oranges (Grange Park Opera), and Sarastro Die Zauberflöte (Opera Oviedo).
On the concert platform, Mlinde’s performances have included Beethoven Symphony No.9 with the Residentie Orkest under Neeme Järvi and with the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir John Eliot Gardiner in the UK, Germany, Paris and Madrid; Haydn Creation at the Salzburg Festival, the Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Pisa Festival under Sir John Eliot Gardiner and with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons; Mozart Die Zauberflöte under Daniel Harding at the Lucerne Festival; Handel La Resurezzione with the Gabrieli Consort under Paul McCreesh; opera arias by Mozart and Verdi at a gala concert with the NDR Orchestra of Hamburg; Doctor Macbeth with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival; Bach Magnificat at De Doelen, Rotterdam, with Concerto Copenhagen and a Rosenblatt Recital in London’s St John’s, Smith Square.
Mlinde’s recordings include the role of Licinio in Rossini’s rarely-performed opera Aureliano in Palmira for Opera Rara with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Maurizio Benini (released September 2012), and Mocenigo in Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro also with Opera Rara, for commercial release in early 2013 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Engagements in the 2012/13 season included his US debut at Houston Grand Opera as Colline in La Bohème and appearances in Frankfurt with roles in La Bohème, Le nozze di Figaro and Prokofiev’s The Gambler. The 2013/14 season sees Mlinde perform with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Baltic Sea Festival in Die Zauberflöte, as well as Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Jakub Hrůša and the Prague Philharmonia, and a return to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons in Mozart’s Mass in C minor.
Vuyani Mlinde is represented worldwide by Intermusica.
September 2013 / 540 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Colline in La bohème / Houston Grand Opera
cond. Evan Rogister / dir. John Caird
“Vuyani Mlinde invests Colline with a nice wry edge, properly mournful in his famous farewell to his about-to-be-pawned coat”.
Everett Evans, Chron, October 2012
“bass Vuyani Mlinde [was a] thoughtful Colline, whose comic, tender farewell to his overcoat, ‘Vecchia zimarra’, highlights the last act”.
D. L. Groover, Houston Press Blogs, October 2012
Haydn The Creation /The Monteverdi Choir / Salzburger Festspiele
cond. Sir Eliot John Gardiner
“a solid performance”
“leistet als Bass Solides”
Christoph Irrgeher, Wiener Zeitung, July 2012
“The soloists’ beautiful, unaffected voices, precise enunciation and balanced singing were very impressive... Mlinde’s clear bass voice is capable of a great variety of tone colours which he displayed in his portrayal of tiger, lion, horse, fish, and, of course, the worm. As Adam, he convincingly expressed his feelings for Eva with velvety timbre...”
“Sopran, Tenor und Bass punkteten mit ausgesucht schlanken Stimmen, exzellenter Textdeutlichkeit und ausgewogenem Zusammenklingen... Vuyani Mlinde machte mit schlank fokussiertem Raphaelbass klangmalerisch Tiger, Löwe, Ross, Rinder, Fische und aus der Urtiefe kriechendes Gewürm lebendig. Warme Empfindung zeigte er als Adam für die „Holde Gattin“.”
Elisabeth Aumiller, Drehpunkt Kultur, July 2012
Beethoven Symphony No. 9
London Symphony Orchestra / cond. John Eliot Gardiner / Barbican Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall
“[of the soloists] Vuyani Mlinde made the strongest impression...”
Classical Source, December 2011
“...Mlinde came across loud and clear”
The Independent, December 2011
“Vuyani Mlinde’s voice projected perfectly.”
Express and Star, December 2011
Rosenblatt Recital / St John’s Smith Square / acc. Ingrid Surgenor
“The programme for the evening showcased Vuyani's voice perfectly, no lack of strength in the lower register, no tailing off, and lots of humour too… The Verdi arias possessed all the colours you would expect, Mozart's lightness, Tchaikovsky's lyricism were all there in technicolor… The audience wouldn't let him leave.”
Sleeper-Service, June 2011
"There is no doubt that [Mlinde] possesses a resplendent voice with a wide range extending in both directions, while stage performances have given evidence of natural theatrical gifts.”
“(…) Figaro’s defiance of his master was crisply articulated in the recitative…[Mlinde’s] Leporello played cat-and-mouse with the invisible, tormented Donna Elvira, the tone colour repeatedly changing as each varied group of conquests was conjured up… The resonance of his sound reminded me of Ruggero Raimondi and the range of Thomas Quasthoff.”
Richard Nicholson, Classical Source, June 2011
”Mlinde’s voice, for all its inky colouring, has a nice line which suits Mozart’s music. The colours he brought to the aria gave an interesting, darker slant to the character. Something that applied to all his Mozart.”
“If the colours of Mlinde’s voice gave an unusual slant to the Mozart, then these seemed perfect in the Tchaikovsky… Mlinde brought a sense of deep yearning to Nun wer die Sehnsucht Kennt. And Gospod’ moj, esli greshen ja from Iolanta made me long to hear Mline in the opera.”
“Next a trio of Italian songs, Respighi’s Nebbie, Tosti’s L’ultima canzone and Gastaldon’s Musica priobita. These are not really great songs but sung with beauty and great conviction they were more than enchanting.”
“Verdi’s Mentre gonfiarsi l’anima [Attila] formed an impressive end to an impressive concert.”
“[Mlinde] has a stunning voice, which he knows how to use.”
Robert Hugill, Music & Vision, July 2011
Sprecher in Mozart Die Zauberflöte
Frankfurt Opera / cond. Erik Nielsen
“Vuyani Mlinde is one of the new stars of the Frankfurt Opera”
Frankfurter Neue Presse, December 2010
Haydn The Creation
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / cond. Andris Nelsons
“Vuyani Mlinde (a real find, sonorous and humorous – his D in profundo for “worm” had chorus basses gasping)”
Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post, December 2009
Haydn The Creation
Monteverdi Choir / cond. Sir John Eliot Gardiner / Carnegie Hall, New York
“South African bass Vuyani Mlinde's magnificent Raphael … (his) highly individual voice is centered on a dark core with glowing, even brilliant overtones in its mid-range. He has an impressive lower reach of mellifluous richness, enlivened by a fiery edge. His grave, almost prophet-like bearing gave a most effective human representation of his instrument.”
Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review for the Arts, October 2009
“Mlinde's Raphael was stern and staid, but, he coolly executed treacherous, subterranean bass notes and made for an excellent counterpoint to his fellow Archangels.”
Abby Rosebrock, Opera News, January 2010
Jette Parker Young Artists Programme Summer Concert
Royal Opera House / cond. Rory Macdonald, Dominic Grier & Daniele Rustioni/ dir. Thomas Guthrie
“Vuyani Mlinde stood out as a quick-witted and fine-voiced Leporello.”
Kate Molleson, Opera, October 2009
“Vuyani Mlinde’s seemed more at ease with Leporello, in turns cowardly, amusing and teasingly flirty with Donna Elvira. He has a powerful stage presence, fine comic timing and possesses a powerful, rich bass-baritone voice.”
Andrew Maisel, Classical Source, July 2009
“Vuyani Mlinde as Leporello proved to be a hit with the audience. He carried the role with real humour and wit, and his resonant bass deftly rattled through the 'catalogue' aria to great effect.”
John-Pierre Joyce, Music OMH, July 2009
“Vuyani Mlinde‘s richly-sung Leporello.”
Simon Thomas, What’s On Stage, July 2009
“Vuyani Mlinde’s richly-sung, sharply delineated Leporello.”
Stephen Jay-Taylor, Opera Britannia, August 2009
Tom in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (revival)
Royal Opera House / cond. Maurizio Benini / dir. Mario Martone
“Of the smaller roles, Vuyani Mlinde's Tom really stood out for the polish and passion he brought to the character”
Musical Criticism, June 2009
Jake Wallace in Puccini La Fanciulla del West
Royal Opera House / cond. Antonio Pappano / dir. Piero Faggioni
“There was also much to enjoy in the supporting cast: Vuyani Mlinde was impressive in Jake Wallace's hymnic opener.”
Music OMH, September 2008
“Vuyani Mlinde...was arresting as Jake Wallace, the minstrel.”
Musical criticism.com, September 2008
La Roche in Strauss Capriccio
Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artists Programme Showcase
“Vuyani Mlinde made a sonorous, courtly La Roche”
Neil Fisher, The Times, July 2008
Seneca in Monteverdi L'incoronazione di Poppea
Royal College of Music
"Vuyani Mlinde has a gorgeous velvety bass and all the hangdog presence for Seneca"
Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now, February 2007
Commendatore in Mozart Don Giovanni
cond. Alexander Ingram / dir. John Lloyd Davies
Prince Gremin in Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin
cond. Peter Robinson / dir. Will Kerley
British Youth Opera / South Bank Sinfonia / Peacock Theatre
"But the real vocal star of the evening is the mighty basso profundo of the South African Vuyani Mlinde as an awesome Commendatore. Mlinde's first name apparently means "rejoice"; and he had rather more to be happy about the following evening in Eugene Onegin , where he appeared as a twinkly-eyed Prince Gremin."
Hilary Finch, The Times, September 2006
Palemon in Massenet Thais
Grange Park Opera / cond. Martin André / dir. David Fielding
"Vuyani Mlinde displayed a fine bass voice"
Rodney Milnes, Opera, August 2006
"Vuyani Mlinde's gently spiritual Palemon"
George Hall, The Guardian, June 2006
"Among the smaller roles a stunning young South African bass called Vuyani Mlinde, playing a fellow monk, reveals a potentially exciting talent."
Richard Morrison, The Times, June 2006
"Vuyani Mlinde was a young bass worth noting."
Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, June 2006
"The audience, rightly, liked the monk Palémon (the impressive South African bass Vuyani Mlinde, making his British debut), who wisely denigrates his friend's proselytising zeal."
Roderic Dunnett, The Independent, June 2006
"Among the smaller parts, the South African Vuyani Mlinde revealed a bass of exceptional promise. "
Hugh Canning, The Times, June 2006
Bach St Matthew Passion
Worcester Cathedral / Elgar Chorale / cond. Barry Smith
"Vuyani Mlinde is a bass in a thousand - tough, virile and seemingly bottomless - yet with all the sensitivity to diction and phrasing which Bach demands."
The Organ Magazine, March 2005
Colline in Puccini La bohème
Black Tie Ensemble / Johannesburg Music Initiative Orchestra / dir. Neels Hansen / cond. Graham Scott
"Vuyani Mlinde was in fine voice and his excellent acting animated the character of Colline."
J Brooks Spector, Sunday Independent, June 2004