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Young opera stars win coveted places at NZ Opera School

26 Nov 2009

This content is tagged as Music .


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Twenty-four of New Zealand’s aspiring young opera stars have been selected to participate in the annual New Zealand Opera School in Wanganui from Sunday 3rd to Thursday 14th January 2010.

The residential school, now in its 16th year and the only one in New Zealand offering an intensive programme for burgeoning opera talent, is held at Wanganui Collegiate College and fosters the growth of opera in New Zealand by nurturing the talents of our promising young singers – the opera professionals of tomorrow.

In addition to the intensive vocal, language, movement and acting training the students undergo during the Opera School, the students provide a range of events for the public to observe the progression of the creative process as part of Wanganui Opera Week. Activities involving the students include two public evening masterclasses; recitals at local cafes and restaurants around Wanganui; a lunchtime concert at the Sarjeant Art Galley; a session featuring the singers presenting an excerpt from a chosen opera; the “To Music” chapel service; and the “Great Opera Moments” final concert where the students showcase the music studied over the duration of the School.

Over the 12 days of the NZ Opera School, the students work closely and intensely with leading opera professionals. “The coaches at the Opera School often have a profound impact on the young singers’ development and future aspirations, so they are very carefully chosen,” says NZ Opera School Director, Donald Trott. “All have international careers and reputations, and as a group they provide the students with a unique learning opportunity not readily available elsewhere in New Zealand.”

Leading the coaching team is Professor Paul Farrington, widely acclaimed British vocal consultant and expert and vocal coach and technical advisor to the Young Artists at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, who returns for his fifth year at the Opera School to deliver both one-on-one sessions and masterclasses. He is joined by highly respected New Zealand opera singers and vocal/language coaches, soprano Margaret Medlyn, baritone Barry Mora, and tenor Richard Greager.

Alongside them are similarly skilled and dedicated practitioners: Italian language coach Luca Manghi; movement, acting and directing coach Sara Brodie; and the vocal coach/repetiteur team led by Bruce Greenfield and ably supported by Iola Shelley, Dr Greg Neil, Francis Cowan, David Kelly and Mark Dorrell. Opera Directors Aidan Lang and Michael Vinten lead the singers through the staging of an opera scene; and young international artist Wendy Dawn Thompson returns in a mentoring capacity.

“Over the years it’s been heartening to watch the development of the Opera School and most importantly the careers of the enthusiastic, young singers who mature into talented professionals,” Mr Trott says.

“There is so much for them to learn from mixing with top opera professionals and experts, so they can truly be inspired and work at their craft. It’s also wonderful that the public can experience the process, not just the finished product.”

A “who’s who” of young and now established New Zealand opera singers including Simon O’Neill, Carmel Carroll, Benjamin Fafita Makisi, Madeleine Pierard, Zan McKendree-Wright, Kristen Darragh, Wade Kernot and Phillip Rhodes, have attended the New Zealand Opera School over the years, so places have become highly sought after. Most of the selected students, who come from all over New Zealand, are completing tertiary music studies with intentions of pursuing professional opera careers.

Bonaventure Allen-Moetaua (Tenor, Wellington)

Olga Gryniewicz (Soprano, Wellington)
Bianca Andrew (Mezzo, Wellington)

Alexandra Ioan (Soprano, Auckland)
Amanda Barclay (Soprano, Wellington)

Daniel O'Connor, Baritone, Auckland)
Cameron Barclay (Tenor, Auckland)

Polly Ott (Soprano, Christchurch)
Amelia Berry (Soprano, Porirua)

Kieran Rayner (Baritone, Wellington)
Rose Blake (Soprano, Wellington)

Brent Read (Tenor, Auckland)
Rachel Day (Soprano, Wellington)

Oliver Sewell (Tenor, Christchurch)
Stephen Diaz (Mezzo/Contralto, Auckland)

Felicity Smith (Mezzo/Contralto, Wellington)
Francessca Geach (Soprano, Wanganui)

David Wallace (Baritone, Auckland)
Tavas Gravatt (Baritone, Auckland)

Bryony Williams (Soprano, Wellington)
Michael Gray (Tenor, Dunedin)

Sheridan Eve Williams, (Mezzo/Contralto, Aklnd)
Andrew Grenon (Tenor, Christchurch)

Jamie Young (Tenor, Wellington)
and Sophie Morris (Soprano, Dunedin) observing

Mon 4 Jan – 12.30pm Lunchtime recital – Sarjeant Art Gallery ($25 includes lunch)
Thu 7 Jan – 7.30pm Cafe/Restaurant performances – watch for advertisements in local media
Fri 8 Jan – 7.30pm Public Masterclass with Prof Paul Farrington – Prince Edward Auditorium, Wanganui Collegiate ($15)
Sat 9 Jan – 7.30pm Public Masterclass with Prof Paul Farrington – Prince Edward Auditorium, Wanganui Collegiate ($15)
Sun 10 Jan – 11.30am Chapel Service: To Music – Wanganui Collegiate Chapel (retiring offering)
Mon 11 Jan – 7.30pm An insight into staging an opera scene with Aidan Lang & Michael Vinten – Prince Edward Auditorium, Wanganui Collegiate (koha)
Wed 13 Jan – 7.30pm Concert: Great Opera Moments 2010 – Royal Wanganui Opera House ($28)

Door sales: Lunchtime Recital, Masterclasses and Insight into Staging an Opera Scene

Bookings for Great Opera Moments at Royal Wanganui Opera House or www.royaloperahouse.co.nz

The NZ Opera School receives major support from Creative New Zealand, ASB Community Trust, Dame Jenny Gibbs CNZM, The Burr Foundation, The Deane Endowment Trust, Freemasons Roskill Foundation, Manchester Trust, and a number of private individuals.
The NBR New Zealand Opera PricewaterhouseCoopers Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists attend the School each year.