Programme prepares young Kiwi singers to converse on the international stage

7.06.17
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A new opera programme created by Dame Malvina Major will offer rare training in the spoken word for young New Zealand singers on the verge of international vocal studies.

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation Opera Studies Programme is being run in association with New Zealand Opera and offers successful applicants two weeks of intensive coaching from international tutors. A focus of the programme will be on recitative training – a style of delivery used in operas in which singers adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech.

Six successful applicants have been selected for the first intake from across New Zealand. They are sopranos Oriana Kershaw, Katherine McIndoe, Madison Nonoa and Sophie Sparrow; tenor Filipe Manu and baritone Clinton Fung. Two additional singers – soprano Natasha Wilson and baritone Jonathan Eyers – have been given scholarships to attend Patricia Hurley’s Italian for NZ Opera Singers Masterclasses and Concerts in Italy as part of the programme.

Dame Malvina says that learning recitative is a common omission in opera training and is hard to practice in isolation as often it involves a conversation between two or three people.

“Recits are hugely important as they are the sung conversations shared between performers before and after their arias, duets and quartets. The aim is to help these singers learn recitatives and their importance in an opera, and to help ensure their pronunciation – no matter what language the opera is in – is 100% correct.

“I wanted to give the best students the possibility to have extra help in this area of their study before going overseas to train further.”

This year’s tutors include vocal coaches Jennifer Marten-Smith and David Kelly, language coach Luca Manghi, and Helen Medlyn and Stuart Maunder who will take stagecraft lessons. Dame Malvina will also be involved.

The two-week programme will take place at The Opera Centre in Parnell, Auckland from 17-28 July and will culminate in a public presentation on Friday 28 July, 5.30pm.

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation Opera Studies Programme is funded by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation with the generous support of the Greenlea Foundation Trust.

Photo of Clinton Fung, Katherine McIndoe, Jonathan Eyers and Filipe Manu in the 2016 Opera in Schools production of The Elixir of Love.