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Acclaimed American Diva To Judge Lexus Song Quest

Acclaimed American Diva To Judge Lexus Song Quest

One of the great opera divas of the twentieth century, Grace Bumbry, is coming to New Zealand in April to judge the Lexus Song Quest 2005 and teach classical singing master classes.

Ms Bumbry took the music world by storm in her 1960 opera debut in Paris, going on to become the first black singer to appear at the Bayreuth Festival. She quickly established herself as a singing legend, garnering attention both for her exquisite mezzo and soprano voice and her physical presence which earned her the moniker ‘sex goddess’.

“Few female singers since Callas have been ‘divas’ in the real sense of the word – combining an exceptional voice and the highest degree of artistry with star quality, both on and off stage. Grace Bumbry is one of them …,” wrote author Helena Matheopoulos in her book Diva.

Ms Bumbry has received many international singing awards and is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. In recent years Ms Bumbry has concentrated on teaching young singers around the world, including in Salzburg where she currently resides.

The Lexus Song Quest (formerly known as the Mobil Song Quest) was established in 1956 and is a premiere biennial event in the arts calendar focused on artistic development for New Zealand’s most talented young classical singers. It is run by the New Zealand International Arts Festival. Previous winners include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Jonathan Lemalu.

In 2005, six finalists will compete for the $56,000 cash and study prizes in the public Finals Concert at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on April 28. Ms Bumbry will then take masterclasses (open to public observers) in Auckland (April 29), Wellington (April 30), Dunedin (May 2) and Christchurch (May 3).

Festival chief executive David Inns said he was delighted Ms Bumbry had agreed to come to New Zealand.

“We are thrilled to have a singer of the stature of Grace Bumbry involved with what is New Zealand’s major classical singing event. She brings to the Lexus Song Quest exceptional talent, style and commitment to music education.”

Tickets to the finals concert will be available from Ticketek mid-March. Observer entry to the Lexus Masterclasses is free.

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