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2007 Opera School Attracts Aspiring Talents

2007 Opera School Attracts Aspiring Talents

, Donald Trott,
conducts vocal warm-ups of Brendan Casey, Rachelle Pike and
Laurence Walls.  Photo: Neil Mackenzie
Click to enlarge

Warming up for summer: New Zealand Opera School Director, Donald Trott, conducts vocal warm-ups of three aspiring young opera singers selected to attend the 2007 New Zealand Opera School in Wanganui (3-14 January 2007), from left: Brendan Casey, Rachelle Pike and Laurence Walls. Photo: Neil Mackenzie

Brendan Casey,
Rachelle Pike and Laurence Walls serenade New Zealand Opera
School Director, Donald Trott. Photo:  Neil
Click to enlarge

Resounding success: Young opera singers (from left) Brendan Casey, Rachelle Pike and Laurence Walls serenade New Zealand Opera School Director, Donald Trott. The three singers will join 23 other aspiring young opera performers at the New Zealand Opera School in Wanganui from 3-14 January 2007, which includes recitals and masterclasses open to the public. Photo: Neil Mackenzie


6 November 2006


Twenty six of New Zealand’s aspiring young opera singers will be converging on Wanganui in early January for the 12th annual New Zealand Opera School. Organised by the New Zealand Opera School Trust, the residential school runs from Wednesday 3 January to Sunday 14 January 2007 at Wanganui Collegiate. It includes Masterclasses and Recitals which are open to the public, providing the chance to hear some of our most promising opera talents on the concert platform.

The New Zealand Opera School enables talented young singers the opportunity work closely with opera professionals, including the three principal tutors: international Vocal Consultant and expert Paul Farrington, and highly respected New Zealand opera singers Margaret Medlyn and Barry Mora. Other coaches include Dr Greg Neil, Claire Caldwell, Iola Shelley, Francis Cowan and Steven Anthony Whiting. The 2007 School will also see burgeoning New Zealand mezzo, Wendy Dawn Thompson – a finalist in the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2005 - as a guest speaker.

As well as from individual voice tuition, the school offers presentation and stagecraft techniques, language workshops and a daily fitness programme. The students are selected by application and most are completing tertiary music studies with intentions of pursuing professional opera careers. This year’s students come from as far south as Christchurch and Blenheim, as well as from Te Awamutu, Hamilton, Wellington and Auckland.

Highlights of the School include intensive individual and group tuition classes in vocal technique each day and two evening Masterclasses for the public to observe the creative process in progress. As part of Wanganui Opera Week activities, the public can hear the students perform at local cafes and restaurants around Wanganui; at a lunchtime concert at the Sarjeant Art Galley; and at a chapel service dedicated “to music” in the Wanganui Collegiate Chapel. The School culminates in a public concert on Saturday 13 January at the Royal Wanganui Opera House, where the students showcase the music studied over duration of the School.

“The New Zealand Opera School allows students to concentrate indepth on key aspects of opera performing including voice technique, stagecraft, personal presentation as well as lifestyle choices such as overall wellbeing and the importance of maintaining a regular fitness regime –vital for the stamina of performance,” says Donald Trott, Director of the New Zealand Opera School.

“For these young singers to have the experience to work so closely and intensely with professional opera practitioners, who all have international careers and reputations, is an opportunity not readily available elsewhere in New Zealand. It’s something that the students say does make a difference to their development and future aspirations. 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 great that the public can experience the process, not just the finished product.”

Now into its 12th year, the 2007 New Zealand Opera School is unique in that it is the only residential opera school in New Zealand offering an intensive programme for young singers. Over the years a “who’s who” of young New Zealand opera singers including Simon O’Neill, Carmel Carroll, Madeleine Pierard, Zan McKendree-Wright, Kristen Darragh and Philllip Rhodes, have attended the school. Since its inception, the School has received support from Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Community Trust, along with a number of private individuals and organizations including The NBR New Zealand Opera. In 2007, the NZ-UK Link Foundation will be assisting with Paul Farrington’s travel to the School together with Creative New Zealand.

“Over the years it’s been wonderful to watch the development of the School and most importantly the careers of the enthusiastic, young singers who mature into talented professionals,” says Mr Trott. “This also fosters the growth of opera in New Zealand by nurturing the talents of our promising young singers – who are, after all, the opera professionals of tomorrow.”


The 2007 New Zealand Opera School
Wanganui Collegiate School, Wanganui
3-14 January 2007

Public Programme

Masterclasses conducted by Paul Farrington and Margaret Medlyn, and featuring students from the 2007 New Zealand Opera School.
Saturday 6 January 2007, 7.30pm; and Tuesday 9 January 2007, 7.30pm
Prince Edward Auditorium, Wanganui Collegiate School
Cost: $10.00 (door sales)

“To Music” –a one-hour service dedicated to music
Sunday 7 January 2007, 11.30am
Wanganui Collegiate Chapel

Recital by Students of the 2007 New Zealand Opera School
Monday 8 January 2007, 12.30pm
Sargeant Art Gallery
Cost: $25.00 (includes a light lunch)

Final Concert Recital by Students of the 2007 New Zealand Opera School
Saturday 13 January 2007, 7.30pm
Royal Wanganui Opera House
Cost: $25.00 (concessions available)
Bookings at Royal Wangaui Opera House – Tel (06) 349 0511


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