Young opera stars given chance to shine
Issued by The NBR New Zealand Opera
17 June 2010
Young opera stars given chance to shine
Four young opera singers have been selected to join The NBR New Zealand Opera’s PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist programme. For Cameron Barclay, tenor (Auckland), Amelia Berry, soprano (Wellington), Rachel Day, soprano (Wellington), and Xing Xing, soprano (China/Wellington), this is an opportunity to take significant steps towards a professional career in the competitive world of opera.
The programme is part of The NBR New Zealand Opera’s three-tier Internship, comprising a Young Artist, Resident Artists and Emerging Artists. The principle behind it is that there is a flow-through whereby participants start as Emerging Artists, may move on to become Young Artists, and after some time overseas, training and performing, can return home and apply to be Resident Artists. Wade Kernot is a great example of someone who has made the most of the opportunities he has had with the Company. He was an Emerging Artist in 2004, a Young Artist in 2007/08 and has just come back from his current home and opera singing life in Germany to perform with The NBR New Zealand Opera and win accolades for his first major role, that of Figaro.
The PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist programme complements academic achievement by exposing each of the artists to a learning environment that places emphasis on practical experience within the professional opera world. This includes vocal tuition with Dame Malvina Major and coaching sessions with other industry professionals. In addition, Emerging Artists are given small supporting and/or understudy roles, where appropriate, and are part of the Company’s chorus. A variety of concert engagements are also a feature of the artists’ activity.
Jude Froude, who has been managing the Internship since its inception in 2000, says it provides a unique opportunity for talented young performers. “It’s a very special, nurturing environment within which the artists are encouraged to grow and extend themselves, to the point where they’re confident to go out into the world and make a career as a professional. Over the years the programme has developed, providing more benefits and opportunities, and this undoubtedly would not have been possible without the incredible financial support we’ve received from the Dame Malvina Major Foundation (since 2000) and PwC (since 2002) – they’re the unsung heroes behind the scenes.”
Dame Malvina Major says the young singers who are selected as Emerging Artists are the opera professionals of tomorrow. “It’s essential for us to recognise and foster the potential in our talented young performers,” she says, “just as those in the sporting and business worlds do. Cameron, Amelia, Rachel and Xing Xing have talent and enthusiasm in abundance, and through this programme we’ll equip them with some of the necessary skills to develop into professional opera singers on the national and international stage, and we’ll give them their first real taste of life as a professional performer. This will provide them with an invaluable head-start when they go out into the competitive world of international opera and will stand them in good stead for the future.”
Hamish Bell from PwC says “Assisting talented young artists towards their goal is immensely rewarding for PwC and fits well with our vision and strategy as a business. It’s extremely gratifying to us that since we began sponsoring this programme nine years ago, 100% of the Emerging Artists are still involved in the opera industry, many at a high level. We’re very proud to be supporting New Zealand’s next generation of artists and helping to ensure a thriving future for opera in this country.”
CAMERON BARCLAY, tenor
Auckland-based Cameron recently completed a Bachelor of Music and is currently finishing a Bachelor of Arts (University of Auckland). Fluent in English, French and Italian, he has been a finalist in both the New Zealand Aria and Becroft Grand Aria competitions. Concert appearances include solo work with the Auckland Choral Society, Bay of Islands Singers, North Shore 100 Voice Chorale and Pakuranga Choral Society. A regular performer with Opera Factory, Cameron also sang with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in 2004 and 2008, and with Simon O’Neill and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in a Celebration of Sacred Music (Auckland Opera Studio). Other concerts include The Juiciest Moments of Opera from Mozart to Gershwin (Opera Unleashed, Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival) and the National tour of It’s a great day for the Irish (Operatunity). Operatic roles include Harry: A Factory Opera, Councillor Silvertongue: Marriage a la mode, Alcino: Prima Donna, Poponel: The boy who grew too fast, Dr Miracle: Dr Miracle (Opera Factory); title role: Albert Herring (University of Auckland). In 2009 he recorded Margaret Wegener’s Ode to a Nightingale with the APO, the first recording of this work. Cameron is a newly appointed PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist and current member of the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus, both for The NBR New Zealand Opera.
AMELIA BERRY, soprano
Amelia is from Wellington, where she is currently studying towards her Bachelor of Music (Hons) in Classical Performance Voice (New Zealand School of Music). Competition highlights include winning the 2008 Otago Daily Times Aria Competition, placing third in the 2008 Performing Arts Competitions Association of New Zealand Young Performer of the Year Award, winning the 2009 Wellington Aria Competition and singing for Prince Edward and his guests at the 2009 Duke of Edinburgh Award dinner. Amelia has been a grateful recipient of several scholarships, including the Moyra Todd Memorial Scholarship, the Mona Ross Prize for Excellence in Singing, the Rotary Club of Wellington Music Prize for classical performance and the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson Goal Setter Award. Operatic roles include, title role: Semele (New Zealand School of Music) and Annio: La clemenza di Tito (Auckland Opera Studio). A 2010/2011 PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist, Amelia will perform in the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus for Macbeth with The NBR New Zealand Opera.
RACHEL DAY, soprano
Based in Wellington, Rachel is currently completing her Bachelor of Music (Hons) in Classical Performance Voice (New Zealand School of Music). She has an extensive background in Musical Theatre with lead roles and chorus work in various Wellington productions. Rachel is a 2010/2011 PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist and member of the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus in Wellington. Operatic experience includes the roles of the Farmers Wife, Owl and chorus: The Cunning Little Vixen – North Island Tour, Chorus: The Cunning Little Vixen – Wellington season (Not In My Backyard NIMBY) and Juno: Semele (the New Zealand School of Music). In 2010 Rachel will perform in the chorus of Macbeth in the renowned Opera North production being mounted by The NBR New Zealand Opera.
XING XING, soprano
Xing Xing is from Chongqing, China, coming to Wellington in 2003 to study. She completed a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance in 2007, and is undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Music (New Zealand School of Music) while finishing her BCA degree in 2010 (Victoria University). Competition successes include Rockfire Cup winner in the Wellington Aria competition 2007, recital class winner Napier Performing Arts Competitions 2008 and 2010, second place Napier Computer Systems Aria Competition 2008 and the most outstanding competitor, Senior Vocal Section that same year. Concert appearances include singing the New Zealand National Anthem in Parliament in both 2007 and 2008 and as soloist, recitalist and Guzheng player at various Wellington concert events. Operatic/Musical theatre roles include Kim: Miss Saigon (Napier Operatic Society), Yuner: Shen Nalin’s Fatal Desire – world premiere conducted by Gao Ping in 2007 (Asia Pacific Festival – Wellington). Xing Xing has been a member of the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus for The NBR New Zealand Opera since 2007 and this year is a PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist.