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Showcasing NZ Opera On The World Stage: Kiwi Girl Madison Nonoa Wins “life-changing” $50,000 Dame Malvina Major Award

Bellezza in Oslo, Madison Nonoa’s debut with Accademia Bizantina (photo supplied)

“Kiwi girl” and soprano Madison Nonoa has been awarded the prestigious $50,000 Dame Malvina Major Award, which she says is pivotal in enabling her to continue developing her career in Europe.

“Thank you to the Dame Malvina Major Foundation for helping me to follow my dream and grasp opportunities which would not have been possible without the financial backing of the Dame Malvina Major Award,” says Madison.

“I’m grateful for my career successes to date and I attribute these to the steadfast love and support of my grandparents and my role models — Dame Malvina being one of the most important.

“There really aren’t enough words to explain how much Dame Malvina has changed my life. I hope I continue to use my voice in a way that makes her immensely proud.”

“As well as having a beautiful voice, Madison’s drive, determination and love for the craft continually impresses the Foundation. Her star is rising quickly and it’s a pleasure to assist her on her journey, and ease some of the financial pressures that come with being an opera singer in Europe,” says Dame Malvina Major.

Madison, of Samoan, Niuean and Pakeha heritage, is a graduate of both the University of Auckland and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She has previously been awarded first prize winner of the Dame Malvina Major Arias in Christchurch and Wellington, as well as being awarded the first prize in the Napier Aria, Tauranga competitions and receiving 2nd prize in the New Zealand Aria Competition. She was a semi-finalist in the London Bach Singing competition and the International Handel Singing Competition and a finalist in the 2016 Lexus Song Quest.

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Currently based in Portugal, Madison most recent highlights include her highly commended debut at the Salzburg Festival as Amore in Orfeo ed Euridice, Amour (Orphee et Eurydice) with Raphael Pichon and Ensemble Pygmalion at the Pulsations Festival in Bordeaux, as well as a house and role debut as the title role in Dido and Aeneas for the Ustinov Studio at the Theatre Royal Bath. In 2023 she returned to New Zealand Opera in the role of Amor in (m)Orpheus.

Making her debut at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera as First Siren (Rinaldo), Madison was selected as a 2020/2021 Jerwood Young Artist. She is a former Dame Malvina Major Emerging Young Artist with New Zealand Opera, where she made her professional debut as Papagena (Die Zauberflote). She has performed nationally and internationally with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and the London Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall.

The Dame Malvina Major Award, established in 2020 and funded by Joan Egan to acknowledge Dame Malvina’s legacy and vision to “share the dream”, supports the career development of talented young opera singers handpicked by the Foundation. Tenor Amitai Pati won the inaugural award, followed by soprano Natasha Te Rupe Wilson in 2021 and tenor Oliver Sewell in 2022. Last year’s award was granted to baritone Moses MacKay.

“I am forever proud to be a kiwi girl from the Waikato, singing on these stages and carrying on the legacy of those who have tread these show floorboards before me,” says Madison.

“I know Dame Malvina sung in Salzburg and I feel honoured to have continued in her footsteps. Us Waikato girls have left our mark!”

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