Written by Leona Geeves
The Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship Concert was held in a flurry of frocks and very high notes on Sunday 16th October 2016 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Guest presenter, Peter Coleman-Wright AO, entertained with his expert knowledge of opera and quirky and amusing asides.
The competition was adjudicated by Cheryl Barker AO (winner 1986), Roger Lemke (winner 1985) and conductor and broadcaster, Guy Noble, The singers were accompanied by Sharolyn Kimmorley AM. Cameron Menzies, the Melbourne director, who flew up to work with the singers in a workshop had twice benefited from Opera Foundation prizes.
Heats were held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane through the year with the major prize of $43,000 giving the winner the opportunity to study with vocal, language and movement coaches in New York.
The singers chose their first aria and the choice of the 2nd aria was requested by the judges. In order of performance the contenders, all in their twenties, were:
Jessica Westcott, soprano, NSW Stridono lassù from Pagliacci (Leoncavallo) and Je marche sur tous les chemins from Manon (Massenet)
Michael Petrucelli, tenor, Vic Una furtive lagrima from L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti); Ecco ridente in cielo from The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Imogen-Faith Malfitano, soprano, NSW Che il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine (Puccini); Qui la Voce from I puritani (Bellini)
Monique Latemore, soprano, Qld Una voce poco fa from The Barber of Seville (Rossini); Ah, non credea mirarti from La Sonnambula (Bellini)
Danita Weatherstone, soprano, NSW Ich ging zu ihm from Das Wunder der Heliane (Korngold); No word from Tom from The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky)
Zoe Drummond, soprano, NSW Nel grave tormento from Mitridate Re di Ponto (Mozart); Monica’s Waltz from The Medium (Menotti)
While the judges were deliberating, Sydney soprano Catherine Bouchier (2007 American Institute of Musical Studies Award Winner), performed selections from the dramatic repertoire with Wagner’s “Elsa’s Dream” from “Lohengrin” and “I want Magic” from Previn’s “Streetcar Named Desire”.
The scholarship was won by Zoe Drummond a Melba Opera Trust scholar and member of the 7 Sopranos.
Other awards announced on the night by Opera Foundation for Young Australians were the 2016 Vienna State Opera won by Anna-Louise Cole, who was in Melbourne rehearsing for her debut in the Ring Cycle.
The 2016 Berlin New Music Opera Award was won by designer, Aleisa Jelbart who will head for the Komische Oper working with Barrie Kosky. Sylvie Humphries, Sydney soprano, now based in Switzerland, won the American Institute of Music Studies Award for a summer course in Graz and Sam Roberts-Smith won the Deutsche Opera Berlin Award.
Leona Geeves for SoundsLikeSydney©