Who's opera's next big voice? National finals showdown in Noosa
Be enthralled by spine-tingling performances from Australia's best emerging opera divas and a tenor as seven hopefuls battle for the top prize of $15,000 in the Dame Joan Sutherland Award (DJSA) 2016 on Friday 22 July in Noosa.
The bi-annual DJSA is regional Australia's richest and most prestigious opera award founded by Noosa Federation of the Arts (NFA) to help further the careers of Australian opera singers aged 20-34 in all categories from soprano to bass. The live opera event where the audience vote counts, is part of the Noosa Longweekend program.
For the first time in the DJSA's 22-year history, seven contestants (instead of six) will proceed to the exciting finals showdown. NFA artistic director Brad Jarrett said the calibre of singers this year was "exceptional" and it was tough at the auditions in Brisbane in June to whittle the number of entrants from 26 down to seven finalists.
The stage is set for an epic 'state of origin' vocal stoush at the Good Shepherd Lutheran College's auditorium. The venue was selected for its superior acoustics.
Four NSW finalists will pit their only instrument, their voice, against two finalists from Queensland plus a singer from WA. In the first half of the concert, the contestants will each sing an aria plus a song accompanied by Brendon Murtagh, a pianist who's making a name for himself on the recital stage.
Have your say about the best voice on the night by voting at interval in the People's Choice Award. Chairman of the DJSA standing committee Susan Beaver said above all, the audience would have a very hard time determining the People's Choice Award this year as the standard of competition was so high.
Finalists would be assessed on how they engage with the audience emotionally and musically, and often the audience has the best ear. Tenor, Kang Wang, People's Choice winner (2010) is now contracted to the New York MET.
"Many have already won or been finalists in other big name competitions nationally so we're in for an exciting night," Jarrett said. "We're looking for someone with that indefinable star quality. The best performance on the night, taking into account the judging criteria, wins."
The judges Brad Jarrett (former artistic administrator Opera Queensland), Andrew Collis (performer with major opera houses in Germany, US and Australia) and Margaret Russell (a long-standing soloist and guest in more than 25 German opera houses) would be looking for voice quality, natural ability and vocal technique; repertoire choice, language ability and understanding of what they're singing about; performance; musical style; and a well conceived plan about how contestants would spend the prize money.
In the second half, the judges will join the contestants on stage and address their comments to each of the finalists and announce the winners: First prize $15,000, Margreta Elkins Award $4000, Judges Encouragement Award $1000 and People's Choice Award $750.
NFA consultant and DJSA founder Meg Lawrence OAM said: "Everyone starts in competition, including (the late) Dame Joan Sutherland who lost a few but won many."
A week after Mirusia Louwerse won DJSA (2006) she was contracted to Andre Rieu and toured the world as his star soprano. The most recent winner, mezzo, Jade Moffatt (2014) is currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, UK, and is making a name for herself on the London stage.
Dame Joan Sutherland Award Competition 2016
Friday 22 July 5-8pm
Auditorium, Good Shepherd Lutheran College, Noosaville
$38 adults / NFA members $33 available www.thej.com.au or phone The J booking office (07) 5329 6560.
The finalists at a glance
Tabatha McFayden (soprano) Wentworth Falls, NSW
Tabatha was the 2015 winner of the Richard Bonynge award (part of the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award) and the Opera & Arts Support Group Scholarship. In 2014 she won the 49th International Dvořák Singing Competition in the Czech Republic, the Mietta Song Competition, the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Awards, and placed as runner-up in the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald's Operatic Aria. She was recently accepted into the prestigious Wales International Academy of Voice to study with renowned tenor Dennis O'Neill, CBE.
Bronwyn Douglass (soprano) Voyager Point, NSW
Bronwyn is the current recipient of the Amelia Joscelyne Memorial Scholarship with the Melba Opera Trust. In 2014 she was winner of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria, winner of the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition, runner-up in the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Awards and finalist in the Herald Sun Aria Competition.
Zoe Drummond (soprano) Homebush NSW
Zoe is the current recipient of the Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship and Patrick & Vivian Gordon Award with the Melba Opera Trust. In 2015 Zoe was granted the Trust's RJ Hamer Opera Scholarship. She was also awarded The Sydney Opera House Opera Award (as nominated by the Melba Opera Trust), which gave her the opportunity to sing for internationally acclaimed soprano, Renee Fleming. This year she's a semi finalist in the Mietta Song Competition and IFAC Australian Singing Competition, and a finalist in the Opera Foundation Australia Lady Fairfax Scholarship.
Kathryn Williams (soprano) Neutral Bay NSW
Kathryn was a semi finalist (2015) in the prestigious McDonald's Operatic Aria and the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation Bel Canto Award. This year Kathryn performed the role of Violetta in Opera New England's La Traviata and sang with the Opera Australia chorus in Handa Opera on the Harbour's production of Puccini's Turandot. Kathryn is currently rehearsing with the chorus in John Bell's production of Bizet's Carmen, as well as Verdi's Simone Boccanegra for Opera Australia's 2016 winter season.
Iain Henderson (tenor) Alexandra Hills QLD
Iain was the 2014 recipient of the Joyce Campbell-Lloyd Scholarship and Donald Penman Prize for Voices in Combination, and in 2013 the Ronald Dowd Memorial Prize for Tenors. As a semi-finalist in the 2014 Australian Singing Competition, Iain was nominated one of the top 10 young operatic performers in Australia and New Zealand. He also participated in the 2013 and 2014 Lisa Gasteen National Opera School, where he worked with John Fisher, Giovanni Reggioli, Richard Hetherington and Stuart Maunder.
Anastasia Bickel (mezzo soprano) Holland Park, QLD
Anastasia was 2015 winner of the Joyce Campbell Lloyd Scholarship for Overseas Study at the Queensland Conservatorium and the inaugural AOAC Judith Ward Lieder Scholarship at the Australian Singing Competition semi-final. In 2014, she was a finalist in the National Liederfest and winner of the prize for Best German Diction. This year she's performing in the semi-finals of the Australian Singing Competition and the German-Australian Opera Grant. She'll soon be performing the role of Florence Pike in Britten's Albert Herring for the Queensland Conservatorium.
Fleuranne Brockway (mezzo soprano) Attadale, Perth WA
Fleuranne was recipient of the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School full scholarship (2014 & 2015) and 2014 winner of the Prichard Panizza Award and Wagner Society of Western Australia Scholarship, and in 2013 was awarded the Wesley Mission Scholarship. Fleuranne is currently studying with one of the world's leading baritones, Perth-based Gregory Yurisich, who was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) in 2006 for his craft and for the education and mentoring of young singers.
Don't miss out on the exciting finals showdown, book your tickets online at www.thej.com.au or phone The J booking office (07) 5329 6560.
Auditorium, Good Shepherd Lutheran College, Noosaville
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