The five successful candidates include one of the youngest ever at age 21, and come from across small-town and metropolitan New Zealand. They are Jarvis Dams, Chelsea Dolman, Filipe Manu, Emily Scott and Christian Thurston.
The Freemasons Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist Internship is run by New Zealand Opera with funding from the Freemasons Roskill Foundation and the Dame Malvina Major Foundation. It aims to assist young artists in developing skills for a professional career in opera.
The selected interns are chosen by panel audition and are given the opportunity to work with industry professionals as part of New Zealand Opera’s mainstage activity. Each of the interns is exposed 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 opera practitioners. Emerging Artists are also given small supporting and/or understudy roles where appropriate, become part of the Company’s chorus, and undertake a variety of concert engagements.
New Zealand Opera’s internships offer a three-tier approach, providing singers with support through each stage of their career, thus potentially creating an ongoing relationship with the Company. Selected singers can start as Emerging Artists and might at a later date be selected as a Young Artist; then, after some time overseas training and performing, they may return home and apply to be Resident Artists.
Head of Artistic Administration, Jude Froude, says that the success of the programme can be seen not only in the careers it has nurtured, but in the further educational and artistic opportunities it has brought to the rising young singers and musicians. “The programme pages of NZO productions are now peppered with the names of past Emerging Artists and our graduates are featuring more and more in European and American opera houses as well. The Internship has been an immense success and is a source of great pride for us and the Foundations that support it.”
Kristin Darragh, now enjoying considerable success in New Zealand and beyond, says that studying at the Royal Academy of Music was made much more fruitful because of her time at NZ Opera as an Emerging Artist. “There is nothing like learning by doing (and watching!) in this business. The opportunity to sing a role in a proper house with a conductor, director and principals of such a high calibre is an experience most singers at my level are still waiting for.”
2010 graduate Amelia Berry will be singing the role of Zerlina in the Company’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni later this year. She says the EA programme gives young singers a development opportunity that is unrivalled, even internationally. “The whole experience contributed greatly to my progress as an artist and I consider it to be the best start to my career that I could have had.”
Soprano Emma Fraser, of the 2011 intake, comments: “Just watching international artists rehearsing was in itself a huge learning experience, and the coaching and lessons received through the programme were hugely beneficial. I finished feeling that I had really made a leap in my professional development."
The new Emerging Artists have already begun their induction, with several of the group already performing in NZ Opera’s current production of La traviata.
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The new Emerging Artists are available for interview.