The aim of the 2022 Opera Conference was to look at the future of opera and specifically how we as a sector can support the next generation of singers in Aotearoa.
We would like to extend our thanks to our speakers – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Clinton Fung, Madeleine Pierard, Catrin Johnsson, Felicity Tomkins, Manase Latu and Samson Setu, moderator Dr Gregory Camp and to all who attended and contributed. We were thrilled to see the wide breadth of experience in people who attended including singers, musicians, composers, practitioners, directors and arts supporters.
Our speakers explored a number of topics, which we will recap below:
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
Provided us with an honest and direct keynote speech and the opportunity to ask first-hand about the challenges of a professional career in opera. A key take-away from this session was that resilience is essential and that sometimes tough choices need to be made along the way.
Shed light on his experience as a person of colour in the world of opera. We discussed in groups questions such as how we can prevent bullying and celebrate diversity in our industry. We all acknowledge that the first step is awareness and putting support networks in place is an important part of the change that needs to happen.
Provided an overview of the various career pathways in opera and outlined some of the research she has been part of that looks at ways of supporting singers. Another insightful question & answer session uncovered the diversity of experiences for young people in opera as well as for those who are mothers, and left us with a sense that one size doesn’t fit all and to follow the path that works best for you.
Detailed the current progress and pitfalls surrounding the issue of health and wellbeing within our sector. Her experiences clearly showed the realities of working in this artform with suggestions as to how we can better support our next generation of singers with a need for this to be addressed within their early stages of training.
Felicity Tomkins, Manase Latu & Samson Setu
This charming trio gave us a glimpse into their current experiences working as successful singers overseas. They enlightened us with insights into what they wish they had known before they embarked on their overseas careers, namely a greater competency in languages. We were all left with a sense of immense pride in our sector in Aotearoa and its ability to produce such brilliant young talent.
These insights, along with the in-depth questions asked, provided much useful knowledge for young singers and posed more questions and issues for our sector to continue to kōrero about in the future.