Angus Simmons has just wrapped up a year with New Zealand Opera as a Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist, and has begun a new role with our Technical and Production team. We asked him to share some highlights from his year.
What were some of the key things you learned/were able to develop during your time as an Emerging Artist?
We all know the saying ‘Its who you know not what you know” and while it is often not as black and white as this, from what I can tell from my short time in the opera industry, this is a huge part of it. My time as an EA enabled me to meet many people who have been extremely supportive of me during the beginning of what hopefully is a fulfilling operatic career. More practically, the programme gave me the opportunity to learn a role properly, as well as giving me the time to focus on developing my singing and performing.
Is there anyone who really influenced you/taught you something – and what was that?
All the artists who have worked with the company over the past year have influenced me in some way or another. It has been great being able to talk to them all and hear about how they have gone about establishing themselves as artists and what challenges they have faced – and how to avoid these!! The other thing I have learnt in 2019 is not to let disappointments, criticisms or opinions get in the way of what you want to achieve. In this business you are going to get people telling you what they think of you and your performance whether you like it or not and it is up to you how you deal with it!
You’ve been on the road with the company in our Opera in Schools programme this year as well as in 2018 – why is taking opera to schools important?
Children need to be introduced to opera so that the art form can continue to live on through the next generation. Opera needs audiences to survive and so it is important to try and instil the love of opera into the younger generation. The Opera in Schools programme has been a delight to be involved in over the past two years and I think Jo, Andrew (Outreach team) and Jacqui (Director) have done a fantastic job creating the programme.
What was your favourite moment as a performer in 2019?
I really enjoyed the smaller concerts I got to perform in – Opera in Parks and Freemasons fundraising events. I like being able to interact with audiences and see their reactions more clearly.
What was your favourite moment as an audience member?
I wasn’t technically an audience member but I enjoyed watching rehearsals for Don Giovanni and watching fantastic artists in action.
What are you looking forward to in 2020?
I’m looking forward to moving to Germany in September with my wife Anna and seeing where this next step takes us!
Watch former Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists talk about what the programme has meant to them.