Operatic scholarship soars in popularity

In full voice - Jessie White and Shenazzar Sta Lucia rehearse for the scholarship concert. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

They’re nine of the city’s finest young singing voices, and early next month they go head-to-head in the Tauranga Opera Forum’s 2019 concert for singing scholarships.

Two of the young singers will receive the $1800 first prize and $1,000 second prize for year-long singing tuition.

“It’s very exciting this year,” says the Opera Forum’s John Hodgson. “There were just four in the field last year, but nine this year including three boys.”

Singers competing for the scholarships are Jenna Ruck and Amy Gulliver from Aquinas, Denise Torno from Otumoetai College, Joseph Kent and Ella Cousins from Bethlehem College, Tamsyn Harawira and Emily Newbury from Tauranga Girls’ College and George Hiku and Joel Bezuiderhout from Tauranga Boys’ College.

The students will sing for the judges at the Graham Young Youth Theatre at Tauranga Boys’ College on December 6, from 5.30pm. Tickets are available from Bureta Pharmacy on Bureta Road and House of Travel on the corner of Willow and Spring Streets. Students can attend for free.

The 2017 scholarship winners, Jessie White and Shenazzar Sta Lucia, will sing a duet on the night as the judges go about their work to identify 2018’s winners. Both Jessie and Shenazzar used their Opera Forum scholarships for year-long tuition from itinerant teacher of music, Glenese Blake.

Funds for the scholarship are raised through opera DVD evenings. During the winter months, Opera Forum attracts about 30 people to its fundraiser evenings. But with the showing of the enormously popular Mary Widow, that light-hearted operatic look at love, more than 50 people turned out.

“It was by far our most successful evening to date,” says John.