As excitement builds for our Opera Scholarship Final this Sunday, June 26 we wanted to introduce each of our eight finalists and let you know a little about them.
Nathan Bryon is a young Australian tenor, currently the recipient of the Ruskin Opera Scholarship and the Ryman Healthcare Scholarship with Melba Opera Trust. Roles include II Podestà di Lagonero (La finta giardiniera) for Operantics and Acis (Acis and Galatea).
Nathan has extensive experience as an oratorio soloist amongst Sydney choirs and orchestras. He has performed Mozart's Requiem (Penrith Symphony Orchestra), JS Bach's St Matthew Passion (Operantics), Durante's Missa in C, Vivaldi's Magnificat, Haydn's Die Schöpfung (Central Coast Chorale) Maunder's Olivet to Calvary, Stainer's Crucifixion (St Stephen's Uniting Church), Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Nelson Mass, Mozart's Mass in C Minor (Manly Warringah Choral Society).
In 2019, Nathan attended the Melbourne International Festival of Lieder and Art Song, where he took part in masterclasses with Dr Graham Johnson. Through his scholarship with Pacific Opera, in 2018 he travelled to Germany as one of four young Australian artists to participate in an intensive networking and performance program facilitated by the German Embassy in Australia.
In the same year Nathan attended the New Zealand Singing School, where he was presented with the Beatrice Webster Award for the pursuit of excellence. Nathan winner of the inaugural Demant Dreikurs Lieder Competition, as well as the Sydney Conservatorium Association Award for Excellence in Vocal Studies for 2019. In 2021, he received a Bel Canto Award from the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation.
Nathan holds a Bachelor of Music (Performance) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and in August 2022 will undertake a two year Artist Diploma at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of César Ulloa.
The Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship would be a huge part in making this opportunity possible.
We asked Nathan:
How does where you've come from, shape where you're going?
I grew up on a cattle farm in the town of Geurie, NSW, and I've always felt that my values and identity both personally and professionally have stemmed from the lessons I learned growing up.
"I was raised with the belief that there's not much you can't achieve with a bit of hard work, determination, relentless optimism and of course, some luck! "
I'm really grateful to have had these values instilled in me from an early age and strive to have them at the core of my practice as an artist.
Operatically speaking, one of the really special things about this extraordinary art form is the passing of technique and tradition from one artist to the next in a lineage that goes back hundreds of years. Whether it be teachers, coaches, mentors or other professionals in the business, I feel extremely privileged to have had a wonderful team of people at this crucial stage in my journey, instilling good practices for what I hope is a lengthy career yet to come.
For Kristin, singing is a way to project and reveal the emotions and thoughts of characters through the language of music. She sings with joy to satisfy the listeners’ curiosity and quest for meaning and pleasure.
A Lyric Mezzo-soprano, Kristin is currently studying Master of Music (Opera Performance) at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. She graduated from Monash University with a Master of Teaching. Her trilingual education and fluency in English, Armenian and Arabic facilitates her language skills in singing Italian, French, German and Russian.
Kristin has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. She performed in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Ottone), Purcell’s The Fairy Queen (Mopsa). She is now preparing Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito.
Upon graduating (2022), she is planning to travel overseas to enhance her bel canto singing technique at Rossini’s conservatorium in Pesaro, Italy. She will also join an outstanding Young Artist program in Europe where she has been accepted. She plans to use scholarship prize to accommodate travel and accommodation payments overseas as she participates in programs to improve her technique and musical experiences on stage.
We asked Kristin:
What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome in this field?
Life is full of various situations. As we grow up, we watch those surrounding us and learn from them. It is only a matter of time till we start categorising situations, either as opportunities or obstacles. Singing, which is one of my pleasures, shares its fair number of situations which were immediately categorised. With time, I learned how to rationalise and think what good would come out of any condition. I learned how to be thankful. Therefore, I think one of the biggest obstacles is to give up.
"It is when we stop dreaming and imagining that we give away the most precious value of ourselves. I am grateful for every moment and situation that help me become who I am"...
which in return is reflected in my profession as an interpreter of characters and stories through the art of music.
Baritone Matthew Avery is currently in his second year as a Young Artist with Pacific Opera and has also performed with Cooperative Opera and Operantics. His roles with Pacific Opera include Don Alfonso – COSI FAN TUTTE, Rocco – FIDELIO, Collatinus – RAPE OF LUCRECIA. Armed Man – DIE ZAUBERFLOTE; Operantics, Frank – DIE FLEDERMAUS and Cooperative Opera, Angelotti – TOSCA.
Matthew is a 2022 recipient of The Pacific Opera Growth Scholarship and has been a prize winner in Sydney, Wollongong, Cowra, Penrith, Shoalhaven and Lake Macquarie Eisteddfods. He has also performed in concert with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and is a frequent recitalist for music clubs, including the Blue Mountains and Peninsula organizations.
Matthew has appeared in Musical Theatre roles including Alex/Soldier – SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE for University of NSW and Monsieur Reyer – PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
He is a graduate of the Young Americans College of Performing Arts in the USA and toured with them throughout USA and Europe.
Matthew was to have debuted for Opera Australia in La Traviata on the Harbour in 2020 when it was cancelled due to COVID lockdown.
Future roles with Pacific Opera include Superintendent Bud – ALBERT HERRING, The Bonze – MADAMA BUTTERFLY and Dr Dulcamara – L’ELISIRE D’AMORE. Matthew has also been invited to perform for The Australia-Britain Society (ABS) Grand Platinum Dinner for this year’s Queen’s Birthday celebrations in Sydney.
We asked Mathew:
What is your favourite thing about Classical singing?
One of the things I like most about singing Classical music is the beauty and clarity of the melodies and harmonies.
I love the way everything comes together to create the whole piece.
"I especially love the way it feels when singing ensembles; the vibration I feel being part of the whole sound."
Without a doubt Mozart and Handel are my favourite composers from this period of music. The way Handel’s melismatic phrases create magic and allow for a whole range of decorations is just wonderful to sing. It allows me to feel that my voice is a part of the orchestra but something more as well.
Mozart in particular is so good with reflecting his characters perfectly in their arias. When they all come together, each character’s musical personality combines with all the other characters like a huge musical jigsaw puzzle that creates a masterpiece painting.
If I can use a broader definition for the term Classical beyond that period of music, to be more of a general term for music that includes composers from other periods of time, I love Gilbert and Sullivan for the way are so clever with the lyrics and Sullivan’s brilliance in utilizing previous classical composers’ styles. It’s as though he honours this music and exploits it at the same time. Gilbert’s lyrics are brilliant. It’s like listening to the best of British comedy in something like “Yes Minister”, perfectly set to music.
I also love the way that classical American composers like Gene Scheer are able to write specifically for baritones and he does this so well. It feels so good when the music just sits in the voice comfortably and allows you to play with all the tone colours you have.
Singing Rachmaninov and Brahms is such an amazing adventure of emotion in song.
It’s just amazing when the music sits right in the middle of the voice and the vowels sounds of the words are perfectly reflected in the notes, so that the emotional connections seems to just happen. It’s magic.
These are just the things I can think of right now that I love about singing classical music. The great thing is that there’s so much more music to explore and learn to love.
Australian soprano Karina Bailey is based in Sydney where she has worked as a chorus member with Opera Australia since early 2021. Currently with OA she is playing the roles of Angelina and Tisbe in their Schools Touring production of Cinderella.
Karina made her debut in 2016 as Papagena (The Magic Flute) with the State Opera of South Australia, and shortly after created the role of Elaine Lamb in the world premiere of George Palmer’s Cloudstreet. Karina played and covered numerous other roles during her time with the company. She made her UK professional debut as Sylviane (The Merry Widow) with Opera Bohemia in 2019.
Karina completed her Master of Music (Opera) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2020. Role highlights at the Conservatoire include Lucia (The Rape of Lucretia), Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro) and Sœur Constance (Dialogues des Carmélites).
Competition highlights include placing second in the German-Australian Opera Grant in 2020, Ye Cronies Opera Award in Glasgow (finalist, 2019 and 2020), Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria Competition Finals 2020 (third place) and 2018 (Conductor’s Award), the Dawn Wallace Memorial Prize 2017 (winner), 5MBS Young Virtuoso Competition Vocal Section 2016 (winner) and the Arnold Matters Scholarship Competition, 2016 (winner).
We asked Karina:
How does your relationship with our fellow entrants help or hinder you in this competition?
As I'm originally from South Australia, I still feel like a bit of a newbie to the opera world over here on the east coast. Coming into this competition I didn't know many of the other singers, but getting to know them during the semi-final and reconnecting with those I did know was one of the best parts of the experience. When I first decided to study opera over a decade ago, I was so afraid that this new world would be full of divas and competitive attitudes. But through all I have experienced, I've seen that the diva stereotype couldn't be further from the truth.
"The people I've come across who share my passion for this art form are such beautiful souls and it is a pleasure to share this journey with them".
The way they have helped me in this competition has been through meaningful chats, encouraging comments and our funny antics backstage. The energy of curiosity, comradery and supportiveness in the dressing rooms makes me feel so at home, and so lucky to be a part of the opera world.
Olivia Payne is a young Mezzo-Soprano currently studying a Master of Music Studies (Opera Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Olivia has an ATCL Diploma (Trinity College London) and a Bachelor of Music Performance (Sydney Conservatorium of Music).
Previous operatic engagements include Don Giovanni (Chorus), L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (La Libelulle), The Loves of Apollo and Dafne (Chorus) with Pinchgut Opera and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia). Most recently, she performed the role of Nancy in Pacific Opera’s production of Albert Herring. Olivia was introduced to music for film in 2017, being selected as a member of the on-screen, ‘Goodes Christmas Choir,’ in Bruce Beresford’s adaptation of Madeleine St. John’s novel, “Ladies in Black.”
Olivia is currently preparing the role of Karen in the new Australian opera, Percy. This is to be featured as part of an exhibition in the Grainger museum in Melbourne. In August, she will perform with Cantillation in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Simone Young. Later this year, Olivia will perform the role of Papagena in the Sydney Conservatorium’s production of Die Zauberflöte.
We asked Oliva:
What drew you to enter the Sydney Eisteddfod?
I entered the Sydney Eisteddfod this year as it was a chance to don my favourite gowns and perform on a stage!
"The last few years have left performers with very few opportunities to perform live and practice our art and so it is such a privilege to be able to do this again!"
The eisteddfod is the perfect opportunity to work on stagecraft and performance skills and get valuable feedback from a range of adjudicators. I’m very much looking forward to performing in the finals of the Opera Scholarship alongside wonderful performers and colleagues!
Former recipient of the Opera Australia Student Scholarship, Jeremy featured as concert soloist for the Opera Australia Benevolent Fund, Sydney Conservatorium (Early Music Ensemble, Chamber Choir), Argyle Orchestra (Hobart) and Sydney University Symphony Orchestra.
Roles include Aeneas in Dido & Æneas with the Gondwana Choirs/Muffat Collective, various in King Arthur with St. Paul's College; Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Secret Police Agent in The Consul (Menotti), Death in Savitri (Holst) with The Cooperative. He performed Demetrius for Sydney Conservatorium A Midsummer Night's Dream (Britten) and Uberto in La serva padrona (Pergolesi) for Opera in Wollongong. Future roles include Marcello in La bohème for Musica Proibita in Bergamo, Italy and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte for the Sydney Conservatorium.
Winner of the Margaret Olive Stewart Bequest, Donald Lionel Edgerton, George Henderson and PATIM Fund Scholarships, he received joint winner at the 4th Fresno State Art Song Festival and was awarded the Demant Dreikurs scholarship, winning the Lieder Competition at the Sydney Conservatorium for 2020.
Jeremy reads for a Masters of Opera Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium with Maree Ryan AM. Masterclasses include that by Jessica Pratt, Gerald Finley OC, CBE and Dr. Graham Johnson OBE.
We asked Jeremy:
What began your journey into Opera?
My journey began when Opera Australia came to my home town of Wollongong and auditioned high school students for the annual Opera Australia Regional Student Scholarship. I became one of four young singers from across the expanse of the regional tour that year to spend a week with OA learning what the art form is about and how it was a viable career option.
"After a glorious week spent with the late Taryn Fiebig, Samuel Dundas and the OA staff, I auditioned successfully for the Sydney Conservatorium and haven’t looked back since."
Raphael Hudson’s early studies as a baritone were with James Christiansen OAM, Max Speed, Megan Evans OAM, and John Bolton Wood. He performed many principal baritone roles, including the title role in Rossini’s - Don Parmenione - l'occasione fa il ladro, Toreador (Carmen), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Blansac (La scala di seta), Louis (The Wandering Scholar) and Lord Mount Ararat (Iolanthe). As his high range further developed, Raphael won scholarships to study dramatic and heldentenor repertoire at the Mediterranean Opera Studio in New York and Sicily where he studied with renowned tenors Gioacchino Li Vigni, Nicola Martinucci and Salvatore Fisichella. Since 2017, Raphael has performed spinto tenor and heldentenor arias and duets in large venues such as Sydney Town Hall, the Chatswood Concourse and the Verbrugghen Hall. In 2019, Raphael was invited to Northern China where he performed Chinese solos in nationally broadcast performances. During the pandemic, Raphael has been studying via video-link with Michael Trimble at the Trimble Vocal Institute in Washington and, most recently, with visiting celebrated international dramatic tenor Yonghoon Lee. Raphael will perform the demanding role of Canio in Pagliacci with the Cooperative in Sydney in December 2022.
We asked Raphael:
What drives you to succeed in this industry?
"In my singing, I am motivated by a desire to achieve something so sincere that my artistry moves the minds, hearts and souls of those that hear me."
I believe that if you honestly convey what is unique about your own gift, with your own voice, people will usually want to hear it and eventually you will succeed. Despite singing for many years as a baritone, even singing some bass-baritone repertoire, I chose to follow the call of other great singers who believed that I could achieve something unique as a tenor. This has not been an easy path, but the dedication, persistence and focus on technique required to achieve has committed me all the more to my task and to achieving my goals as a singer. I have not travelled this path alone however, I have benefited in my short life from a considerable list of famous and generous singers and coaches who have believed in developing my voice and have given of themselves to see me develop and succeed. I moved to Sydney in my mid 20s as a young baritone to work with Megan Evans and Max Speed, who were in their 90s at the time, but taught me for many hours several times a week entirely for free before they passed away. While their technique is only part of the technical background I now bring to singing, I am constantly motivated by the lifelong dedication they brought to their art and seek to adopt the same perspective in my own endeavors.
26-year-old Anna Stephens graduated in 2017 from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with first-class honours and a University medal for academic excellence. She studied with Shelli Hulcombe at the Conservatorium, and with Susan Waters at London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama while on a 6-month study exchange. Anna has performed the roles of Amor (The Coronation of Poppea), Papagena (The Magic Flute), Emmie (Albert Herring), Princess Laoula (L’Etoile), The Storybook Princess/Le Feu/Le Rossignol (L’Enfant et les Sortileges), and Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro).
Anna made her debut with Opera Australia singing the roles of Pamina, Papagena, and the Queen of the Night in the 2018 Schools Tour production of The Magic Flute. Also in 2018, she won the Fine Music 102.5 Young Virtuoso Award state final and played the role of Naiad in the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos, under the baton of Simone Young. Anna toured again with Opera Australia’s 2019 Schools Tour production, By the Light of the Moon, and competed as a finalist in the 2019 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship. In 2022, Anna will cover the role of Carlotta in the Australian National Touring production of the Phantom of the Opera.
We asked Anna:
Has your voice training effected decisions made in your life outside of singing?
"Of course! It’s affected almost all of my decisions, big and small. From the heartbreaking decision to cut out coffee, to saying no to social events in the week leading up to a performance"...
... and even to deciding to move away from family and friends in order to relocate to Sydney for more singing opportunities. This is my fourth year in Sydney now; I miss Brisbane every day, but choose to stay every day because of singing.
The Sydney Eisteddfod 2022 Opera Scholarship Final will be held on Sunday 26 June at The Concourse Concert Hall, Chatswood at 2pm.
To purchase your tickets to the live performance of the 2022 Opera Scholarship Final, click here.
We are also delighted to announce that Sydney Eisteddfod has partnered with The Australian Digital Concert Hall in 2022 and will be broadcasting the Opera Scholarship Finals