Opera School alumni claim prizes at Lexus Song Quest

Opera song

Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono won the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Scholarship at Lexus Song Quest. Photo / John Wansbrough

Once again, the prowess and talent of New Zealand Opera School alumni won the Lexus 2022 Song Quest at the Michael Fowler Center Wellington last week.

The five finalists were Amelia Berry (soprano), Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono (tenor), Felicity Tomkins (soprano), Filipe Manu (tenor) and Sarah Hubbard (soprano).

Manu won the prestigious opera competition, winning a cash prize of $20,000, a scholarship of $27,000 and international economy class travel up to a value of $3,000.

Tomkins was runner-up and won a cash prize of $10,000 and a scholarship of $10,000.

Hawke’s Bay tenor Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono has won the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation scholarship based on his artistic potential.

School accompanist and coach Terence Dennis, who accompanied the five, added to the New Zealand Opera School performance.

The school’s founder and executive chairman, Donald Trott, said he was extremely proud of the school, which started in 1994 at Whanganui Collegiate School, attracting young opera singers from across New Zealand. .

“Every January for two weeks the school is an absolute joy with 21 students fully engaged and eager to work…and they always produce wonderful results. It’s very encouraging for all of us involved.”

Winner Filipe Manu was a three-time runner-up at Lexus. His voice was described by judge (and former winner) Teddy Tahu Rhodes as powerful and having a heroic timbre.

Emmanuel is the eldest of four Fonoti-Fuimaono brothers from Hawke’s Bay – two tenors, a baritone and a bass-baritone – who all study at the University of Waikato and are passionate about being students at the New Zealand Opera School.

Jordan, 20, Emmanuel, 23, Faamanu, 22 and Alfred, 24, say their Samoan upbringing and heritage led them all to music.

“Music breathes us.”

Plans are well advanced for the 2023 Opera School, which the year before hardly took place due to Covid.

But with careful precautions in place, the school was a huge success and ended just the day before the country returned to lockdown.

Donald said he was looking forward to welcoming New Zealand’s top young opera singers back to the school and to Whanganui.

“It’s always a great pleasure and very exciting to listen to young singers excel.”