Young Samoan tenor Darren Pene Pati claims Dame Joan Sutherland’s legacy prize.

The Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Opera Foundation has declared 24-year-old Darren Pene Pati winner of the second Bel Canto Award. The New Zealand-based Samoan tenor sang The Flower Songfrom Carmenand other favourites at yesterday’s finals, held at the Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The winner and runners-up were announced in the presence of Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales. The judging panel – opera singers Joan Carden, Bernadette Cullen and Rosemary Gunn – joined compere Stuart Maunder and Bel Canto Award founder maestro Bonynge, who is in Sydney to conduct Handel’s Rodelindaat the City Recital Hall on October 20.

“Beautiful singing is the basis of bel canto,” said Bonynge. “It is more than just singing; it’s creating living, dramatic characters who sing gloriously. Darren Pene Pati does just that.”

Pati receives a $30,000 scholarship and a coveted place at the 2013 Georg Solti Accademia summer school in Italy valued at $10,000. The prestigious institution specialises in the art of bel canto singing, each year admitting only 12 singers from around the world to work with celebrated artists including...