Six sopranos, a mezzo, and a tenor are in the running to win the scholarship, which has a combined prize pool of $58,500.

Dame Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa, Stuart Skelton, and Nicole Car are just a few singers whose careers have taken off after winning the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship. With a combined prize pool of $58,500, the scholarship identifies future stars and provides them with a much-needed leg up in the competitive world of opera. This year, eight young singers have progressed to the final round, many of them finalists in past years.

The finalists in this year’s competition are soprano Amanda Windred (Oxley Vale); soprano Jessica Harper (Newtown); soprano Zoe Drummond (Homebush) – who has been featured in Limelight‘s Rising Star column; mezzo-soprano Bronwyn Douglass (Voyager Point); soprano Danita Weatherstone (Wyee); soprano Joelene Griffith (Mount Kuring-Gai); soprano Imogen-Faith Malfitano (Wollongong); and tenor Boyd Owen (Melbourne, VIC).

While praising the quality of singing exhibited by the finalists, adjudicator Anson Austin said that entrants needed to demonstrate more than just solid vocal chops to take home the top prize.

“It’s not just about a beautiful voice, the voice is a tool to communicate what they think about the poetry and the music. To make it to this stage of the competition they must have already achieved an acceptably high standard of technique. In addition to this, I’m looking for musicality and artistry and what they bring to the music in terms of interpretation,” he said. “Performing with the orchestra is a really important aspect of the Final. It’s another level of development; a singer must be able to sing through thick orchestration as well as follow the conductor’s instructions and work as a team with the orchestra.”

Adjudicator Peter Coleman-Wright further emphasised the importance of performing with the orchestra. “Each finalist has the wonderful opportunity to sing two arias in front of a public, one with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which gives the singer the chance to be in a truly professional atmosphere. It will give the young artists a taste of what they are all dreaming of and should enhance their performing skills even more”, he said.

Limelight caught up with finalist and soprano Zoe Drummond for a quick chat about the competition.

What did you sing and how has the competition gone so far?

For the first heats I sang Nanetta’s aria from Verdi’s Falstaff. It is a beautiful (and cheeky) little fairy song. On the day of the competition I really enjoy singing the piece, and I loved hearing all my peers perform! I look forward to the next stages of the competition.

What are your plans for the final?

I plan to sing my Mozart and Donizetti pieces, hopefully the best I can! I was very lucky to have been a 2016 finalist in this scholarship, so I feel this year I know what to expect and can relax slightly more! I also have the tricky decision of which gown to wear… hmmm!

What would winning mean for you?

Winning the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship would be integral to the next chapter of my career. I am about to begin an Artist Masters at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, under the tutelage of esteemed soprano Yvonne Kenny. As London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live, any assistance would provide enormous relief! I would be proud to join the list of incredible past winners, and to be a representative of the Sydney Eisteddfod’s support and patronage of young artists.

The 2017 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship Final will be held at The Concourse, Chatswood on July 16.