Just four months after changing from mezzo to soprano, Lewis is awarded the prestigious $43,000 bursary.
After delivering a stellar performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Verbrugghen Hall yesterday, Melbourne-based soprano Elizabeth Lewis, originally from Queensland, was announced as the winner of the Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship by the Opera Foundation for young Australians’ panel of judges, Bradley Daley, Roxane Hislop, and Limelight columnist Guy Noble.
The $43,000 bursary will enable Lewis to study with internationally acclaimed vocal, language and movement coaches in New York to help further develop her skills as a performer and offer invaluable exposure on the world stage. Her win is even more remarkable given that Lewis made the bold decision to switch voice types earlier this year from mezzo-soprano to soprano. “My teacher Lisa Gasteen and I had been talking about it for a little while,” Lewis explains. “But when we first started to explore it about two years ago I had just been engaged as a young artists with Victorian Opera. I uprooted myself from Brisbane to move to Melbourne, and that was such a big change I felt I couldn’t uproot my voice as well, at that time.”
Lewis had reached the semi-finals of the Opera Foundation’s rigorous vetting process when she decided to complete the competition as a soprano. “It was about four days before the semi-finals when I told the Opera Foundation. They were very understanding, but I didn’t expect to get any further in the competition, so I was so excited when they told me I had made it to the final,” Lewis shares. “I suppose my voice clearly wants to go up! I’ve been a mezzo for ten years, but now I’ve made the decision to become a soprano with a view to becoming a dramatic soprano in the next ten years this success is a really great indication that I’m heading in the right direction.”
Head adjudicator of the competition Bradley Daley described Lewis’ performance at the finals as “truly outstanding,” adding, “The awards and scholarships offered by The Opera Foundation for young Australians have helped launch successful international careers for many Australian opera singers over the past 50 years. I have so much respect for each of the finalists this year, who have all worked extremely hard. Of course there can be only one winner, but I would be proud to share the stage with any of these young singers and future storytellers.”
Also announced at yesterday’s final recital were the winners of three more of the Foundation’s prestigious bursaries: the 2015 Vienna State Opera Award-winner, Melbourne-based soprano Kathryn Radcliffe, the Berlin New Music Opera Award, won this year by Sydney-based director Constantine Costi and the Dalwood Wylie American Institute of Musical Studies Award-winner, tenor Matthew Reardon from Sydney.
Since its founding by Lady Fairfax over fifty years ago in 1963, the The Opera Foundation for young Australians has awarded over $5 million in funding to support the development of Australian singing talent, with over 300 artists benefiting to date.